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My Dad can't cook....

My mom recently passed away and my Dad and brother need food to eat in the house that is simple make and/or reheat. They have a caregiver who is not that great in the kitchen. Microwaving and making a salad is the extent of the the kitchen skills.

They simply can not live on pasta/lasagna for the rest of the their lives. Nor is take out every night an option.

What can I make on Sunday that they can get a few meals out of the rest of the week.

They will only eat green beans, peas and carrots as veggies. They will eat veggies if it is "in something" and does not look like a piece of broccoli on their plate.

They eat all proteins, but I would prefer to stay mostly with chicken/turkey, egg whites, tofu and occasionally red meat.

Soup is ok, but it would have to be thick and hearty or they won't eat it.

I know this is a hard task....but I simply can not make them dinner EVERY night....I will lose my mind.



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  1. I'm sorry about your mom. There are so many good foods in the frig and freezer case that I would think two adults could feed themselves just fine. I would suggest you make hearty soup/stews like bean with bacon, minestrone, chili and plain old beef stew with vegs. Unless they eat egg whites and tofu I wouldn't bother but that's just me. Good luck and don't knock yourself out over this.

    1. Can your brother be taught how to cook some simple things? Sorry about your mom....my parents both passed away last year and getting them fed when they were sick was a challenge. I used to make meat loaf, chicken parmesan, saurkraut, beef stew, chili and freeze it for them to eat during the week. They woulld heat it up in a toaster oven. I'd freeze it in those disposable aluminum pans

      1 Reply
      1. re: momskitchen

        My brother is in a wheel chair with only limited use of his right hand.

        chicken meatloaf in on the agenda for this weekend.

        I want to try to keep the meals on the "healthier side" - so less cheese, fried, red meat.

      2. I'm so sorry about your mother, and I'm impressed that you're taking care of your father and brother at this sad time.

        If you make a simple roasted chicken (or teach your father how to do it) they should be able to get several meals out of it. A pot of rice and some salad would complete the meal.

        It's all pretty easy, but if you need some guidelines let me know. Even someone pretty new in the kitchen should be able to pull it off without a hitch.

        Liz (eadavisl@gmail.com)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Euonymous

          +1 on roast chicken or turkey. When I was first living on my own, my mom made me a roast chicken, then shredded the meat and put into single-serve containers. I tossed some with BBQ sauce one night for a sandwich, tossed with salsa and corn the next night for tacos, threw some in a soup the next night for super quick chicken-noodle soup. Very versatile and can be frozen.

          I'm sorry about your mother passing away. The situation sounds stressful, but just do what you can. At the least, try and stock their freezer with healthier frozen foods (chicken breasts, fish if they eat it, unseasoned potato wedges, and the veggies they do eat) so they always have a well-rounded meal at hand.

          You could also spend one weekend just cooking a bunch of different things for the freezer, wrapping them, and bringing them over for the future to take pressure off having to do the weekly cooking. Macaroni and cheese is an excellent vehicle for hiding veggies--using pureed cauliflower as part of the cheese sauce, shredded carrots added in, chopped broccoli or pureed yams, sliced tomatoes, etc. You also have complete control over the fat content going in (use non-fat or 2% with flour for a roux, minimal amounts of sharp cheddar instead of loads of mild, and using pureed veggies bulks up the cheese mixture without all the cheese or cream). Same goes for pasta and sauces. I simmer lots of chopped veggies in my tomato sauces until they're soft and you don't know they're there. You could also make turkey/chicken meatballs that are at least half shredded veggies. I get a lot of use out of my grater and shred zucchini into most dishes. Chopped spinach is great for hiding too and pairs well with ground chicken or turkey.

          Good luck to you, and if you can get any outside help (someone mentioned Meals on Wheels, but also maybe a local church?), hopefully that could be of use in the future. Take care!

        2. I'm very sorry about your mom. Could Meals on Wheels be an option for them?

          1 Reply
          1. re: scarmoza

            Agree about home-delivered meals. They usually bring a hot lunch and a sack dinner. Many are on a sliding scale payment plan. The food, while not gourmet, is vetted by dieticians.

            My condolences for your loss.

          2. I'd think along the lines of cooking for them one day enough that will last them for a week - if you have the time to do that. Surely dad is capable of defrosting & reheating & throwing a salad together?

