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CHRISTIEBUNNER SparkPoints: (8,026)
Fitness Minutes: (205)
Posts: 331
1/8/11 12:32 A

Thank you all so much for all the great tips and ideas. If you think of anything else, please send them my way. I am definitely going to look into getting a good cookbook and reading it then start cooking from it. I have one of Leanne's cookbooks, Saving Dinner Basics, and I think I will start reading that one. It is really difficult to read a cookbook. Something else I am going to do is start with breakfast since it is the most important meal of the day. I am a stay at home mom and I think it is important for me and the kids to start off our day with a good start. I am going to refer back to these ideas from time to time for guidance so thanks again.

DISPATCHERGURL SparkPoints: (111)
Fitness Minutes: (1,386)
Posts: 131
1/6/11 3:52 P

I love and - you can plug in the ingrediants you have and it provides recipes w/the ingrediants you have, so much easier than trying to come up with something on my own, however I have been known to "test" recipes out on my husband, good thing he will eat ANYTHING

AE_MYERS Posts: 249
1/6/11 5:12 A and have tons of tips along with recipes. Most recipes also have the nutrition, so you know how many calories you're eating. Also, tune into the Foodnetwork or your local PBS cooking shows. Don't pay attention to the specific recipe, but the technique and idea behind the recipe. This is basically how I taught myself how to cook. Good Eats is a great show for learning about foods and techniques.

For an easy base, cook chicken and salsa in the crockpot. When done, shred the meat and use it for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. You can also do this with pork and beef, if you want.

Stirfries are also easy. Pick your meat, cut into bite-size pieces, and saute. After 2 or 3 minutes, dump in a bag of frozen stirfry veggies. To start off, you can use a bottled stirfry sauce. But look on some websites - there are tons of easy sauce recipes. I do a little soy sauce, a little orange juice, a little chinese five spice powder, and a just a bit of cornstarch to thicken.

LOOLAH Posts: 888
1/6/11 12:48 A

I am not great in the kitchen either and have definitely lived off cereal and boxed food! However, there are a LOT of super easy ways to be healthy and still make some really yummy food!

I suggest getting familiar with grains! Brown rice, quinoa, and bulger are just a few. You can make a bunch for the week and freeze individual portions (or enough for the family). For meal time just defrost, cook some meat and/or veggies, and add sauce. I now live off meals like this!

I add beans to practically everything! For any kind of pasta, stir-fry, veggie burger, etc. beans work really well. They fill you up and cheaply make a meal heartier and stretch further. Black beans and chickpeas are my favorite, but there are tons to choose from.

I also use my oven a bunch, but not for anything fancy. Cut up some potatoes (or sweet potatoes), drizzle on some olive oil and seasonings and make french fries. This also works for ALL veggies (my veggie-hating boyfriend loves baked veggies), and is super easy.

I would also try making your own trail mixes. It is easy, cheaper and you can add whatever you want.

ELIZABETHC4 Posts: 107
1/5/11 1:37 P

My suggestion would be to start small, with sandwiches and salads and such. Eggs are great, you can saute some veggies to put into scrambled eggs and it's a great filling meal. Soup is also pretty foolproof, most simple soups are just a matter of following the directions to dump some stuff in the pot and let it cook for a while. Also, roasted veggies are super easy, just chop up whatever veggies you like, toss them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and then roast in the oven at 400 for 20-25 min. They're done when they are soft and kind of crispy around the edges. Really good, really healthy, and they go great as a side with all kinds of things. Also, I eat a lot of pasta, and many of the jarred sauces aren't terrible for you, so don't be afraid to use them, just check the labels before you buy. If you add in some cooked ground meat and maybe a little extra garlic (LOVE the garlic) it makes for a more complete meal and is really good. Sparkrecipes has a TON of recipes for all kinds of tastes and abilities, so check it out for sure; I usually search for something that I have on hand and need to use up. Hope this helps.

BMHILL71 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (1,416)
Posts: 63
1/5/11 12:47 P

I highly recommend you check out Saving Dinner with Leann Ely - they have several different menu plan options available including low carb, healthy heart, low cal, freeze ahead meals, and more.

HEEPER Posts: 1,000
1/5/11 10:32 A

While the george foreman grill is a great idea, it's not necessary to buy one unless you really want one! You can always cook chicken breasts in a non-stick skillet or a regular pan with a bit of olive oil.

