Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - What your mom cooked for you and how you eat now.

Crazy Cat Chick
06-02-2009, 04:20 AM
Take a look back to your childhood. What kind of foods did your mother/primary food giver cook for you and how do you feel it has affected your eating habits now if at all?

Personally, because of money problems, my mother made spaghetti about four nights a week and other nights she'd have a steaming plate of fried chicken cutlets, or meatloaf with a heap of mashed potatoes. This was mostly because my father was a pickyeater and would refuse alot of healthier foods.
Eventually, she got too busy to cook all together and bought frozen foods for me and my siblings to cook at our leisure.

Now that I'm out of my parent's house and married I find that I cook alot of fried and fatty foods and I feel strangely vulnerable if these foods are not present in my cabinet.

06-02-2009, 04:48 AM
I was actully thinking about this the other day. my mom always cooked in lard. she fried everything that could be fried, and on the nights she didnt cook for us, we had either KFC or pizza. I think even our veggies, if we had any were fried. Even to this day, when she comes to visit, i wont let her cook for my children.

i know make sure my kids eat healthy, but they do get a treat ever second week, of some kind of resturant food ever second week.


06-02-2009, 08:47 AM
My mom cooked mostly vegetarian foods, and a lot of hot dishes made with tomatoes, ground beef, and noodles. We had experimental dishes that didn't work out (lasagna with bean sprouts), and a few that were good (tofu cheesecake). As a result, I make a lot of vegetable-based dishes.

I didn't know what pot roast was until I moved out of the house. For a long time, I indulged in these "new" foods -- steak, pot roast, sausage, etc. I incorporate these foods into my diet, but I have cut back quite a bit.

06-02-2009, 09:10 AM
I feel very fortunate that my parents always made healthy food for me (and still do, since I'm living at home over the summer :lol:). When I was younger I was definitely a picky eater, and hated my dad's stirfrys and other "healthy" dishes, but now I actually prefer them to anything else! haha. We never have potato chips or a lot of junk food in the house - ice cream sometimes, but not every single week. I can only imagine how much more I would weigh if my parents had not made sure that I learned the right eating habits; it would make it that much harder to change my lifestyle now.

Another good thing is that they give me a great example to follow when I am a parent, and show that it is possible to keep your kids healthy without being too strict all the time. We NEVER went to fast food places (unless it was on a car trip and there was nowhere else to go) and I don't regret it at all now, though as a child would see how my friends' parents took them to McDonald's or Taco Bell a lot more frequently.

I think that the hardest thing is striking a balance between time, cost, and calories, all while not depriving your children - otherwise they will be tempted to binge on fattier foods.

06-02-2009, 09:45 AM
I actually had a conversation with my mom about this over the weekend. My mom is a terrible cook. Horrible. The only thing she ever cooked was meatloaf, which no one would eat, we called it Alpo because it looked like she took a few cans of dog food, squirted it with ketchup, and stuck it in the oven. Mostly she "cooked" take out - pizza, fried chicken, etc. She never asked us to eat anything new, or anything we didn't think we'd like.

Then she married my stepfather, who is a very good cook. He insisted there be at least two veggies on the table at dinner, and we started eating foods we'd not seen in my first 12 years of life. Hello, broccoli!

In high school, I gave up meat and started learning to cook for myself. My pantry is filled with food that I like - and it's all good for me. Since my stepdad came into the picture, my issue has never been WHAT I eat, rather HOW MUCH.

Thank God for the food intervention from him, otherwise I'd probably still be eating junk and not knowing there was anything else out there!

06-02-2009, 11:59 AM
My childhood sounds a lot like Bacili's....the only thing my mom cooked was pancakes and they were usually runny in the middle! Most suppers were Banquet chicken, tv dinners, smokey links and pot pies, most meals were served with white bread and oleo...yuck! I never had brocolli or any fresh vegetable until I went away to college!

06-02-2009, 12:44 PM
My mom HATED cooking, and my dad was often too busy to cook much (he worked 10+ hour days, whereas my mom only worked 8 hour days so she could have more time with me), but they were both good at it.

