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Cookbook for widowed mother

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
This August my father died and left my 80 year old mother a widow at home by herself. She is very social, so it is not like she doesn't have lots of friends.

However, my father retired a few years before my mother and took over the cooking duties. Now my mother has to cook again. Does anyone have any good recommendations for a cookbook that specializes in cooking for one or perhaps 1 or 2.

I'm flying across the country to see her in a week so I'd like to have something to give her. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 5
Hi Kelly,

At the risk of the wrath of all of my fellow chefs and foodies on this forum, I want to make a suggestion. Keeping in mind that she is 80 and cooking for one person........she isn't going to do it. So, here is what I ended up doing in a similiar situation.

I suggest that you make a trip to the store, pick-up some quality frozen prepared foods. Look at every thing to see if it will accommadite an individual serving. Marie Callendar makes a decent frozen meat pie and fruit pie; and many vegetables are now frozen in individual portions; you can buy twice baked potatoes in individual portions. You will find small pork roasts and beef roasts in gravy in the meat case, enough for 2-3 meals for one person; I prefer the Tyson Brand. Jimmy Dean has some great breakfast products that only require that you add eggs. Michelina's (sp) has small noodle type dishes that make a decent lunch. Fruit is individually portioned and puddings also. Buy 2-3 kinds of bread, put a few slices in individual bags and freeze; one loaf of bread is an overwhelming amount to use. Rolls and bisquits can be purchased in the freezer case for individual baking. You'll find the dressing mixes and instant potatos can be fixed individually, also. Buy really good soups.

During your visit, make a big deal out of going to the freezer and putting a menu/plate together for dinner for the two of you, watching what she likes and doesn't like. Leave her well stocked when you leave. Make sure she has enough on hand to see her through some bad weather when she won't go out.

This may not be the ideal diet that we would choose for someone, but she will be able to vary her menus by picking and choosing, so in the end will eat a lot better. It will be so very easy for her to fall into a "a little tea and toast" routine, otherwise.
post #3 of 5
Hi Kelly,

I live by myself, so I've looked at a bunch of those "Cooking for One or Two" cookbooks, and I really wasn't impressed. Part of the problem is the "take one pork chop and half an apple" kind of instruction...just try to find pork chops packaged individually in your average supermarket, let alone half an apple. :roll:

If your mother likes to cook, I would just get her a good, easy cookbook with inspiring pictures (maybe Good Housekeeping) and a bunch of freezer bags and dishes, so she can make regular recipes and freeze the extras. That way she won't have to cook every day if she doesn't feel like it.

If she's not likely to cook for herself anyway, "now" gave you a bunch of other ideas. One other suggestion, depending on availability and budget, is a "personal chef," even if that person is actually a neighbor or culinary student. Also, if you can line up someone to assist with her grocery shopping, that would be a big bonus.

Good luck. I went through this with my mom, and I know it's harder when you live so far away.
post #4 of 5
I'd go along with KCZ on this one. I've looked at those cooking for one and cooking for two type books, and was totally underwhelmed.

If she really intends cooking, then show her how to make her own frozen meals. What we do is use the Hefty Serve & Store plates. They're a bit more expensive than foam, but they're microwaveable, and foam plates no longer are. And the Serve & Store plates wash up nicely, so can be recycled through several meals.

When we cook we make full recipes, then assemble the "leftovers" on the Serve & Store plates, double wrap them in film and foil, label, and pop into the freezer.

For us, that means a meal tonight, and four plates in the freezer (recipes typically make six servings). My advice would be for her to halve recipes, though, or else she'll be eating the same thing every night.

It might pay, too, to explore some of those "cook once a week" and "cook once a month" sites. Generally I'm not big on the concept, because there's a danger of everything tasting the same. But they could provide insights into planning, so that if she does run into that half-an-apple syndrome she can plan the other half for her next set of meals.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #5 of 5
When I've lived alone, I did what I'd call the smorgesbord style of eating.

I'd buy some pate or hard salami, chevre, maybe sardines or anchovies, some crackers or bread, apples, grapes, olives/pickles and put them on a nice platter and snack away all day.
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