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Cooking funk

I'm in a real funk when it comes to cooking. I usually prepare breakfast and lunch for my partner and I, then cook a meal when we get home. (He does his share too, more often over weekends.) By the time I get home, I'm exhausted, and the last thing I feel like doing is preparing food. But if I don't (and if he is also too tired) we end up eating junk.

Any suggestions on how to get motivated? I was into the swing of things a few weeks ago, but am battling right now.

Tue. Dec 5, 2:02pm

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I've heard of people (not myself) who have one "cooking day" a week. They cook all their meals for the week in one day and then just heat them on the day they want to eat them.
Or, what I do (when I can) is just PLAN the meals for the week when I go grocery shopping. That way I know what I'm cooking and on what day and I know I have all the ingredients. For me, half the hassle of cooking dinner is figuring out what to have and then tracking down the ingredients.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006, 2:07 PM

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i suggest this all the time...take a few hours for food shopping and preparation-one evening or plan for a weekend morning. make up some bulk meals, like lasagna or baked ziti, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes w/ veggies. you can either invest in reusable microwave containers or use what you have. after cooking the meals, portion out into serving sizes and freeze for those nights when you nor your partner feel like cooking. these meals can also be a lifesaver if unexpected people show up at dinner time...just pop in the microwave (or oven, depending on how much time you have), heat & eat.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006, 2:10 PM

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I am big into the 'cooking day' concept and the meal planning concept. It may take a few hours on a Sunday but OMG!! The time you save during the week more than makes up for it. I plan for the week by writing down every meal I want to make and then note the ingredients I need next to it - I write down dinner for the week on the whiteboard on the fridge in case the husband gets home before me and doesn't know what to cook. I shop and then make breakfast, lunch and dinner for the entire week on Sun evening and don't even THINK about cooking during the week. Just grab some containers and eat, or heat it up in the oven and serve. Friday nights are date night (free) and weekends we usually do something simple like soup and sandwiches, omlettes (w/lots of veggies) or just cold cereal so there are only 4 dinners to plan. It's the only way I can have a full-time job and not let convenience and eating out rule the day.

The only exceptions are if I plan something quick that needs to be made fresh - like last night I poached salmon and tossed together carrots, broccolli and artichokes with a bit of pasta in chkn broth w/a bit of butter, garlic and seasonings. Stuff like that only takes ~15 minutes and only requires that you have the ingedients on hand. I planned enough pasta w/veggies for 2 nights and I'll add some cooked chicken (which I keep in the freezer) and toss it all together in a light sauce made from roasted red pepper paste, chicken broth and corn starch. It'll take even less time than last night's dinner.

I know exactly how you feel about getting home and being too tired and beat to make anything. Plus I go to the gym every night after work which eats up more time Making a ton of food on a Sun evening isn't always fun, but if I don't do it - it's nearly impossible for me to keep on track.

Best wishes to you!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006, 3:19 PM

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If you don't mind cooking breakfast/lunch in the AM, try making crockpot meals. There are some store-made ones that really aren't too bad for you (other than the sodium content), and range from "just add water" or "just add chicken and water" to ones that you can make yourself, like beef stew - my fav recipe - throw in a package of stew meat, a bag of frozen stew veggies, and some beef bouillion and some lentils or rice, etc., plus water, in the AM and leave it on low all day. Then when you get home, dinner is cooked and waiting for you! Plus, it's easy to make plenty for leftovers!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006, 3:46 PM

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We use our crock pot all the time! Try a pork roast cooked in water, taco seasoning and green chili. Add onion and whatever other veggies you like and when you get home shred and put it on warm corn tortillas. SO low cal, SO good! And easy if you don't mind throwing it together in the AM or the night before.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006, 4:05 PM

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I'm a "throw it together" type of cook.

My hubby & I LOVE Trader Joes--they have some awesome in the jar simmer sauces that make throwing things together a snap.

Here's a meal that only takes minutes to "prepare", and yet is not too terriby time consuming. Nor is it outrageously unhealthy. From fridge/freezer to table, I think it's only about 15-30 minutes (mostly waiting for the microwave to cook the meats).

