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You might find some good stuff here. I notice they have hamburger soup which is one of my favorite meals. My mom used to make it and it only has four ingredients (aside from salt and pepper): ground beef, chopped onion, water and diced potatoes. You don't have to freeze it because it's one pot and couldn't be quicker. I don't think you need to put it in a crockpot. It's fine just cooked up on the stove!
One of my favorite meals is just tomatoes cut thickly and put in some hot oil in a saute pan. Season it however you like, slice mozzarella cheese, maybe lay a few leaves of basil over that and cover. Don't brown anything, just heat up the tomato and melt the cheese. Eat it hot with some crunchy garlic bread or toast that you like. Don't use much oil, that's all. Have it with a salad.
My husband does this same dish, basically, with some frozen breaded eggplant instead of the tomatoes. He bakes it in a ceramic dish and puts a little chopped tomato under or over the eggplant - doesn't matter. Look at the frozen eggplant and see how low the calories are for a serving - it varies.
If you ever feel like something is not 'filling' enough for you, poach an egg on it or in it or put it under it! It really only takes minutes to poach an egg.
Chicken breasts cooked in a crockpot with some cream of chicken soup, some sherry to taste, and worcestershire sauce to taste - couldn't be simpler. Let them cook on low for 6-8 hours. Bake a small potato in the microwave and slice it up to eat with the sauce. If you don't have problems with portion control, just make your portion of chicken small, your potato small, and control the sauce. Serve with some peas - it's really the filling of a chicken pot pie without the crust.
Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 12/16/2013 (19:19)
Google "meals in 20 minutes or less" and go from there. There's an ebook on Amazon that was free as of yesterday with that title and had some great recipes as well as tips for how to make meal prep go faster. The more you cook, the more efficient you get at it. For example, if I start with pre-cooked chicken, I can get a lasagna in the oven in under 20 minutes.
I'll try to tie up my responses in one post;
I know how to use all the stuff on SP. Like I said before, I lost all my weight before on here about 3 or 4 years ago. And I have been able to keep it all off because I know how to control my eating, plus I actually have a pretty great metabolism (I'm young, 22, so that probably is a big help) So portion control is not my problem and I know how to add up the calories of my meals on here. What I mean before was that the recipes I had found online before for freezer meals ended up having a lot of calories. And no, I didn't mean that they had more mass than a drive thru dinner with the same calories. Honestly, I probably would have been happier with the fast food. The fiber didn't seem to be great, not the protein, really. The meals were full of like beans or veggies or whatnot but not only were they hard to fill me up, but they had crazy calories. 700 up for a bowl of soup? No thanks. They didn't really taste that good, either. But a lot of recipes you find online look great and turn out crappy. So my point on here was to see if there were low calorie freezer meals that you guys might know of. Not to be told I was doing it wrong. I already know those recipes were not great if they were coming up that high and weren't even tasty. And SLIMMERKIWI, I was following the recipes, not changing them or anything. They weren't like blank canvases. It was "taco soup", I make taco soup, it comes out to be horrible for you. But my point is that it is the meals and not "what I put in them." I'm not actually a fan of a lot of oil in my food so I don't add bad oils, anyway. I like meat (mainly beef, but I'll eat chicken or fish, no pork) and veggies or fruit (but not onions or tomatoes.)
I have no problem cooking on a Sunday or whatever. I just really don't have time to cook, do dishes, eat, shower, and still make it to bed on time during the weekdays. So a crockpot meal, a pressure cooker meal (yes, I agree those are great, ALGEBRAGIRL) but not really things I have to still spend time on after work. Throwing it in an oven or in the crockpot is not a problem. But even an hour in the kitchen for me is too much. I need something that I can put in before work or have my mom put in while I'm at work so it will be done and ready to eat when I get home. Otherwise, I don't have time. That's where my problem lies. That is what worries me about gaining weight. Not portion control or knowing what types of food to eat or whatever. I just need recipes. I went through weight lose before and I actually don't need to lose weight (I'm at a perfect BMI and I look fine) I just don't want to end up gaining weight over time. So I just need ideas for recipes. I know how to control my portions and how to add up the calories and whatnot like EXOTEC mentioned. I have my tools and my mind set from years of work on this, my situation has just changed and my meals need to be frozen and not fresh. I love Marlene Koch's recipes, so I'm looking into turning those into freezer meals.
Oh, and thank you, EELPIE, for the list of slow cooker recipes.
