cutting out processed food

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I hate cooking. This leads to us eating a lot of boxed meals and canned foods. I know I need to get away from this stuff but I don't know how. Anyone have simple suggestions for a non cook with two picky young kids? Would following an actual diet plan help?

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  • Steph_135
    Steph_135 Posts: 3,280 Member
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    I would suggest trying to find some simple recipes to make. I really only know two good recipes, but they are tested and approved! If your kids are young, try to persuade them to eat something knew. They might turn up their noses at first, but maybe they will try it and like it eventually.

    Or just make simple things: eggs, chicken, steamed veggies. These are super easy (just thrown in oven or a pot) and need little preparation. I always fall back on these.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,876 Member
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    why do you hate to cook? Really, there isn't an alternative. I follow a diet plan laid out by my coach (most days)...it consists primarily of whole foods and meals prepared and cooked from whole food ingredients...so even if you follow a meal plan, you're going to need to cook if you don't want to eat processed foods.

    Really...there's commercially processed foods and there are whole foods...

    If you can read, you can cook...and there are literally *kitten* tons of easy and quick recipes out there.
  • Tea_Mistress
    Tea_Mistress Posts: 105 Member
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    Well I had to start cooking when I got serious about losing weight, but I've ALWAYS been a ..lazy cook? Like I'll chuck most of vegetables in a pot and boil them, stick some meat or fish in the oven or fry up an omelette. pretty basic stuff really
    ~ using herbs and spices jazzes up things incredibly
  • tomatoey
    tomatoey Posts: 5,459 Member
    edited January 2015
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    Yeah, I'm lazy too (and picky, but that's another story). This works for me:
    1. Pick a protein that's easy. Grab a roasted chicken from the deli/grocery store on the way home. Pork or steak can be grilled on the stove-top in no time with a grill pan. You can stir-fry things super fast in a wok. (You can bake things, too, but that obviously takes longer, oven needs to heat up.)
    2. Pick 1-2 intensely coloured veg to cook, either green or yellow/orange*. Broccoli, zucchini, green beans, asparagus, brussel sprouts, red peppers, red cabbage are ones I go to.
    3. Pick your cooking flavours. I often just like butter and salt, or lemon and oil, or garlic and oil. Herbs/spices are nice. So are marinades (obv for stir fry).
    4. Pick a grain. Pasta, rice, bread.
    5. Add a leafy salad if you want to, or instead of the cooked veg if no time.

    Also, pasta's a lifesaver. You can throw leftover chicken in there, or maybe some sausage, or ham. (I'm bad and like full-fat pork sausage, but you could do turkey sausage).

    I agree about omelettes, those are ridiculously easy.

    On Sundays, you can make a massive beef or pork roast that can help with lunches later (sandwiches).

    *this is to cover your nutrition

    ^^^ that's if you hate freezing / unfreezing stuff (i.e. batch cooking). It means shopping 2 x a week (every 3 days or so) so the stuff is all right in your fridge.

    Also that's just for dinner, obviously. I have no idea about feeding a whole family for breakfast and lunch or handling kids' preferences. For myself, I usually like eggs and toast for brek. Lunch varies (sandwiches, often).
  • TOBEADIME
    TOBEADIME Posts: 17 Member
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    I cut fruit like mangos and kiwi with a cookie cutter for my nephew, and I eat the outside cuttings, also I up our fruit intake with my trusty yonanna's maker he got me for Christmas. You can always switch up your pasta for brown rice pasta or the quinoa variety, just as easy as KD. You can also cook once and eat twice, roast a chicken for dinner one night, and then throw the bones with a little meat on them into a pot with some water, carrots, celery and onions, the meat will fall off the bones, all you have to do is pull out the bones and add more veggies and some barley for a delicious homemade chicken soup. It literally makes itself!
  • pokegurl
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    I hate cooking too, lazy and have no knack for it. During the week I will totally cook two meals, a kid friendly one and an adult one. Love fresh salmon or even making salmon patties with the canned stuff plus my favorite veggie as a side. I like home made veggie chili and lasagna too. Baked chicken breasts with a small side of pasta and fruit bowl, keep things simple to start.
  • Christine_72
    Christine_72 Posts: 16,049 Member
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    Start out with a simple cookbook, and go from there. As for fussy kids, they'll soon learn to eat what's infront of them when there's no other alternative. ..
  • Aviva92
    Aviva92 Posts: 2,333 Member
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    it's my new years resolution to cook more. don't really cook much and never even actually used my oven i made this resolution to. i use allrecipes.com. found some kickass pancakes on there.
  • Aviva92
    Aviva92 Posts: 2,333 Member
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    but before my resolution, i always made fried eggs with various fillings and steamed vegetables. those things are easy.