If you're really serious about starting out, find a good cookbook that can start showing you the basics. I love Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and Julia Child's The Way to Cook. Both books show you step by step how to start simply and then add different techniques to help develop your cooking skills. And while it's not intuitive to READ a cookbook (most people just grab one and pick a recipe and go) I highly recommend it before you jump in!

Local community colleges often offer beginning cooking classes, and even Williams Sonoma and other cooking stores offer free classes (though they try to sell you things).

If you're up for some fun, a lot of restaurants (local ones - not the chains) offer cooking classes, for a fee, and they include dinner. So for $75, you learn to cook a fabulous meal, then you get to sit down and enjoy it! My local health food store has an in-store chef who leads classes on vegetarian and vegan cooking.

Personally, I think it's well worth the investment of time in learning to cook. It's much healthier and cheaper in the long run, and I think it's a lot of fun to boot!

ANIKAJAC SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (19,915)
Posts: 2,615
1/5/11 9:01 A

I use the crock pot alot along with baking

chicken thighs skinless baked in a pyrex dish with a little water or chicken broth at bottom with little garlic and oregano paprika cover with foil and bake at 350 for approx one hour or until juices run clear

the last fifteen minutes the chicken is cooking take foil off and let brown up a bit

i also add a pyrex dish with broc and a little bit or garlic or skim mozz (the last fifteen minutes) as broc cooks fast

ELLEN0407 Posts: 2,037
1/5/11 7:52 A

do you like chicken marsala? if you buy or maybe its on a website, holland house marsala wine, the recipe is as good as a restaurant or better. my family loves it. and very calorie friendly. also the lime shrimp(i think) from spark recipes is good and takes less than 10 min to cook. extremely low cal

-POOKIE- SparkPoints: (326,541)
Fitness Minutes: (95,770)
Posts: 22,114
1/5/11 5:27 A

Poaching chicken is a really simple, fast and juicy way to deal with chicken breasts.

Cut into bite sized chunks, put in gently boiling, seasoned water, only takes a few minutes, just cut one open to check how its doing.

Cane shake on some seasoning if you like, or add to sauces. No added fat required!

EXENEC Posts: 5,624
1/5/11 5:19 A

I'm a big fan of soups, stews, curries and chilis. They can be doubled or tripled, frozen in individual sizes and defrosted within minutes. They're filling and I tend to eat a much more balanced and satisfying diet when I have a freezer full. Many only have 5-6 ingredients and use a very small amount of fat. Try roasted butternut squash soup, chicken and white bean chili or red lentil/turkey sausage stew.

COLLEGEGIRLIE13 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (2,491)
Posts: 44
1/4/11 8:32 P

I love cooking, but I'm not great at it. I love Hungry Girl cookbooks, everything is simple, recipes are low cal, and many have WeightWatcher point values too. Another great cookbook is "Teens Cook" I got it for my 16th birthday, but my grandma and aunts love cooking out of it too.
Crock pots are your friend, beef stew can be ready when you get home from work, or shredded beef sandwiches, chili, ribs, chicken noodle soup, anything.
But, if you only look into one suggestion, make it hungry girl, my favorite is her 200 under 200 book, 200 recipes, 200 calories per serving or less!

CHRISTIEBUNNER SparkPoints: (8,026)
Fitness Minutes: (205)
Posts: 331
1/4/11 7:41 P

I might have one of those, if not I can always buy one that will hold 5 pieces of chicken since there are 5 of us. I always have a hard time putting meals together. Chicken or some kind of meat on a George Foreman doesn't sound hard at all. I could probably put a veggie with it too. Thanks for the idea.

ME1ISSA08 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (272)
Posts: 22
1/4/11 5:16 P

Sooo... I am a college kid, and in no way a Betty Crocker.

I used to live off of chicken nuggets, corn dogs, fish sticks, etc.

I bought a little George Foreman grill from walmart for $20

I love making grilled chicken beasts on my grill.
I have many low sodium seasonings in my pantry so I can switch things up.

Fast, simple, easy!

CHRISTIEBUNNER SparkPoints: (8,026)
Fitness Minutes: (205)
Posts: 331
1/4/11 4:54 P

Betty Crocker I am NOT!! I have set a goal for 2011 to eat healthier and in order to do this I have to cook healthier. I would love to learn some really simple cooking tips for cooking for my family. I want to get away from things that are boxed and unhealthy. Any advice would be great. Thanks in advance.

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