Honestly, I just wanted easy meals I could throw together before work. I don't like condiments on anything or dressing on salads or onions or tomatoes or most sauces (I just now started putting spaghetti sauce on my pasta but only like a tbs) so it can be hard to find things to make. Most of the things that diet plans tell you to cut out to lose weight I don't eat anyway. Mayo is like the worst think ever. So is salad dressing. Or most sauces. I am short and small so I don't tend to over eat and I like small portions if they fill you up. I just simply don't have time. I spent the past year eating pizza and chinese food a few times a month cause its quick and fast food or frozen dinners cause it's easy. I haven't gained weight because of my metabolism. But I'm trying to be smart while I'm still young and I can get ahead of the game. So with that in mind, please, just freezer/crockpot meals. I already know how to control portions. I already know what my body needs. I'm already at my weight range. For now.
If you've never used a pressure cooker, it may seem daunting. But it does dramatically cut cooking time. I love my pressure cooker!
Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 12/15/2013 (11:32)
It sounds to me like you already have a good foundation and orientation for how to arrange your meals. Cook several main entrees on your Sundays - where you're having difficulty is in the portion control. That's easily solved with proper containers! I hope you have a food scale!
I have good containers I bought from a restaurant supply that I use for small snacks, but I remember scrolling through many sizes of extremely inexpensive and disposable containers of many sizes. When I say inexpensive, the ones I use for snacks are not more than 5 oz, and have snap-on lids. They come in a big sleeve, I think there's 250 or so in each. I pay about 5¢ each for the cup-lid combo. They reuse several times before cheapie me finally decides they've had enough and tosses them! LOL
Anyway, make use of the recipe calculator here on SP. It's a great resource for what you're trying to accomplish. Yes, I know it's a PITA to do the *first* time - after that, all you have to do is call it up and you've got your nutrition info, and your serving size. Then portion out a serving, label it, and you've got good hearty, healthy freezer meals. They also make great take-along lunches!
roasts of all kinds;
parboiled veggies to "finish" in the microwave;
starchy veggies in proper portions;
favorite meals, with sauces/gravies in separate containers;
and those little "cocktail" meatballs or mini-franks are great crockpot meals (with leftovers for lunch!);
I also love pre-cooked and shelled shrimp. Too easy.
You can put fish filets in cooking bags, store them in the freezer (with whatever sauce you plan to cook them in, if any), and then put them down in the fridge to thaw for cooking when you get home.
Another great option is what has already been mentioned: a slow cooker. It's wonderful to come home tired and hungry and find "someone's" been "cooking" for you! Put a salad or veg beside it - instant comfort food.
Speaking of salad: my first-choice grocery here has pre-made salads in individual servings that are great if I just don't feel like compiling a salad, with all the chopping and etc. Sometimes that "easy meal" is simply a rotisserie chicken and one of those salads. Most of the time, one small salad will easily cover two meals for me. Or one meal and a lunch or snack.
And the rotisserie chicken is a great leftover item, too. Nice thing about that is that I get the first hot meal, then a couple leftovers meals, and then I throw the carcass in a pot and make soup with all my veggie trimmings. I don't know which part I love the best!
Sometimes a big "breakfast" can be a good and simple dinner. It's not quite so easy as just tossing a container in the microwave, or dipping out of the crockpot... but it comes pretty close! Omelets are great for that, and for using up bits of things you might be otherwise tempted to discard. Put 'em in the eggs!
I really think you've got this already. Your difficulty seems to be in the caloric density (I don't count calories, so it's no issue for me) and the portion control. Those things are the easiest parts! Use the Recipe Calculator, and get some proper containers, and you're set!
Edited by: EXOTEC at: 12/15/2013 (10:35)
...the problem with people these days is
they've forgotten we're really just animals ...
We did not create the web of life; we are but a strand in it.
~attributed to Chief Seattle
We don't have souls. We ARE souls. We have bodies.
when you say your meals had the same value as drive thru, how much were you looking at? were you looking at volume and calories? were you looking at fiber, vitamins and minerals? because while you might be able to make it out of the drive thru for less than 400 cals and have a stew that has the same value, odds are the stew should have a lot more volume and fiber and a lot less fat. if that's not the case, then your recipes need tweaking. and all the tweaks are going to boil down to this: add more vegetables and reduce the amount of fat you use. so if you made a freezable lasagna before, make sure you're adding at least a half cup of vegetables per the number of servings. lentils are also a really great add to the whatever red sauce you use. and try using half to 3/4 of the cheese called for.
also, look at what you can do on the weekends to make the first half of the week's cooking shorter. if you sautee up a big pan of vegetables you could do tons of stuff with them. mix some with a jarred sauce and serve over rice or pasta. add some to eggs for a scramble or an omelet. add some to a canned soup to bulk it out. add some to grits. use them as pizza toppings. toss them onto a sandwich or into a wrap. use them as a bed for your protein of choice. and while all that doesn't sound exciting it covers lasagna, curries, stir fry, alfredo, marinara and a host of other flavorings i am not thinking of at the moment.
