HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


How do you feed your family if you don't cook?

I've met quite a few people who have nobody in the family that cooks. Since I've never been forward enough to grill them on how they do it, I thought I'd ask here.
I raised two boys (and a couple of husbands) and cooked daily, sometimes simple meals and others more involved.
What I can't figure out is,do you take everyone out to eat every day, and what does the family have for breakfast? If there's no food in the pantry, what do you do when the kids are hungry, whether it's dinnertime or not?

So I guess what I'd like to know is, what does a typical week of eating look like in a non-cooking family?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have some friends who don't cook. (They can, they just don't). There's cereal, frozen waffles, and instant oatmeal for breakfast. Purchased cut fruit and vegetables in the fridge. Dinner is takeout.

    42 Replies
    1. re: cheesecake17

      <Dinner is takeout>

      Every night??

      I have a list of about 100 restaurants that deliver to my neighborhood from some of the best restaurants in LA and I'd get bored after about a week of that.

      1. re: latindancer

        yep, my husband's parents ate like this for years. They'd actually go out to eat at Marie Callendars or similar place. Eat salad for dinner that night at the restuarant and take home everything else and eat that for a couple more days. Then its time to go out again. When we'd visit couple times a month on the weekends (we didn't live that close) I'd always try to COOK something in house.

        1. re: latindancer

          Yup. Takeout or something frozen- nuggets, pizza bagel.
          Once in a while spaghetti with jarred sauce or BBQ.
          Stinks to see the kids eat that way.

          1. re: cheesecake17

            That's how I ate when I first moved out on my own and didn't know how to cook. It was great back then, brings back nice memories actually, but I would be dead by now if I still subsisted on Top Ramen, spaghetti with jarred sauce, Kraft mac'n'cheese, frozen chicken fingers, Eggos, and those Budget Gourmet $1 frozen dinners.

            I remember a boyfriend asking me to make him a chopped salad for dinner once and I bought like 8 different vegetables and chopped them with a dull dinner knife and poured Kraft ranch dressing over the top. I felt like a chef.

            Once in a while I'll find myself at someone's house around dinner time and they'll try to serve me foods along these lines and I politely decline. Not as a snob, but I just can't stomach over processed stuff anymore. I'm in my very late 20s and find that many of my generation still have not learned to cook.

          2. re: latindancer

            i eat out at least 5 times a week.
            have been doing this for years.
            waiting to become bored.

            1. re: westsidegal

              For me, it's like going on vacation for a month and eating out every breakfast, lunch and dinner.
              It all seems to begin to taste the same and I'm pretty used to high end food and accommodations.
              Regardless, raising children when all they know is take away food seems so bizarre to me, and sad.
              I suppose it's because I had parents and extended family who were stellar cooks and bakers. Their food was/is on par or better than most restaurants I've eaten at.

              1. re: latindancer

                when i was raising my kid, i served food at home.
                it was healthful food, but i wouldn't have called it "cooking."

                in the young, early elementary school years, my daughter was on a "dipping" jag. she liked almost any kind of food that she could dip.
                organic peanut butter was a dip
                organic hummus was a dip
                organic yogurt was a dip.

                organic vegetables could be dipped (both raw and cooked).
                organic whole grain breads and crackers could be dipped
                cut up fruit could be dipped.

                it got much tougher when the evil influence of peer pressure came into play. all of a sudden pizza became a major food group.
                thankfully, at about that time i was able to add fruit smoothies made with organic soy milk to the menu to counteract the pizza et. al.

                later i was able to add trips to Souplantation to the mix.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  Since you have so much experiencing eating most meals out, I'd like to have a side by side comparison over the course of a year on eating every meal out vs. making every meal at home and see what the costs are.

                  Interested? Experiment just for giggles, eye opening results and surprises...2014?

                  1. re: HillJ

                    just for giggles, what i eat
                    is detailed in my post lower on this thread, the post that i made about 16 hours ago.

                    (clue, the cheeses normally cost between $30 and $50/lb at the various specialty cheese stores and gas is a bitch and to put together the cheese platter you will need to add in at least $10 to $15 in gas and wear and tear on my car and parking to drive all around town to get the cheeses)

                    would love to know how you plan to price out the other dishes that i am eating this week, much less for the rest of the year.

                    please specify how you plan to account for the tremendous amount of waste because i don't eat the same stuff over and over again.

                    just for giggles.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Maybe you misunderstood me. I haven't read your other entries entirely and I'm only skimming this thread at this point. I was looking for a CH who would start 2014 with me comparing the price of eating out every meal (or near every meal) vs shopping & cooking at home.

                      I'm not talking about what gets pitched, what you spend to travel or the wear and tear on your car. Just the daily consumption & the cost. The grey area is leftovers. But, we can either count them 100% the first time or guesstamate the value saved. Not a deal breaker and I want this to be fun.

                      For instance, tonight my husband and I are enjoying a three course dinner and wine. Cost for just the dinner I've got planned is $72.00. If you were heading out for dinner tonight would you spend that? Now tomorrow I'm anticipating that breakfast, lunch, dinner and two stops for some holiday foods will run me and my husband $210.00 for the entire days worth of shopping and fixing meals. Would that be your budget for the day? And so on.

                      I only singled you out because you sounded like you know your way around a food trip, a restaurant meal and at home preparation.

                      I am curious about what I spend in a year. I have a rough idea but I'm going to track it in 2014. Most days I'm in the $50-75 range for two people and if it's just me I could spend half, I could easily spend the whole budget for the day.

                      So, just for giggles.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        oh, i get it now.
                        i'd be a poor person to work with because the type of foods that we eat are not at all alike.
                        the best comparison would be with someone who eats food that is, at least, somewhat similar.
                        the yearly cost of my food would be relatively easy to calculate if i save my american express bills because, since american express gives me a "cash back" discount on all restaurant purchases, i tend to put all such charges on that particular credit card.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Okay, I'm going to ask a friend and her husband instead. I'm only interested in the spending. I'd never find someone who eats like (we) I do. Or shops and home cooks/bakes the way I do. That doesn't matter to me. I'm only curious in the spending. What does it cost Hill & J to eat meals prepared for one year vs. one year eating meals out. Check back in 2015. :)

                          1. re: HillJ

                            I keep a strict spreadsheet on every penny I spend, to keep myself in line, so I could give you my figures for the last few years if you like. We do eat out maybe once a month though, wouldn't want to skew it!

                            1. re: coll

                              No kidding. What did you spend in 2012 for the year on food with and without monthly meals in a restaurant.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                I was just saying off the top of my head, so it was interesting to see the cold hard facts. 2012=$5,817 grocery, and $2,197 eating out (I was still working part of the year), while now that I'm cutting back, 2013=$5,513 grocery and $1,515 eating out.

                                A lot more eating out than I thought! But really only once or twice a month, not counting pizza, Chinese, etc. For my purposes, I counted it all, even cups of coffee.

                                1. re: coll

                                  Oh this is really what I'm after and yes! everything consumed big or small. I keep receipts but I'm going to approach this in greater detail in 2014 just to see what happens. Thanks coll this is what I'm talking about. BTW-those are great figures for an entire year!

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    I get a kick out of being a cheap shopper and don't buy much that isn't on sale; we actually eat really well and healthy too. Food is my biggest expense overall, the way I break it down anyway, so money well spent.

                                    The spread sheet works great. I track car expenses, medical, pet stuff, household, fun and so on. I don't go crazy with the results, it just reminds me where I need to cut expenses when money gets tight.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      I admire your discipline. I'm just curious what Hill & I actually spend on food over a year. Like you, I consider myself a smart food shopper and we both like to cook/bake but we also indulge and splurge in celebrations and special food stuffs. I'd like to think it averages out and still remains a smart food budget, but I do wonder. I'm going to give it a try in 2014 and my friend and her spouse are on board. Thanks coll.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Keep me updated, one thing I don't know is how I compare to the rest of the world. I used to be in food sales, so the numbers always were important to me; now it's just an old habit. And I do have worse ones, I have to admit!

                                        1. re: coll

                                          Thanks, I will. I agree, I think a comparison would make this more interesting. We'll see, in a year :)

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Can I play? I have a spreadsheet too! 2013 groceries are $1011 for 1 person. This only represents 36 weeks because I was out of town the rest of the time so $28/week. Eating out = $130 for the 36 weeks. I eat out all the time when traveling and made a decision to save money for travel so this accounts for the low spend there.

                                            1. re: jadec

                                              Welcome, welcome! The more the merrier, the more comparisons the better.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                I can definitely tell you our numbers, because I use Quicken to track expenses, but I'm lazy about splitting transactions. So, our "Grocery" category also includes paper products, personal care items, some medications (basically anything I can buy at Costco) and wine/liquor, which skews it quite a bit. I'll still post when I get home if anyone is interested, though!

                                              2. re: jadec

                                                People like you scare me. Not because I'm afraid of you, but because it makes me realize how bereft of the record-keeping gene I am. People like me really need people like you. Just sayin'.

                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                  That's why I use mint.com. It categorizes everything for me because it links to my bank account. Occasionally it'll categorize something wrong (like i buy both my gas and my groceries at the grocery store) so I have to go manually fix it, but otherwise it's way easier than a separate spreadsheet!

                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                    Entering the data works as an accountability tool for me but Mint and an automated tool is better if you just want to capture data.

                                                    Back on topic I use the spreadsheet to decide if I need to cook more, eat out less, spend less on groceries on a weekly basis.

                                                    1. re: jadec

                                                      Oh for sure. I was just offering a solution to someone who is overwhelmed by a spreadsheet log :)

                                                      But yes, I also use the budget tools on there to figure out where I'm at, if I can splurge on something at the store, etc.

                              2. re: HillJ

                                I checked my mint.com account. It isn't 100% accurate because I can't "split" transactions... like if I buy toiletries or cleaning supplies at the grocery store, they get lumped in with the grocery amount, same for Costco.

                                But, my 2013 Number is $4,679 for groceries ($389/mo), and $1,410 for eating out ($117.50/mo).

                                The eating out amount is a bit surprising to me. Although, a lot of the restaurant budget is from going to hockey games. We have season tickets and the food at the arena is not cheap. SO buys some of his own food for lunches when he's around, but most of his food is paid by his job since he travels on weekdays.

                                1. re: juliejulez

                                  You've got some really good information there, juliej. This is another example of what I"m getting at. Good numbers on your end too. Thanks.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    I wonder how much of a difference in price in different parts of the country too? I'm on Long Island so I know I'll be on the high end no matter what, despite my eagle eye for bargains.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      I'm in NJ (I think you know that) and currently in PA & CA three months out of the year. What I pay in NJ is about the same in PA (tax diff) but I find CA is higher on some things and much lower on other things. I try to shop wisely wherever I go but I do splurge in my own way. I'm figuring what I save in the left hand, enhances the right.

                                      In 2013, it's coming to about $16,800.00 on food and beverages. Now, that includes our food pantry donations, four major fundraisers Hill & J run and my son's last year at college. That's receipts.

                                      What I want to know in 2014 is how much I will save if I give more thought to it, no longer have any kids in college (yeah!) and a tighter handle on my charity work.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        I look at it almost like a game, or a competition, and believe me any errors on the stores part are dealt with immediately too. I sure they roll their eyes when they see me coming to the courtesy desk. At this point in my life, I don't care! I get a kick out of controlling what I can in my life. And this is one of the few things you can, unlike taxes and gas.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          Good point, coll. Let's see how I 'control' things in 2014!

                                  2. re: juliejulez

                                    You can split transactions in Mint.com; that was one of the first features they had when they started back in 2007. Here are some pointers:


                                    "We wish to inform you that you can split a transaction by following the steps below:

                                    - Hover over the transaction you want to split and click Edit Details.
                                    - Click the Split button located under the transaction amount.
                                    - After clicking the button, a new box will appear Split Your Transaction.
                                    - Within the box you can enter the desired amount, edit the merchant name or change the transaction category.
                                    - Click on Split button to split the transaction.
                                    - Click Save to save the changes.

                                    If you’d like to revert a change, follow the steps below:
                                    - Locate the split transaction that you’d like to revert.
                                    - Go to Edit Details and navigate to the Split button again.
                                    - Click on the 'x' to revert the split.
                                    - Then click Save. "


                                    1. re: cornedhash

                                      Oh gosh, how easy, thanks! That will really help me keep more accurate records in 2014.

                                    2. re: juliejulez

                                      I'm a big Mint fan, and on the iPhone app you can split transactions. When you tap a posted transaction on the upper right in blue is "Split".

                                    3. re: HillJ

                                      also, how would you handle the "drinking out?"

