Easy, nutritious dinners

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Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 17th, 2017, 4:53 pm

I'm working on a flare-up plan, because I'm currently having a flare-up. I'm trying to think of very very easy, nutrtious meals that I can make before a flare-up and freeze or cook from scratch when completely exhausted and in pain. My ideas so far:

veg pasta sauce (freezer)
frozen veg, chips, veggie burgers/sausages

Oh ok that's it. Not helped by the fact that my boys are very fussy, I can't eat gluten, I need to eat really nutritious food (the temptation to eat carby-rubbish needs to be avoided, good food makes me better!) there are a long list of dislikes (mashed potato, jacket potatoes (well half of us like those!), only two of us (#2 son and I) like soup, hubby and I like casserole but #2 son has decided he doesn't anymore. :rolleyes: they really like to make my life more difficult!

Any suggestions? (don't forget we're veggie, but I can convert most things!) BTW - easy for me means absolutely minimal effort - some days even holding a knife is too tiring/painful, let alone chopping things up!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby mogatogs » March 17th, 2017, 6:25 pm

Oh my giddy aunts ! I assume you have the help of a nutrition therapist if not WHY!!!!! :hug: :hug:
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 17th, 2017, 6:56 pm

Er, no, of course not! #1 son is an extremely fussy eater, but he's never got an help on this (other than the bloody sticker chart incident!) There is no professional help for him. As I don't have coeliacs, just intolerance, they won't help me either. Sometimes I lose the will to live over meal plans!

(at least it's not just me that's struggling with this and I haven't even gone into 10% of the list of people's foody no-nos!) :scared: :rolleyes: :collapsesonfloorsmilie:
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Catherine » March 17th, 2017, 8:32 pm

Ratatouille
Curry
lentil bolognaise
Bean chilli
Veggie moussaka
Tofu casserole

All freeze well in portions

As for sudden food fussiness, do what my Nanna did with us - 'There are 2 choices for dinner, take it, or leave it'
Once he realises there is nothing else, he will eat.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Suelle » March 17th, 2017, 8:37 pm

It's hard to suggest anything without knowing all the dislikes, but the first thing to do is look at everything you cook normally, and see what can be frozen.

Vegetable pasta sauce is a huge area, which can be varied enormously just by changing the main vegetable(s) used. Even if they all contain tomatoes, a courgette-based sauce is going to taste different to sauces based on root vegetables or lentils.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Pepper Pig » March 17th, 2017, 9:17 pm

Catherine wrote:

As for sudden food fussiness, do what my Nanna did with us - 'There are 2 choices for dinner, take it, or leave it'
Once he realises there is nothing else, he will eat.


I believe Hope's son is on the autistic spectrum so this policy, although exactly what I did with my 4, is unlikely to work. :(
Last edited by Pepper Pig on March 18th, 2017, 1:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Catherine » March 17th, 2017, 9:19 pm

Pepper Pig wrote:I believe Hope's son is autistic so this policy, although exactly what I did with my 4, is unlikely to work


Ah ok point taken.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Prettykiwicrazy » March 17th, 2017, 9:29 pm

Delegate your husband to help you rather than you do all the cooking.

Buy packs of pre prepared veg, such as frozen stir fry mix, frozen roast parsnips, trays of roasting vegetables. Buy mixed bean salads, good for protein.

Packets of flavoured rice/couscous/quinoa mixed you can just microwave

As for homemade ready meals, make a large batch of savoury lentil mix, you could then have with pasta or top with mashed potato.

Vegetable curry, goulash,cobbler stuffed peppers, or enchiladas
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby earthmaiden » March 17th, 2017, 9:51 pm

It is hard to make suggestions without a complete understanding of the family likes and dislikes which are quite complex to an outsider. I imagine that your children do have favourite foods and when you are going through a bad patch the most important thing is that everyone has eaten something, as long as it is nutritious it doesn't matter what it is really. If they are happy to wander round with a piece of cheese, a hard boiled egg and a tomato then so be it, they've been fed. Perhaps you can work out a way of easily having their preferred foods to hand.