My mom had a few dishes that she liked to cook... pasta of course, since it's easy (she made big batches of AWESOME homemade sauce and meatballs), a lot of dishes that consisted of chicken or pork baked with some sort of sauce on it, a few casseroles, and decent macaroni and cheese. Mostly easy/quick stuff. She did slowly introduce more and more whole grain products as I grew up. Vegetables were always boiled or steamed (they put butter or cheese or whatever on theirs but I liked mine plain as a kid) and there was sort of a small list of veggies we all liked so we just rotated between them (it was usually green beans, spinach, or broccoli!).

I didn't really start cooking until recently, and I think it was because I assumed I'd hate it, too, like my mom. Turns out I kinda like it! I think the other bad habit I picked up from my parents is the typical American dependence on meat... I'm cooking a lot more meatless meals these days, or meals with just a tiny bit of meat, but it was a big change from growing up in a house where the meals all seemed to be built around meat!

My dad always made really balanced meals, with lots of veggies. He was usually the one to cook the meats he had hunted or fished for, and he did most of the grilling (my mom wasn't a fan of being outside). These days his cooking is heavily influenced by Central American cuisine (he lives in Honduras several months out of the year) and still pretty healthy. I try to cook like my dad as much as possible!

I was somewhat overweight at a young age, because I ate too much, not because it was unhealthy food. Most of my REALLY bad cooking/eating habits were picked up during my teenage years (when I was allowed to pretty much eat what I wanted) or once I was out on my own. But, that's also when I became more adventurous in what I'd eat, and started liking a lot more vegetables.

06-02-2009, 12:50 PM
My mom wasn't the best cook, but when she did cook, the dishes were pretty healthy. We at a lot of greens and cabbage and rice. I didn't develop bad eating habits until I became an adult.

06-02-2009, 12:50 PM
Hmm. There were always a couple "veggie" sides, and this was quite intentional. But, that was generally corn, lima beans, or canned green beans. :dizzy:

I don't think we typically had dessert every night, and fast food (or eating out at all) was infrequent. We had "sugar cereal" for breakfast once a week. You know, Lucky Charms or something.

Friday nights were frequently one particular meal - rice with milk (like cereal) and bran muffins. Obviously, that's a meal I don't do anymore :)

Meals I can remember having often: hamburgers, spaghetti, goulash, chicken/rice casserole, a veggie meat/mushroom sauce deal, a breaded & fried veggie meat and tartar sauce deal, haystacks (Fritos, beans/beef, lettuce, cheese, etc), grill cheese sandwiches and cream of tomato soup.

What a trip down memory lane.

I can't say I really do any of those meals anymore.

06-02-2009, 12:56 PM
Crazy cat, my childhood was very similar as far as eating went. Lots of spaghetti, meatloaf, baked chicken w/ skin and mashed potatoes. Sunday meals were always a treat though... some kind of roast or steak or something. My mom always made us eat a veggie with supper, so that's good. But my mom was always very heavy handed thing like butter and cream and gravy. Portion size was always a problem too. I think the worst of it was, however, that there was ALWAYS a dessert. She baked once a week... so cake, and cookies and dessert breads were always hanging around.

Don't get me wrong, I loved my mother's cooking. She's a fabulous cook, and when I visit, I very much look forward to eating her food, haha. However, it's exactly that now... a treat. When I used to eat like that every day.. that's why I got so big in the first place. I also took those habits with me when I first got married, and it took a while to break those habits. My mom used to always feed anyone who walked through the door... I think she kinda used food as a concrete expression of love. Unfortunately, that food=love mentality doesn't translate very well when trying to eat healthier.

Lucky Charms
06-04-2009, 03:41 PM
Like many of you my mom was a terrible cook. Luckily my grandmother raised me and she was a great cook. She cooked every meal we ate, except for Sundays when we went out for lunch. I grew up in the south, so dinners were country classics like chicken and rice, lima beans with ham, fried okra, cube steak with gravy, fried chicken, pork chops with squash and onions and every meal came with homemade buttermilk biscuits.

We had a garden so every meal also came with fresh corn, slices cucumbers in vinegar, tomatoes with salt and pepper. I do feel lucky that I grew up eating lots of veggies and learned to love many of them raw.

As I have gotten older I have tried to go back to that style of eating minus the homemade biscuits and fried foods. I cook more now and try to incorporate lots of fresh produce.

