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Meal planning help needed!

Phoenix, AZ

I'm the cook in this house; the OH can make a sandwich - and that not well. Now, after years out of school, I've decided to go back. I've signed up for 15 credits and I'm sure it's going to be a struggle. I can eat anything (and do!) but he needs to stick to a diabetic diet. This is going to be a challenge on all fronts. I'm about to panic.

I think if I can set aside one or two days a week to cook and have those dishes carry over, either as leftovers or starts for something else, I'll be OK. I just can't take all the time I do now. If you have ideas - from time management to whole meals or dishes, I'd love to hear from you.


Burlingame, CA(Zone 9a)

Good on you for going back to school! What will you be studying?

Sorry I have no idea about diabetic cooking but I do a lot of advance and/or bulk cooking and then freeze the results. It saves a load of time of the days when I can't be bothered doing anything more than re-heating or when there are only a couple of us for dinner. Here are some of the things I do:

Oven Roasted Tomatoes: I make two kinds, one Italian seasoned and one chilli seasoned, then freeze them in containers of varying sizes. The Italian seasoned one gets used as a base on pizza, in spaghetti bolognois (just add hamburger), as a toss through sauce for pasta (no meat). The one with the chilli seasonings contains all the tomatoes, peppers, herbs & spices & other seasonings, onions etc needed for chili (just add hamburger) or nacho's (nice with shredded roasted chicken). None of these are "authentic" recipes but the kids eat them, they take little time to get on the table, freeze well and are full of vegetables.

Pizza Dough: I make up a huge batch in the bread machine, then freeze most of it in portion sizes. I defrost it in the fridge during the day, then just roll out and pile on the flavourings. There's always cheese, tomatoe sauce (above) & ham or prosciutto in the house which are our favourites.

Chicken (pot) Pie: I have a Jamie Oliver recipe for Chicken and Leek Pie which I make almost all year round, although we often eat the filling just as a stew. When I make the Chicken and Leek mixture up I will make small individual pies and freeze them. One pie and some steamed veg makes a good meal, or a pie on its own makes a great lunch.

If I am making a large pot of spaghetti sauce I always freeze the leftovers or turn them into a pasta bake or lasagna and freeze.

Ha, almost everything seems to be tomatoe based but they tend to be the dishes that freeze the best or are the most versatile. A lot of soups freeze well. Butternut squash is a favourite. We also eat sandwiches for dinner quite regularly - cold meat & salad or sandwich steak & salad greens. Other tips would be to freeze meals in single portion sizes, use foil loaf tins and pie plates or freezer-to-oven-to-table dishes. Jamie Oliver (can you tell I'm a fan?) also has some great ideas in a few of his earlier cookbooks where he makes foil packets and fills them with fresh chicken or fish, herbs, vegetables etc and then just leaves the oven cooking instructions written on them. Something like 30 minutes at 350F. I also have a rice cooker which gets quite a bit of use in winter. It has a timer on it so it can be programmed to start whenever you want.

Sorry - didn't mean to write a book.

Phoenix, AZ

Thank you very much! I need another book. ;0) (I swear they sell these monstrous texts by the pound.) I love chicken just about any way it's fixed. I'd love to have that pot pie recipe if you don't mind. I think I will have to set aside some time Tuesdays and Saturdays to 'make ahead' as I can see that my study skills are rusty - frozen? - and I'm going to need every trick in the book to pull this off. Any other make ahead recipes are VERY welcome, too.

We love soups and stews but I haven't tried freezing any. Are there any ingredients, like beans or hominy, that change texture in freezing?

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

I've heard that beans may change in texture but have frozen chili and split pea soup without any noticable change.

Our neighbor does all her cooking for the week on Sunday. She freezes the food and then heats it as needed.

Good luck on your classes.

I know it sounds disgusting, but try the zucchini lasagna using zucchini strips in place of pasta. It really is decent. You could make this up and freeze if he can't have pasta.

This message was edited Sep 12, 2008 5:55 PM

Lawrenceville, GA(Zone 7b)

No andidandi, zucchini is awesome! A Greek style diner near here makes a veggie lasagna with thinly sliced eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini instead of the pasta . It is soooooo good. They won't share the recipe though :(
Pull out the crock pot, if you have one. I make soups during the fall/winter and it makes life so much easier. Heading to look for some recipes for you.


It really is decent if you don't try to sell it as pasta. Just call it a casserole and it's not bad.

