I don't get it? How do you find time to cook? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 38 Old 10-02-2008, 07:46 PM
 
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great suggestions here. a couple handy cookbooks:
Vegetarian Express (meals in under 28 minutes)
The One-Armed Chef (as in, baby's in one arm, so you have one for cooking)

Both rely a lot on prepped ingredients, so they're more expensive and less healthy than they can be, but a good place to start if you're not used to cooking. for healthier fare that's still pretty easy:
The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Cookbook
we've liked almost everything from this book so far, and my partner is not inclined to like anything healthy.

I'll often get bagged spinach, chopped mushrooms, and canned organic beans at Trader Joe's. other things i find not too time consuming to prep. i try to keep some beans soaking in the fridge (for up to 3 days - the longer they soak, the faster they cook and easier to digest), but i have canned on hand in case.

DS is two now and loves to help me cook. he can tear up greens and wash fruit, and he likes to help me put ingredients into the pot/bowl and stir (have to be careful with the heat). i got him some toy pots from Ikea, so he has his own to play with. if i'm desperate, i'll put on a video to occupy him.

if i'm making something that will freeze well, i'll make sure to make plenty. also, i try to be creative with leftovers, so last night's veggies go into omelettes, fried rice, leftover burgers (grind veggies in a mini-chopper, mix with rice, an egg, maybe ground nuts), soup, or pasta.

if i forget the meal planning, i think about dinner when I get DS down for his nap. i try to keep the pantry pretty well stocked and will browse the shelves - pick out a grain, some beans or lentils or tofu, maybe some frozen veggies if we don't have fresh. i keep jars of tomato sauce and pesto for emergencies. i'll put a list of ingredients into google and find a simple recipe that includes ingredients i have on hand.

i try out different recipes to find simple tasty ways to cook things that are easy to keep around like carrots. and i do as much prep or cooking as possible while DS sleeps, or have my partner cook soup or beans after DS goes to bed, so we can heat it up the next day (i just ordered a crock pot, so will probably switch to that method).

good luck!
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#32 of 38 Old 10-05-2008, 12:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Everyone has mentioned how wonderful crockpots are. Are they mainly for preparing meat dishes or can you make good veggie meals in them?
Thanks
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#33 of 38 Old 10-05-2008, 12:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd like to buy a rice cooker - any suggestions?
Can it cook all grains ie. quinoa, millet etc?
Thanks
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#34 of 38 Old 10-05-2008, 06:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by babyjoeysmomma View Post
I am a personal chef, and here's what I do: start doubling meals and freezing them. Start with easy stuff--chili, spaghetti sauce, whatever you can handle. If you're making a casserole one day, double the ingredients, layer one (in a foil pan if you don't have enough dishes!) and freeze, or better yet, divide one recipe into 2 8x8 or 9x9 pans--you'll have plenty for fresh casserole twice if you have a family of four with younger children. Freeze soups and sauces flat in Ziplock freezer bags to maximize freezer space, or invest in a small deep freezer (even 7 cu. feet will help).

Don't use your freezer meals unless you have to get dinner on the table quickly. At first, you'll only have a few things, but with time, you'll build up an impressive frozen pantry of meals ready to go that only need thawing.

Learn how to make two (or more) dishes at once. Start something in your Crock Pot on Saturday, then put a meatloaf in the oven, then prepare the dinner you're going to have that night on the stove. Voila! Three meals for the week in ONE afternoon. You can freeze whatever's in the CrockPot and thaw it out Thursday for quick dinner.

Good luck ladies--the art of cooking is lost in this country, which is why I run a successful business!

Editing to reply to mom2reitmans: most food in restaurants is NOT cooked start to finish while you wait. Nearly everything is in some stage of prep, be it already washed and chopped veggies/salads, long-simmered sauces, pre-sauteed mushrooms, mashed potatoes sitting on a steam table, pre-baked potatoes/bread sitting in a warmer. Even pastas are par-cooked, drained, and given a hot bath to rejuvinate per plate. Only the finishing touches, the things that cannot be completed without an order (like grilling your steak to med-rare or however you like it) are done after you order. I agree that simpler is better, but it's kind of a misleading analogy and sets the average non-chef up for failure at home.

I do this too. My crock pot & kitchen kettle are most used of anything! I watch Food Network alot for new ideas & print recipes off websites too. Then I take a few recipes & make 2-3 meals from them.

And, I used to work in restaurants, nothing is made-to-order anywhere now!

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#35 of 38 Old 10-05-2008, 06:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pooppants View Post
Everyone has mentioned how wonderful crockpots are. Are they mainly for preparing meat dishes or can you make good veggie meals in them?
Thanks
I cook all my garden veggies in the crock pot! I just cooked & froze a 5 gal. bucket of Lima Beans.
I pour in some water or use broth from meat for seasoning. I also use bacon or ham hock to season dry beans. No need to soak them, just wash them really good & put them on low with enough liquid to cover them. They should simmer for a few hrs. but always make sure that liquid covers them every so often, you may need to add a bit of water. I also make a lot of soups & stews in Fall & Winter in the crock pot too.

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#36 of 38 Old 10-05-2008, 09:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pooppants View Post
I'd like to buy a rice cooker - any suggestions?
Can it cook all grains ie. quinoa, millet etc?
Thanks
You can also use a slow cooker for grains. Example: 1 c. brown rice and 4c. water. Cook on high for 3 hours. Voila! All done. If anyone else has slow cooker recipes for grains, I'd love to hear them.
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#37 of 38 Old 10-06-2008, 01:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 07Mommy View Post
My crock pot & kitchen kettle are most used of anything!
what is a kitchen kettle for ? I googled it but can't figure out how it differs from a crock pot...
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#38 of 38 Old 10-16-2008, 06:06 PM
 
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I used to think the same thing. I think that eating out takes a lot more time unless you go through a drive thru all the time. Even on our easy nights, we just throw in some french fries and veggie nuggets or veg corn dogs in the oven. It takes no time to break up some lettuce and maybe cut up a carrot or something for a salad.

I also make a lot of rice to use for the next day. Stuff like that. Once you get used to cooking a lot, it gets easier to do and plan.

Wendy - mom to dd1(11), dd2(7), dd3(3)
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