General Diet Plans and Questions - Newbie - any suggestions for noncookers?

05-20-2001, 04:29 PM
Greetings -- I'm a newbie, and I don't cook! And when I do it's usually bad and I actually don't enjoy it. If anyone has any suggestions of diet plans, food I should try etc. that doesn't involve me boiling water (okay I can boil water, but that's about it :) ) -- please let me know. Thanks a bunch!!

05-20-2001, 04:52 PM
Hey Blackstripes, you sound like a young chick! :)

When I left home at 19, I couldn't cook worth a darn - even though I did help out in the kitchen. I could bake cookies and stuff, but planning and preparing a meal was totally alien to me.

However!!! It costs SO much to eat out all the time I just had to teach myself. Here's some tips for you (other than living on Lean Cuisines which gets old very quickly - high in sodium besides).

*Invest in a George Foreman Grill - they come in all sizes. I have the small Champ model that I bought at Target two years ago for $25 which is just the right size for a one or two person household. Not only does it use very little energy (here in California, we have to keep that under consideration these days!) but it's a snap to use, comes with a book of recipes - and don't forget that the fat runs right off! Also great for veggies.

Here's a simple George Foreman grill recipe:

Buy a bag of those frozen boneless chicken breasts (those are so handy). In the morning, before you leave for work or school or whereever, take one or two out of the freezer and pop 'em in a Ziploc bag with some marinade (buy it or make your own with soy sauce, white wine, lemon juice, salad dressing - whatever sounds like a good marinade ingredient) and a dash of pepper. Put the Ziploc bag in the fridge to thaw out during the day. When you're ready to eat, just turn on the ol' GF grill, take the chicken out, put on the grill and close the lid - takes about five minutes if the chicken is thawed (sometimes I just put the frozen chicken right on the grill - takes longer but still comes out good!). You can also use the grill for steak, fish, Gardenburgers, whatever.

Now - side dish. You need your greens, so get one of those bags of prewashed salad mix, throw a sliced up Roma tomato in there - maybe some Garbanzo beans - or how about Craisins (dried cranberries)? Whatever suits your fancy. Top with your favorite salad dressing and toss until blended. TIP to use less salad dressing - instead of putting the dressing ON the salad, have it on the side in a little dish and dip your fork in the dressing before you spear some salad. You'll use less dressing and still get the flavor! Another way of using less dressing is to toss your salad and dressing together in a Ziploc bag rather than using salad spoons - the dressing will be better distributed throughout the veggies.

One of my favorite basic side dishes is Brown Minute Rice (not the white - more nutrients and fiber in the brown!). Easy and fast to do. They usually put some really easy recipes on the side of the box as well. An easy and quick one is mixing the rice with some black beans and salsa, heat and eat with whole wheat tortillas (I recommend La Tortilla's Low-Carb whole wheat tortillas - only 60 calories each, lots of fiber and protein!).

Keep a lot of stuff in the fridge that's easy to prepare and ready when you have the urge to nibble - washed and cut fruit; baby carrots; low-fat cottage cheese; fat-free, sugar-free yogurts; Diet Cokes; etc.

Check your local rec center to see if they are offering a class in easy cooking for adults (you'd be surprised!). I took an awesome beginner's sushi class a couple of years ago at our Rec.

Find easy, low-cal recipes and try to make something new once every couple of weeks.

One of my favorite low-fat cookbooks is "Looneyspoons". Good recipes - most are fairly easy - and fun to read.

Bottom line is - no one is born with a 'chef's gene' - cooking is an acquired skill that anyone can learn! Good luck!

05-20-2001, 07:26 PM
Thanks so much for the reply -- now don't laugh or pull your hair out -- I wouldn't say I was a young chick (I'm actually 36), I just can't cook to save my life. It's taken me years just to make breakfast where every item is hot at the same time -- and the few times I've tried dinner (usually for my other half) -- his first comment is "I'll be right back" as he heads to the kitchen to see what sauce he can drown my dish in! (LOL). Also I'm here in Cali 2! Nice to meet u! Oh the pressures of Cali living -- thin, thin, and THIN is the motto here! This week I will go and purchase a George Forman grill and I will try your recipes (they sound wonderful) just reading them. I truly appreciate the reply. (And yes, if I have another Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice) I'm going to scream!! I will send you a reply once I've made my purchase and cooked my first healthy meal - have a great day! P.S. -- you're a cyclist? I used to cycle alot about 3 years, belonged to a cycling club and everything -- it was wonderful. Great way to stay fit -- did too much hill climbing in the "big ring" though and blew my knees trying to keep up with the big boys. . .not smart of me. . paying for it now. .