06-04-2009, 03:47 PM
My mom cooked a lot and even more so baked on holidays.

We ate plenty of veggies, although sometimes sprinkled with cheese, rice or potatoes and meat. Basically a meal was considered a meat, a veggie and a starch. Tortillas were generally always at the table and beans were often part of a meal even if meat was already an option.

Fried foods were generally not part of any meal although I think I remember my mom making fried chicken once when I was younger. My mom shares a love of bread and a bread binge wasn't frequent but I can remember a few in my childhood.

06-04-2009, 04:07 PM
My mom's meals were almost always lean protein, vegetables, starch like rice or potato, and ALWAYS a green salad. Dad was a butcher and had lost a lot of weight eating in moderation and was very conscious of the problems immigrants had when they came to the US and were confronted with so much food, leading to health problems. The salad was always red leaf lettuce with other veggies sliced in and an oil and vinegar dressing. The veggies were generally lightly boiled, though occasionally in a white sauce. If I had eaten reasonable portions at meals and not been a secret snack eater I would have been just fine....... Sweets were her downfall too, and she always baked, so that is where the problems arose.

06-04-2009, 04:34 PM
Oh yeah, we ate lots of salads too, almost every dinner. Carl's Jr and later Soup Exchange/Soup plantation used to be some of our favorite places to eat due to the salads. Although when i was young, I was a bit too liberal with the ranch dressing.

06-04-2009, 05:31 PM
My mom cooked all the time, but it was generally unhealthy stuff.

She still cooks the same now. She often makes what I call "big chunks of meat with carrots and potatoes," Broccoli or cauliflower was always served covered in cheese. If we didn't have that it was canned vegetables as a side. Spaghetti, fried chicken, meatloaf, pizza, polish sausage... macaroni and cheese from a box with a few slices of extra cheese added. Always white bread. Sugar cereal for breakfast. Always had cookies and ice cream. She often made pudding.

And while I was growing up, my mom worked as manager at McDonalds, so when she was working evenings my dad would take us there for free or discounted food.

Now I usually eat a little high quality meat (I get grass-fed beef, organic chicken and wild caught seafood). Lots of vegetables (fresh or frozen, not canned). Whole grains when I eat them. Plenty of fresh fruit. And I like and cook international types of food... pretty much anything that isn't the standard American diet. I still eat pizza, but nothing like I used to have growing up, less cheese, more veggies, whole wheat crust... So I'd like to think I've generally recovered.

06-04-2009, 05:34 PM
I remember my mom cooking VERY few things. I'm sure she did when we were smaller, but as we grew up the kitchen time was less and less....lots of frozen pizzas and hot dogs. The occasional spaghetti.

A lot of the problem came when she started working in the school cafeteria. She cooked for hundreds of kids every day, and hated cooking at home. We ate cafeteria leftovers for dinner. Then after the cafeteria, she had a second job at a deli, then Dairy Queen, THEN a barbecue place that turned into full time. The older we got, the more we ate frozen dinners and fast food. food MAYBE once a week, and I cook as healthily as possible. Lots of chicken, less ground beef than before, vegetables every day, etc.

06-04-2009, 10:03 PM
Mom worked nights, so dinners were either Dad's perogative or "pick up" dinners of leftovers. USUALLY, we had soup and sandwiches, or melted Velveeta cheese on white bread, or Velveeta cheese on toast broiled until the cheese burned, or macaroni and cheese with -- you guessed it -- Velveeta cheese, or fried rice with an omelet cut up over it (I know, I ask myself WTF about THAT one every day), or fish cakes and french fries, or Hamburger Helper, or hot dogs, or frozen pizza (McCain's Deep Dish, but whatever you do, DON'T add any veggies to it. Just Velveeta cheese.) That's about it.

When mom was on Kitchen Patrol, we had "Blue Ribbon Meatloaf" (meatloaf with Velveeta cheese in the middle) or canned ham (right out of the can, without scraping the gelatin off) and iceberg lettuce salad with Kraft French Dressing. I still can't look at the stuff.

But HOLIDAYS, oh MY!!! Perogies! Cabbage Rolls! Roast Beef! Yorkshire Puddings! Mashed potatoes and gravy! MMMMmmm

So basically, I grew up with a general cornucopia of crap with great treat meals scattered in between.