                                      (being single, many times my friends and i will spend the evening at a restaurant bar. sometimes we may order bar food or dinner, but sometimes it's an evening of drinks only. also, in terms of paying, it is a very uneven rotation. sometimes one will pay the tab, while another pays the tip. if one of us is out of work, the others will pick up the tab entirely until a new job is secured, etc.)

                                      the tab, though, shows up on my american express bill under the "restaurant" category.

                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                        I myself have a "fun" category. It's for things I could do without, but choose not to at that specific time. That's why I like to track it myself, bill by bill.

                                        I do also have a liquor store column, which gets a bit more use. We can't buy liquor at the grocery store here, so it's easy to keep separate!

                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                          Goes in the receipt pile. Costs-whatever comes out of your pocket. Eating/drinking in or out for one year. Simple.

                              3. re: westsidegal

                                <I wouldn't have called it 'cooking>

                                My kids loved all the foods you've described above.

                                For me, not being a single parent, we all sat down to full meals at the table because I was also serving my husband. We ate very well thought out breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Lunches weren't as elaborate when they started school.
                                Dinners were fish, roasted chicken, braised meats and all the sides that go with them. I baked the same way. I baked a cake or cookies or pie every day, experimented with all kinds of things and they both learned their way around the kitchen because they chose to.
                                We went out to eat when we wanted to but it wasn't every night take away like so many on this thread are talking about.

                                1. re: latindancer

                                  to me, personally

                                  take away = evil

                                  take away is a way to consume all sorts of questionable ingredients disguised as food.
                                  i have an almost religious aversion to take away.
                                  the take away business was one of the big drivers of the whole pink slime business.
                                  i am deeply suspicious of any chopped, formed, mass-produced "food." anything at all could be incorporated into that patty/nugget.

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    Wow, most takeaway food we get is made from scratch pizza, Mexican and Chinese.

                        1. re: Reston

                          My stepdad's ex-wife thought she was cooking when she threw a chicken in the microwave for 20 minutes (or so, I'm not sure exactly how long) and boiled some frozen corn and called it supper.

                          1. re: PotatoHouse

                            Sweet Jesus. That sounds like my dad's second wife, except the corn would have gone in the microwave, too. EVERYTHING came out of the microwave, except her cornbread that had mayonnaise in it....

                            1. re: Kontxesi

                              My mother was like that too! Everything in the microwave all at once. That's why I taught myself to cook.

                              1. re: Kontxesi

                                if that's the same woman perhaps you and Potato are related in some weird way?

                          2. Well I don't know for certain, but my guess is probably a mix of take out (pizza, Chinese, etc), fast food, convenience foods (Kraft blue box, frozen dinners, etc), also, soup, sandwiches, and I'd put going out to eat last. I'd think that at least a good amount of families don't cook due to a lack of time. If you don't have time too cook you probably don't have time to go out to eat to a restaurant either.

                            Breakfast would be easy. Like another poster said, cereal, frozen waffles, pop tarts, yogurt, granola bars - all very easy. Does not cooking scratch mean no food in the house? I'm assuming these families still have some food in their pantries, or at least they should, even if it is a bunch of shit.

                            1. I have a girl friend who (somewhat proudly) admits she can't cooks. They eat cold/hot instant cereal, nut butters and toast, scrambled eggs for most breakfast with the occasional pancake or french toast on the weekends. Her son eats hot lunch at school, her husband take out and she a yogurt or salad. Dinners are either out, take out or the occasional pasta. In the summer her husband grills a lot so they eat grilled fish and chicken on the grill.

                              They actually eat tons of veggies and fruit. They actually eat a more balanced diet than some people I know who cook.

                              4 Replies
                                1. re: melpy

                                  The people I know who "grill" serve only meat. Like hamburger in a bun = dinner.

                                  1. re: melpy

                                    I guess I see the kind of grilling they day the same as making boxed spaghetti. They grill lots of hotdogs, pre-shaped/frozen burgers like bubba burgers, pre marinated chicken, plain fish.

                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                      That kind of grilling doesn't seem much different than microwaving or throwing something frozen in the oven.

                                2. <So I guess what I'd like to know is, what does a typical week of eating look like in a non-cooking family?>

                                  I am guessing, based on people I know, that many of them on already made food. Yes, eating out is one option, but most of them, they do "take-out", "deliver", microwaveable food, cooked foods from supermarkets, super simple cooking -- such as adding milk to cereal or boil water for instant noodle (known as Ramen in US).

                                  1. I have co-workers that don't cook and I've wondered this as well. I can only assume that that they eat lots of things that are sealed and require a microwave.

                                    1. There's plenty to buy at that market that isn't considered from scratch cooking. So, I'm going to say they buy a good deal of frozen prepared, boxed prepared, carb treats, spreads, fruits and bottled drinks. Then, some eating out. Then, eating at other people's homes. Then the grab and go kinda stuff in between. It isn't all horrible but it is expensive to eat that way as the normal routine. I'd compare it to a typical run of meals during a family vacation..except it's not a vacation.

                                      20 Replies
                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        My parents do a lot of boxed and frozen stuff. Some meals are more involved- like my mom will cube and pan fry chicken breast and put rice in a rice cooker- but adds a bottled sauce and frozen vegetables.

                                        I go through cycles where I cook a lot and then I barely cook at all. On days I don't cook, we eat out or eat leftovers. It's just two of us so a dinner typically turns into lunch as well. Even when we eat out, we usually have leftovers for the next day's lunch.

                                        1. re: WishyFish

                                          My son ate that way all through college. He knows how to cook. He just didn't spend a great deal of time on it while studying and working. His salt intake was a bit concerning over a period of time but has since improved.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Yea, when you have work or school full time, it gets exhausting. The nights that I do cook I'm typically not done until 7 or 8 at night. And then the whole day is gone. I'm grateful we have the option of having someone else cook when I just don't feel like it... And I don't even want to think about sodium. :D

                                            1. re: WishyFish

                                              My Mom (in her 80s) is on her own and lives mostly on Lean Cuisine, when she's not meeting someone at the local bistros for an appetizer type meal. She just told me yesterday that her doctor said her sodium is ridiculously high and she has three months to get it under control. She told me she finally looked at the Lean Cuisine nutritionals and went into shock!

                                              1. re: coll

                                                Local restaurant appetizer prob aren great sodium wise either.

                                                1. re: melpy

                                                  I know, that's why I mentioned it, but thanks for adding that fact. She had a heart attack about 12 years ago, so she should know better.

                                                2. re: coll

                                                  coll - yes, a few years ago when visiting my aunt who was going through a 'patch' (post-stroke as an over medicated diabetic living alone) I shopped the freezer aisle for low-fat, low-salt,, low-sugar easy microwave meals and it was HARD to find something that wasn't off the charts for salt or cholesterol even those with a "heart healthy!" imprint.

                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                    Sometimes you're better off with Meals on Wheels.

                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                        Actually, depending on where and how the program is run, "Meals on Wheels" can have problems for people like coll's mom and hill food's aunt. But there *IS* hope... SOME of today's frozen prepared Indian foods ARE organic and all that good stuff, and ideal for such people.

                                                        Not so much for people like me because I am allergic to -- are you ready for this? -- turmeric! I've REALLY gotta read labels closely! But if you live in an area where the Sprouts chain of "Farmer's Markets" do business, they carry the organic Indian frozen TV dinners. I suspect places such as Whole Foods and maybe even Trader Joes would have them too, or an "in-house facsimile." '-)

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          My toddler is sensitive to Carrots. Not allergic per se, but they give her nasty diaper rash. She can tolerate one chopped up for mirepox, but other wise no go. Add that to a nut allergy and boy do I read labels.

                                                          I personally feel allergies are a huge thing getting people in the kitchen themselves. Because they HAVE to.

                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            in my aunt's case she just didn't like the idea of strangers bringing things into her house (although EMT personnel and pizza delivery are OK in her book...)

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              Believe it or not, my Mom actually delivers for Meals on Wheels in her town. Gives her a chance to get out and socialize! Oh and she gets a free meal that day too.

                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                Yay for your mom! That's a pretty selfless bunch of volunteers. For those who don't know much about the program, it's aimed primarily for "shut ins" who may be isolated or unable to cook regularly for themselves. The service can be daily meals or weekly, and some programs ask their drivers to sit and chat with the recipient while they eat as that is far too often an important point of "social contact" for the recipient. I know so much about the program because an elderly retired friend was on it about a decade ago, and sometimes when her weekly delivery arrived, she would "spontaneously" call up and invite me to dinner. I always accepted, then took along something "extra" to share. She died shortly after I moved to Dallas.

                                                                Anyway, the Meals On Wheels drivers are a pretty remarkable and loving group of people, and your mom being one speaks volumes about you! Hooray for the good guys!

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  I used to deliver for a similar program. We became friendly with the recipients and would often buy their favorite snacks/treats and include them. It was definitely a social event for both parties

                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                I guess that's who Trader Joe's sells a lot of their packaged meals to. They look good, but I can make them so much cheaper, I don't buy them. As HillJ points out, it's an expensive way to eat.

                                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                  Not as expensive as going out to eat. :) I think truly low-income families are probably not the target market for trader joe's frozen items.

                                                  1. re: WishyFish

                                                    Absolutely not! Low income families go to Food Depot. Trader Joe's is for people who can afford not to cook, or choose not to cook.

                                                    1. re: WishyFish

                                                      My son was in Philly for college. He found the frozen packaged meals cheaper than some of the places fellow students went off campus to eat. Some restaurants catered to the college crowd, many didn't. The food on campus (prepaid) was pretty awful and if you couldn't time heading to the mess hall around classes worse. He'd head to the local market after work and fill his apartment fridge/freezer with meals for the week. Since he couldn't get out of a meal ticket (required of students living on or near campus) he was already over paying to eat.

                                                      Now families on a strict budget are much better off learning how to shop wiser and prepare meals BUT there are Dollar stores selling frozen and packaged dinners, so if that's your preference or convenience the same goods can be sourced for a buck.

                                                2. So I guess what I'd like to know is, what does a typical week of eating look like in a non-cooking family?

                                                  Whatever the nanny or private chef buys and makes.

                                                  11 Replies
                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    What % of families do you think do this??

                                                    1. re: enbell

                                                      I dunno.

                                                      But if you make NOTHING at home, then you either eat out every single meal, or you ARE in fact making something to eat at home.

                                                      If you are making something -- even pouring milk into a bowl of cereal, or hot water into a Ramen cup -- you have cooked something.

                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                      seriously? I want to live where you live, lol.

                                                      This is the typical week for my friend.

                                                      Weekday Breakfast:
                                                      instant oatmeal, cold cereal, frozen waffles. Granted she buys "natural/organic" brands

                                                      Weekday lunch:
                                                      She has ypgurt and fruit everyday
                                                      Her husband gets take out sandwiches-subway, etc
                                                      Her son eats lunch at school

                                                      Lots of precooked chicken on top of bagged salad.
                                                      spaghetti and frozen meatballs, salad
                                                      rotisserie chicken with veg and starch
                                                      WF/TJ ready mades soups with grilled cheese
                                                      WF prepared dinners
                                                      take out from a local italian place-salads, pasta, eggplant parm

                                                      weekends are a little different as they might make scrambled eggs or their own sandwiches

                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                        This doesn't sound half bad, foodiex2. Their dinners are kind of a Semi-Homemade affair, with the pastas, vegetables and grilled meats and fish.

                                                        1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                          I think they actually eat a more rounded/balanced diet than many people I know who make all theri own food from scratch.

                                                          I always laugh when a particular friend declares "but its homemade!" and then complains that she can't lose weight. She makes lots of sugary sweets, lots of white flour based pastas, breads, etc.

                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                            we must have the same friend.

                                                            mine is mystified about why her entire family is fat and her husband is diabetic.
                                                            even when she serves vegetables, they are covered with bacon or butter.
                                                            beans have lard in them.
                                                            white rice has butter or lard.
                                                            potatos were saturated in butter.
                                                            no meal was served without a dessert, often made with transfat (coolwhip or the like) or saturated fat.
                                                            yet, to her, since everything was homemade, by definition, it had to be healthful.

                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                              <<yet, to her, since everything was homemade, by definition, it had to be healthful.>>

                                                              Exactly!! LOL

                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                That's hilarious, because I can very easily make the most unhealthy fat-laden carb-heavy dishes at home. They just have less sodium and no preservatives.
                                                                What are those women thinking?

                                                              2. re: westsidegal

                                                                westsidegal, saturated fat is not the enemy....it is better for you than many vegetable-based fats...