            Think along the lines of a ground turkey meatloaf (stuffed with spinach if they'll eat that". Half for one meal; half cut into slices, wrapped, & frozen for another. Turkey lasagna or some other baked pasta - again, half for one meal; half frozen for another. A roast chicken - home-roasted or bought from the supermarket. Half for one meal; half for another, or the other half with the meat removed & tossed into a chicken soup or chicken tacos or whatever floats a boat that requires cooked chicken. And there's nothing wrong with a hearty soup like split pea or minestrone, etc., along with a couple of sandwiches. Nor is there anything wrong with "breakfast for dinner", as in omelets or scrambled eggs with cheese & a salad on the side.

            And if you're the one cooking, dad & bro may just have to adjust themselves to healthier eating & trying more vegetables in their diet. Unless they're doing the cooking, they don't get a whole lot of say - lol!

            1. So sorry about your Mom.

              Prevention Magazine put out a cookbook some years ago called "Prevention's low-fat, low-cost freezer cookbook: Quick dishes for and from the freezer". I think it's out of print, but there are a lot of used copies available on Amazon, eBay, etc. I think another two books that might help are "The Sneaky Chef" and "Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites". They're both on Amazon for under $10 each. The Sneaky Chef has suggestions on how to hide vegetables in standard American recipes. The Once-A-Month book's recipes aren't earth-shakingly fabulous, but it's good because, along with a lot of ideas, it actually gives you action plans for preparing a large batch of freezable meals all at once.

              Two meal suggestions off the top of my head are Spinach Quiche (easy with a pre-made crust and a whole grain one will even add some fiber) and Chicken and/or Veggie Enchiladas. <http://www.food.com/recipe/low-fat-ch...>

              Best of luck.

              1. i'm so very sorry for your loss, i just went thru that with my mom while she was sick, feeding both her and my dad for 3 years, and since she died in November, we're now feeding my dad every day - my sister and i take turns cooking/freezing things for him. I just lost most of this post, so i'm going to start again, but briefer. soups worked for us, using broth and pre-roasted store bought chicken, baked chicken meatballs from this recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/10/bak...; variations on "shepherds' pie" - ground meat - any kind, seasoned, cooked, layered with mashed potatoes, or even sweet, add carrots, peas to meat, sometimes a layer of spinach or lentils, topped off with parmesan cheese - all freezes very well and then they just have to defrost and heat up in the oven. soups, you can use chunks of chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions, peas, etc. add rice or even pasta to make it more filling. also i make fried rice with any leftover meat - diced up small, fry with rice, peas, carrots, add soy sauce, scrambled egg. easy and all freezable. my sister does giant pot of spaghetti sauce with store-bought meatballs and sausage (all these can be turkey/chicken) and we portion that out into servings and freeze them. i've done beef stews, pork tenderloin - anything, really, as long as it's saucy enough it can be frozen, defrosted and heated in a pan. you can try sneaking in veggies by pureeing them - combine some cooked cauliflower into their mashed potatoes, or chop spinach very finely and toss it into mashed potatoes - it wilts and just adds color, no taste, really, but gives vitamins. i use a lot of leeks for the high iron content, just saute until really soft and put in everything. chop up veggies really small and sneak them into everything you can! into meatloaf too.

                i'm sorry, it is a very big chore, and you'll get tired of making the same food over and over, and they'll eventually get tired of eating the same things. my dad can't chew a lot of things anymore, so it's even harder. you may want to teach at least your dad a couple of basic things - how to make rice, boil potatoes and mash with milk butter & salt, etc.

                I feel for you - it's hard enough to grieve your mother, and taking care of your family, tho you want to do it, can be very draining. you're doing a good thing, please make sure you also take care of yourself. i treasure coming home to my BF and letting him cook for me, or going out for an inexpensive meal ourselves now and then, or even a splurge once a month or so. good luck to you.

                2 Replies
                  1. re: yummyinmytummy

                    If you are a Costco/Sams member, there's cheap rotisserie chickens to start with.