Result? It has taken me years to figure out HOW to eat, and to actually motivate myself to eat that way. My kitchen now? Lean proteins, romaine and spring salad mix, fresh fruit, green beans (seriously, my favorite!), potatoes, whole grains, and yes, some sugar and treats, because I'm worth it!!! Oh, and no Velveeta cheese...


painted lady
06-04-2009, 10:25 PM
kiramira, you made me laugh. :)

my mom is a really good cook. we always had some sort of baked chicken breast (skinless) with steamed veggies and brown rice. we went out to dinner quite a bit, but it seemed like we usually went to "sit-down" places where there were healthier options. neither of my parents are overweight, and neither of them have any eating issues.... they just eat what they want in moderation!
like a few other people on here, i didn't have pot roast until i went to college. my roommates my sophomore year put me in charge of making it, and i ruined the crap out of it. i was so mad; i had never made it, so why did they ask me to? apparently they hadn't believed me when i said i had never had pot roast. i also had never had hamburger helper until i was in college, either. my parents like food too much to waste their time on that icky stuff.

to contrast, my boyfriend grew up eating hamburger helper, walking tacos, fried chicken, etc. he is slightly overweight, but he actually craves healthier foods. while i am a huge fan of spinach salad, sometimes i really want a big fat cheeseburger.

my kitchen is home to fresh veggies, frozen chicken breasts, some hamburger, yogurt, wheat crackers, cheese, fruit, etc. there are some chewy chips ahoy in the cupboard (not my purchase!) but they are up high so i can't reach them. :)

06-04-2009, 10:58 PM
My mom is a great cook now but childhood meals were disasters. We ate a lot of chicken leg quarters because they were cheap. Venison, goulash, sketti, tuna casserole, hamburger helper. Vegetables always came from a can and were usually corn, peas, green beans or carrots. Any fresh veggies we had we ate raw and those were rare. Fruits were usually out of a can, too. We had frequent desserts because if mom didn't bake something I did. I don't remember ever having to eat salads. Our fryer was frequently used. We were encouraged to belong to the clean plate club because those starving children in Africa would have been glad to have our leftovers.

Now mom eats meatless meals once or twice a week. There is always fresh fruit and veggies galore. They have salads daily.

All in all though I don't blame my mom at all. I had skinny friends in high school that could out eat me twice and never gain a pound. I was active enough then that I was only heavy. It wasn't until I moved out and started living on ramen and mac and cheese and getting NO exercise that I started packing on the pounds. Then when I met and moved in with my DH we ate fast food nearly every day. :nono:

Wolf Goddess
06-05-2009, 12:41 AM
...I've been cooking for myself since I was about 11, so I don't even remember a whole lot of my mom's cooking. We never ate out much, but that's mostly cbecause the only restaurant in town was a McDonald's. I do remember that she simply could not cook meat. Any meat. She would inevitably overcook it. I think she was a bit phobic of food poisoning or something, but I remember pork chops and chicken breasts like tumbleweeds in the desert. She always baked really well, though - great cookies and cakes.

06-05-2009, 10:38 AM
My mom only cooked Kid Cuisine meals and fast food. That was until she left when I was 11, then I lived with my dad and all the others were either over 18 or moved with my mom. When I turned 11 I learned how to cook. I really did cook fairly healthy. Lean meats, salads, grains. I tried to keep my dad healthy, but he always wanted something special. Fried potatoes where his favorite, and chocolate cake. I have honestly always cooked fairly healthy for my husband and I with the exception of portion control, and not having energy to exercise, and our Sunday morning breakfasts at the diner after church. Well the portions have changed, the energy is getting better now that I have figured out what it was thanks to my doctor and started medication, and we come home after church and have a nice breakfast here with the added bonus of not having to listen to the noises of the diner.

06-05-2009, 02:16 PM
One thing I forgot about because it was such a long time ago. My mom used to make the best cinnamon rolls ever. It is one reason I never liked commercial cinnamon rolls including Cinnabon, they all tasted inferior to my mom's rolls. She wouldn't make them very often but occasionally on a weekend she would

One other thing is that we never had things like hamburger helper or anything really boxed/processed. I think I had a frozen dinner once when I was young and it made me sick.