                                                      2. All they need is a microwave, a freezer, and... frozen meatballs, frozen tacos, frozen fish and chips, frozen lasagna, frozen pizza, frozen burritos, frozen spanakopita, frozen chicken pot pies, frozen pot stickers, frozen chicken cordon bleu, frozen curry, frozen tika masala, frozen fettuccini Alfredo, frozen General Tsao's chicken, frozen cheese steak sandwiches, frozen eggplant parmesan, frozen stuffed green peppers, frozen mushroom risotto, frozen lobster ravioli, frozen lemon grass salmon, frozen mozzarella sticks, frozen White Castle hamburgers, frozen beef fajitas, frozen Buffalo wings, frozen carrot cake, frozen chow mein, frozen turkey with dressing, frozen spinach dal, frozen Eggos, frozen baked potato, frozen teriyaki chicken, frozen chili, frozen Salisbury steak, frozen meatloaf, frozen peach cobbler, frozen pad Thai, frozen chicken cacciatore, frozen pumpkin pie....

                                                        There is damned little you can't buy frozen, but it can kick your food budget over the moon when you're feeding a family!

                                                        26 Replies
                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          You know, Caroline, I think you've just listed everything in the freezer section at Sam's Club!

                                                            1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                              Actually, I have found Sam's Club frozen chicken wings to be useful--taste quite good (esp. tequila lime) and my son and his late-night friends can manage to cook them in the middle of the night after I'm zonked out.

                                                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                Yes! As I age and time takes its toll on my body, I have to admit to using more and more "ready mades." The Chicken Lime wings are tasty, and they're not all that bad on added undesireable ingredients, except for the damned "agribusiness" chicken, which can lay me out due to my extreme sensitivity to hormones and antibiotics. But that's me. <sigh> But I have found that adding a few of those lime seasoned chicken wings to some steamed rice with a few left over veggies can make a nicely seasoned and pretty darned good all-in-one main dish. And when I can't eat it, my housekeeper celebrates! '-)

                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                              <There is damned little you can't buy frozen......>

                                                              So true. However, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm drawing the line at the frozen grilled cheese sandwiches I had the misfortune of noticing not too long ago.

                                                              1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                There's a frozen PB & J with the crusts cut off, too. That one always baffled me.

                                                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                  For people in other parts of the world who may not have a clear idea of what we're talking about, here are a couple of convenient lists that Sam's Club offers on-line shoppers to help them fill their virtual shopping carts more easily. Scroll down these two pages, but remember, they are only a small drop in the bucket!


                                                                  Mind boggling!

                                                                  1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                    Those are so good deep fried, with or without batter. But if we're talking healthy....those sandwiches were originally developed for elementary school cafeterias and daycare, to save the time spent making them, by hourly paid staff. Apparently the kids fell in love with it and wanted them at home too, and so a new line in the grocery freezer was born.

                                                                    And they were so popular they developed a cheese version, microwavable, not quite as popular. Are those the ones referenced above? Again, for a crowd, not bad. One by one, not so much. Again, unless deep fried!

                                                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                      The other day I wandered down the frozen food aisle and noticed that they also have a LOW FAT frozen PB & J. Who on earth are they marketing THAT to???

                                                                        1. re: Kajikit

                                                                          School cafeteria nutritionists. Very important task since it is based on actual laws, at least here in NY.

                                                                        2. re: kitchengardengal


                                                                          We were served those in boarding school for dinner probably twice a month. They are not cheaper than making your own PB&J, but the kitchen staff got those nights off, so they would just leave HUGE frozen boxes of Uncrustable sandwiches out in the cafeteria after cleaning up lunch.

                                                                          Then at dinner time, we filed through one by one and each got 2 sandwiches, a bag of chips, and a pack of Oreos. It was junk-food-dinner-day and we all loved it.

                                                                          I hate to admit it, but after leaving boarding school I had my mom buy me some Uncrustables for home. They are so strangely satisfyingly chewy. Eat them just barely thawed and ice cold. Yum.

                                                                          1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                            years ago, when a friend and i were discussing dieting strategies, he told me,
                                                                            "you crave what you eat."
                                                                            in other words, if you get used to eating cake for dessert after every dinner, it will become a craving that will be very hard to break.

                                                                            your post above, demonstrates the truth to my friend's statement.

                                                                        3. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                          Wait! Are you telling us that you would buy these though? http://tinyurl.com/k8draas '-)

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            Probably not. I think I'm getting a little too set in my ways for something like that. I think I'd lean more towards something a little more old fashioned:

                                                                            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                              LOL! The colors are a bit skewed on my monitor, and at first it looked like they were adverting peanut butter and mustard pop tarts! mmmm Maybe I'll go try it? NOT!

                                                                        4. re: Caroline1

                                                                          And when most of the cooking folk would say that "I can make that cheaper and better....." the non-cooking folk don't know the difference nor do they care to. All they know is they are putting something to eat in front of their family. I have a co worker that still thinks cooked rottisserie is as cheap a meal as you can get considering all the left over options. Of course if you are paying more then $5 for that cooked chicken then it is not the cheapest option because I can put 45 min into a whole chicken and get it cheaper.

                                                                          1. re: Atochabsh

                                                                            Exactly true, but.... the great advantage of doing it your way is that YOU are in charge of EVERYTHING that goes into and on that rotisserie chicken that you make at home! Store bought "rotisserie chickens" may have some pretty nasty stuff for people with allergies or celiac disease and such, because the "spices" the stores use may contain a nightmare of ingredients that will knock such people on their butts!

                                                                            Using myself as an example, and in hopes of expanding other peoples awareness, I'll share with you that I have a TON of allergies, many of which are a direct result of 4 units of whole blood given in transfusion during a surgery over 30 years ago, but also related to being born by C-section, which science now realizes ALWAYS compromises a newborn's immune system to a greater or lesser degree simply because passing through the birth canal is critical to an infant's development of the right flora in the gut that stimulates and makes possible a completely healthy and normal immune system. So to go along with all of the allergies, I have several autoimmune diseases as well. Anyway, these are my personal problems, but they can be useful to illustrate some of the problems with food packaging and labeling today.

                                                                            The first problem with food packaging and labeling today is that toooooooooooo many people don't bother reading the labels! BAD NEWS! But there are "secret ingredients" in some things that can truly complicate people's lives if they don't read labels closely.

                                                                            I'll give a specific example. Asian cooking is a big deal today, and (hooray!) is finally considered a main stream part of the American diet. And that includes soy sauce and/or shoyu (as in Chinese or Japanese soy sauce). For people who are wheat intolerant, "tamari soy sauce" is the ideal answer because it is soy sauce made by the hundreds and hundreds of year old traditional method and uses soy beans but NO wheat! And it's fairly hard to find unless you live near a major Asian market. BUT... Kikkoman tamari soy sauce is ever more widely available, EXCEPT... for the sake of "smoothness and flavor", Kikkoman ADDS wheat to their processing! Yeah, it says "contains wheat" in the very small print on the label, but if you think it is traditional tamari -- hey, it's a Japanese company making a traditional Japanese product, and it says TAMARI on the label so it's gotta be the real thing, right?.... Well, bottom line is that just buying food that is safe for individuals can be like trying to run through a mine field in a war zone without getting blown up.

                                                                            At age 80, I can promise you (Girl Scout's honor!) that all food was once free of the intricate problems we have to deal with any time we shop for food today. Prior to the 1950s or so, the additives in store bought foods were pretty darned innocent compared to today's modified foods that often only have very expensive alternatives such as free range never-before-frozen organic turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner versus Butterball. For MANY, that can be a "break the bank" proposition!

                                                                            And all of this "PIA" information I offer to all of the innocents out there as, "FOOD FOR THOUGHT!" '-)

                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              I would like to point out that right around 1950 (post WWII, actually) was when Betty Crocker, et al, started to produce all the horrendous-but-easy-and-arguably-tasty boxed potato dishes, TV dinners, and all those convenience foods. I'm not too sure that they were that much more wholesome than that frankenfood we have made up for us today. Do you remember that baby food used to be about 2/3 sugar? I wonder what else was, since the didn't have to label anything AT ALL back then. I remember reading a counterculture article in the mid '60s that pointed out how almost all canned goods had a lot of sugar in them, and a lot of salt, because they were cheap fillers and made stuff taste sweeter, which generally speaking, people would think tasted better. I remember absolutely loving canned peaches in heavy syrup, they aren't that good today since sugar is more pricey and therefore are in light syrup. My mother jumped on the anti-sugar bandwagon in the late 60s, and so my sis and I did too, it was pretty revolutionary at the time. I'm sure there were lots of misguided efforts, but I'm glad that despite having obesity running roughshod through both sides of his family, my son is 6'4" and a long, lean machine that actually thanked me for not keeping sweets or especially sodas in the house while he was growing up after he took a nutrition course in college.. Boy, howdy, I felt so vindicated when he told me that!

                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                Bravo for sharing your experience Caroline! Sorry to hear about your allergies.. and I totally am in line with your understanding about the consequences of C-section births versus natural births (and as an aside, as a result I am mentally prepared to do the "emergency swipe" the next time if I happen to require a C-section ;-)

                                                                                Also, being ridden with multiple allergies myself (some caused by yet-to-be-diagnosed allergens), I definitely feel defeated and stressed, when trying to hunt and scan through all the food labels while grocery shopping, in an attempt to put some control over the quality of the food I get.. As a result, it is often just easier to make everything from scratch, or live without.

                                                                                And it definitely bank-breaking or back-breaking to try to eat decent and additive free (relatively) these days. If I get free-range meat, they are always frozen, never fresh!

                                                                                1. re: vil

                                                                                  vil, I feel for you! Maybe you'll find it useful, maybe you won't, but just in case, here are a few things I find useful in trying to dodge the allergy bullets in my life.

                                                                                  First off, I have about a gazillion spices and herbs, none of which I have ever reacted to before, and they give me lots of room to play "mad chef" and create all sorts of delicious combinations.

                                                                                  I buy organic when I can, and read ingredients carefully. Frozen is often better than fresh simply because you don't have to use it up before it spoils. Boy, does THIS save me money!

                                                                                  I have LOTS of ways to cook things! So I try to vary the way I cook things just to keep life interesting. And sometimes "keep it simple" can lead to some amazing flavor combinations. The other day I had nearly a dozen small tomatoes I had to use. I softened some onions in ghee, added all of the tomatoes rinsed but not cut up, a few celery leaves from a head that was trying to grow, one zucchini (sliced), some sliced mushrooms, and some freeze dried oregano, plus a tablespoon or two of water. I set it over low heat with a lid on the pot and let it stew in its own juices for 40 minutes to an hour before stirring well. Removing the tomato skins is optional, as is a stick blender It's good plain, as a "country soup," or it can be used as a pasta sauce with or without a few added frozen meat balls, and it's also a great topping for an omelet, a chicken breast, or a hamburger patty. Oh, and salt and pepper. I never salt things while cooking, but always after and just before plating. It really helps put a lid on my salt intake. As for the cooking, well, look, ma, it's soooooooooooo simple!

                                                                                  I hope this is useful, but not everyone likes the same things. Anyway, good luck with the allergies. It's a mine field out there! '-)

                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                    Thanks for sharing the tips and ideas, Caroline. I can read the pleasure you take in the cooking.. And even though I am not a big fan of oregano nor zucchini, I get your idea to experiment and vary with techniques and spices and herbs, while still using the same basic, safe ingredients.

                                                                                    Recently I have taken a liking for coriander, in soups and in curing meats. I find that it helps a bit to get out of the rut of using the same spices over and over (such as bay leaves and other bouquet garni items). Looking forward to discover the next enticing combination. CH is definitely a wonderful place for inspiration!

                                                                                    Playing "mad chef" is wonderful. I recently made cookies adapting from a traditional Macanese recipe, using mung bean, almond and rice flour, with coconut oil and leftover duck fat as shortening. It was delicious!

                                                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                  To be fair, I was a c-section baby and am not really allergic to much of anything and rarely get sick. My older brother, also a c-section baby, is the opposite.

                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                    Lucky you. Your poor brother! '-)

                                                                                    Life is a roulette wheel. Be careful where you land!

                                                                              2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                A few years ago when my parents first moved back to New Zealand after living in Canada for 20 years, I was getting a bit frustrated with them as they kept looking for lots of convenience foods like pancake mix. It's not that these foods aren't available in NZ but there isn't a big range of them and they tend to be expensive as there isn't a big market for them. What was frustrating was that my mum is a fabulous cook and always cooked stuff from scratch when I was a child.
                                                                                I thought that those years in North America taught them bad cooking habits but I finally realised that my parents are a lot older (Mum is now 80) and these convenience foods make it a lot easier for mum to cook at home. They also eat out a lot more which I was quite concerned about but they eat quite healthily in general so I just don't worry about it any more.

                                                                                1. re: Billy33

                                                                                  there are easily made (homemade) mix recipes to be found out there, really not much more than flour, baking powder and little else IIRC. doesn't keep as long as the store-bought stuff, but it's easy, convenient and cheap without the chemically stabilizing agents.