05-20-2001, 11:40 PM
I thought you were maybe in your early 20's and a college student!!! :)

Myself, I enjoy cooking but don't have the time to prepare a big meal, besides when I do I'm a nibbler...Once in awhile I'll put together some enchiladas but with just Jim and I, those frozen boneless chicken breasts have saved us. They're so easy to make - I like them plain myself. I just toss 'em on the GFGrill frozen, and then season them with a bit of pepper if I didn't take the time to marinate them.

Other handy and healthy dishes are:

Near East Rice Pilaf (just don't put the butter in and you'll save a ton of calories - doesn't need it anyway).

Keep a jar of low-calorie pasta sauce (most of them are low calorie anyway - stick with the veggie-only and away from the alfredos) and some dried or frozen pasta around for quick meals. (If that's not enough for hubby, keep some Italian-style turkey sausage links in the freezer (separated so they don't stick together) and throw one or two on the ol' Foreman!

Actually we haven't been using George F. that much because the weather has been so nice - we've been BBQing in the backyard with our neighbors (we live in a triplex) pretty much every night!

I'm hoping that some of the other gals here have some ideas...

and YES! I am a cyclist, though not competitive. I prefer road cycling, while Jim enjoys off-road (we both went to Sea Otter Classic earlier this year!).

Take care!

05-21-2001, 07:22 PM
Hi Ladies! I too am a GF grill user. I absoutely love it. I did however stratch my first one, learned from my mistake. I grilled fish on it and the fish stuck so I took a spatala to it and stratched it :( then everything burned on it. But I did however get a newer and bigger one might I add. I use it for everything and it is so fast!! Take care Penny And good luck w/ the cooking!

05-22-2001, 02:51 PM
Hey girl you sound like me... I to do not cook....
but you said you can boil water and i've got a great side dish.
1 pkg of spiral pasta (the 3 color one taste best)..
1 pkg of frozen vegetables ( broccoli, carrots & cauliflower)
1 bottle of fat free Italian dressing or low cal
green or black olives, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes(optional)

ok... boil the pasta as directed, while your doing that run the frozen veggies under hot water ...

when pasta is done, let cool, add the vegetables, green or black olives or whatever you like...

add the dressing and let marinade for at least 1 hour...

then serve

05-23-2001, 03:05 AM
Just wanted to say thanks -- I can't believe all the information I have been getting from this site about great food ideas! It's funny when I usually diet, I eat the same two items over and over and OVER again until I can't take it anymore. I am finally realizing there are so many different types of foods and recipes to try. I guess its time to make a grocery list and head to the store!

P.S. Pat -- I will definitely be trying the pasta dish and will forward it to another friend I have been emailing on the board who also doesn't cook -- thanks a bunch!!!

05-25-2001, 05:29 AM
A good salad dressing idea is using an italian mix and adding it to fat free yogurt. I like creamy dressings, and this helps me a lot. You just need to use it up in a reasonable amount of time.

I'm a college student (see MrsJim, your advice actually did go to a college student after all), and I've discovered that you can make potatoes in the microwave. It takes about 4 minutes for a potato. Just make sure you poke it enough before microwaving it because otherwise it could explode (i think).

I also like doing casserole type dishes. I basically get whatever veggies are in my fridge, cut them up, and add them to an oven proof container. Then I add a can of soup to it. I add salt and pepper and italian seasoning too. Italian seasoning makes me feel like a gourmet cook. Then I bake it in the oven until it looks done, or I forget about it and I start burning it. But then it's just nice and crispy or chewey, so it's all good.

Rice cookers are also nice to have....just be careful where you put them; ours sputters a bit and sends starch in its vicinity.


05-26-2001, 07:23 PM
Thanks so much for the reply -- Have a quick question though -- Can you give me a recipe for one of your casserole dishes???? I'm not sure of exactly what type of seasoning to buy, how much vegetables to use or even what type, if I should use the entire can of soup, and what type of soup to use :)

Anyway -- thanks so much!!