06-05-2009, 04:34 PM
This subject is close to my heart. I have reflected a lot on what I ate growing up & some of the food habits & traditions in my family.

My mother came from an extremely poor family. She married when not quite out of her teens, & she & my father moved in with his mother, a rather better-off & more educated woman. My grandmother was a snob. In her youth, she had worked in service to a wealthy family in Auburn, NY. A lot of their habits had rubbed off on her. Including their rather tasteless, High Edwardian based diet. Though my grandmother also made ethnic Eastern European foods like pierogies, haloupkis, kielbasa, paska & etc. My mother learned this repertoire.

When my mother had time, on weekends & when her job was less low-pressure, dinner was generally a hunk of meat, a potato & two vegetables. Sounds healthy, but my family never liked a crisp, naked vegetable. Generally they were boiled & buttered till the butter pooled on the plate. The meat was rather heavy. Roasts, chops, steaks, pork butt, liver, kidneys, etc.

As time went on & my mother took better-paying & more time-consuming jobs, and convenience foods proliferated, we got more Hamburger Helper beef stroganoff, spaghetti & meatballs (less often her own sauce, more often Prego from the jar), or pizza from Pizza Hut. Also what she called chili con carne (ground hamburger with onions & kidney beans, seasoned -- pronounced "konkarney," as if it were an Irish dish) and sloppy joe type stuff.

Basically, I have spent the last 10 years of my life trying not to cook like that & educating myself about food & glorying in my discoveries of various ethnic cuisines. Now I eat like a middle- or upper-class Manhattanite, rather than a suburban ethnic girl of a poorer, average American background. Whenever I visit her, or she visits me, I have to think about her palate & adjust my cooking accordingly. Maybe make a small portion of vegetables that I overcook & put butter on. Maybe do something where she can pick out more pieces of meat than I probably would have.

06-06-2009, 07:31 PM
I love this thread! It's so interesting and inspiring to see people learn healthy habits.

06-08-2009, 12:31 PM
This thread was interesting to me, too. My mother, homemaker, cooked what you might call basic fare for my adolescence -- a meat, a starch, a veggie and often a salad as well. At first the meats tended toward not quite particularly lean (ie meatloaf) and the veggies were often canned. The starch might be mashed potatoes. Portions were just right, though, and none of us kids were overweight. We would almost always have this balanced type of dinner, except for when she made spaghetti, or when we had pot roast or homemade pizza.

By my early teens (circa early to mid 90s) she got very into the lean recipes promoted by Oprah and various low-fat cookbooks. The meats got significantly leaner and the veggies were more often fresh ones, though not always. Spaghetti with meatballs was still around, but rotated with pasta in a lemon-based sauce with fresh herbs and vegetables. Pot roast and pizza stayed the same; they were never unduly fattening for what they were, anyway. Mom lost 40 lbs and us kids stayed thin. This is how they still eat; Mom tends toward the leaner but still makes it all.

I eat more vegetarian-based than my parents. I eat more asian-inspired. I more often than not cut out the dinner starch. Salad is it's own dinner twice a week and I don't usually make in addition to our dinner unless other people are over or I need more calories that day. But I make chicken (or tofu, or fish) with a steamed vegetable side. So, similar. But how did I get fat? I think it was the one-pot meals and the emphasis on starches that my husband and I had at first, on our own. Trying to make 'nice' dinners with little money and perhaps at least beginning to imitate the portion sizes at restaurants. This must be common?

My mother-in-law is a big time carnivore and they didn't really eat vegetables growing up (she, to this day, doesn't eat fruits and vegetables in general, and will state this herself like a vegetarian will say they don't eat meat). My husband said that occasionally she would get a kick about how the kids should eat vegetables, so she'd serve the meat or meat-starch dinner with iceburg lettuce and salad dressing. I thought that was funny. Not a lot to get out of iceburg lettuce.

