or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Amateur cook looking for "set and forget" meals
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Amateur cook looking for "set and forget" meals

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I must admit I am rather poor at cooking and find it a chore for some reason. I think it has to do with my personality (I'm a tech guy)

 

My current list of recipes:

 

- Taco made with wheat tortilla, canned chicken and cheddar cheese.

- Pre-cooked brown rice with frozen vegetables, shrimp, and egg beaters

- Breaded chicken patty burger (patty and wheat bread buns)

- I also regularly eat cheerios, sandwiches (PB/J and cheese/turkey slice) and bananas

 

Al except the last item are made via microwave in one pass. And that is all I eat, every day of the week.

 

Besides a bit too high in sodium, I know it's not good to eat the same thing every day like I do. But I really dislike cooking and can not cook for several days since I only have a mini fridge (1.7 sq. ft). However, I do have a microwave, rice cooker, and oven/stove.

 

Can you guys point me to some healthy recipes that

 

- Take less than 5 minutes of preparatory work

- Allow "set and forget" cooking afterwords

 

As you can see from my current recipes, I am willing to give up a good amount of taste for convenience. I never add taste enhancing ingredients, though I'm willing to on other recipes if the nutritional value is still good overall. I'm also thinking about getting a crockpot or other cooking hardware so long as I can still make dishes that adhere to my rather strict cooking criteria.

 

Thanks for any recipe suggestions!

post #2 of 20

Boy, oh, boy, are you in the wrong place.

 

Most people in this community are either professionals in food service, serious home cooks, or foodies. You're criteria are the antithesis of how we look at food.

 

Given your requirements, a slow cooker (Crockpot) probably makes the most sense. You can throw in a protein, some veggies, an envelope of soup mix, and a little water or wine, and a meal will be waiting for you when you get home.

 

Personally, I'm not a fan of slow-cookers. But given what you've said, you'll actually be eating better from both a quality and taste standpoint, with no more work than you are doing now.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #3 of 20

The salad bar at your local supermarket can be your very best friend.  There you can pick and choose from a variety of prepped veggies--chopped onions, mushrooms, snowpeas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, etc---just enough for one serving.  Eat them raw,  or layer them into the rice cooker with your rice,  and even some chicken breast or tenders.  Yes, your rice cooker can become a multitasker!  You've said you're a "tech guy",  so get tecnical with your cooking too.  What is "precooked brown rice"?  might as well eat sawdust, for all the nutrition it has ... fiber, yes,  but little else. 

 

"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
Reply
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
Reply
post #4 of 20

You need the Ronco rotisserie oven!!  Comes complete with recipe booklet! ...but wait, there's more!!

 

JK, what you might want to do is spend some time doing prep, even if its on the weekends, and freeze a lot of stuff.

 

Ex. Some days I'll make like 10 pizzas and freeze 9 of them

Chili, I'll make in a 2 gallon pot and freeze half etc.

 

post #5 of 20

You need fresh vegetables and fruit in a big way. Salads are quick, easy, can be fairly healthy. Learn to make a vinagrette or even bottled dressings.  This thread will help with the vinaigrette.

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/43490/creamier-vinaigrette

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Reply
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Reply
post #6 of 20

Lets not forget that the OP has very limited refrigerator space,  so I'm guessing his freezer space is also at a premium, if it exists at all.  So what he pretty much has to eat what he cooks.  By the way,  is this a dorm, rooming house, barracks, mini-trailer, what? 

"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
Reply
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
Reply
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

There's a small freezer section that is about 4"x6"x8." I could cram a couple bags of vegetables there plus one bag of meats, but that's it.

post #8 of 20

Go watch this clip from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and I think you'll stop that practice quickly.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKSoiDtdi9s
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta223 View Post

- Breaded chicken patty burger (patty and wheat bread buns)

post #9 of 20

Shrimp and grits are always a winner, if you like them.

post #10 of 20

You seem to be on the road to figuring out that you're not doing the right things when it comes to making good food.  The real answer to your question is not a set of killer recipes but a change in your willingness to do the work required to cook.

You may also have to move somewhere with a usable kitchen.

 

If you like to eat, you can learn to cook pretty easily.  Most of cooking is tasting -- which is something you're presumably pretty good at.  Start simple.  Learn to make pancakes, scrambled eggs, steak and the other easy stuff before moving on to the time consuming recipes that require a lot of prep and technique.  Most of the remaining part is paying attention to what you're doing.

 

It's not something I say this very often, believe me, but you may want to start watching Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals to get some ideas and pick up some very basic techniques.

 

Whatever your issues are, you've either got to get around them, stick with the Cheerios, eat out a lot, and/or hire someone to cook for you.

 

Doing your mise before firing up the pan is a fantastic habit, but doing it severaly days ahead doesn't save much time.  I don't want to appear hostile to other people's ideas for making efficient use of their time, but chopping a weeks worth of vegetables and storing them does not do much in the way of convenience unless you're really horrible with a knife.  And in that case, you're better off dealing with the problem directly.  If it takes you, as a home cook, more than 5 minutes to go from a whole onion, an unpeeled carrot, and a stick of celery to 2 cups of mirepoix, you're doing things very wrong.

 

"Shrimp and grits" is wonderful, simple food, but it's hardly set and forget.  Both the shrimp and the grits require complete attention during the cooking process; and, for the time being, that doesn't seem to be in the cards for the OP. 

