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I don't have time to cook evey day. What can I do? Or Buy?

I work and when I come home I am to tired to cook. I want a meal I can buy that is healthy but good also. What do you suggest?
Are the ready made maels any good?


Sat. Jan 28, 3:13pm

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I feel the crunch

I used to be the same way, I have a couple of comments. First of all, yes you can get healthy, low cal fast food, you just need to do a little research. All fast food places have nutritional info available, either in person or on their websites. Also many calorie books out there list popular fast foods (try calorie king, they are pretty comprehensive) Example, McDonald's grilled chicken caesar, but substitute the low fat vinaigrette is about 240 calories, and pretty satisfying. But not all salads are created equal, I've seen some at other places in the 800 cal+ range! Sub sandwiches (hold the cheese and mayo) can also be low fat and low cal. There are also many grocery store options. I wait for the sales and then stock up on my favorites, lean cuisine and weight watchers smart ones have many choices I like. I also keep soups handy, and often just heat up with some extra frozen veggies thrown in. Lastly, there really many dishes you can cook up quickly, as long as you've planned ahead and have what you need on hand. Get a little George Foreman grill or nonstick grill-pan, and in notime you can have a grilled chicken breast and fresh or frozen veggies. Watch the Food Network if available for lots of yummy ideas. Also a gazillion food websites, and often you can search by "quick" and "low cal". Good luck, with a little forethought you can have fast, no-brainer dinners in no time. Bag-o-salad with a few chopped veggies and pre-cooked chicken strips is also a great go- to. Possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

Link

Saturday, January 28, 2006, 5:03 PM

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Thanks. I did not know that the weight watchers food was in the grocery store. I thought it was something you had to order. Are their meals any good?

Saturday, January 28, 2006, 5:10 PM

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Quick fix meals

There's a show on food network- the premise is that you spend an hour or so on the weekend prepping ingredients and dinner's on the table every night in about 15 minutes. Her meals aren't always low cal but once you get the hang of thinking like that you could really make just about anything.

Link

Saturday, January 28, 2006, 8:10 PM

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what are you doing that's more important than ensuring you're eating healthy? (if it's a pre-packaged meal, or comes from a fast food restaurant, I don't personally consider it healthy- regardless of the calorie count)

Take one day a week, and make things ahead of time. Grill some chicken- you can throw it on a salad, add a baked potato (8min in micro). make soup, store some in the freezer. Harboil some eggs- you can make egg salad, or add them to a salad. Frozen veggies can be nuked. Or buy a countertop grill- cooks food fast.

With proper thought and advance preparation, you don't need much time from walking through the door to sitting down to eat.

Saturday, January 28, 2006, 9:29 PM

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I guess I just never thought of preparing food in advance. I have a little girl(7 yrs old) and my concern is she need to eat healthy. But also need my help when we get home in the afternoon. Around 6:00 pm. And she has to be in bed by 8

Saturday, January 28, 2006, 9:42 PM

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Fruits and Vegies

I made the mistake of giving my children sweets after every dinner meal and not insisting they eat lots of fruits and veggies. 4 of my children are thin and trim becuase they burn it off, but I have one daughter who is very sedetary and she has a real weight problem. I wish I had been a better mom and insisted that they eat lots of F& V with every meal and by them doing it, I would do it and then I wouldn't be here trying to loos all the pounds that I am. Just a thought. Debbie

Saturday, January 28, 2006, 10:10 PM

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Use a crock pot. Throw a bag of frozen vegetables and some meat (stew beef or a couple chicken breasts work well), plus a can of tomato sauce or just some water w/ salt and pepper or a can of chicken stock or veggie stock plus more water, etc., and some rice, barley, or lentils if you want some carbs, in the crock pot in the morning (takes about 3 minutes, you don't need to thaw the veggies or anything) and cook on "low" all day long. When you get home, it's ready to eat. And you can easily make enough to have leftovers for dinner the next night too. There are also "crockpot helper" meals that you can buy in the grocery store. Or you can use fresh veggies, etc. You can also use just about any soup as a base, plus some water. You can cook a whole brisket in a crock pot. There are so many healthy, yummy meals you can make in there, it just takes some experimenting.