Southwestern, OH(Zone 6b)

When my mom was sick and wouldn't/couldn't cook for herself and when I was in school, I spent Saturday or Sunday making meals for a week or two at a time, but tried to make things that I could get two different meals out of. I usually cooked then froze the meals in serving sizes, but I have, in a pinch just put the meals together, then froze them to be cooked when I took them out of the freezer.

Meatloaf/Meatballs. I'd mix up meatloaf, and make a double batch. to the remaining batch I'd add rice and cook in tomato soup for Porcupine Meat balls. Mac and cheese freezes well and went well with both meals.

Chicken and noodles/Chicken and dumplings or chicken pie, cook enough chicken for what you're going to use it for, and then make 2 or three dishes with the cooked chicken.

roast beef/pot roast and vegetable soup. Make your pot roast or roast beef as you normally do, cook extra and make vegetable soup or stew out of part of the meat.

Ground beef--limitless ideas.. sloppy joes, tacos, spaghetti, chili, lasagne, etc. just cook enough ground beef to make up several different dishes, the time consuming part is cooking the beef, adding different seasonings to it then freezing is pretty quick. If you freeze the chilli in a ziplock, you can take it out let it thaw overnight and put in the crockpot on low the following morning. Same thing with Bean Soup, any soup really. :)

For my mom, I just froze in individual sized serving containers, and took them to her frozen, and she would pop one in the microwave to eat... kind of like home made tv dinners. :)

You can buy chicken breasts, put them in a ziplock with marinade and then freeze them. Take them out the night before and put in fridge, then just pop in the oven when you get home, or put in crock pot in the morning. I hope these Ideas help... I went back to school at 34, so I do understand where you're at. :)

Plano, TX

melissa i did some stuff with ground beef like you do when my family was 6 instead of the 2 it is now--i would buy 10 pounds of gr beef (at a sale price of course!) and brown it with onions, mushrooms, chopped celery, shredded carrots or whatever else i wanted (sneaking in veggies) and after draining it all i would put some in baggies for future taco meat, i would seperate the rest and make half of it into spaghetti sauce and half into chili --i'd have the two pots simmering away on the stove--i'd freeze some of each and we'd eat some that night and the next--worked for me

Chillicothe, OH

I do something like that for myself, only not as organized, as I'm the sick one here. I tend to cook as though feeding an army, then we feast on the leftovers until they're gone at which point I either make another whopping pot or casserole of something or sit on the settee in the kitchen and direct him through making something. It's not uncommon for me to have two things made up for a little variety. Might have a pot of soup/stew/chili and perhaps a succotash or green beans and potatoes dish that can act as either a side dish or can stand alone if the first item gets a bit boring.

I tend to morph beef roasts into stews and then veg soup, too, by first adding roasted vegetables,(carrots, pearl onions, celery, potato) then a sack of frozen mixed vegetables and bullion broth to the pot. That helps mix things up a bit.

I can do it b ecause the hubby doesn't mind eating the same thing several nights in a row. He only squawks if something went wrong with the dish--a good guy, right?--Melis

Clarkson, KY

Chicken works the same way for me. Roast it stuffed with rice and surrounded by veggies. Throw it in the crock pot til I can get all the bones out and add more and different veggies. Then to Dumplins. Or if you want to avoid the flour in dumplings you can add curry. I get the block roux from the oriental food section and use it on the 3rd day food. It thickens and spices up the remaining soup til it can be poured over rice, barley or some other bulk type food. And extra soup freezes really well even in baggies. If you make a couple of bigger batches then freeze in quart baggies -that makes an almost instant meal. 10 min in hot water and it's thawed enough to pour in a pot and boil.

Just start basic. Taters, onions, carrots, celery. Then add tomatoes and corn and squash. Then broccoli or cauliflower. Cream soups (white sauce base) are another stretcher.

Missouri City, TX

DW did that last night. Called it a soup, but was more stew consistancy. Started with some spicy commercial fried chicken - removed skin, excess fat and bones, then chopped and put in a 3 qt sauce pan. Added a can of chicken broth, chopped fresh carrots, okra, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, and enough water to cover. Simmered for an hour or so, then added some spagetti. Finished with some chopped chives a few minutes before serving.


Chillicothe, OH

Indeed that does work great, but wow, that's sure the expensive way to do it! A whole frying chicken only costs about $3. Betcha you spent lots more than that for your commercial chicken and didn't get nearly two breast halves, two leg quarters, plus two wings a back, neck and innards to freeze for making buffalo wings or soup later.


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