                                                                              3. First of all....no breakfast
                                                                                Fast food and pizza. 2/$1 tacos at Jack in the Box
                                                                                Frozen chicken nuggets/fingers
                                                                                box dinners like Hamburger Helper
                                                                                Most can make spaghetti with canned sauce.
                                                                                Other frozen options and then eat the left overs.
                                                                                some can even make a baked potato in the microwave.

                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Atochabsh

                                                                                  I'm aghast.

                                                                                  People actually feed their kids this crap on a daily basis?
                                                                                  No breakfast?

                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                    many, many more than you might ever dream of. And money ain't the issue.

                                                                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                      Or they just let them go to the Burger King across the street from school in the morning. I watch this every morning and it pains me. Daily Burger King HAS to be more expensive then even boxed sugar-laden grain cereal and that's actually pretty expensive or even a boiled egg, toaster pancakes, yogurt, bacon, etc, all hearty easy and relatively inexpensive breakfast foods.

                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                        In my town, the kids hit Dunkin Donuts. At least 8 out of 10 are walking to school with a bag and giant to-go mug from DD.

                                                                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                          Recently I stopped at a Starbucks located inside a Target store for a coffee early in the morning.

                                                                                          There was also a Pizza Hut and some other fast food stand next to the Starbucks. As I was waiting to get my drink, I noticed the most obese little child I've ever seen in my life trying to get himself up on a chair to sit and eat his breakfast.

                                                                                          The mother finally came wandering over and literally HOISTED him into the chair. The kid opened the box in front of him and it was an entire fully loaded meat-and-cheese pizza. To drink, she'd gotten him a venti (large) Frappuccino with whipped cream. Easily a 1,400 calorie breakfast at 7:30 AM.

                                                                                          To top it off, the kid started talking to her and I realized after hearing him speak that he couldn't have been more than 4 years old. By looking at him you'd think he was at least twice that age.

                                                                                          The whole thing disgusted me. Not the kid, but that the mother would feed a child like that when it's obviously killing him.

                                                                                          1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                            when i see that sort of scene, i, too, get disgusted with the mom, but also, i get really heartbroken for the kid.

                                                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                              Children come out of the womb eating only when they're hungry.
                                                                                              My kids stayed that way into adulthood and have no desire to go near a donut shop or icecream place unless they 'are' hungry.
                                                                                              It's the parents who think about food 24/7 and think it's okay to sit their children down and shove food down their throat because 'you have to eat this or that because it's good for you' or the famous 'children are dying in India' thing.
                                                                                              Those parents have created eating disorders in their kids that require rehab in order to break.

                                                                                          2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                            Despite my bragging about the healthy homemade cooking I've always done, I will admit that for a long time when my son was a little shaver, I picked him up at day care and went through the Burger King drive-through right next to it and got him a cheeseburger (and me an iced tea). The kid was so thin, the biggest part of his long spindly legs was his knees. He didn't have much appetite back then, and it was a bridge between daycare lunch and homemade dinner, and I do not regret it.

                                                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                              That is sweet EW:) His skinny little legs:) I bet he remembers it too....those trips to BurgerKing.

                                                                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                I don't think there's anything wrong with giving your kids fast food on occasion. Like someone else said, if you deprive them of EVERYTHING they see their friends eating, they'll become obsessed with it.

                                                                                                My parents were finishing medical school when my older brother and I were young. We had a nanny who lived with us and she fed us mostly frozen stuff--fish sticks, peas/corn/carrots, fries, chicken nuggets, pizzas, TV dinners, etc. Mom was only home 2 nights a week to cook and we'd have "old-fashioned" type dinners that weren't particularly healthy: meatloaf w/ mashed potatoes and peas, casseroles, etc. We got Happy Meals probably once a month, after winning a sports game or going to the doctor.

                                                                                                Once we got a bit older and my mom was working normal hours (6 AM to 5 PM), she was home on time to cook dinner. What we ate in the house changed radically in the span of a year. She took cooking classes and had a grill built into a new patio addition on the house.

                                                                                                Suddenly we were eating grilled chicken and fish or lean steaks, roasted potatoes, TONS of farmer's market fruits and veggies. Dinner was always a protein, starch, and 2-3 veg. We always ate dessert. Nobody is overweight and we all love food. My younger brother would eat 5+ chicken breasts with his hands, then an entire box of fresh berries from the farmer's market and maybe a sliver of a brownie. He is the leanest thing you've ever seen. We all gulped down green beans, broccoli, carrots, corn, greens, and every type of in-season fruit throughout the day.

                                                                                                That being said, on the mornings mom could drive us to school, we had to leave very early (6ish) and had 3 options for breakfast: Grab a bagel with cream cheese on the way, grab a pastry from the corner bakery on the way, or French toast sticks from the Burger King drive-thru.

                                                                                                I always opted for the bagel if my siblings allowed, but they usually wanted BK. I haven't eaten fast food in 5+ years and don't miss it. It didn't make me fat or an unhealthy eater. We all eat pretty well as adults, still adore fruits and veggies, but all of my siblings make their first stop at In'N'Out when they fly home for visits. Nothing wrong with that IMO.

                                                                                      2. My ex-wife really never liked/likes cooking, so it's interesting to hear how she deals with feeding our son when she has custody of him. It might be worthwhile in this thread to distinguish different motives for not cooking. In her case, it is that she dislikes most food smells, so cutting onions and garlic and sauteeing, etc. she avoids. She is okay with making cheese quesadillas, though.

                                                                                        They do eat out more frequently than he and I do (he's mostly with me). He generally persuades her to go to junkier places than I would--like Steak & Shake.

                                                                                        She feeds him lots of yogurts, cereals, canned soups, PB&J sandwiches, turkey and cheese sandwiches. Occasional garden salads--cooked veggies, not so much. Nutritionally, you could do a lot worse.

                                                                                        p.s., oh yes, and lots of microwave dinners.

                                                                                        1. Parents don't know how to cook anything? Don't they take your kids away for that?

                                                                                          25 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: emu48


                                                                                            I always thought that good food/cooking/baking was part of raising children. At least that's the way I was raised and I raised my family. Teaching children to cook, to be self-sufficient, was/is my duty as their parent.
                                                                                            Good food, homemade was a daily consideration.
                                                                                            Eating out was a once/month adventure.

                                                                                            1. re: emu48

                                                                                              Since when did knowing how to cook become a prerequisite for being a parent??

                                                                                              Is the child loved? Nurtured? Kept safe? Are they nourished?

                                                                                              My friend who doesn't cook is one of the most involved, hands on mom that I know. Her inability to cook has nothing to do with her ability to parent and parent well.

                                                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                There's nothing wrong with not being able to cook. But it's important for a parent to serve balanced meals to their kids- doesn't matter how they do it

                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                  I need to respond to you. In my experience working with families, parents who are extremely warm and nurturing and protective are not usually the ones who don't cook. Microwave children are likely to have parents who either are workaholics, or must work two or three jobs to survive financially, or are disengaged because of substance abuse or emotional illness, or are so self-involved that they think nothing of working out at the gym or going to the spa or meeting the lover while the eight year-old fends for herself. Nothing that happens between parent and child is more basic than the parent feeding the child. And nothing means more to the child.

                                                                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                    in my experience working with families,
                                                                                                    if time is in short supply, the better parents choose to spend what little time they have focusing on their kids and their kids' activities instead focusing on shopping/cooking/cleaning.

                                                                                                    there really is NO need to cook in order to be a good parent.
                                                                                                    it's entirely doable to put together a healthful meal without getting involved in cooking traditional meals.

                                                                                                    a meal of hummus, whole wheat pita bread, crudite, and fruit salad is more healthful and much easier to assemble and serve than many traditional, "cooked" meals.
                                                                                                    for breakfast, a smoothie made with soy milk and fresh fruit, served with a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat toast involves hardly any cooking and is FAR FAR more healthful than the cooked saturated fat bombs that started a whole generation on its way to heart disease.

                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                      If it were my comment I'd have left off "a 1950's style "leave-it-to=beaver" repast full of saturated fat and overcooked grease-laden side dishes."

                                                                                                      keeps the point more concise and on-target.

                                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                                        ok, will edit it to conform with your suggestion.

                                                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                          no offense intended, as I thought your point was valid, just got a little side-tracked (can take the guy out of marketing/PR but hard to ehh you get the rest)

                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                            it was a good and accurate suggestion.
                                                                                                            no offense was taken, i was happy to comply because it improved my post.
                                                                                                            thank you!

                                                                                                        2. re: hill food

                                                                                                          <full of saturated fat and overcooked grease-laden side dishes>

                                                                                                          I was raised in the '50's and I never came near that kind of food…
                                                                                                          Neither did any of my friends so that argument doesn't hold.

                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                            My opinion: If people weren't alive then to experience those times first hand -- and even some who were! -- chances are they don't have a solid "reference point" and don't really understand "what was." For example, the "cholesterol dangers of beef" simply was not true UNLESS you ate grain fed beef AND/OR followed the "scientific theory" of those times that margarine, with all of its unhealthy fats that simply were not understood, was a more "healthy choice" than butter... or olive oil.... or pork fat, for that matter1 So people who watch TV shows like "Happy Days," or even more current shows such as "The Simpsons" may not have any real knowledge of what the diet of those times was like.

                                                                                                            Here;s a bit of information that will probably raise screams of anguish! There is a LOT of what I have to call "urban legend" about "haute cuisine" of the time of such great chefs as Careme and Escoffier, BUT... by today's measure of known facts about what is healthy and what is not, those "sauced fancy foods" were pretty darned healthy simply because "organic" was the ONLY food available! No GMOs. No corn fed beef. ALL protien sources were naturally grown. No washed eggs. Salmonella wass not a clerar and present danger in "all things chicken."

                                                                                                            This kind of "knowledge" falls under what we call "cultural literacy," and I can't really fault people who think the diet of those times was universally unhealthy. But the fact is that TV dinners, for example, (even the 79¢ TV dinners of the "Happy Days" era) were not all that unhealthy because our food supply had not been modified by "agribusiness" to the extent it has today. But even at that, there are very healthy organic pesticide free frozen foods, including complete meals that were once called "TV dinners" available today.

                                                                                                            I think our biggest problem today is getting everyone to understand all of the options, and when people are just flat out not interested in learning, how easy can it be to "spread the word?" It's a problem!

                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                              if you look at the autopsy studies done in the 60's of young men that died while in the military of causes unrelated to health, you may change your tune, Caroline1.

                                                                                                              even in the guys who died in accidents or combat, their blood vessels were shockingly atherosclerotic.

                                                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                Who says lard and butter are to blame?

                                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                  You've missed my point AND time line. Try reading again.

                                                                                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                  Thanks for saying it I wasn't planning to bother.

                                                                                                                3. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                  that stuff was not served in my house either but it WAS served in the homes of all the other kids in my class.

                                                                                                                  i was so ANGRY with my mom for not serving "good food" like mac and cheese from a box. i used to shriek that ALL THE OTHER KIDS had "good" food like mac 'n cheese and pizza and meat loaf covered with ketchup (my "horrible" mother would never serve meat loaf, she served hamburger steak made with ground sirloin).

                                                                                                                  it was a constant bone of contention.

                                                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                    Oh, I had the same struggle, growing up in the '70s with a mom who loved Julia Child and served me homemade peanut butter on seven-grain bread when all I wanted was Skippy and Wonder. And now my seven-year-old BEGS for Lunchables. I try to strike a balance and let him have the occasional "treat" of a Happy Meal or boxed mac 'n cheese so that the "other" doesn't become too appealing--though I think ultimately he likes my homemade "mac 'n cheese" (penne with cauliflower and gruyere and sour cream) and dad's grilled grass-fed burgers better. Everything in moderation, right?

                                                                                                                    As for cooks-vs.-noncooks, as westsidegal points out, there's no way to generalize. I'd probably rather live on the chicken-breast/bagged salad/freshMex/Whole Foods diet of some working parents I know than a steady drumbeat of the home-cooked ground-beef-based dinners that my husband grew up on, but that's a matter of personal choice.

                                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                      I remember my Nana making brain fritters for lunch for me and my friends when I stayed with her in the school holidays. My friends loved them because they were tasty and when I told them what it was that made it even better because it sounded so gruesome. This was a bunch of 8-year-old girls! I cannot remember any of my friends in my childhood ever mentioning that they disliked this, that and the other whenever we ate at someone's house. I think we just all appreciated good food!

                                                                                                                4. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                  Nicelty said Westside gal.

                                                                                                                  And all those studies about eating meals together as family? All of them said it wasnt WHAT you ate that mattered. It was the act of spending that time together that created the postive effects. Didn't matter if it was a microwaved frozen pizza or one made lovingly from scratch.