I know that sometimes when I get in from work later than expected I want to eat immediately and find things like omelettes and tinned beans and other legumes a godsend. They can be eaten with salads of various descriptions, rice which can be precooked and frozen, rice noodles etc. For those who will eat mashed potato, I know people will be shocked, but Smash served with baked beans is actually quite filling and comforting and hopefully some salad and fruit can be consumed as well to balance it.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Catherine » March 17th, 2017, 11:07 pm

As we are hopefully getting better weather then sometimes the easiest healthy thing is to get a bag of salad leaves, some tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and spring onion and add whatever protein you fancy. We quite often do this when time is against us and unexpected things turn up meaning dinner hasn't been prepared. I actually ended up doing it the other night for the kids. Big mixed salad, tomatoes cucumber, olives already in the fridge and a rotisserie chicken and baguette. Kids were just as happy and way better than a takeaway. Ok so you would eat the chicken, but some lentils or cheese, avocado etc should do it

I'd make individual portions of things you know each person will eat. That way if you all have a main meal but your son won't eat it then there is something in the freezer he will eat. Have you thought about paying to see a dietician for a couple of sessions to help you out. I know you shouldn't have to but it may may be a good investment

Also sometimes there is no shame at all in just having beans on toast
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 18th, 2017, 7:49 am

Thanks for replies. I'll read properly and respond later or when I come out of the other side!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby cyprusmoira » March 18th, 2017, 8:17 am

What about you? Why not think about you and your needs? Why not just for once cater for your needs and let your tribe of men look after themselves. What would they do if you were in hospital for a prolonged period.

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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 18th, 2017, 10:20 am

Pepper Pig wrote:
Catherine wrote:

As for sudden food fussiness, do what my Nanna did with us - 'There are 2 choices for dinner, take it, or leave it'
Once he realises there is nothing else, he will eat.


I believe Hope's son is on the autistic spectrum so this policy, although exactly what I did with my 4, is unlikely to work. :(

PP's right. We tried that with eldest, but then he became really phobic about the dinner table, so meals were way worse. For him it's not so simple as like and dislike, it's a whole sensory thing. Youngest is now getting more fussy too. I find it hard to impose one rule for one child but not for another. Plus when I'm exhausted I just want to eat, not have to battle with my child!

Prettykiwicrazy wrote:Delegate your husband to help you rather than you do all the cooking.

He does help where he can, but often doesn't get home in time for the prep. Although he often empties saucepans, gets plates out etc.

Prettykiwicrazy wrote:Buy packs of pre prepared veg, such as frozen stir fry mix, frozen roast parsnips, trays of roasting vegetables. Buy mixed bean salads, good for protein.

Packets of flavoured rice/couscous/quinoa mixed you can just microwave

I've not seen frozen stirfry veg. Just had a look online and added a few more bits of frozen veg and a few packs of microwave rice etc to next week's order.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 18th, 2017, 10:35 am

earthmaiden wrote:the family likes and dislikes which are quite complex to an outsider

Not just to outsiders - to me too! There are hardly any meals we all like. Actually there are no meals we all like! Other than that we all like pizza, but I have to have a different base (they won't eat the GF one), and we all have different toppings. They don't like bought bases. We all like pasta, but again I have to have GF (which they don't like). They will not eat any pasta sauce at all. Roast dinners: we have different protein things, #1 son has a potato waffle instead of roasties. Only two of us like beans (not on toast!) :rolleyes: It's really complicated. Normally I cook something like:

Mon: pasta (with chargrilled veg or veg-tom-bean sauce for grown-ups) That's quite easy to have the sauce in the freezer
Tues: something frozen with chips and veg (except #1 son doesn't like chips, so he has a potato waffle or bread instead)
Wed: Wild card day. Last week it was frozen veggie burgers with salad and cheese. I had some GF rolls anyway. Asked hubby to buy some rolls for them - boys didn't like them. Normally I make them. #1 son doesn't like burgers, so had frozen veggie sausage rolls (that's the only thing like that that he'll eat).
Thur: pasta (with sauce we didn't have on mon)
Fri: last night I did a traybake of root veg, squash with veggie sausages. But didn't do quite enough veg because it was too tiring to chop anymore and hubby didn't get back in time. Except #1 son had veggie sausage rolls and bread and butter. Can I freeze veg like that to make it easier? Would you par-cook it first?
sat: pasta (yes, again) either lasagne (I have to make four different ones - and it's quite possible that #2 son won't eat it now) or with roast root veg, or sometimes pizza.
sun - roast dinner (with variations as above).

TBH - when I'm crashing, #1 son is the easiest to cater for as he gets bread and cheese! (usually prepared by hubby)

I always feel better when I eat better, but sometimes it's too much effort to prepare!

cyprusmoira wrote:What about you? Why not think about you and your needs? Why not just for once cater for your needs and let your tribe of men look after themselves. What would they do if you were in hospital for a prolonged period.

Youngest is only five. He can get himself snacks, but not much more. I am encourage #1 son to get his own food, but I've not yet trusted him with the breadknife (they won't eat sliced bread).

Starting to feel quite overwhelmed by this all again! No wonder I struggle to actually think of meals.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 18th, 2017, 10:36 am

If I was to make some rolls, par-bake and freeze them, how much less than normal should I cook them? Would you defrost before baking or rebake from frozen? how long for?
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby cyprusmoira » March 18th, 2017, 10:44 am

I am not surprised that you feel overwhelmed, I had not realised that your youngest is only five

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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Ratatouille » March 18th, 2017, 1:57 pm

Hope.

Your question is really a cry for help, isn't it? While us Widies can support and suggest I feel that you are becoming more and more anxious, not only about all the things you have every reason to be anxious about but all the other things happening at the moment.

Meals, have you thought about just putting a selection of foods that at least some of you like, as a sort of sitting down buffet, and then letting everyone make their own choices. Give everyone a chance to suggest something and see how it goes. I do however think it is important that everyone shares a table if not the food.

Five year olds are perfectly capable of setting and clearing a table, washing salads etc and I am sure your oldest son is able to make food choices and/even preparing the simple things he likes. Rolls are a great idea and what about "sharing" bread for example. You don't need a breadknife nothing wrong with using fingers.

Ask you husband to help doing the sort of prep that you find so tiring, chopping etc even if it is for tomorrow. Far better something prepped then stored in the fridge overnight than cut to order and an exhausted mum/wife.

Most important of all, you need more support. At the moment you are just too tired and anxious and, if I dare say it too soft with the other people in your life to find your way out. I know you have mentioned other family members - you did at Christmas. Can any of them offer more help and support, or do you feel unable to ask? We Geordies say "Shy bairns get nowt" You are probably far too good at hiding your needs and difficulties and people think you are coping fine :hug: :hug:
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Suelle » March 18th, 2017, 2:25 pm

I think it would be helpful to investigate the frozen food aisles of a big supermarket. There are things which are commercially frozen which wouldn't be so successful if frozen in domestic situations. As well as packs of stir-fried veg, which were a revelation to you, I've seen frozen risotto, pasta with sauces, soup, almost every vegetable you could think of (I noticed frozen asparagus last week!) including prepared root vegetables, chopped onions and potatoes in every imaginable guise, plus a large selection of vegetarian ready meals.

