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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-04-2013 08:56 AM
Catholic Mama

Wow, anablis, I'm impressed at how nutritiously you and your husband eat.


I just popped in to say that maybe when some of the other posters say "frozen meals", they are talking about a meal that you make, like in a 9 x 13 pan for example, and then freeze. I've done that with Ground Beef Spiral Bake and Shepherd's Pie. The night before we're going to eat it, I thaw it in the fridge, and bake it before we eat it. (If that isn't what anyone else meant, then never mind, but maybe this is a healthier meaning of "freezer meal".)

09-02-2013 03:18 PM

Hi! I hate meals that come in packages and canes. That is not food to me. It happened to us (me and my husband) that during a busy week end up eating foods with little preparation (like pizza, empanadas, sandwiches, etc), and it only takes a few days of eating like that to make me feel sick and craving a salad, a steak, some roasted chicken, a home-made pasta, anything simple.

My husband does the cooking at home, and he is very good at it. We have italian and spanish background so we eat a lot of mediterranean-like food (a lot of salads, olive oil, etc), we have most our meats grilled, roasted or in the oven. We have salad with every meal, I love different types of lettuce and ruccula.

I wouldn't reccomend switching to frozen meals (unless they are your own) because everything that comes in a package has ingredients that are unhealthy and artificial.

08-29-2013 09:52 AM

Absolutely! "Scratch" has many meanings though, such as pulling a home-cooked meal from the freezer, or eating something produced
during my Saturday "Food Factory" sessions, such as a huge tossed salad that will last a few nights.
*Plan your dinner menu and make your grocery list from that.
*Cook more than you need for one meal. Leftovers work well for lunches and leftover veggies go nicely in an omelette, fritatta or stir-fry.
*It's so easy to double or triple a recipe and pop some in the freezer.
*Crock pots help busy moms, too!
*Stock your pantry with extra canned beans, salsa, broth, nuts, frozen veggies. Basics that can be turned into a meal in a flash.
*Start a pot of soup in the morning and let simmer while you go about your day.



08-28-2013 08:59 PM

I cook almost everything from "scratch", but often it is as simple as a packaged or frozen meal would be. I put 3 or 4 ingredients in a pan, put it in the oven, and take it out a while later. Or I stir-fry some veggies, and cook a pot of rice. Even freshly made salad dressing can be simple (olive oil, soy sauce, and chopped garlic - 2 minutes, and SOOOOO good!) I detest the taste of most prepared foods, but I don't feel especially noble or virtuous about avoiding them. 

08-28-2013 06:14 PM

I make vegan ice cream in my ice cream maker (with coconut milk).  It is SO good!  And much cheaper than Coconut Bliss (which is also delicious). 

08-28-2013 05:33 PM

I cook everything from scratch except we buy bread (gluten free vegan food for life brand millet/rice bread) and salsa/hummus premade. I make hummus occasionally but I really do like this one local organic brand better and it comes out to be about the same price as if I made it. Maybe once a month we'll get something like vegan ice cream (coconut bliss) that is a little more expensive... I really want to invest in an ice cream maker though so I can make my own healthy sugar-free vegan sorbets, frozen yogurt and ice cream!! I've been making big batches of stuff and freezing it too and that really helps cut down my food prep time. 

08-27-2013 07:02 PM

Here's the link to that Scientific American article:


And here's a link to Snopes, where they tested out that commonly spread idea that microwaved water kills plants:

08-27-2013 06:25 AM
Catholic Mama

Cynthia, I trust Natural News and this is what it says (about the same as what Dr. Mercola says on with a little more detail):


and more articles


I'm interested in hearing about salad jars, too.

08-27-2013 04:30 AM
cynthia mosher
Originally Posted by Chaika View Post

Based on the research I've done, I believe the dangers of microwaving thing is pretty much a myth.  If you google you'll find articles from both sides of the issue, but IMHO the ones saying bad stuff about microwaves are from less believable sources.  There's a good article from Scientific American (which I consider to be a reputable source) that explains why it's a myth.


If it is a myth that would be really good news for me. I try to avoid it as much as possible but would love to be able to take advantage of quick heating more often. Got a link to the article?


Has anyone tried salad jars? Can you really make them in advance for the week and quality not be compromised?


08-26-2013 07:43 PM
Monica S

Because I eat mostly raw and vegetarian, I also tend to cook from scratch every day. And also because I'm "boycotting" the Downtown San Francisco overpriced lunch food options. They are all amazing, organic and delicious, but also oh so expensive!! So I'm making boxed lunches for myself every day... as for cooking time, since most everything is raw (salads), there's not much cooking, but a lot of chopping and peeling. I do my groceries once a week at a farmers' market and then have a marathon with myself every week to go through all the veggies and fruit I purchased that week before they go bad. I usually make big experimental salads with a million ingredients in them, or big quinoa/farro/couscous/some other grain salads that can last in the fridge for a few days. 