                                                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                    I really enjoy the way WSG properly uses the word "healthful" instead of the way so many people improperly use the word "healthy."

                                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                      I eat well on my designated *no cook* days. I also eat well on the three designated *meatless* days. On my no cook days I eat hummus......cottage cheese....fresh fruit....celery cucumbers ....carrot sticks scallions ....jarred artichokes cheese and crackers..... smoked fish .....good canned tuna.....fresh boiled eggs....deviled eggs....egg salad....Dave's Killer Breads with peanut butter I grind at Winco.....and organic honey.....lots of delicious healthful foods to be enjoyed that require minimal prepping. On my meatless days I improvise and sometimes I cook pasta and marinara....vegetable soup.....vegetarian lasagna... home made vegetable pizza with lots of mushrooms...spicy pinto beans....other times I just eat huge salads with every chopped vegetable known to man:)So people can still eat healthful tasty foods that do not require cooking and minimal prep. Feeding these foods to growing kids is good....especially the fruits and vegetables.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                        "eat well on the three designated *meatless* days. "

                                                                                                                        yes. as foreign as it sounds to way too many, "eat well" is very, Very true.


                                                                                                                5. re: emu48

                                                                                                                  Do you watch the news? I'd say if your worst infraction as a parent is not being able to cook, you're still a pretty damn good parent. I do agree, however that providing good nutrition and balanced meals for your child (no matter how you provide that) should be a priority.

                                                                                                                  1. re: emu48

                                                                                                                    The courts are not food police. Holy merde! The system has REAL abuse and neglect to contend with.

                                                                                                                    1. Everyone has said it all. My friends growing up ate at my home. My mom cooked. Every day. Not simple either. No. Full, all out Greek cuisine.

                                                                                                                      At my friends home I saw frozen burritos microwaved by my friend as a special treat. Some more affluent friends would order in or eat out daily. Daily. To my friends, "Breakfast????" "What's THAT?"

                                                                                                                      On a fun weekday evening, one of my friends dads would grill a hot dog or two. I would have to excuse myself as they ate. The next day would be dinner back at my home, with real food and a friend or two.

                                                                                                                      23 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                        <Some more affluent friends would order in daily>

                                                                                                                        I don't think this has anything to do with financial ability, do you?
                                                                                                                        Eating out daily, even for the most affluent, doesn't sound appealing.
                                                                                                                        This has more to do with parenting, I think.

                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                          True. It has nothing to do with money. Parenting is lost.
                                                                                                                          Food has become too convenient and watching FOODTV makes most people I know reach for the freezer and the Microwave. Not get them up to shop, cook and eat like humans.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                            Not really "true." It directly relates to "parenting." When parents don't have a clue what "made from scratch" means and think nuking a TV dinner (OR a bowl of instant oatmeal) is the same thing, how can you expect their kids to grow up knowing better?

                                                                                                                            Gastronomous. YOU are an ideal example! (Which is why I'm adding these comments here.) YOU grew up thinking and "knowing deep in your heart" that the other kid's parents weren't cooking proper meals and taking care of their family's nutritional needs in a responsible manner.....


                                                                                                                            those OTHER kids thought EXACTLY the same thing about you and your parents!

                                                                                                                            You can't hire illiterate teachers and expect them to teach our children how to read. That applies to cooking and diet as well. TRUE literacy involves one hell of a lot more than reading! '-)

                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                              I recall a neighborhood mom telling my mom how her son came home expecting a hot, home cooked meal.
                                                                                                                              That was a few days after her son and I were in his backyard right after school and his mom, after a day out galavanting about, brought home for him an individually wrapped brownie from some store she stopped in and told me she knows my mom cooks, maybe he could share his individually wrapped brownie with me.

                                                                                                                          2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                            it appeals to me.
                                                                                                                            just got home from having dinner at settebello.

                                                                                                                            yesterday had dinner at samosa house.

                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                              As sick and tired as i've gotten of cooking, I really get burned out eating when we're on vacation. I would b e fine with two meals a day, not Mr Mr- gotta have three squares. I see it as a waste of time and money. I'd also rather eat at better places less often.

                                                                                                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                I eat lunch out almost daily now that my career has me driving in my car most of the day. If my local board had some suggestions for a lunch for one above the drive thru, I'd eat a lot better, even once a day. The few places around me that might have the good Chow, people on my local board seem to keep to themselves...

                                                                                                                                I can't wait each day to come home and cook or eat a meal prepared by my spouse sitting with my family etc.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                  I spent twenty years as an "outside salesperson" and I rarely ate out, despite the fact that I was in the food business! Maybe because I had to pay for it myself? I brought healthy leftover stuff from home and ate it between stops, although I will admit I had many bodacious free meals when I stopped by my customers at the right time!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                    "...I had many bodacious free meals when I stopped by my customers at the right time!"

                                                                                                                                    that will put a damper on things when you gotta shell out buck$ for the same.

                                                                                                                                    I don't get freebies, as I'm not in the food biz, but along the lines of "I had to pay for it myself" I don't see me paying $20 each and every day for a lunch just for me. There is a place not too far from my home that has $6.95 lunch special that is more than a large dinner order, and very good, but I'm on the road, in my car, in my office, etc. and brown bagging it once or twice a week is ok if I don't mind cold leftovers.

                                                                                                                                    I'm sure that if I were to check another website I could easily be misdirected to a lunch spot that serves One person at reasonable prices that isn't a diner.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                      Truth, I got very spoiled!

                                                                                                                                      Trouble was, my territory was the Hamptons and Montauk, so I could barely afford a cup of coffee in the off season. My expenses just about covered my gas!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                        What this country needs is more good Japanese "bento" purveyors. They used to make great cheap lunches. Nearly every Japanese restaurant in my area has them on the menu. Five years ago, they ran from $5.00 to maybe $7.00. Today the prices are about double. My GREAT wish is that someone would figure out a way to deflate inflation! It's killing all of us! But even so, a bento lunch is a very reasonable treat.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                          it's not inflation. i can't bring it to just that. if there are some places serving really good lunches at the $5-$7 price point, then why can't we find them elsewhere? Certain things stop me from drive-thru McD etc and a lunch for one person shouldn't always be $20+.


                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                            re: pizza for dinner

                                                                                                                                            just had neapolitan pizza for dinner
                                                                                                                                            with an aruguala salad and a glass of wine.

                                                                                                                                            caveat: this meal was at the bar at happy hour.
                                                                                                                                            the huge salad was split between two people.

                                                                                                                                            tab before tip, including tax and including wine $16/pp

                                                                                                                              2. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                My Russian grandparents, Aunts and Uncle had the kids from the whole neighborhood over plenty of times. Kids just followed the smell of homemade baked goods to our door. And although not nearly on the scale of what I experienced as a young person, my home was and is still filled with friends, neighbors and family who drop in for a bite to eat.

                                                                                                                                eta: Hard to make hard and fast comparisons though. How we feed our families varies so much today. Budget, preference, access, time and enthusiasm for food. I don't fault people for making their own decisions though. I can only control my own choices.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                  My mom cooked a full meal nearly every night except for Pizza and Chinese food nights which were alternated every Friday. For years I was jealous of my friends who were fed Hamburger Helper and Hot Pockets every night until my mom gave in and let me have a Hamburger Helper night. I learned my lesson and was forever grateful of her devotion to a nightly homecooked hearty healthy dinner.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                    I remember being envious of my gf as a kid because her mom made instant mashed potatoes. For some reason, I thought that was cool or hip or something.
                                                                                                                                    I don't think a box of potato flakes ever saw the inside of my mother's cupboards.
                                                                                                                                    She wasn't a gourmand, but bless her, she cooked dinner almost every night.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                      As a kid all I wanted was those instant mashed potatoes and instant soup cups. Eventually my mother caved, but they were never for dinner, but as an after school snack

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                        I would be thrilled when Mom occasionally served us Chef Boyardee ravioli once in a blue moon-- she'd cave and call that dinner when she was going out.
                                                                                                                                        i loved it because it was a rare "treat". What do kids know?!
                                                                                                                                        She never, ever, ever ordered a pizza, a cheesesteak or brought home McDonalds.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                          Pizza is the "treat" in my house. If I'm going out, I'll take my daughter out for pizza. She loves it- and it's helped her restaurant behavior

                                                                                                                                    2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                      Though I cooked my ex interesting and tasty dinners every night, he always insisted that he loved Hamburger Helper. So one week I bought six boxes of Hamburger Helper. And I told him I was going to make one for dinner every night that week. After about three nights, he cried uncle. He never asked for Hamburger Helper again. Ever.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                        My husband used to eat this all the time before I met him. However, he would add more noodles, more beef, and copious amounts of chili powder and seasoned salt to the beef pasta flavor. Out of all the cooking he did when we first started dating this was the only remotely edible thing for me taste wise. I do not buy them but I do have one box of instant mash for him. He will make it himself if he "needs" it with his dinner.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                          Kinda like pining after Rice-a-Roni- the memory is ALWAYS better than the reality!

                                                                                                                                        2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                          I always wanted to try Hamburger Helper; it looked so good in the commercials and had that bouncing little talking glove spokesperson.

                                                                                                                                          Then one night I was sleeping over at my best friend's house and her mother called us in for dinner. She set this plate in front of me full of mushy orange crap.

                                                                                                                                          Taught to be a polite dinner guest no matter what, I hesitantly started picking the noodles out and trying to scrape the sauce/meat/cheese off with the back of my fork. I remember being so anxious about not being able to eat it that it was making me feel sick. I finally looked up and saw every member of the family staring at me with mouths open.

                                                                                                                                          I ended up saying I wasn't feeling good and my mom came to get me. Once we got to the car, she asked if I was okay and I told her they'd served me Hamburger Helper and I didn't know how else to get out of eating it. My mom thought it was pretty funny.

                                                                                                                                      2. Breakfast is cereal or something microwave/toaster. Pop tarts are especially popular.

                                                                                                                                        Dinner is take out, fast food or frozen dinners.

                                                                                                                                        Lunch is sandwiches, especially lunch meat or pbj.

                                                                                                                                        1. My son and his wife "cook a little". Roast a meat, frozen vegetables and prepared potatoes, rice, etc.

                                                                                                                                          They also do kits, like Taco's, only browning some meat and sprinkling cheese and lettuce on top.

                                                                                                                                          Other nights, it's takeout. I can understand why if you don't like to cook and you have a two parents who have busy.
                                                                                                                                          I've also seen adds for Pizza places, which advertise "two for one Tuesdays". And other restaurants offer "two for one deals". And I've stopped at McD's once or twice this year for lunch and a small cheeseburger and fry for myself, and the cost was just a little over $2.00 dollars. And the frozen food, prepared aisles are huge. Full of dinners to stick in the microwave, ovens or stovetops.

                                                                                                                                          There was a breakdown in an article I read once regarding the time it takes for food shopping, cost of food, time preparing meals.... and the outcome was "six of one, half dozen of the other". No savings at cooking at home. However there was a difference in the quality of meals, because most of the takeout places were much higher in carbs, fat and loaded with sodium.

                                                                                                                                          I like to cook and even cook for myself. But if you don't cook, or don't enjoy it, there are plenty of choices out there.


                                                                                                                                          1. Wait a minute, how many of you are cooking breakfast every day? I am a cook but weekday breakfast is almost always toast or cereal or yogurt with fruit (and sometimes homemade granola) or oatmeal. With two working parents, a cooked weekday breakfast is a rarity, although sometimes we do manage a quick fried egg sandwich or some hard-boiled eggs and fruit or some nuked Morningstar "soysage" to eat in the car. On good weekends, I can bake up banana or pumpkin bread for us to eat during the week.

                                                                                                                                            Overall, this is a relevant question not just for non-cooks. I LOVE to cook and we get a beautiful box of organic vegetables from our CSA every week, but we often only have a truly home-cooked meal only 4-5 nights a week. One night is soccer, which usually means Subway or the food truck at the game (fortunately, it's a high-end food truck!). One night a week I go to a class and dad & kid either get leftovers, something in the slow cooker or from the freezer (if I'm organized) or they'll do eggs or sandwiches or a frozen pizza or takeout sushi or (gasp!) boxed mac&cheese. And we like to go out as a family, usually to Asian or Mexican, one night on the weekend.

                                                                                                                                            If I'm running late, we'll sometimes do a rotisserie chicken plus homemade sides. I know how to roast a chicken and that a nice organic one tastes 10x better, but I don't always have 90 minutes to do it in. It must be really hard for folks who don't know how to cook and can't conceive of stocking a pantry. At least I can go into mine and come up come up with something in about 20 minutes, even if it's just stir-fry or pasta. Someone's buying all those pre-cooked shrimp and instant mashed potatoes and frozen chicken nuggets!