1 jar Trader Joe's Green Thai Curry Sauce
4 chicken breasts (or thighs) - Frozen TJ ones are what we use) (or 2 cups of shrimp, or pork chops)
1 pkg of frozen veggies - green beans, asparagus or edamame "Soycoutash" is what we use)

1 pkt TJ - Frozen Brown or Jasmine Rice (comes in 1-cup / 2 serving packets in a box of 3)

1) Microwave the chicken breast until fully cooked.
2) Mix in the TJ simmer sauce and veggies.
3) Microwave until the veggies are tender

4) In a separate dish, Microwave 1 packet (2 - 1/2 cup servings) of TJ Frozen Rice. - This only takes 3 minutes - take 1 packet and split between 2 dishes for 2 1/2 cup servings)

5) Pour the chicken and veggies on the rice and eat!

This is something you can do very easily with other sauces or soups... such as the following:

Condensed Mushroom Soup
Chicken, pork or canned tuna, chicken or turkey
Mushrooms, Broccoli, beans, or mixed veggies

Spaghetti Sauce
Chicken, beef, orange rough (or some other firm fish)
frozen peppers, zucchini, italian veggies

Pour over rice or egg noodles.

These definitely beat the "microwave box meals" in flavor, and yet, you are still using mostly "raw" ingredients vs. processed ones... (the soup / sauces are processed, but not too much).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006, 7:38 PM

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I'm with the Crock Pot people--I love mine. Though I'd never use the prepacked meals (I actually laughed when I saw them the first time, such a ridiculous consumer irony to me--more expensive and less healthy but not significantly easier than tossing in a roast or some boneless chicken thighs, some baby carrots and some quartered potatoes).

Also, there are some things that are easy to make extra of and freeze. I always double my spaghetti sauce and freeze the extra in an inexpensive freezer-jam container (found with the canning supplies, usually). I double chili and black bean soup. I cook extra squash and freeze the puree--a fast squash soup for another day, just blend the puree with some milk and onion and cook gently with pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Most soups can be doubled and the extra frozen. If the soup contains pasta, I cook it separately and add it to the portion we'll be eating immediately, because pasta doesn't freeze well. If it contains potatoes, I don't freeze it, because I don't like the taste potatoes develop in the fridge or freezer, but some people don't mind it.

I almost always have something fast-to-fix in a freezer container because of this.

Another thing I do (and whether this will work for you depends on how you feel about the healthiness level of bread)--I sometime bake (though one could buy at Great Harvest or another good bakery) good, whole-grain, flavorful bread varieties, and then we just have bread, a little good cheese, and some fresh fruit for dinner. My family loves this.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006, 11:45 AM

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OP here... thanks for all the suggestions! I ordered a crock pot yesterday :-) And I also realized last night that I need to do my grocery shopping on a Saturday morning, when I have more time. That way I can do more planning, and I'm not exhausted from the day. If I shop at night, I usually end up forgetting something, and having to go back every couple days.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006, 12:28 PM

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I started using Mega Menu Mailers from You prepare 20 meals and freeze them. Then the night before you thaw the meal in the fridge and cook it for dinner the next day. You could do the same thing with crockpot meals by making your own crockpot packages and freezing them rather than buying them from the store.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006, 12:37 PM

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For days when you're really tired, in a blue funk, and the pantry is bare, keep a few frozen food dinners from the grocery store in your freezer. Marie Callender's frozen food dinners are much tastier and more filling than most frozen dinners and they cook up in 5-8 minutes in the microwave. Sure, there is more sodium, but that's a lot better than you and your husband eating junk food for dinner.

Friday, December 08, 2006, 10:25 AM

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A single serving of a Marie Callendar meal can contain close to my entire caloric content for the whole day! I can get onboard with keeping a frozer dinner selection on hand, but definitely keep a good eye on the nutrition label.

Friday, December 08, 2006, 12:57 PM

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Huh? The Marie Callender Cheesy Chicken Breast & Rice that I'm holding in my hand is 480 calories for the entire meal -- way less than the meals I may cook for myself. Others in my freezer now are in a similar calorie range.

Saturday, December 09, 2006, 9:00 AM

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I encounter the cooking funk often. I find sometimes I can break it by finding new recipes I'd like to try. and have good ones. i pick an ingedient or two, say "chicken" and "ginger" and then plan my shopping around the recipe.

Saturday, December 09, 2006, 6:50 PM

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