For example: 



One boiled beet, one avocado, 2 green onions, a bunch of baby heirloom tomatoes, a handful of alfalfa sprouts, a handful of parsley, half a cucumber, a jalapeño, hemp seeds, some shredded parmesan, olive oil, lemon zest, pepper and salt.

08-26-2013 02:59 PM

Based on the research I've done, I believe the dangers of microwaving thing is pretty much a myth.  If you google you'll find articles from both sides of the issue, but IMHO the ones saying bad stuff about microwaves are from less believable sources.  There's a good article from Scientific American (which I consider to be a reputable source) that explains why it's a myth.

08-26-2013 02:45 PM

I have heard about microwaving changing the food, but I'm not sure if it's hype mixed with fact or not.  We don't currently have a microwave, and I'm in no hurry to get one.  They seem to have extremely short livespans in our home, lol, and I have very little counter space so I don't really want another.  However my husband does use it to reheat made from scratch food when he's on lunch break.  I think they have their place, and really a bigger issue for me is the type of food you'd typically be microwaving in the first place (highly processed stuff).

08-26-2013 01:23 PM
ihave7kids I just went to a wellness lecture at our chiropractors office, and learned that microwaving food kills all the nutrients and changes the molecular structure of the food. It becomes unrecognizable to our bodies. Did you know that?? Another great reason to cook from scratch whenever possible!
08-25-2013 01:34 PM
Hoopin' Mama

We eat whole foods with recognizable ingredients, but sometimes I do rely on canned beans, canned red sauce for homemade pizzas, a jar of curry sauce from Trader Joe's, etc.  I also buy tortillas and bread, and I buy raw pizza dough for our pizzas. I just have no desire to get into that level of prep and baking. I would like to learn how to make my own yogurt and get an ice cream machine. .

Very, very rarely does our food come out of a box from the freezer. 

08-25-2013 06:44 AM

We cook from scratch every day.  Many of our meals are simple, consisting of stir-fried or steamed veggies and turkey burgers or bean burgers.  I make extra bean burgers to freeze.   We do purchase some curry sauces to make quick meals.  Most processed and prepared foods contain questionable ingredients.  Since we avoid GMO's and have a child with food sensitivities, we have to be extra careful.  Recently we started juicing and making more smoothies.  I thought that I'd be a slave to the kitchen, but I've developed a routine of washing and juicing veggies that takes about twenty minutes including cleaning the juicer.  I make enough juice for the day.  I work at home most of the week, which allows me to sprout grains and beans and simmer chicken stock during the day.  This summer I was able to save enough money through scratch cooking and keeping my daughter home with me that I only had to work at my job about twenty hours a week.


We don't eat out very often.  We live in a small city where most restaurants only have low quality food from the Sysco truck.  Instead, we use our money for organic and local foods, mostly pastured meats and eggs and fresh produce.  We make our own yogurt and large batches of healthy granola for easy breakfasts.  We try to keep some quicker foods on hand, such as home-made frozen veggie burgers and salmon burgers along with the above-mentioned curry sauces.  There are some days when I wish that I didn't have to cook because I'd like to put my energy into other things.

08-24-2013 09:00 PM

Didn't get a chance to read through everything yet, but I'm definitely coming back to read more, as I have the same struggle.  I find that when take shortcuts or make quick foods like sandwiches or muffins, our fruit and veggie intake suffers.  I feel like I particularly spend a lot of time working fruits and veggies into our day in what I consider healthful proportions (I'm shooting for about half the volume of the meal).  My DD is still little and texturally picky, so I have to do things like cut the peel and pith from oranges, slice and core apple slices, peeling and chunking up mango takes forever, etc.  It all adds up, so even a simple breakfast of cottage cheese and fruit seems like it takes a long time.  Prepping veggies, to me, is even worse as far as time commitment, especially when I get farmstand greens that need to be washed multiple times.  Unfortunately, those are the parts of the meal that I would feel I needed to add even if I did use prepared foods/freezer foods for the main portion of the meal, so I don't really feel like it's worth it.  I will confess to falling back on microwave Annie's in many a pinch, though.