                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mediumgoof

                                                                                                                                              I cook breakfast, every day. It's usually quick or cooked the night before but always cooked. I am not a breakfast foods for breakfast kind of girl so often breakfast is tuna and boiled eggs or chicken breast, etc.

                                                                                                                                              Have you tried Zuni chicken? 45 minutes, and done! It does require a few days brining time but that requires 5 minutes.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                I understand not "cooking" breakfast on busy weekdays. Nothing wrong with cold cereal, waffles, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                  I should clarify, I understand that too. If i liked those foods I wouldn't cook either.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                    Ah ok.
                                                                                                                                                    I'm also a strange breakfast eater. Can't look at food till after I've had my coffees. I usually end up eating breakfast/lunch at 11-12

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                      I don't really like breakfast food either. I usually eat cereal or fruit on weekdays. Maybe yogurt. Weekends is eggs. Once every couple years we will have breakfast food. In the 7 years I have been cooking for my husband we have probably had French toast three times, pancakes three times and waffles once.

                                                                                                                                                      I did do biscuits and gravy more often. I just learned crepes this year and have made them once.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Mediumgoof

                                                                                                                                                  Thank you. I love to cook, but I have very small kids and a long commute and a full time job. About 40% of the time dinners are "assembled" rather than cooked - last night I made a chicken and egg donburi on rice but I think tomorrow night is tacos with some precooked meat. Traffic is terrible around the holidays. Breakfasts vary (English muffins with peanut butter, sometimes french toast, oatmeal or toaster waffles and sausage) and I eat lunch at work and my kids eat at school. I would say I probably cook more than many of my friends, but if I get home at 7 pm and have to get my kids fed and to bed and get the growups fed too, 45 minutes in the oven isn't going to work. I cook a lot on weekends, and we do eat leftovers from that, too, but weeknights can get pretty hectic.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mediumgoof

                                                                                                                                                    I eat lunch early, at 11:30 or so- I don't need breakfast at all, if I do, it's a big one and I skip lunch.

                                                                                                                                                  2. This should not be such a surprise to so many here...

                                                                                                                                                    Just take a look around food stores-- Supermarkets, loaded with prepared food. Many with food bars of prepared hot food that one can help oneself to. Whole Foods has a giant one.

                                                                                                                                                    Cooked rotisserie chickens everywhere!

                                                                                                                                                    Specialty stores, delis, tons of prepared food.

                                                                                                                                                    A lot of this prepared food is quite good. (some is not so good) . But there is a glut of it out there, shows that there is a big demand for it, folks are not cooking.

                                                                                                                                                    And it also shows that you don't have to do frozen pizza and pop tarts if you don't cook.

                                                                                                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                                                      It's not surprising to me though I just don't understand it but I am fortunate that I grew up with cooked meals three times. Frozen chicken nuggets and microwave Lean Cuisine is just kind of foreign to me, but I guess I can understand how that could be the norm.

                                                                                                                                                      I agree, it's not all junk. You can go to Whole Foods three times a day and get scrambled eggs and oatmeal, grilled chicken salad, and rotisserie chicken but why when it's cheaper at home and you know what's in it. Another reason that prepared foods is not the norm for me is that it's ridiculously expensive especially if you want to buy the good stuff from the deli or nicer grocery stores.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                        Yes, at decent food bars (like WF, as you mentioned), to pay by the pound is like paying through the nose!
                                                                                                                                                        Well, I guess that can foster portion control...

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                          AND when you get food from the WF bars there is NO waste.

                                                                                                                                                          if you get their garbanzo beans, the beans are cooked from dry and DON'T have the tinny/plastic taste that canned beans do.
                                                                                                                                                          their roasted vegetables are roasted in their kitchens and are NOT defrosted/leftovers.

                                                                                                                                                          i'm HAPPY to buy some of my food from those bars.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                            Oh, I drool when I walk past the food bars at WF. It all looks so, so good.
                                                                                                                                                            It's been years since I've done that. i think I'll treat myself to lunch there sometime this week.
                                                                                                                                                            I just love the thought of getting a little bit of anything I want.
                                                                                                                                                            Certainly would be too much work at home.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                              the WF near me has a weekly "sale" on their food bar items.
                                                                                                                                                              every wednesday the main food bar offerings are discounted by a couple of bucks a pound.

                                                                                                                                                              if i know i'm going to be preparing food that involves beans, i buy the prepared beans from the WF food bar, getting the exact amount that i need, getting organic beans that have been cooked from dry in their kitchen and NEVER canned.

                                                                                                                                                              also, it's so much easier to get their roast beets than to roast beets myself. same story in terms of waste and ease AND they are NOT lousy canned beets . making a borscht with their roast beets is a breeze. making a beet salad with their roast beets takes moments. the stove never needs to get turned on.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                              So you eat the best of the best but eat from WF bars where food sits there for hours and is not as carefully prepared as you might think.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                Do you have some "insider" information you can share? Or, have you worked in stores prepping the food bars?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not saying it's bad food but I am friends with many of the employees there and yes it's made fresh but also suffers from things that other food bars do. I just found it interesting that westsidegal finds that food that often sits out fine but not an onion leftover. Also perhaps in CA the quality is better aside from the salad bar itself and soups, there's not much in the prepared case that is worth eating at our local Whole Foods and this is not just my opinion, it's often over/underseasoned, over/undercooked but never quite right, but that's likely a regional issue.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                  actually, since i have friends who currently work there, i am completely familiar with how each of their ingredients is prepared and how fresh it is.

                                                                                                                                                                  fidhkybnva: don't know why you would resort to untruths to try to smear them. what does this sort of lying do for you?

                                                                                                                                                                  not only do i have friends who work there, but other friends work for some of their suppliers.

                                                                                                                                                                  should be mentioned that i avoid all the items on their "hot" bars and focus on the refrigerated items.
                                                                                                                                                                  also: regarding the underseasoning/overseasoning issue that you raise, the beans and the roast beets are hardly seasoned at all. that way when i assemble them myself into a salad and make my own vinegrette, i can season them the way i like.
                                                                                                                                                                  if, in my salad, i am using the terrific feta cheese and olives i get from the greek restaurant/deli, Papa Christos, the cheese and olives will contribute plenty of salt and since i use fresh herbs in my salad, i would NOT WANT any seasonings in the beets nor the chickpeas

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not meaning I'm admitting it's likely regional differences. I love Whole Foods and spend more of my paycheck there than I really should but I truly love it. I only know what employees I know have told me but I'm thinking our experiences are different. Even though employees say negative things about certain prepared foods, I will continue to shop there because of the wealth of other quality ingredients. I even order several holiday items from them throughout the year, no smear intended I have no vendetta against Whole Foods. I just thought the fact its prepared food meets the standard of the quality of food that you prefer that considers half of a wrapped onion less than 24 hours to be unacceptable. To each his own, I apologize if I seemed adversarial, it wasn't my intent.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                      no problem.
                                                                                                                                                                      i admit, though, that i do a good amount of picking and choosing among the food bar items.

                                                                                                                                                                      as i mentioned before, NONE of the hot bar items come anywhere near passing my test--

                                                                                                                                                                      i mostly rely on certain fresh roasted vegetables and the organic cooked beans. also, when in a pinch, Whole Foods will allow you to pick out your own vegetables from the produce department and will grill them for you right there on the spot.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                      "the terrific feta cheese and olives i get from the greek restaurant/deli, Papa Christos"


                                                                                                                                                              2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                Trader Joe's has a spinach and kale pie that's wrapped in phyllo and is absolutely lovely, although it leaks a lot of juice when baked and should be cooked on a rack, rather than the paper tub it's in. I do put a little melted butter on top and some salt, pepper and nutmeg, but I recommend it as a healthy alternative to home cooking

                                                                                                                                                            3. Define "Cooking"

                                                                                                                                                              Many people say they don't cook as they aren't into making big complicated recipes from scratch. But they make a salad and grill some chicken. Make some burgers. Use a rotisserie chicken and add some frozen sides. Semi-homemade meals. They are cooking, but not the way many CHs describe as cooking.

                                                                                                                                                              We are a subset of the population who cook for Fun. For many cooking is a chore, it's just not something they enjoy. That's okay too. If you dropped me off at a quilting or sewing club, GAH, but it's a useful skill as well. Just one I have no interest in improving my skills past reattaching a button.

                                                                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: autumm

                                                                                                                                                                Straightly speaking, cooking means food being cooked, which means foods are being transformed through heating.

                                                                                                                                                                Therefore, pouring milk over a bowl of cereal is NOT cooking. Neither is preparing sashimi (just the raw fish). Conversely, microwaving a box of microwavable prepared meal is cooking. Boiling water, however, is not cooking despite there is heating. It is not cooking because there is no chemical transformation.

                                                                                                                                                                Now, how the original poster wants to define it, that we will have to see.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                  CK, I don't know that I have a proper definition of 'cooking', but transforming one or more ingredients by your own hand is probably about as close as I can get.
                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not sure that nuking a frozen box and calling it cooking isn't splitting hairs. Whatever's in that box has actually been prepared by someone else.
                                                                                                                                                                  One thing that occurs to me as I read these posts is that so much of the frozen or take out food does not include any reasonable amount of vegetables. That has opened my eyes as to why some say they have to 'sneak' vegetables into a meal. If you cook regularly at home (and improvise often) , you throw all kinds of stuff in there, and vegetables aren't
                                                                                                                                                                  a foreign substance in your dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                  When my son first joined the Navy, many of the young men at the base eschewed the galley food (which my son liked very much as they served a good assortment of homemade style foods), and regularly went to Subway or McDonald's instead. Their moms sent them gift cards to the fast food joints, so they could have a 'decent meal'.One sailor's mother even emailed an officer there to complain that her son had 'nothing he could eat'.

                                                                                                                                                                  To these guys, baked chicken and steamed carrots with rice pilaf, or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts were simply inedible. On Fridays the galley served surf & turf - usually steak and shrimp or crab legs. Off the fellows went to Subway. They just had no experience with real food.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                    < Whatever's in that box has actually been prepared by someone else. >


                                                                                                                                                                    <Their moms sent them gift cards to the fast food joints, so they could have a 'decent meal'. >

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't know to laugh or to cry.

                                                                                                                                                                    <One thing that occurs to me as I read these posts is that so much of the frozen or take out food does not include any vegetables.>

                                                                                                                                                                    I didn't know that. Certainly frozen food packages like Lean Cuisine include some vegetables:


                                                                                                                                                                    and the "Asian" theme frozen foods usually have some vegetables. I have a feeling that people feel "cheated" if they see a photo of a frozen meal with a bunch of broccoli.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                      You're right about Lean Cuisine - they do have more colorful ingredients than many frozen foods. I was thinking of things like Hot Pockets and Pizza Rolls and even ravioli or lasagna.
                                                                                                                                                                      But I'd way rather have a bag of nuked bare broccoli than a frozen meal with broccoli in it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                        I eat a fair bit of lean cuisine and Marie Callendars frozen dinners (they're the nicest of the 'cheaper' bunch IMO) but I almost always add extra frozen vegetables because I want at least twice as much as they give you. It's not difficult - I just pull the top off and pour some extra frozen peas or frozen mixed veg on top before I cook it - but most people who eat it a lot wouldn't think to do it. Lean cuisines might have 5 grams of fiber in them, and they say that like that's a lot.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, and it is relatively inexpensive to add frozen vegetables too.

                                                                                                                                                                          I do like Marie Callendars a lot when I was a kid. Recently, I noticed that Stouffer is pretty good too. None of them are inexpensive, so I don't get to eat them very often -- not even once a month (on average).

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                            Some of them are good... the rest are utterly inedible. I guess it's a matter of personal taste which is which. But if the choice is a cold peanut butter and jelly sandwich (my second for the day) or a hot microwave dinner, I'll usually fire up the microwave... (and yes, I do know how to cook, and I LIKE to cook, but I often don't have the energy to do so. And we can't afford to shop the Whole Foods buffet or go out to eat more than once a week!)

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                                                                            I am always astounded by folks who respond to any idea of 'fiddling' with "can you DO THAT!???"

                                                                                                                                                                            yeah just as long as you dummy up and don't snitch me out to the corporate food police.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                              I love that as well. Even my own mother I'm like oh just put blue cheese with walnuts-"can you do that?"

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: autumm

                                                                                                                                                                      Love your analogy, autumn. It is amazing how many people are surprised not just that one cooks, but that one enjoys it!

                                                                                                                                                                      From seeing fellow moms cook and the recipes people pin on Pinterest, I suspect there's also a lot of "chicken breasts+rice+bottle of salad dressing in a casserole" kind of cooking out there. Stuff that many Chowhounds would turn our noses up at, but it's better than frozen pizza or McD's in the car. And the food industry is fueling it -- have you noticed the ads lately for stuff like this?