if you were to cook up a big pot of rice on sunday, enough for three days, you have a quite a few meals in much less time. stir fry would just require you to cook your protein and veg and toss it on the reheated rice. cook your onions, spices and beans or meat to have dirty rice more quickly. add a portion of chili or curry [both tend to be great to batch cook and freeze well. just portion them out to freeze and it's easy] to the rice for a total heat and eat meal. add some seasonings and vegetables for simple sides to a basic protein. mash the rice with some beans and seasonings to have a burger patty, loaf or ball as a meat sub. it can go on a sandwich or into a spaghetti and meat balls. add some cheese and vegetables for a broccoli rice casserole. lots of sauteed veggies, a little soy sauce, an egg and some rice makes a quick fried rice.
meatloaf or veggie loaf is another thing that is easily made in bulk on the weekends, with enough portions for two or three days this week and generally twice that to freeze in individual portions. all you need is some quick sides [hello frozen vegetables] and you have dinner just from reheating. if you can plan ahead enough to grab a slice from the freezer and pop it into the fridge to thaw as you're getting ready in the morning all you need to do is pop it in the oven or the toaster oven the minute you get home and by the time you get changed and your basic get home from work chores are done so will your dinner. a cup of any frozen vegetable just needs to be tossed in a glass container with a about a teaspoon of water in the microwave for about two minutes, stir once or twice and it's ready.
-google first. ask questions later.
Do you have a slow cooker? If not, it's the perfect season to ask ;)
They are pretty convenient, pop the stuff in before work, and when you get home it's ready!!
SP has a bunch of slow cooker recipes: recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipes.asp?food=s
The best exercise in the world is to bend down and help someone up.
The problem you describe re the bulk-cooked meals, isn't the meals themselves - it is what you put in them.
I make lots of casseroles and soups in bulk - even stir-fries and some types of pasta - and freeze them in meal lots. What I do is reduce some of the lean meat, and replace it with lentils, dried split peas and veges. This means that you still get a balanced meal. I don't load it with oils/fats. I don't brown my meat first - it isn't essential, altho' it does help to give good colour and can help with the flavour, BUT if you use a good stock, and spices/herbs, then you won't notice the difference.
I containerize the meals into single serves, and write what they are, the date and the calories/fibre. This helps me to chose what I want, when I want it, (including to sometimes take with me for a lunch) and identify it in my Groupings on SP. Sometimes I will just have a piece of wholegrain toast with a couple, but mostly I cook veges (potatoes/carrots in their skin) to go with it, and that only takes 1/4 hr cooking time. There is also no reason why when you cook the veges, you can't do enough for your Mum and you for a couple nights. Also, don't forget that you can buy a cooked Rotisserie Chicken or some meats from the serve-over deli to help you. Wholegrain couscous is a wonderful alternative to rice and Potato and a lot quicker to do, too.
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I could do that. If it would help me with my lunches, too, that would be great. How are her meals calorie wise? Are they pretty good? What about expense? I don't make a lot so cheaper is always better
do you have a day or a few hours in the week where you can prepare meals for the week. I am running with the 5 meals in a week plan with Rachel Ray. have most of the meal prepared so that all you have to do is warm it up. This may work for lunches at work as well.
I find that i can scrape a few hours on a saturday or sunday to prepare things.
I recently got a new job and am working more than I ever have (but also for more money, so that is a plus.) I used to work part time and now that I am working more, even though I like it, I find that I really don't feel like coming home and cooking for an hour or two and having hardly anytime to relax after I cook and eat before I have to head off to bed to make sure I get enough sleep (sleep is pretty much my number one priority along with eating.) I lost a lot of weight a few years ago by just eating right alone. I went from 175 to 116. I gain a bit of it back but I'm afraid I'll gain more from the simple fact of resorting to fast food or quick fixes for dinner.
I was wondering if any of you had some ideas. I love the idea of having freezer meals that I could make ahead of time on a Sunday or something and then not have to worry about long prep time or standing over a stove after I get off work. Something I could just throw in the crockpot before work or throw into the oven when I get home so I can chill out while it is cooking. I have done a few freezer meals before and they turned out great but the calories when I added them up came out to be the same as if I had just grabbed a meal from the drive thru. I know there are good and bad calories but these were pretty dang bad.
Put simply, I just don't want to ruin all my progress I made a few years ago. I'm at a healthy weight now and I have stayed the same weight for about 2 years now, but I would like to be healthier and maybe eat some better meals without spending every single evening snarfing down my food cause I have to be in bed so early. If you guys have suggestions, that would be great. I need meals for 2 or meals that can be used for leftovers because I am also feeding my mother, who needs to lose weight as well.