08-24-2013 06:45 PM
sierramtngirl And thx catholic mama for the details- we just started back on oatmeal here with cooler mornings so I'll try this and make for DH to take to work!
08-24-2013 06:43 PM
sierramtngirl Thank you ladies for the great ideas!!! We are making tons of salads around my house right now- honestly tho, I'm looking forward to cooler weather so I can break out the slow cooker for soups/stews & lots of baked casseroles which are so much easier to cook ahead (talk to me come February and I'll be ready for fresh stuff- but anyhow...). I think I'm in that mode since I canned 60# of tomatoes for the year yesterday!!
08-24-2013 03:59 PM
Catholic Mama

sierramtngirl, I'm not sure because my in-laws loaned me the jar, I didn't buy it. It holds a little more than 3 cups so I'm guessing 1 pint.


I had a much larger glass jar around her somewhere (not sure how much it held) and when I made oatmeal in that one it was enough for 4 nuns, if that tells you anything. When I make it for myself in the possibly pint size jar, it lasts me for breakfast and lunch and sometimes an afternoon or later snack too.


Here is the recipe my mother-in-law gave me last year:

dry rolled oats halfway

Add nuts, flax, dried fruits

Add brown sugar, honey or syrup

Sprinkle cinnamon

(This can sit for days until you're ready to use it)

Pour boiling water to the bottom of jar threads. Invert jar a few times. Let sit 15 minutes and add milk.

08-24-2013 01:34 PM
Originally Posted by Catholic Mama View Post

Sometimes I make oatmeal in a jar, which has rolled oats to halfway, dried fruit, cinnamon, flax, and honey in a canning jar. When you're ready to make it you pour boiling water into the jar and turn the jar upside down and leave it for 15 minutes (handle with gloves). It's pretty good, especially if shared - very filling!

Shepherd's Pie is from scratch except for the spaghetti sauce. Same with Ground Beef Spiral Bake (which is like pasta and meat with sauce except you do everything on the stove and then put it in the oven).

Freezer meals are great. Usually when I make those two meals I just mentioned I make them two at a time and put one in the freezer until the night we're going to eat it.

So to answer your question Cynthia, no I don't cook from scratch every day, but sometimes - at least twice a week or so.
Catholic mama- is the canning jar qt or pt? I would think pt, but wanted to make sure before trying. It's a great idea!!
08-24-2013 07:04 AM

thanks for the great ideas!!  also, check the site: 100 days of real food! has been helpful too.

08-24-2013 05:36 AM
ihave7kids Thanks for all the great ideas, ladies!
I am a SAHM homeschooling our oldest 5 children, with 2 toddlers and a new blessing on the way, due in Nov. The only way to keep things running smoothly and give everyone healthy meals in our house is to plan ahead! This summer I've not been too successful in that area, but I'm gearing up for the school year & getting back on track.
We have one son on a low carb diet due to Juvenile DiAbetes, so we try to stay away from too much bread, rice, pasta.
I do usually cook breakfast about 5 days per week...eggs, quiche, veggie pancakes, etc.
Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner, smoothies, yogurt/fruit. Sometimes we have sandwiches or homemade pizza. Dinner is from the crockpot at least once per week. I try to chop a bunch of veggies in advance to reduce the prep work at dinner time. I often cook large portions, but I don't freeze them. I just serve them 2or 3 nights later, for example spaghetti and meatballs on Monday and then raviolis with meatballs on Wednesday (my one son will just eat the meat with melted cheese and a big salad). I also like to roast 2 or even 3 chickens at once. There is so much you can do with them!! Our favorite is roast chicken and mashed potatoes on Sunday, then chicken pot pie a few nights later, followed by homemade chicken soup the next day. Another thing I like to do is prepare a good sauce and use it one night this week, and save the rest for next week. For example, a Thai peanut satay sauce (my kids' FAVORITE) is great over chicken, or my hubby's favorite Spanish Romesco sauce (basically tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, paprika all puréed together) which I may put over fish this week and chicken next week.
The only things I buy premade are occasionally a jar of sauce, rotisserie chicken from Costco, or frozen chicken fingers or mozzarella sticks for the kids to eat for lunch.
Buying enough premade food for all of us is cost prohibitive!
For anyone interested, there is a similar thread about meal planning/cooking on the Moms of Many forum that you might enjoy reading.
08-24-2013 05:06 AM
Catholic Mama

Sometimes I make oatmeal in a jar, which has rolled oats to halfway, dried fruit, cinnamon, flax, and honey in a canning jar. When you're ready to make it you pour boiling water into the jar and turn the jar upside down and leave it for 15 minutes (handle with gloves). It's pretty good, especially if shared - very filling!


Shepherd's Pie is from scratch except for the spaghetti sauce. Same with Ground Beef Spiral Bake (which is like pasta and meat with sauce except you do everything on the stove and then put it in the oven).


