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Old 01-06-2013, 11:16 AM   #1  
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One of the things I'm finding is that the amount of time I'm spending cooking has drastically increased with trying to eat better. There are some healthy convenience foods available, but the cost is much higher.

Any hints from other 50+ers who don't want to spend half of every day cooking on ways to have food in the house that is good for us?
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:51 AM   #2  
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Default let the slow cooker cook for you

I am single and work an average of 50hours a week. I don't have time to cook every meal every day and I don't have anyone at home to pick up the slack. I've started cooking a roast...lamb, ham, beef, elk... or whatever strikes my mood for that week in a slow cooker on Sundays and that way I always have protein available to warm up through the week. That way all i need to spend time cooking is the veggies and sides which has drastically reduced time spent in the kitchen.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:55 PM   #3  
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It's not too hard if you plan ahead. Do your menu and shop for the food on the weekend, and when you get home prep the food for the week. You can dice the onions and chop celery. Make a meat loaf and freeze it for during the week. Take it out in the morning and throw it in the oven when you get home. Same thing with most food. Cook them the night before while you're not busy. Prep the salad fixings. You'll get the hang of it after awhile.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:44 PM   #4  
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Betsy,

I'm with JL. If you have a crockpot, that is a great way to go. I have a small one that makes 3 servings as well as a large one so I can split things up. Casseroles you can split up, and roasts, and soups. I like to make a bunch of chicken breasts at once. Then I can make different portions for different meals: casseroles, shred some for paninis or tacos or BBQ or chicken salad. I really have a hard time planning ahead without a lot of thought. My boys were picky eaters with ADHD and polar opposites. I was really happy when I could just make 1 meal that everyone would eat, most nights it was 2 or more. Some of the magazines or online with weekly menus are okay, mostly to help plan dinner. Maybe just try doubling one of your favorites and freeze half. I wish I lived somewhere with family food swaps. You cook 1 thing enough for every family in the swap, then swap and come home with dinners for the week. I made a hash brown casserole for breakfast last week, split it in 3 parts. The 2nd part I added veggies to and warmed it on the stove later in the week as a side dish for pork chops. The 3rd I added some cream of mushroom soup and cubed ham and cheese and baked it, made veggies on the side. So, it doesn't have to be any thing with meat, just versatile. you know, now that I think of it, if you look on the Internet, there are sites with meal stacking. Our local TV station has a bi-weekly session on stacking that puts it all up on the Internet. Maybe that would help your cooking, Betsy.

Maybe we need a planning meals thread to help eachother out!
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:48 AM   #5  
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These are all great tips. The one thing that I don't do well and need to work on is how to take one meal and turn it into several. I was talking to a friend and she said that she cooks a pot roast in the Crock Pot for one meal, then makes a stew, then takes the stew and makes pot pies. Just need to get a lot more creative in my approach. I'm also lazy on the "front end." For instance, I might buy a pack of steaks that are on sale but not separate them before putting them in the freezer. Considering that I'm retired, there's not a lot of excuse for the laziness. Thanks!
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:21 PM   #6  
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sounds like your friend is into meal stacking. worth a try!
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:14 PM   #7  
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Salad is my go to food when I don't want to cook. I make a basic vinagrette dressing in the bottom of the bowl (a dab of mustard, olive oil and balsamic vinegar - I use less oil than vinegar to keep the calories down and just make a small amount because it goes a long way). This is much healthier than bottled dressing which is heavy on sugar and additives. Then I throw in any lettuce I have - the greener the better, along with any left over vegetables, tomatoes, olives, whatever. Toss it. Then I serve it with leftover meat or chicken on top. Makes a really quick low calorie lunch or a light dinner. I stay away from carbs, but you could throw some whole wheat pasta in there, and I made a salad a couple of days ago when I didn't have any appropriate meat so I threw in about 1/3 of a can of garbanzo beans (chick peas).

You didn't say whether you are cooking for others which would make a big difference. I too am a big crock pot fan. And those already roasted chickens you can get in the supermarket are big time savers too. Serve it warm the first time, then cut up the leftovers for salad, chili, soup, etc.

I also cook in quantity and freeze. I travel a lot for work, and my husband stays home. He's not much of a cook so I always leave him with a big pot of soup or chili with a lot of beans and veggies in it - he's eating healthy too.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:41 PM   #8  
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I'm fighting this good fight too! I try to make extra lean ground beef when we have tacos. Save it for a salad. Leftover ham and turkey from the holidays has been a frequent weeknight staple lately. So frequent, that I'm going to try that crockpot chicken breast tip up above and shred my own!

I usually eat Healthy choice meals for lunch, but I don't mind making my own if I have time!
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:46 AM   #9  
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I'm laughing at myself (a frequent occurrence at this stage of life) as I did a survey of the pantry, the refrigerator freezer, and the deep freeze in the pantry. Mind you, I'm single, live alone, don't have to cook for anyone else. Evidently I have done a wonderful job of preparing foods and freezing them. I have not done a wonderful job of actually using them.

So, in my own version of being obsessive compulsive, I have decided to do a thorough inventory of the freezers, put it in a spreadsheet, and post it on the freezer door so that I'll actually know what I have on hand.

I'm going to to challenge myself to not buy any more groceries other than perishables until the inventory goes down. I imagine I can go between 6-8 MONTHS just eating what's in there!
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:58 AM   #10  
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Me too, frequently laughing at myself! Haha, Betsy. You were doing yourself a good turn unconsciously. I like that spreadsheet idea. I went in my chest freezer the other day and I have no idea what is in there, because I didn't fill it up--seems my husband was buying things without thinking and I can't even find the things I DID put in there. Even if he just wrote it down it would help! Have a good day.

Kathy
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:58 PM   #11  
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Betsy, you are my soul sister. I have a husband who is a picky eater so I usually make something different for me anyway. We made a pact with ourselves that we would do no more "stocking up" at Costco until we got the contents of the freezer reduced enough that we could open the freezer door and take something out without danger of being totally overcome by an avalanche!!
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:16 PM   #12  
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I too work full time, and I find I get great satisfaction enjoying a nice Sunday afternoon cooking /prepping up all my meals for the week, I steam an abundance of veggies, and I grill my different meats, make my salads, ie; tuna/ egg, and by Sunday night my fridge is busting with tupperware and great meal concoctions for the week.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:19 AM   #13  
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Definitely seeing a trend here with those of you who are able to cook up a lot of a food and then use it in different ways. Hhhmmmm, sounds like you actually do menu planning!

Thanks for the tips. I also need to do more perusal of my cookbooks since I had bookcases specially built in the kitchen to hold my collection!
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:43 AM   #14  
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Saw some good ideas. I haven't thought about hard cooking some eggs in a while. I'll work on that. Thanks ladies. Kathy
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