06-08-2009, 02:39 PM
I grew up with my grandparents and my mom, both my grandma and grandpa where AMAZING cooks. They introduce us to a wild variety of vegetables, meat, roots and fruits. My grandpa had land and he cultivated a lot of what we consumed. BUT, they were business owners (supermarket/bar) and there was not control for me and my cousin regarding sodas, candies, and ice cream we would eat them with no supervision, there was always soda at the time of eating. Also my grandma would give us coffee (a MUG!) every morning for school. My grandfather hated fast-food and he always was making jokes about how they called "food". My grandma sometimes would take us to BK, but very rarely.

I guess I picked up my bad habits on my own and I really give thanks to them for introducing me to all that variety of food at a young age, I find that instead of changing completely my eating habits I just needed to get rid of some bad ones since they always taught me to love fresh and REAL food.

06-08-2009, 05:02 PM
My mom loved spaghetti, and it's super cheap, so we ate that a few times a week. A typical dinner otherwise was chuck roast from the slow cooker, boiled white rice and frozen veggie mixes. My Mom tried to make mostly healthy stuff, but we would have splurges occasionally. Kraft mac and cheese was a main stay though.

We never had soda, chips or fruit snack/gummies in the house growing up. My Mom was trying to teach me healthy habits, but I just ended up craving all of that junk as a teen and young adult. I've since gotten over that (for the most part).

I used to take my lunch to school and I remember my Mom making me take an apple every day even though I didn't really like them. So I would just give it away to one of the hungry boys in my class.

My Dad always made breakfast on the weekends though. Everything from fresh biscuits, to waffles, chorizo and eggs, to the best breakfast burritos you've ever had. I miss those breakfasts, but not the calories!!!!!

I miss my parents.

06-08-2009, 06:42 PM
I remember eating alot of spanish rice,pasta w/meatballs,Beans&pasta.Mashed,baked,fried potatoes.Steak,chicken or shrimp very rarely.Salad,cooked veggies,once in awhile.No soda was ever in the house,or snack foods. JUst things like fresh fruit,raisins,or dried fruit.Yuck!

06-08-2009, 07:03 PM
Tracy, yuck to fresh fruit, raisins and dried fruit? :)

06-08-2009, 09:59 PM
My mother is and was a wonderful cook. It is a part of her identity. She made relatively healthy meals with salads, veggies and meat and fish. And she baked. My parents would have tea and something sweet after dinner. It would be fruit or cookies.

While the meals were not unhealthy it was the attitude behind them. I would hear constantly how overweight I was. But then she would stick a spoon into my mouth with a "taste this" directive. And if I liked it and wanted more then I was fat and greedy.

Makes for some issues, ya know?

Now I try to have two veggies at the dinner table along with a protein. Sometimes I will have a starch but often not. We will have meat and meatless meals. We usually have fruit or occasionally a little sweet after dinner. But i do not serve dessert until the green veggie has been mostly eaten.

06-09-2009, 11:42 AM
Now that I am a working adult myself, I have a lot of respect for my mom. She put a healthy (I mean, it was the 70s/80s so what was considered healthy at the time, if you know what I mean) dinner on the table every night. Meat, veggie, carb. She made a lot of those potato mixes out of a box (the scalloped potato stuff), but overall she did a great job. I don't recall many instances of her being "too tired" to cook and getting pizza/fast food - we very very rarely had those things. I don't think my mom was a GREAT cook, but she definitely did a good job. We had a vegetable every night!

My brother and I were allowed milk or water, soda was reserved for gingerale when we were sick. We never had a lot of snacks in the house (I remember granny smith apples being the afternoon snack of choice) and we didn't go out to dinner very often. We weren't allowed sugary cereal, I remember Raisin Bran (with those sugary raisins) being the big breakfast cereal treat.

I definitely can't pin my food issues on my mom's cooking - she did okay in that department!

I've pretty much traced my issues back to being a latchkey kid. My mom went back to work when I was in the 6th grade. My little brother and I had to come straight home from school, and we weren't allowed outside. During the summer, we had to stay inside all day. There was nothing to do but watch TV and eat. I ate because I was bored. I would do stuff like sprinkle white sugar on bread and eat it. I would eat spoonfuls of Nestles Quik out of the container, sneak spoonfuls of frosting out of a container in the cupboard, spoonfuls of brown sugar.

When I started losing weight, I quickly identified "afternoons" as a tough, snacky time when I just wanted to eat. Coming up with strategies for dealing with this habit was key for my longterm success!