Freezer meals are great. Usually when I make those two meals I just mentioned I make them two at a time and put one in the freezer until the night we're going to eat it.


So to answer your question Cynthia, no I don't cook from scratch every day, but sometimes - at least twice a week or so.

08-23-2013 08:50 PM

I almost never buy packaged, prepared foods.  Too many ingredients I don't want to have and I actually don't like most of them.  I do cook from scratch almost every day, but it's not always complex stuff.  And I don't cook a big meal 3 times a day.  Breakfast is muffins, yogurt, fruit, and sometimes eggs or waffles/pancakes.  Lunch is usually sandwiches or leftovers.  Dinner is the meal I cook most.  Many days it is just chicken breasts cooked on the stove with some veggies, a stir fry, soup or something easy.  I save longer cooking things like meatloaf, stews for the weekend.  At least 2 dinners a week are leftovers from a previous dinner, so I'm not cooking 7 nights a week.  On occasion, if we are super busy and I am very short on time, or just too tired and not feeling like cooking, I'll buy a cooked rotisserie chicken at Whole Foods and serve that with a salad or rice and veggies that cook quick.

08-23-2013 07:18 PM

I rarely buy any canned or prepared foods, with the following exceptions:


condiments: mayo, mustard, "Hot Lime Relish" (an Indian jar I love on anything), Thai curry paste, horseradish, certain salad dressings (I mostly make my own), soy sauce


certain ingredients I just can't do: olives, black or green, peanut butter, coconut milk, pasta, gnocchi. 


bread - we make scratch muffins, pancakes, etc. but rarely do bread. I have tried making tortillas, but don't really have the knack.


I suppose cheese and wine could be called prepared foods, but somehow they feel different. Same for salami and sausages.


I make my own broths to freeze (veggie from saved frozen scraps, chicken or beef from bones and leftovers), tomato sauce, and grow most of my own herbs (to use fresh, dried, or frozen). Once in a while I buy some frozen pre-made something, but always am disappointed at the results. Maybe that is because it sits in the freezer for months before I remember to use it orngtongue.gif. I generally make blackberry jam and applesauce at home. I freeze corn and green beans in season, but would like to expand that list. I make my own salsa, but use it fresh - I haven't figured out how to preserve it that I am happy with. 


I WOH full-time, so I have several stand-bys for nights when I am tired - stir-fry with rice, omelettes, etc. I also usually have made extra of something to freeze for times like this - soup, chili, stew, etc. If I know I am going to be late, I often start something in the crock-pot in the morning. 


True confessions: tonight I wanted to try a recipe for Tamale Pie that called for corn muffin mix. I knew the bread would be too sweet for me, but followed the recipe anyway. Went out just to buy the silly mix. Yup, way too sweet and packaged tasting. It would not have been that much more difficult to make the muffin batter part myself. Live and learn...

08-23-2013 04:51 PM

I pretty much cook from scratch every day, every meal.  We homeschool and deal with food allergies, plus it keeps things healthy and all natural and saves us a TON of money.  With five kids (two of them teens), we couldn't afford to eat well if we bought packaged stuff. 


I also work from home so I know how tiring it can be.  Here's some super fast meals you can make that are healthy, natural and quick! 


  • Tostadas-- Heat some refried beans (homemade or canned -- I pressure cook a bunch and use them all week) and spread on tostada shells that have been warmed 3 minutes in the oven.  Let kids top them with preferred toppings: chopped lettuce, tomatoes, avocado/guacamole, black olives, salsa, chopped onions, shredded cheese, etc.  I put sour cream in a sandwich bag and snip the corner to pipe a design on top.  The whole thing takes just minutes.
  • Open faced ranch sandwiches-- Toast gluten free or whole wheat bread and spread each with smashed avocado (or something like hummus if your kids don't like avocado). Drizzle with ranch dressing (making your own is surprisingly easy or buy natural stuff) and top with chopped tomatoes and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.  Broil just till cheese melts.
  • Fast pasta casserole-- Boil a big pot of water, add pasta (I make my own a lot but we buy gluten free at Trader Joe's for quick meals) and then add a bag of frozen veggies (peas, broccoli, mix, whatever) about halfway through the cooking time.  Drain and toss with olive oil, melted butter, spices, parmesan, whatever flavors you like, and stir in a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas for protein (or butter beans or chopped leftover chicken if you're not vegetarian).
  • Spaghetti-- Enough said.  :)
  • Tortilla casserole-- Layer corn tortillas, refried beans, frozen corn and salsa in layers in a microwave safe dish.  Top with cheddar cheese and cover.  Microwave about 6 minutes or until heated throughout. 
  • Broiled fish, rice and veggies (takes under a half hour to throw together, especially if you spring for an inexpensive rice cooker)
  • Quick vegetarian chili -- Throw an onion and green pepper in the food processor and finely chop (or do by hand), saute in a big pot with a splash of olive oil, then stir in one can of drained and rinsed black beans and one of kidney beans, two cans of beans in chili sauce, a can of chopped tomatoes or one or two chopped fresh tomatoes, a bunch of cumin, salt and pepper to taste and any leftovers you feel like tossing in.  Warm throughout, serve with shredded cheese and add hot sauce at the table to accommodate mild tastes.
  • Baked potato bar -- bake or microwave a bunch of potatoes until fork tender and serve with toppings to personalize them such as leftover chili, steamed broccoli, shredded cheese, sour cream, chives, crumbled bacon, chopped leftover meat, roasted chickpeas, pesto, sauteed mushrooms, you name it.
  • Stir fry veggies with rice & tofu, egg, leftover meat, etc.
  • Black bean salsa tacos -- Stir together equal amounts of black beans, salsa and frozen corn, heat and spoon into warmed taco shells.  Top with cheese if you like.