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mediumgoof

                                                                                                                                                                        None of my colleagues understand why I love to cook and why I get excited over the things I do. Oh wow my roast chicken was just perfect..."huh?"

                                                                                                                                                                    3. My SIL raised her boys on processed food and they ordered out dinner a whole lot. Cheesesteaks, pizza, mozz sticks...
                                                                                                                                                                      Dinner "cooked"? Chicken nuggets about 90% of the time. All frozen foods, canned foods, nary a fresh veggie in sight.
                                                                                                                                                                      The funny thing is, the boys are a teen and an early 20 now and they grew like weeds and are thin, and actually do not gorge on snacks- just not into it.
                                                                                                                                                                      I see it more of a socially impacting issue vs. a nutritional issue. Obviously, they've ingested a proper amount of nutrients to grow and thrive with good health. However, their limited food repertiore is stunting socially.
                                                                                                                                                                      When one nephew was almost 13, he could barely find something to order at a restaurant (mainstream menu) and wound up ordering pasta with red sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                      It was actually embarrassing coming from someone older than 6.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. In nyc i am in the epicenter of people who are "too busy to cook" or simply don't want to/can't be bothered.
                                                                                                                                                                        I've worked with many of these people and have several friends like this as well.
                                                                                                                                                                        Breakfasts are something simple at home or picked up at the deli, starbucks, or dunkin donuts. My coworkers all eat breakfast at work for some reason (i don't)
                                                                                                                                                                        Lunches are bought from wherever is close and varies from tossed chopped salads, chinese, sandwiches, soup from hale and hearty etc.... My homemade soups have started many conversations with these non cook coworkers.
                                                                                                                                                                        Dinners are either prepared foods bought from the market, or delivery, or eaten out.

                                                                                                                                                                        I think that these non-cooks often don't realize how unhealthy their diet is, inevitably there is a large number of processed foods, and more salt and fat from restaurant foods- yet i don't think they care either...... For them food is just something you have to find when you're hungry and not something to spend time on

                                                                                                                                                                        23 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                                                                          An illustrative tale:

                                                                                                                                                                          I now have housekeepers out of necessity because of my age and health (oh to be younger again when I had them as a pragmatic luxury!) and most "housekeepers" in America today, regardless of who they work for or how well their employers pay their OTHER employees, most do qualify for food stamps but are very often "too proud" to file for them.

                                                                                                                                                                          Such was a recent housekeeper who was/is a lovely charming African American woman with MAJOR blood pressure problems. So I gave her information about a program here in Dallas, through the "infamous" Parkland Hospital of JFK infamy (he was officially pronounced dead there), but that is in fact one of the top hospitals in the country, and serves as "the country hospital" for Dallas County. They have a program that provides health care to the needy through donations to cover the health care costs called "Parkland Plus." It is NOT associated with ANY government program, but you do have to submit proof that you qualify financially.

                                                                                                                                                                          So anyway, I made her familiar with the program and encouraged her to apply and see a doctor about her blood pressure "before it's too late...." So she did. And her new doctor prescribed statins. And the statins worked. And her blood pressure came down to a range MUCH closer to "within normal limits." So she figured she was cured and went right back to the diet that is a MAJOR part of her problem....!!

                                                                                                                                                                          My cardiologist, who is arguably one of the very top cardiologists in the entire country, tells me that is the "status quo" with ALL medications that can successfully treat/modify a health issue today. If it controls their illness and allows them to lead a more normal life, they assume they are cured and d/c the meds without a doctor's orders, OR, as in the case of statins, go back to the thing that is killing them!

                                                                                                                                                                          Crazy world full of crazy people! We all qualify one way or another.... She was a GOOD housekeeper, but at my age, I couldn't let her cook for me because at age 80, I don't want to share her problems! MY blood pressure runs around 128/70, and I don't need hers! She's gone now. But she had other treatable health issues that forced that issue. Unfortunately.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                            "they assume they are cured and d/c the meds without a doctor's orders, OR, as in the case of statins, go back to the thing that is killing them!"

                                                                                                                                                                            would you drive up here (Missouri) and tell my dad that? and now he's gone off his statins as they made him a little loopy.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                              Don't know how old your dad is, but if he's on a lot of meds, and he's over 60 or so, the problem may not be the statins alone. The number of problems among the elderly that are directly attributable to over medicating, contra-indicated meds, and such among all age groups is just mind boggling, but among geriatric patients it can be (and too often is) a very real danger!

                                                                                                                                                                              One of the things you might consider if any of this might possibly apply to your dad is to contact his pharmacist (NOT a clerk!) and ask the PHARMACIST to help you by going over your dad's entire list of medications and checking them out for medication conflicts.

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm not certain but I THINK the Medicare website or drugs.com also has an app where you list all prescription and over the counter meds AND dietary supplements with their dosage level and frequency, and the program will chew up that information, then produce a list of all of the items submitted with a list of all of the problems and conflicts and WHY it is a problem covered. It can be EXTREMELY useful for any age group!

                                                                                                                                                                              And then maybe your dad can have pork chops again! (Okay, Mods, this *IS* food related! <g>)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                82 - he keeps a very accurate spreadsheet of his meds that he takes with him to appt's and files with the pharmacist and his MD is monitoring his statin withdrawal, but I can't help but feel "if you're going drop the drugs you need to reduce the bacon and sausages and pork chops and beef" one of which shows up at EVERY meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                but to keep it somewhat on-topic, if it weren't for my mom he'd eat bacon or fried steaks every meal. that's how he'd feed himself.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sounds like my boyfriend. If I just plopped a plate stacked high with steaks in front of him for every meal, he'd be content.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                              Statins don't treat high blood pressure; they treat high cholesterol.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                And you don't think a highly unhealthy diet can contribute to someone's cholesterol problem? I doubt you'll find a cardiologist alive today who will agree with you on that one!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                  .... I didn't say anything even approaching that! I was trying to clear up some confusion in your post, which implied statins treat high blood pressure. They do not.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                    I give up! There is NO confusion in my story if you are able to read with comprehension! <sigh> Sometimes I feel as if I'm trying to navigate through a dense fog.

                                                                                                                                                                                    When her doctor prescribed the statins AND she followed the diet he recommended, her blood pressure dropped to ALMOST "within normal limits" where her doctor wanted her to stay. BUT after two weeks of a successful medication and therapy program, she decided the statins were magic and she discarded the diet and went back to her usual high cholesterol stimulating diet that will bring about early death WITH or WITHOUT the statins. A behavior that DOES conflict with any and all benefits that statins can deliver.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hope this helps!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                      I know I am going to regret this, but....

                                                                                                                                                                                      You wrote this: "So anyway, I made her familiar with the program and encouraged her to apply and see a doctor about her blood pressure 'before it's too late....' So she did. And her new doctor prescribed statins. And the statins worked. And her blood pressure came down to a range MUCH closer to 'within normal limits.'"

                                                                                                                                                                                      Which draws a direct correlation between her high blood pressure and the statin prescription. Statins do not treat high blood pressure; they treat high cholesterol. A statin prescription would not have brought her blood pressure down. Perhaps life style changes she implemented effected her high blood pressure, but the statin did not.

                                                                                                                                                                                      That's it. Hope that helps.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                        Then the fault is absolutely mine for assuming that most people know that high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels frequently go hand in hand. Maybe even always go hand in hand, but I'm not sure. In addition to statins for cholesterol reduction, their "off label" use for other problems is growing all the time. I have heard of them being used for multiple sclerosis, for example. I've also heard of a movement to add statins to city water supplies, but I hope that effort dies quickly!

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                  I can't help but think they go hand-in-hand and require different responses.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                      Indeed. The two conditions frequently are co-morbid. Lifestyle changes often will improve both, but in terms of pharmaceutical options, they are treated with different medications.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                        And everything I've read the last few years says that doctors want to get those numbers in the normal range as quickly as possible. So, you bet, go for lifestyle changes AND take the meds. After/if everything is looking good, ask about reducing meds and see how things look after a few months.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                    Generalization here, but most americans would rather take a pill than adjust their lifestyle.
                                                                                                                                                                                    I hope i live to see the day when drs hand out an Rx for vegetables and excersize.....

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, they kind of do.

                                                                                                                                                                                      That's assuming the patient comes in before they are at dangerously high risk.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think it's generally overlooked by patients, but it's always the first line of defense: "Watch your fat intake, exercise more, quit smoking," etc. etc. I think the issue is things like this are maybe said in passing at the end of a visit versus spending an entire visit discussing these things in detail.

                                                                                                                                                                                      My dad is a cardiologist and has told stories like this for years now. Patients who come in mildly overweight with mediocre diets and mild cardiac symptoms. He'll tell them over and over: Stop drinking. Stop smoking. Eat better. Exercise. Over the span of years he'll continue to see them decline in health, and at some point it's necessary to simply put them on drugs to keep them alive. A doctor can't go home and monitor his patient's every move.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Which brings to mind some of his transplant patients, who beg and beg for a new heart, but then are completely non compliant with their post-transplant treatment plan. They don't take their anti-rejection drugs, take up drinking or smoking or even doing drugs again, eat like crap, get sick, etc. It's really interesting how often this happens; you'd think one would be forever changed by needing a heart transplant, but apparently not.

                                                                                                                                                                                      On the flipside of this, my dad is a very healthy weight and quite active. He's always eaten fairly well, with the once-a-month Big Mac on a Sunday afternoon. However he's genetically predisposed to having very high cholesterol. He had to go on Lipitor several years ago. Immediately he launched into a regimented exercise routine and diet plan. Steel cut oats every morning (which requires him to get up an hour earlier for work), various things for lunch, and small portions of protein and carbs for dinner with huge servings of veg/fruit. He also gets home from work and immediately hops on a treadmill or bike for an hour. As a result, his cholesterol has come down tremendously.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I too think it's just laziness that causes most people to "have" to go on meds versus making lifestyle changes. But I don't think it's for lack of effort on the part of the medical community. I can't look around my hospital without seeing posters promoting cutting tobacco and booze, and charts showing what a healthy dinner should look like.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                        "you'd think one would be forever changed by needing a heart transplant"

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd be tempted to convert and enter a monastery.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                          LOL! Your "handle" made me chuckle. Someone who is involved with medicine and "nothingswrong" as a nom de screen. Very funny! Sounds like you may be a doctor too? Yeah, curiosity is my lifelong curse.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                            No not a doctor. Just a very sick person with a family of doctors :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            Something IS wrong, not sure why I chose my handle, but hey...

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                              Sounds miserable. Been there, done that, over and over and over again! NOT as any sort of medical advice, but a major problem today is that doctors all seem to be "micro-specialists." As a result, a second opinion can be useful, a third opinion can be edifying. A fourth opinion can be lifesaving. And a really GREAT primary care physician to work with you from the get go is a very good thing. Here's hoping the answers overtake you soon, and you're feeling great again!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm on my umpteenth opinion. But yes, took 7 years and probably 11 specialists to figure it out! Now we know what's wrong but don't have many options in regards to treatment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Wish it were as easy as "change your diet and quit drinking," though I understand where people have trouble with that as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                                                                                          Doctors once did just that. I think they've all pretty much given up because nobody listened! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. My step-father doesn't cook. He will make breakfast (bacon, scrambled eggs, and canister biscuits), and I think he has been known to make things like Hamburger Helper, pasta, and freezer-to-oven things. I don't consider any of that cooking, though, personally.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Other than that, he and my step-brother lived exclusively on take-out. Vinny's pizza, McDonald's, Wendy's, East Gourmet (Chinese), and Chik-fil-A seem to be the most common joints.

                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                                                                                                                        How do they not gain excess weight eating those foods?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                                                                          My SO is one who doesn't. He eats mostly junk when I'm not around, drinks a lot of beer, Pepsi, etc. He struggles to keep weight on. I hate him. Well not really, but you know what I mean.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                                                            I feel your pain. While Bob doesn't eat like the stepfather above, he can eat as much of anything as he wants and NEVER gains weight.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                                                              My son too. He grazes his way through life but he struggles to keep weight on. I prepare him all of his favorite fattening foods when he visits to the point of he gets sick of me trying to feed him:) If I just look at certain foods another button pops off the waistband of my pants:)

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. My mom never, ever cooked since she always worked and was proud of it. I did not eat breakfast, ate lunch at school, made myself a snack after and then she microwaved two Lean Cuisines for us for dinner. I learned to cook from my grandparents, but there were never ingredients in our kitchen cabinets at home so I didn't cook until I was out on my own. I cook every day now for my family, even if it is just to throw some meat and veg in the crockpot before work.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                            Good for you for "breaking the cycle".