                1. I'm so sorry for your loss, I know how hard it is, having lost my mother last fall. I too am trying to keep my father fed while living an hour away. I try to keep his freezer stocked with a variety of things by making, say 6 portions at a time of something he likes. If you do one or two of those a week pretty soon you get a decent stockpile. He will pan fry a steak or chop and has gotten pretty good at it so he'll alternate that with my frozen stuff. Like you, my own food preferences/habits are very different from his but I have just been making stuff he likes because otherwise he just skips eating, and he's lost an alarming amount of weight. So, coq au vin is one of his favorites, I put extra carrots and mushrooms in. Ditto with oxtail stew. I am about to make a big batch of lamb stew with peas and artichoke hearts (peas, carrots, mushrooms and carrots being the only veg he will eat, at least you have green beans!). Sadly, he won't eat meatloaf or soup, I think you can do well there, with beef barley maybe, minestrone, chili (could be with turkey) and all kinds of veg can be snuck into meatloaf. You might find a nearby supermarket with decent rotisserie chickens, our local paper did a taste-off a couple of years ago and steered me to one that is WAY less salty than they usualy are and he'll eat that for several meals. Oh, this might not be healthy enough for your purposes but when he was really balking at eating I had good luck with savory turnovers using Pepperidge Farms pastry -- must try that again -- but I think I recently saw somewhere a healther chicken pot pie with just a few layers of filo for the crust, would that work for you? Googled and this wasn't the one I was thinking of but looks good: http://recipes.kaboose.com/ellie-krie... Good luck and as others have said, take care of yourself too, they are not the only ones who have suffered a loss!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: GretchenS

                    that reminds me, my dad actually likes some frozen, pre-prepared items - like chicken pot pies, meatloaf, lasagnas, etc. they really help to space your own meals out. my dad, being from another country and old school, likes hot meals for lunch too, a lot of the time, so a sandwich usually won't do (not the least because he has a hard time chewing one), so those help out with lunches too.

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      Does he like sausages? Because if you can get decent sausages where you live and freeze them individually in snack size bags, that can make a nice hot lunch easy with mashed potatoes. And that reminds me, my father relies heavily on frozen, microwaved mashed potatoes, I think that's what he usually has when it's a plain pan-fried piece of meat. But that and a sausage and maybe frozen peas could not be easier and easy to chew.

                      1. re: GretchenS

                        yep, we do that too. he likes hot dogs, actually, so he has those a lot too. he's also mobile, thank goodness, so he can go out and get himself a hamburger whenever he wants. Also, luckily my dad can make his own real mashed potatoes, rice, his own bacon and eggs for bfast, He also loves loves loves fruit, fresh and canned, so he keeps himself stocked with that. Thanks for your tips!

                  2. Cook things in fairly large quantities like stews, soups, pastas that already have the sauce mixed in, and lasagne. Don't forget Chicken Cacciatore and Swiss Steak. Package them in individual tupperware containers that can be frozen or kept in the fridge for a few days at a time. Take a dozen hard boiled eggs over in the carton. Make a few containers of vegetable sticks, you know like celery and carrot sticks so they can forage.

                    Try to make your version of TV dinners. You can stroll the frozen food section for ideas and then make them.

                    Also, teach them how to make breakfast. There is nothing easier or quicker than sausage and eggs in a no stick skillet.

                    1. How about a big batch of chicken meatballs? Then you could play with different sauces for them, not just tomato sauce. BBQ sauce, hoisin sauce, etc. You could even try sneaking in some cooked, grated carrot!

                      1. First, so sorry for your loss. You are a wonderful daughter trying to feed your family!
                        Here's a great, simple idea for peas and carrots; put them in a micro-safe dish, pour some honey and mustard over them and nuke. So easy!
                        I would try to teach them how to bake a chicken and how to do one pot meals...maybe a slow cooker.

                        1. We often reheat dinners we've eaten or not been able to because we're doing something else.

                          Chicken enchiladas with a salad
                          Spaghetti made with turkey meatballs.
                          Orchette and Chicken Parmesean - using boneless chicken breasts, sauce the pasta and put it in a large ziplock, reheat in a bowl. Reheat the chicken on low heat 325, from the fridge its ready in about 30 mins.

                          Iraeli cous cous made with chicken broth, add veggies like carrots, zucchini and peas to it, makes a great side. Serve with broiled chicken breasts. - low fat and healthy.
                          Israeli cous cous is larger than the regular cous cous, it works the same with that.

                          Chicken and dumplings
                          Stuffed cabbage and peppers - use turkey with long grain rice, and tomatoes for the stuffing.

                          1. Different types of stews. they usually taste better when reheated. chicken bean stew...beef stew...moroccan tagine(which is sort of like stew)
                            baked ziti also is a good option.