Monday, January 30, 2006, 10:33 AM

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Also, you can pick up a whole rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for about $5, depending on where you live. It's great, hot, and healthy (especially if you remove the skin from the part that you eat). If you have a salad bar at your grocery store, you can make a totally healthy, unique salad to go on the side, with tons of veggies. You can make one large salad and split it up into bowls when you get home, for as many people as are eating. Totally simple!

Monday, January 30, 2006, 10:35 AM

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Hey there. I have this same problem. You can either spend a Sunday cooking foods ahead of time and then freezing them, so that you can pull them out as you need to...buy lean cuisine skillet meals, etc. or use a company like letsdish.com. You say you have a daughter and if there is a letsdish in your area, or anything similar it could be a good thing for you two to do as a mother/daughter activity. (Basically go to a location and pick from different recipes and make the meals together, and package them with their stuff to be frozen and used at later times)

Link

Monday, January 30, 2006, 10:43 AM

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I am one of those who likes to plan ahead - I usually make a meal plan for two weeks at at time, and I prepare as much as I can in one session. I do shop two times - I get all the meat and enough veggies, dairy and perishables for one week. The second week, I just have to restock on fruit and veg, milk, or anything I've run out of (mustard, ketchup, etc).

I'll grill/bake/boil a bag of the frozen chicken breasts and cut them into strips or chunks that I can use in stir-fry, soups, chicken salad for lunch or casseroles. I brown, drain and rinse 3-5 lbs. of ground beef at a time (great for sloppy joes, chili, tacos, etc.). The beef and chicken both refreeze well after they've been cooked, and if you have your meals planned out ahead of time, you know what to take out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge the night before. I also process veggies and store them in bags in the refrigerator - chop and broccoli, green beans, snap peas, carrots (or use baby carrots), onion and green pepper so that I just grab and dump them into whatever I need them in or can steam a batch of broccoli. I do prepare veggies each week, because I've found that they just don't keep for much longer than a week.

I've been doing this for years now, so I only take a Saturday morning or a Sunday afternoon to get it all prepped (it does take practice because it's a tad overwhelming to see all of the food that needs to be dealt with), but it's nice to feel like you're in control of what's going into your food and knowing ahead of time what you're going to eat.

It also helps me avoid the pratfalls of fast food. I hate waste, and if I've already got something going in the oven or crockpot or ready to go on the grill, I won't let it go bad and eat fast food instead.

Just some suggestions - it really does help in many ways - reduced calories, reduced fat, and reduced expenses. My family likes it, too, because I don't have to spend nearly as much time in the kitchen each night.

Monday, January 30, 2006, 11:29 AM

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soup is super...

especially if you are single and find your veggies wilt away before you can use them. Make a big pot of a hearty vegetable soup , or a low fat veggie-heavy chili. The chile can be served over brown rice one night, over salad greens another. Soup just gets better each day, and with rice or bread, and a quick salad, is filling. Especially good in winter.

Monday, January 30, 2006, 10:17 PM

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Have you tried the Campbells Soup to go soups? These are good for a quick pick-me-up. However, if sodium is an issue, you may not want to eat to many of these...

Crockpot soups and stews are definitely a good thing as well. Make sure not to use too many canned veggies or soup stocks, or the sodium will be high...

Better to use fresh or frozen beef, chicken, pork, lamb, or whatever meat (or fresh beans if you can find them, if you are vegetarian) you plan to use with fresh or frozen veggies-- it will tend to taste "sweeter" and not have so much sodium.