05-27-2001, 09:34 AM
I have 3 kids and a husband and I'm a noncooker too!
My kids eat a lot of pizza, mac and cheese and Banquet chix patties. OR it's fast food. We have a very hectic schedule and I'm so tired when I get home from work that I just can get up the energy to think about what to cook! I like your idea MrsJim of the chix in the bag with your marinade. I need to check out the GF grill. My mom gave me an indoor grill but it's not as nice as the GF with the top on it. It actually made more mess than anything else. I also like the pasta/veggie idea. I would eat it, but my family wouldn't. That's one reason I'm not much of an enthusiastic cook these days. They are sooooooooooooooooo picky. If it's green, they turn their nose up to it! If it's not in the pizza food group or chicken (breaded) food group or hamburger food group; oh let me not forget the fast food group, they won't touch it! Very frustrating so, I'm on my way to find me a GF grill and to the store for some mixed veggies and pasta!
Thanks for the ideas! Any others would be much appreciated!!! ( I like the casserole ideas too!)
thanks again,

05-27-2001, 03:27 PM
It's nice to know I'm not alone! Another noncooker! :) At first I thought it would be much harder to diet being a noncooker, but I have been getting such great ideas from everyone that I know with a little bit of effort, I can make some major diet changes. By the way my hubby keeps his weight off fine and tends to eat whatever fast food he wants (not fair!) I have not been so lucky. Also with my schedule between work and school at night, I definitely don't feel like trying to cook. But so far the ideas I have been getting for recipies and what to cook, are almost equal to the time it would take me to microwave! So I must say again -- thanks everyone for all the food tips and ideas. Much appreciated!

05-28-2001, 02:08 PM
I don't have a scanner right now - but there are some terrific old "Cathy" cartoons from the late 80's/early 90's, when she gets back together with Irving (again) because her dog, Electra, is depressed without him around. He shows up 30 pounds overweight, to her surprise - then he skips lunch and the weight melts off him effortlessly (to her dismay and resentment).

Jim is the same way - all he has to do is cut out the Pop-Tarts and ride his bike a bit, and his tummy goes wayyyy down in no time. I also remember my WW days when couples would go together. The wives always seemed ticked off because they would lose maybe a pound and the hubbies would lose like five pounds. Of course they wouldn't give up their nightly beer - but left out the chips or whatever. AACK! Definitely NOT fair.

05-28-2001, 09:29 PM
Great website! I am truley inspired by your story!
I hope I can be as inspiring to others1
Thanks for telling your story!

05-29-2001, 02:09 AM
I'm sorry, but I really don't have a recipe for the casserole type things. I have an old pyrex oven cookable type thing, and I just stick in a sausage and then put frozen veggies (you know, the corn-carrots-green beans-lima bean doesn't really matter). I use the soup as a liquid thing, because otherwise the stuff will burn onto the pan. Tomato sauce, fruit juice, just about any liquid will do.
As for seasonings, just use the types of things you already like. I'm pretty bland, so I just use salt and pepper and maybe some italian seasoning mix if i'm working with tomatoes. If you like jalapenos, do that, if you like horseradish, use that. If you stick with spices you like, you shouldn't have a problem.
I am basically an add things and see how it looks type of cook. If you are making it for family, and it is too watery, call it soup. If it's too solid, call it something french. :-)

I've also been using the college students survival cookbook. It's helpful for ideas, but the stuff isn't necessarily very healthy.


05-29-2001, 10:49 AM
Thanks for the casserole tips! I'm just not very creative, therefore, I like to hear what others are doing and it gives me a start. I don't know what I can use as far as the LA weightloss program because using the cream soups, even the fat-free ones, have to be counted as a starch. They do have some soup mixes though that are supplements that I might try. Thanks for the suggestions!

05-29-2001, 12:04 PM
i've never used cream soups with my creations....aside from the tomato cream soup, but i just used water instead of milk. i've had good luck with the progresso chicken and rice soups, but i think any soup you like should work out well.
i don't know if this hint will help you or not, but my mom thickens gravy using cornstarch. she adds a little to some warm water and dissolves it. then she adds it to the gravy and brings it to a boil, and that thickens the gravy.
my mom also makes 'cream' soups by pureeing assorted squashes or other sturdy veggies and adds them to soups. her pumpkin soup is soooo yummy. i think it is basically pureed pumpkin with some chicken broth and garlic and salt and pepper. it's very good. even my boyfriend who hates squash eats it. hee hee.


06-02-2001, 12:30 PM
...I don't know if I'm the only person on this board who reads "Cathy" (the comic strip) religiously - I have for over 20 years previous post on this thread says that Irving lost 25 pounds by skipping lunch one day...

...of course, this very week the new theme is Irving being hung up about his gut!!! it is truly hilarious as that is my hubby's 'problem area' as well (great legs though).

I had the privilege of meeting Cathy Guisewite in 1991 at the Las Vegas JazzerJam convention. She was such a sweetie - signed a copy of one of her books and included a Cathy drawing as well.

If you don't get Cathy in your paper, here's the link:

They post the new ones each day - good for a giggle!