I know one of your sons is autistic, but is it possible that his problems with food dislikes is influencing your other son to think it's OK to be 'fussy' too. A 5 year old shouldn't really be able to insist on bread from a whole loaf, rather than sliced bread, for example. I can perfectly understand giving in to him for the sake of an easy life when you are not feeling well, but making 4 different lasagnes for one meal is a bit much (except you could make large ones and freeze extra portions, so that you only need to make one at a time and get the other types from the freezer). And in the end, giving into the youngest one's fussiness isn't making life easier, as catering for 4 different tastes at every meal is exhausting you even when you are at your best.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 18th, 2017, 4:23 pm

Suelle wrote:to insist on bread from a whole loaf, rather than sliced bread

It's the big one that doesn't liked sliced (wrapped, plastic, shop bought) bread. #2 has got more fussy about food since starting school. He was ok before! It's extra difficult because they see me eating slightly different food, because I have to! We really have tried to be strict about food, but it just ends up with everyone getting upset and is more tiring! Just looking at frozen ready meals, boys wouldn't eat any complete meal. There's very little that I can eat and prety much nothing I would want. I can't have white rice, for example. It's a bit of a vicious circle, good food makes me better, but is harder to prepare.

Ratatouille wrote:Can any of them offer more help and support, or do you feel unable to ask?

It's practicality and logistics. My parents are an hour away. Dad isn't well at the mo (nothing serious, just extended). Mum can't drive that far. MIL is about half an hour away and would help at the drop of a hat, but she exhausts me! I do find it hard to ask for practical help, although I'm very good at asking for advice!

Beginning to think this is an impossible ask! I thought planning might be something I could do during a flare-up, but can't really think properly!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby StokeySue » March 18th, 2017, 5:50 pm

I really think that somehow you probably could do with some practical help, but as far as food goes I think looking at what's available without much further prep is good

I've just looked at the Iceland website, and they do some good stuff, chopped o ion has already been suggested they also do a good selection of good basics such as prepped cauliflower and broccoli, and some interesting stuff such as ready to bake spiced cauliflower, or "Zesty bean quinoa", either of which would be the basis of a meal served with slices of halloumi or veggie sausages. They also do some veggie mains, the advantage of which might be that they tend to already be divided into individual portions so there is the option of sticking more than one into the oven
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Ratatouille » March 18th, 2017, 7:07 pm

Hope wrote:t's the big one that doesn't liked sliced (wrapped, plastic, shop bought) bread. #2 has got more fussy about food since starting school. He was ok before! It's extra difficult because they see me eating slightly different food, because I have to!


Then perhaps he would eat the food you are eating ? Give big one a baguette and he will probably love it,
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Prettykiwicrazy » March 19th, 2017, 10:33 am

StokeySue wrote:I really think that somehow you probably could do with some practical help, but as far as food goes I think looking at what's available without much further prep is good

I've just looked at the Iceland website, and they do some good stuff, chopped o ion has already been suggested they also do a good selection of good basics such as prepped cauliflower and broccoli, and some interesting stuff such as ready to bake spiced cauliflower, or "Zesty bean quinoa", either of which would be the basis of a meal served with slices of halloumi or veggie sausages. They also do some veggie mains, the advantage of which might be that they tend to already be divided into individual portions so there is the option of sticking more than one into the oven


I was in Iceland with my mum the other week and we both said how some of their ranges are quite interesting now. They do a good selection of frozen fish too. Preprepared is definitely the way to go. Do your sons take packed lunches to school or have school dinners? I would say that as your son has autism and issues relating to food, you should try to pursue a meeting with a nutritionist.

I think in the nicest possible way, that with your range of medical issues , as well as family life, you should sit down and talk to your GP. They may be able to refer you to some counselling sessions, or guide you towards some appropriate resources. The more stressed you become, the more it will affect your physical health and so it continues. Have you talked to your husband honestly about how you're feeling at the moment?
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 20th, 2017, 2:21 pm

Thanks again for your support and suggestions.

I'm out the other side of that flare-up. Back to normal now (or at least, my "normal!")