I use fresh herbs as much as possible as well:
Shallots
Green onions
Garlic cloves
Cilantro
Basil
Dill
Fresh ground pepper
Sea salt
Fresh ginger
Onions

etc... anything that will give a burst of flavor--dried spices just don't have the same "oomph"

Tuesday, January 31, 2006, 9:58 AM

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fast dinners for working Moms

Here are some quick ones, but you need to shop ahead....
1. put the kids in the bath... while they're getting clean grill some lamb, or pork chops and make a salad
2. grill or fry some fish - it cooks really fast, and then squeeze lemon over it. Eat with salad or steamed veges
3. cook ahead - make up a big lasagne, pot of soup, quiche or fritatta. Then all you need to do is heat up the meal and cut up a salad. Try freezing casseroles etc. It's a much better alternative to fast food.
4. If all else fails buy a hot chicken on the way home and have it with salad. (no fries).

Hope this helps

Sunday, February 19, 2006, 4:30 AM

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While I don't have kids at home, I am pretty much the same boat, leave for work around 7 am and don't get home some nights till 6 or later. (and I only live 15 mins. from work)
I have found myself on Sunday afternoons, I will cook, either a big pot of soup, It will last 2-3 days for my husband & I as long as he doesn't go overboard. (he loves soups) I have found several good soup recipes that are healthy in cooking light and different places on the web.
This past Sunday, I grilled 2 steaks for myself, cut them up into 3oz servings, and put them in baggies in the refrigerator. I used the meat for topping on my salad everyday at work.
Haven't decided what I want this week but since its cold & damp here I am sure chili will be on the menu for at least one meal, I will make it with lean beef and ground turkey.

Sunday, February 19, 2006, 9:53 AM

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Morning star farms saves by butt (literally, from getting fatter). We eat their chik patties (150 calories) and garden burgers (100 calories) at least twice a week. Throw those in a sandwhich (sarah lee delightful bread is 45 cals per slice) and then have some organic butternut squash soup (100 calories per cup) or a salad with it. Super filling and very low cal and very very fast.

Sunday, February 19, 2006, 10:34 AM

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Are you feeding just yourself or your whole family?

If it's just you then try lean cuisine healthy spa meals - at $3.99 each they're not cheap, but they're cheaper than take-out, and at our local store they're occasionally on sale for $2 each. Stock up on a few for emergencies, they're really quite tasty. Follow it with fruit or yoghurt.

Sunday, February 19, 2006, 11:30 AM

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Crockpot

I set everything in it in the morn (takes 5 mins tops) and you come home to cooked, healthy food.

Sunday, February 19, 2006, 1:00 PM

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My goodness, how does it not occur to people to plan ahead?

My Mom worked more than full-time and fed the whole family (I point to her since I work more than full-time but only feed myself, which is easier.) by cooking one day a week. On Sunday she would mix up some bread dough, and while that was rising she'd be putting together casseroles and salads for the whole week. Then she'd knock the dough down and shape it into bread pans -- by the time it had risen a second time everything that needed to be baked for the week could go into the oven at once! And while that was baking she'd mix up some cookie dough so the cookies could go in next....

The key to making this work is having a freezer and a microwave, of course. Oh, and training your kids to do the weekly major houseclean while you are doing the cooking!

Monday, February 20, 2006, 10:56 AM

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By the way, you can get little "divided containers" if you don't like your food touching each other...


Some other Quickie meal fixes:

I love Trader Joe's Green Curry sauce... Although it can be a bit high in fat (I think about 13 gr per serving (Plain), if you add a lot of veggies and other things, it isn't quite as bad overall...

Here's what I do:

Make 1 Frozen jasmine or brown rice packets (Trader Joe's--the flavor & texture is phenomenal! Beats "Uncle Ben's" (yuck!) any day, and only takes 3 minutes in the microwave. Each "packet" is 2 servings of rice. :-)

Then, in a separate bowl,

I will take some frozen breast or thigh fillets (again, Trader Joe's -- I like theirs because they don't add broth to theirs) or perhaps some frozen shrimp or mixed seafoods...

Thaw the chicken or seafood in the microwave. Then cook on high until nearly fully cooked.

Pour in a jar of the Thai Green Curry Simmering sauce.