    actually, making lots of other things are easy too. i just never did it.
  • RodaRose
    RodaRose Posts: 9,562 Member
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    It is easier to cook if you have the right gadgets / appliances.
    Some ideas: crockpot, rice cooker, microwave steamer, metal steamer for veggies, food processor.
    Watching Alton Brown on youtube can help you become a good cook.
  • Xiaolongbao
    Xiaolongbao Posts: 854 Member
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    1. Buy healthy ingredients.
    2. Google "name of ingredients, recipe, easy"
    3. Cook.

    Seriously, the internet is amazing. I'm always googling for recipes, I always put the word easy or simple in the search and it always delivers. Also don't be afraid to experiment. Last week (I only cook once a week and then eat the same base food all week) I made an amazingly delicious sweet potato thing. (http://healthyblenderrecipes.com/recipes/super_easy_savoury_slow_cooker_sweet_potatoes)

    It's a slow cooker recipe. I don't own a slow cooker so I just made it in a wok with the heat turned very low. I left out the sugar (why on earth would you need sugar, sweet potato is sweet) and left out the cilantro (I live in Bulgaria, I can't just waltz into the supermarket and pick up that sort of thing in the middle of winter). It turned out great.

    I'm not saying every experiment I've attempted has been fabulous but most recipes (excluding baked goodies) turn out pretty well even if you follow the instructions in only the vaguest sense.

    As for picky kids - I'm a bit of a tough love believer. Picky kids are picky because they get away with it. Kids need to be trained to have a wide range of foods they'll eat. Humans (even little ones) do not starve themselves to death because they aren't getting to eat the food of their choice.
  • alereck
    alereck Posts: 343 Member
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    No. The only way to have a decent nutritious diet is to cook at least one meal in your day, hopefully the biggest. If you can't cook for lunch or dinner you are not getting your vitamins, minerals and everything else you need and will be getting a load of stuff you don't need like sodium and sugar.

    We live busy lives, I have a 2 and a 5 year old, full time job, part time school, husband, house, older parents. I cook one to two meals daily and the rest is processed food. But not getting at least one meal means you are just being lazy and unwilling to change.

    Learn to cook simple dishes, it's not hard to pop chicken drumsticks in the oven for 40 minutes, veggies take 3 minutes to steam, pasta 7 minutes to boil, sauteed veggies and legumes in a skillet with salt and pepper for less than 10 minutes. Most days I can get a nutritious meal in less than 30 minutes with about 10 minutes of prep time.

    Learn how to do it.
  • StraubreyR
    StraubreyR Posts: 631 Member
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    If you can follow directions, you can follow a recipe! I cook just about everything from scratch. It is a skill like anything else, and gets easier with practice. Start with making things you know you and your kids like. That being said, I wouldn't overload yourself trying to cook it all from the start. Try one or two recipes per week and build up from there.

    One website I use often is Skinnytaste. They have healthier versions of all sorts of recipes, many are kid friendly.
  • snowflake930
    snowflake930 Posts: 2,188 Member
    edited January 2015
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    1. Buy healthy ingredients.
    2. Google "name of ingredients, recipe, easy"
    3. Cook.

    ^^This. You have the world at your fingertips. There are an unlimited number of healthy recipes on the internet. Choose ingredients that you and your children like and search out recipes. Cooking is not hard. If you can read and follow directions, you can cook. Plus you have the added benefit of more nutritious food. A win/win situation for you and your children. A healthier way to eat as you will not be ingesting all of the added sodium, sugars and unpronounceable preservatives and other things that are added to overly processed, packaged foods, or take out food. Your choice.
  • Nerruse
    Nerruse Posts: 40 Member
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    Not all food needs to be cooked, either. Salads are incredibly versatile and don't need to be the standard lettuce, tomato, cucumber all the time. Sliced up fruits and vegetables with cream cheese, peanut butter, etc are very quick and simple snacks. Cucumber slices with a little bit of Italian dressing, so good. And I can eat olives by the can.