I also try to save time by making extra up of everything when I cook, so I make up a double batch of black beans so I have them ready to cook with later in the week, for instance.  I do that with rice too, so I can make a super fast lunch with just heating it up and tossing in some fresh or frozen veggies and seasoning, for instance.


I also find that it helps enormously to buy quick ingredients for those nights I'm exhausted and to plan a week's worth of dinners ahead of time (not assigning a day, just making sure I have the ingredients for that many) so I don't have to plan a big meal at the last minute.


I know it gets old sometimes!  Enlist the kids to help if they can too.  :)  Hopefully one or two of those will work for you?


08-23-2013 04:35 PM

I have a small freezer and no microwave (read: I'm forgetful and never remember to thaw things), but since the birth of my third child two months ago, I'm making better use of that small freezer and miraculously finding a place in my memory for the freezer contents. 


I make pretty much everything from scratch. My convenience foods are things like jarred salsa, canned beans when I'm behind on my large batches of dried beans, and canned tomato puree to make my own sauce.


I've been getting better at making a little extra of the dinners I'm already making to be rotated in within the next two weeks or so. When I sit down to plan meals for the week, I plan on pulling a meal out of the freezer and putting at least one back in.


My current favorite freeze-ahead meals are curries (with frozen homemade paranthas), shredded taco meat from the crock pot (I do a big roast for like four meals worth of tacos), and these amazing sweet potato/black bean patties (which I serve with frozen green beans).

08-23-2013 03:21 PM
moonjunio Yeah, I spend an awful lot of time cooking every day. We try to eat mostly produce, protein, and healthy fats, and none of us enjoys the texture of frozen stir fry for example. I'm far from perfect especially during summer with all these grain food treats, but the goal is to eat fresh whole foods for every meal.

The easiest meal for me is to put a chicken in the oven to roast and put artichokes to steam in the rice cooker. They are done after about an hour with no tending. We eat half the chicken and save the rest for lunch.

I also make giant salads periodically which last for 3 meals or so. Caprese salad is pretty fast, and so is kale salad with warm dressing.
I use this recipe for parmesan kale salad, everyone likes it - substituting tamari pumpkin seeds for the bread crumbs:

Another quick choice is pan-fried fish (no breading) with sauteed asparagus.

As often as possible, leftovers for lunch. Some people do leftovers for breakfast, maybe add stuff into an omelette to make it more breakfasty. Or, eat very lightly (fruit or nut bar).

The best way to have a quick dinner is to have a clean kitchen beforehand, lol... Still working on that.
08-23-2013 02:38 PM

I usually cook from scratch in big batches that will last two or three days.  I try to plan it so I don't have to cook on my busiest days.  I'm not opposed to takeout or frozen stuff, though my choices are limited because I'm vegan and it can get expensive.  Before I went vegan I would order pizza sometimes.  I miss that!

08-23-2013 02:30 PM

This is such a great question. I try to, but find i put far too much pressure on myself when i do. Then the tension and pressure builds up and there's a crabby mommy, a messy kitchen, and too much money being spent out. We need to find more of an equilibrium. :) You only live once!!


I would guess we eat out once a week. Boxed/prepared food, maybe 3 times a week (if we are just talking dinner).


Funny, I"m actually prepping ingredients for a freezer meal workshop put on by a consultant for a national direct sales group. :) I'm hoping it takes the stress out of cooking...for a little while, at least!

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