 

BDL

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

"Shrimp and grits" is wonderful, simple food, but it's hardly set and forget.  Both the shrimp and the grits require complete attention during the cooking process; and, for the time being, that doesn't seem to be in the cards for the OP. 

 

BDL


No they don't,

Step 1.

Boil Water

Step 2.

Please cooked frozen shrimp under water to thaw

Step 3.

Once the water is boiling throw in the grits, and spices if you want (I'm from the North so I use instant grits)

Cover, reduce flame to low, set timer for 5 minutes and forget it!

Step 4.

In 5 minutes pat shrimp dry, toss into the pot, add cheese if you want, give it a couple good stirs

forget it! for another 5 minutes while the shrimp heat through (they are already cooked so just need to heat up)

 

and voila!  You have shrimp and grits.

post #12 of 20

Soups and stews could be a good option for you.  Many have little prep and can be cooked on a stove top or slow cooker.  Last night I made a corn chowder - bacon, onions, a little flour, diced potatoes, corn (you can use frozen or canned), chicken stock from a box and milk.  Was finished start to finish in less than 30 minutes. And 15 of it was cooking the potatoes.  Easy.  Lots of recipes for quick soups on the internet that you can make with fresh vegies and chicken, beef, fish or seafood.  Soup combinations are endless. And if you make a larger batch you will have leftovers so you won't have to go through the agony of cooking the next day.  

BTW, what does being a "tech guy" have to do with not cooking?  I know several IT guys, a mechanical engineer and a science teacher all who know their way around a kitchen better than alot of liberal arts majors.  Just curious.

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

You seem to be on the road to figuring out that you're not doing the right things when it comes to making good food.  The real answer to your question is not a set of killer recipes but a change in your willingness to do the work required to cook.

 

 

I disagree that more cooking time is necessary for "good food;" my goals are a 4/5 or better on nutrition, and a tasteful enough meal for me to look forward to eating it (3/5). No reason to put a time limit on when that can be achieved.


My current plan is a dual slow cooker setup so that I can have a new hot meal ready every 3 hours if I want. Cold meals can be used in between.


10.11.10_Slow_Cooker_Nutrition.png

Notes

- I have to look into what kind of beans to use for decent taste/quality carbs.

- Whole fruits could be more diverse. While I think I'll have enough fiber, I'm not sure if juices retain their phyto-nutrients (probably not)

- Proteins are an issue. Egg must be added in during the last 30 minutes. I don't like salmon and shrimp is high in sodium. I can't eat chicken thighs every day because then I'll have an Omega 3 EFA deficiency. Hopefully, supplementing with fish oil pills will be enough on non-fish days.

- I use chicken thighs instead of breasts because thighs have more fat and my diet would not have enough fats if I forget to eat some mixed nuts (I used to stock them in the past and always forgot) Poultry also has mono-unsaturated fats which are one of the better fats.

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by abefroman View Post

 

and voila!  You have shrimp and grits.


Not to my mind, what you have is "pre-processed shrimp & grits", nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't mind someone else doing the cooking for you, it just is NOT shrimp & grits cooked from scratch.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #15 of 20

.....so I use instant grits

 

OH, MY GOD! Say it isn't so.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

.....so I use instant grits

 

OH, MY GOD! Say it isn't so.

 

 

Movie Quote:

I didn't think any self respecting Southerner would use instant grits

 

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post




Not to my mind, what you have is "pre-processed shrimp & grits", nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't mind someone else doing the cooking for you, it just is NOT shrimp & grits cooked from scratch.


Because the shrimp was cooked and frozen?

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by abefroman View Post


Because the shrimp was cooked and frozen?


Yes, and the "grits" were also "pre-processed", otherwise they would NOT be "instant"!

 

It sounds to me as if all you're doing is "heating" the dish, no different than "warming up" a frozen dinner.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #19 of 20

You guys are worried about the instant grits, I'm concerned about the pre-rubberized- er cooked shrimp.

 

Hate to just say I agree w/ BDL again, but well he's usually right anyway. There is one other option, get a significant other that can cook.

 

On a serious note what do you mean by "taste enhancing ingredients"? Salt, spices, ketchup,all of the above? And what is the reason for avoid these ingredients. If it is nutritional concerns I can assure you that processed foods generally contain the worst of what the American diet has to offer, both from a nutritional and flavor standpoint.

 

The question is do you like food, and do you want to be able to cook it?

 

On a practical note- try fish. Tilapia is a great way to start. The fillets cook quickly, and are mild enough that only a little flavor (lemon, salt, butter, dill) goes a long way. Serve w/ some jasmine rice made in your rice cooker (set and forget) and some microwaved frozen veggies and you have yourself a meal any dietitian could be proud of. Well most dietitians would want some whole grain brown rice or other and omit the butter, but it sounds like you could use some butter in your life.

 

Good Luck

 

Nurses, we're here to get our gloves dirty, and wash our hands frequently.
Reply
Nurses, we're here to get our gloves dirty, and wash our hands frequently.
Reply
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by the-boy-nurse View Post

You guys are worried about the instant grits, I'm concerned about the pre-rubberized- er cooked shrimp.

 

 

Personally I don't see much of a difference between instant grits and regular.

 

As far as the shrimp, no difference there either, at the factory they probably cook the shrimp in water, and then cold shock it as soon as it hits the cooked temperature, so that it is not rubbery and not over cooked.
 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Amateur cook looking for "set and forget" meals