I think I'm actually dealling with things a lot better than I was (although I'm sure there is room for improvement!) Hubby is fully aware of everything about my problems and very supportive, but he has his own health problems, so can't do everything! He does an awful lot as it is. I am having counselling already. I cannot get any additional practical help (other than frozen/prepared options). I do have a cleaner once a week to do the housework, though, which has taken a huge burden off me. I just need to be organised and get more food in the freezer. My flare-up usually (baring to two-month one last autumn) usually last less than a week, although they do feel like I'll be stuck there forever!

Ridiculously I hadn't thought of looking at Iceland. I don't think I've ever shopped there (at least not since it was Bejams and I was a child!) They do have some interesting and cheap foods. I may occassionally get the odd delivery. And Tesco have a huge range of new frozen foods, I've just noticed. I may need a bigger freezer! THe bean quinoa sounds nice and is exactly the sort of thing I love for lunch!

Please forgive me if I worried anyone, when I crash I tend to think I'll be stuck there forever (working on those thoughts!) and think I will never get any better, but I am doing ok, most of the time! I also have a lot of trouble thinking straight when I'm fatigued, which is probably why I ask you a lot of really stupid, obvious questions. Trying to get you to do my thinking for me!

Ratatouille wrote:Then perhaps he would eat the food you are eating ? Give big one a baguette and he will probably love it,

No. Tried him with various GF things, he doesn't like them. He won't eat veg (other than raw carrot) or pulses at all, which is what I eat most of the time. He loves baguettes (although youngest finds them too hard to chew) but it would mean me having to go out and buy one (too far to walk) or having to make them. He survives pretty well on large quantities of bread machine wholemeal bread and cheese!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby smitch » March 20th, 2017, 2:29 pm

Would he eat the part baked baguettes? They keep pretty well in the cupboard and cook in about 10 minutes when needed.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 20th, 2017, 2:40 pm

I'm sure he would... Off I go to amend this week's delivery again!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Ratatouille » March 20th, 2017, 3:07 pm

Glad to hear you are feeling a bit brighter Hope. The prart baked baguettes are very handy and I wonder if Iceland to frozen prebaked ones and rolls like our Picard do? They are a real blessing in times of need,
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby scullion » March 20th, 2017, 5:07 pm

when you get that bigger freezer, make a couple extra of each persons meals and fill the freezer with individual portions of all your separate likes during your good times so you can just take out the required meals during your bad times.
i used to make three times the amount we would need for one meal then put two in the freezer for when we got back late and i had no time to make a meal - until they got bigger, started eating more and then they ate the whole lot in one sitting.
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 20th, 2017, 5:29 pm

I do that too Scullion with some meals - I'm making a double batch of veg, bean and tomato pasta sauce tonight, one for the freezer. I make big batches of bolognase, too. Also I do two lots of yorkies so I only have to make them once a fortnight. But that's about it!

I've not actually worked out where I can put another freezer, I think I just need to be more organised and actually know what's in the freezer and get rid of some of the UFOs!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby scullion » March 20th, 2017, 6:12 pm

what was i thinking of‽‽ of course you would! silly me!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 21st, 2017, 6:54 am

Sorry, I hope I didn't come across as harsh, there!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby scullion » March 21st, 2017, 11:08 am

of course you didn't!
it occurred to me, after, that anyone with your problems would already be doing that sort of thing to mitigate their problems so it was stupid of me to state the obvious!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby Hope » March 21st, 2017, 1:45 pm

Phew, that's ok! Actually I've been doing it for years, I think largely because I couldn't judge a two-person portion size!
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Re: Easy, nutritious dinners

Postby OneMoreCheekyOne » March 22nd, 2017, 9:58 am

Glad you're starting to feel better Hope.

Regarding easy and nutritious dinners...have you checked out the recipe suggestions on any of the veg box company websites? They tend to be easy/healthy and you can search for vegan/veggie/gluten free etc. We use Abel and Cole and i've found their recipes to be really straight forward in the past.

https://www.abelandcole.co.uk/Recipes
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