Add some frozen veggies-- some combos I like (and yes, I like mushrooms):
Frozen green beans & mushrooms
frozen asparagus, green beans & Mushrooms
frozen peas & carrots, green beans
Snow peas & thinly sliced baby carrots & mini corn
broccoli florets, sliced baby carrots & mini corn (canned-- rinse & drained)

You can always add more veggies-- that will decrease the fat per serving by stretching the sauce out more. Also, it adds fiber to fill you up. :-)

Cook together until the chicken or seafood is fully cooked and the veggies are still bright in color but cooked. For fresh carrots, you may want to microwave them separately for a few minutes before adding to the dish so that they are "al dente", but not too crunchy...

Once the curry is finished cooking, pour over rice & serve! :-)

All-in-all, I think this only takes about 10-15 minutes maximum from freezer to dinner table!

The Trader Joes's simmer sauces are pretty delicious, just make sure you read the labels regarding sodium and fat. (the pepito sauce is good, but very salty-- so you will want to add a lot of veggies to tone down the salt-- and do not use CANNED beef or you will feel like you're eating a salt lick.

The pepito sauce is great with low carb tortillas and a bit of fresh salsa & Fage total 0% FF yogurt (in place of sour cream)

Monday, February 20, 2006, 12:37 PM

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this is a cheap and easy way to make soup that will last for days, depending on how many people are eating it.

This is a video we made that actually shows you how to make the soup step by step.

Link

Saturday, September 19, 2009, 12:00 PM

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this is another series of videos we made on how to make carrot ginger soup.

-PEERtrainer

Link

Saturday, September 19, 2009, 12:02 PM

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cook and freeze

I cook up big batches of whatever it is that I like, freeze it in dinner size portions.
Every day at breakfast ask yourself: Whats for dinner? and be sure you have it defrosting and ready to go... don't count on having to go pick something up to make the meal complete...

Lunches: I grill a ton of very spiced up chicken cut into bites, make a huge pot of brown rice and toast cashews... line up a bunch of small gladware, fill it with rice, chicken, cashews and add some frozen spinach... you've got a week/months worth of lunches ready to go :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009, 10:45 PM

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If you have a traderjoes near you, I know that they sell packages of eddimamis-which are so healthy AND so yummy!! But that might not fill you up, so I have a yogurt with it, and a fruit-or instead of the yogurt, Ill have a bag soychips. YUM!

Saturday, August 28, 2010, 10:59 PM

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Appliances

I agree with other suggestions re slow cookers (crock pots). It's a life-saver for working mums and cooks some things such as beans much better than any other way. I would also suggest investing in a rice cooker. The cheapest ones just have a Cook button which then switches off to Keep Warm once the rice is cooked, while more sophisticated models have a timer and various programmes such as brown rice. You can cook many other things in a rice cooker, not just riice--google for ideas. With a little rack inside it can be used as a steamer. If you can afford it (and have enough counter space) you could also invest in a steamer with several baskets, so your meat/chicken/fish, veggies and rice are all steaming together at the same time (you may need to remove some items before others so they don't overcook). It makes the creamiest rice pudding! Another appliance I can't do without is the bread machine. Apart from knowing what goes into my bread, and making dough for pizzas and brioche, I like the fact that I can have fresh bread at any time without having to run to the shops. I guess I would be stating the obvious to mention a food processor, which makes short shrift of chopping, slicing, shredding and even mixing.
I'll also agree with other suggestions of making a weekly or bi-weekly menu and cooking several items at the weekend. Here's a meal planner:
http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/save_time_and_money
Make planned-overs (cook more than you need for one meal) and use these for a new dish. Examples are: roast a very large chicken or joint for Sunday dinner, then use leftover meat in a pie (try Bisquick Impossible Pie recipes) and boil the bones as the base for a soup--three meals out of one. Or make double quantity of spag bol sauce, have with pasta on one day, then use the other half for shepherd's pie or moussaka or pasticcio on another day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010, 1:58 AM

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Practical and healthy food for you

Prepare biscuits following instructions on the can (350 degrees
for 15-18 min.). When you remove the biscuits from the oven brush the top
of each with melted butter.

Link

Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 2:09 AM

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