    Usually I toss a few chicken breasts in the slow cooker on Sunday, shred them up and use that as a base for my meals throughout the week. If you precook the meat it can take literally just a few minutes to whip up a good meal. If you're really pressed for time you can get a rotisserie chicken at the market and use that. I'll put the chicken in my salads for work meals and do simple one pan meals (think stir fry) at home. Towards the end of the week I use the rest of the chicken in soup or chili to carry me through the weekend and then it starts all over again on Sunday.

    Eggs are a quick and easy breakfast, you can also do overnight oatmeal in a slow cooker I think; never done it myself. Or even something like fruit salad; I do that in the summer sometimes.
  • miriamtob
    miriamtob Posts: 436 Member
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    The meal planning service cooksmarts.com changed my life. The food is so healthy and delicious. I thought I hated cooking, but realized with cooksmarts that it was the menu planning and making a shopping list that I hated. I'd recommend trying their free three weeks of meals!
  • Francl27
    Francl27 Posts: 26,372 Member
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    samchez0 wrote: »
    I hate cooking. This leads to us eating a lot of boxed meals and canned foods. I know I need to get away from this stuff but I don't know how. Anyone have simple suggestions for a non cook with two picky young kids? Would following an actual diet plan help?

    One step at a time. Buy a George Foreman grill - I pretty much use it every night. You can just plop any meat on it and it's done in 3-8 minutes. Then buy frozen veggies (I stock up on the steam in the bag kind when they are $1 because it's easier and tastier). Just microwave them for 4 minutes and you have a meal. Or buy fresh veggies and just boil them for 5 minutes. You can add rice or potatoes or pasta if you want.

    You can rotate between chicken sausage, chicken breasts, steak, burger, pork chops, ham etc. Very easy.

    Or look up crockpot recipes, nothing to do but throw things in the pot and let it cook for 8 hours.

    Honestly I never cooked anything 2 years ago. Now I actually like it, even if I still mostly make simple meals.
  • SunflowerCat74
    SunflowerCat74 Posts: 258 Member
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    I love to cook, but when I had my last surgery I knew it'd be at least 2 months before I was back in the kitchen. The idea of eating packaged foods/take out during that period was not even an option! I had to get super organized and plan ahead. It's ok to do some processed stuff, but if you do read the labels and try to choose a product that's healthier (I.e. made only with a few ingredients and your kids can pronounce them all!)
    If you want to make it easier on yourself you can also do large batches say every Sunday and freeze it in dinner sized portions. I do things like poach 6lbs of chicken breasts in my crockpot one day and then I cube/shred it and freeze it in 1/2 - 1lb packages. This way I have chicken for pasta, salads, soups, etc... I do the same with meatballs. Make 3x batch, use my cookie dough scoop and plop them on pans, bake, cool and freeze by the dozen. I can just serve w/pasta & sauce or over rice w/veggies. I also do this with taco meat and make burritos (chicken or beef w/beans) and bake in the oven. It works well for roasts & soups too.
    You can also prep all your veggies at once. I'm more likely to eat a salad if the lettuce, peppers, tomatoes are washed and I just have chop a few things up. Also, the bagged produce that is washed and prepped is a huge timesaver for me! Frozen steamer veggies w/out sauce are an easy option too.
    Just make sure to start slow and make things everyone in your family likes. Search the internet for easy recipes or freezer recipes. If you like the recipe, print it and put it in a 3ring binder! That way you have easy access to your favorite recipes and can note substitutions, etc...
    Another thing that helps me is that I write on the fridge everything that were going to eat for the week and take all the freezer components out, then base my shopping list on what is needed to complete those meals. On nights that we come home late from sports I plan crockpot meals. That way I don't end up at the drive thru or eating boxed foods.

    f9diqf88e2ij.jpg
    It'll take time to get used to, but you can do this!
  • RodaRose
    RodaRose Posts: 9,562 Member
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    f9diqf88e2ij.jpg
    It'll take time to get used to, but you can do this!

    Thanks for the picture. Those are great meals.
  • JPW1990
    JPW1990 Posts: 2,424 Member
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    Look up Once a Month Cooking (OAMC). It works around the idea that you spend one weekend doing all your cooking for the month, then portion it out to freeze. Essentially, you eat homemade tv dinners, but without all the junk that goes into storebought ones.