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Where I live, it's very common for people not to cook, and you can actually eat pretty decently on take-out for less than what it costs to cook for yourself (I have no idea how this works, economically). Bachelor suites don't generally come with cooking facilities, beyond maybe a microwave or single hot plate, with a bar fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                            The simplest option is the basic lunch box, which will contain steamed rice, a piece of meat or fish, and vegetable sides, and can be bought at grocery store deli sections or various restaurants. There are also buffet style takeout places where you can assemble your own meal, including the popular and cheap Buddhist vegetarian buffets.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Other options include food like dumplings, a wide assortment of soups, noodle and rice dishes, stir fried vegetables, blanched or sauteed leafy greens, teppanyaki, various cold (but not raw) side dishes, grilled squid, braised, grilled or deep fried meat, omelettes, vegetables and tofu, simple hot pot (a mix of meat, veggies and tofu cooked in broth, with rice on the side).

                                                                                                                                                                                            Each restaurant usually specializes in a small number of dishes, but there are so many little restaurants around that there's lots of choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Even convenience stores sell salads, cold noodles, dumplings, tea eggs, onigiri, salad rolls, various microwavable meals, stuffed steamed buns, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Of course, there's also the very popular "eat dinner with your parents" solution, as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                                                              well dang if I had those options I'd be tempted to sell the stove. let me guess, you're in Japan. such an interesting place.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                Taiwan, so close. Except eating out in Taiwan really can be cheaper than cooking, which is much harder to do in Japan, even with the difference in salaries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ahh Taiwan, yet another place for my travel 'bucket list'

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. fruits and vegetables are normally not considered "cooking" by the folks i know who "don't cook."

                                                                                                                                                                                              many of them eat far more healthfully than the folks that "cook" because they are so focused on salads and fruits (things that don't require "cooking")

                                                                                                                                                                                              really, if you look at it from a nutritional point of view, most "comfort food" is pretty unhealthful, whereas trail mix, fruit, and salad are pretty healthful.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't know these people! The people I know who don't eat don't eat fruit and trail mix, they eat Cheetos and fruit snacks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                  my next door neighbor "doesn't cook."
                                                                                                                                                                                                  she does, though, find time to go to the gourmet fruit store and buy those apples and asian pears that cost $5 each and that come individually wrapped in styrofoam insulation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  the tangerines she brought home yesterday were absolutely gorgeous and delicious --far better than any of the local grocery/green grocers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  she must have walked in carrying over $60 in fruit just for herself and her husband for the next few days. . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                  that said, she "doesn't cook."

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I'm like you- I gradually realized that we had more home-cooked meals than 95% of my friends and coworkers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                But if somebody doesn't cook, would they be reading Chow?

                                                                                                                                                                                                23 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                  <But if somebody doesn't cook, would they be reading Chow?>

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sure. Some would even argue that the knowledge of cooking (let alone the act of cooking) is needed to be a CHOWHOUNDER.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just as many people buy and read cookbooks and then never use them to follow a recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                      There are/were a few long time posters here who declared that they don't cook or that they don't know much about cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      They also take the stance that the knowledge of cooking is irrelevant to the knowledge of tasting -- which to them is the true test of being a CHOWHOUNDER -- a foodie or food enthusiast or food critic. They have eaten at some of the most expensive and unique restaurants in the world that most of us would probably never able achieve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      You may already know the few I am talking about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, Chemicalkinetics. You saved me the trouble of posting exactly this. Originally Chowhound was largely populated by people who ate out almost all the time and didn't cook at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Reminds me of a thread I don't feel like looking up right now of classic Chowhound cliches - one of which would be the culture clash between the Eaters Out and the Home Cooks. As in, the CH who asks, where can I buy the best pastrami? Who is immediately answered by another CH, why in the world would you BUY pastrami when it is so simple to make yourself and so much better tasting than storebought? LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                                          that was a classic argument at my college - the industrial designers would ask "why make something when you can buy it?" and the sculptors countered with "why buy something when you can make it?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          both considered with balance had valid points.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Probably not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Which is why I go back to how does one really define cooking. Is it going the semi-homemade option or is "cooking" only "cooking" when done completely from scratch, no help from the store, you grew your own peppercorns and harvested your own salt. Or is it the act of preparing food and serving it to yourself and those you care for, wether or not most of it is prepackaged. Not everyone enjoys cooking. My mother did it out of her care for us, and she definitely semi-homemade things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    And we sat down to eat what she made as a family. Which is far more important to me than how from scratch blah blah blah dinner might be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: autumm

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well for starters the generation before me didn't have semi homemade options or premade food stuffs to count on or stretch a meal so from scratch was the only way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Today, cooking and baking have the advantage of dozens of approaches making them healthful, convenient and budget-friendly. I would define how I feed my family as homemade with convenience. I don't always make my own pasta but I can. I don't always make my own bread but I bake several times a week. I don't buy all produce out of season, sometimes I wait until I can pick my own at the farm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      For the purposes of this thread, I think many of us are working with what we have access to, time to prepare and money to spend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree. So if I make up some hamburger helper, am I cooking or not? Is it cooking if I add a side salad?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Playing devil's advocate here. . . I could spend my days making up wonderful from scratch meals, at the sacrifice of my family's financial well being. So is it better for me to spend my days at home cooking, or working part time to maintain my professional qualifications to help provide for my family? I E the life insurance that doesn't come from northwestern mutual/or similar

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: autumm

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Both. Most of us need to work and to feed ourselves and our families. How we get there is entirely up to our own devices and circumstances. Hamburger helper and a side salad, works for you and yours-go for it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm not stuck in a right or wrong trap over how we feed our families. So many variables and options to consider. You know what you need to provide. So, provide :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I actually hate Hamburger helper, just used it to make a point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I guess I'm not a cook by your standards then. Because I'm willing to take a bit of help from the store so I can better secure my family's long term financial well being since I don't make all of our stock from scratch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Note to self: Turn in CH membership, not worthy

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: autumm

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm not entirely sure what standards you were referring to but I assure you, no judgement on my part. The only point worth making is that we decide, not someone else, what we enjoy eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: autumm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Debone a store roasted chicken. Use the meat for soup or casserole. Stick the carcass in the slow poker on low with a rough chopped onion, carrot, a few whole garlic cloves with salt and pepper. Let it go all day while you are gone. Drain the veggies out and toss. Put stock in the fridge overnight and pull off the fat the next day. Best homemade stock ever. With that said, I almost always used boxed or Better Than Bullion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                        they could be like me: someone who used to cook professionally, but doesn't cook regularly any longer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        yes, i cook the occasional meal, but truly, i'm now focused on restaurant food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm just wondering. Did you start eating out more because you moved to a place with fabulous restaurant food? Any examples of what a few days looks like for you? I don't have enough places around here to choose from to fill a full week of yummy food:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                            started eating out when my kid was old enough to stop eating most meals at home.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            now she is 23 and works 60 hours a week as an EMT. i "never" see her (meaning that i am free to eat what i want when i want)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            tonight i had a Neapolitan pizza for dinner at settebello restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            this is a very thin-crust pizza made with fresh buffalo mozzarella.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            yesterday i had dinner at Samosa house, a vegetarian indian restaurant. i had Dabeli, Dahi Puri, and Papri Chaat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            tomorrow i will be having dinner at Ayara Thai Cuisine, and will have Prik King made with Tofu (this is a dish made with fresh green beans and tofu in a spicy, chile sauce) with brown rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            sometime during the week i'll be hitting up Coni'Seafood and having their pescado zarandeado (butterflied, barbequed snook) and may have their ceviche (which is made fresh to order so is not as "cooked" by the lime juice as most "american" ceviche which sits in the fridge for hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            On Wednesday, i'm meeting a girlfriend for happy hour. we'll probably end up having dinner at the bar at Hal's. normally i order a double order of their quinoa salad made with squid as my dinner. my girlfriend will probably order their deep-fried calamari.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            meeting a group of friends for dinner on tuesday at 26 Beach restaurant. this restaurant's strong suit is that they offer a wide array of absolutely fabulous/inventive entree salads. don't know which salad i'll be ordering yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            also, will be taking out a vegan couple to dinner sometime during the week as a thank you. we will be going to the best (imho) vegan restaurant in town, Cafe Gratitude, i will probably have their mexican bowl or their veggie burger with a side order of roasted vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            probably won't have enough time to get there this week, but there is a persian restaurant nearby that offers a vegetarian version of ghormeh sabzi (a kidney bean/spinach stew) that i like. they will substitute brown rice for the basmati rice that normally comes with it. they make their bread to order (it comes out of the oven 2 minutes before it arrives at your table). couple that hot, fresh bread with their hummus and you have a heavenly combination.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            also, in their version of dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) they use a spicy lentil paste as stuffing instead of the oily rice that every other place uses. their's is the only version of dolmas that i'll eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            if i find myself in the san fernando valley, i will go to Itzik Hagadol, an israeli restaurant that makes several varieties of eggplant salad that i'm wild about and they will serve the stuff with flat bread that comes out of the oven just before it arrives at your table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is a fine dining restaurant near me that offers a tremendous happy hour deal wherein they will serve most of the menu at half price before 6pm. their cheese guy curates an ever-changing array of fine, artisanal cheeses that surpasses anything i could put together for myself. usually there are about 30 cheeses from which to choose, but i always put myself in his hands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            i fill in with extremely simple home cooked meals. today, for lunch, i had roasted carrots with a cumin yogurt sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            there is a market 10 minutes from my house that sells the top-on bunches of organic carrots for a reasonable price, so this ends up being a very workable meal

                                                                                                                                                                                                            yesterday for lunch i made curried roasted cauliflower for lunch. it's really so simple you could hardly call it cooking, but i can pick up the cauliflower locally the day i want to cook it, lightly spray it with olive oil and sprinkle a combo of curry powder and cayenne pepper from Penzey's. in order to keep my spices fresh, i usually give my next door neighbor portions of the spice order when i first bring it home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am so consumed with jealousy as at the moment I'm living so remotely, it boasts all of a Subway, 2 convenience stores, a (actually quite good) take out pizza place, a Greek-ish diner and 2 regular and sorta lousy diners. and it all closes by 8 or 9.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I want the choice of not cooking, I like to cook but I want to choose to cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                come and visit and we'll go on a magical mystery tour eating at restaurants until we're silly (is that even a saying?).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  given my current locale I've been using the phrase "until even the cows forget to come home" (which is silly as ours are free-pastured anyway).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  oh I miss having too many delivery menus in the kitchen drawer or the worry of "what do I want or who has the better cha gio?" rather than this business of "what's open?".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I tell myself it's a minimalist approach to life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    during the years when i was a single mom with a young kid, i, too, lived a minimalist life in terms of eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    it was more important to focus on my kid.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    there simply was no time to go waltzing around from restaurant to restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    now, the restaurant way of life is part of my bucket list.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i've yearned for it for so many years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We're in the same boat hill food, I feel your pain. 4 miles away is the closest grocery store, and a few fast food and chain pizza places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But you know what? When I lived in Chicago, in Lincoln Park in the thick of it all, I ate out a lot, pretty much every night except Sundays. Sunday nights were the highlight of my week because that is when I would make a big home-cooked meal for myself. I simply didn't have the time the rest of the week to do it due to my work schedule.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I will also say, after I moved away and stopped eating out every meal, I lost 50lbs (made some other diet changes too).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    just 4 miles? that's walking distance! (smirk)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i lost 35 lb (and have kept it off) when i shifted to a more plant-based. it didn't seem to matter WHERE i ate (restaurant or nome), what seems to matter is WHAT i eat (plant or animal).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "But if somebody doesn't cook, would they be reading Chow?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Of course. In general they are regulars on the regional boards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. I live in downtown Chicago and have neighbors who don't cook. They go out for every single meal. If they want a cup of coffee they go out and get it at a Starbuck's or Dunkin or wherever. They remodeled their kitchen seven or eight years ago and brag that they have never used the stove.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                i understand your neighbors.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                i bought a new car three years ago and still have no idea how to use the cruise control.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                when a dashboard warning light comes on, i have to call the dealership to have them tell me what the icon means.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                the same m.o. as your neighbors, just in another area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have to call the dealership too. I'm convinced they code them so we have to make them a visit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They definitely do, at least for oil changes and so many mile tuneups. I've figured out how to turn the light off myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was amazed in NYC years ago to discover you can just call the Starbuck's/McD's/whatever (places that don't usu. deliver in other cities) 40 stories downstairs and have it delivered to your door. I can see why so many people in tiny NY apartments have converted their ovens into libraries and just don't cook (or a friend who turned his kitchen into a walk-in wet bar/auxiliary closet)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. Unfortunately, cooking aptitude or lack thereof is hard wired in one's DNA. As a professional chef, I've had the occasional non-cook culinary school graduate pass through my kitchen. I've done my best to coach them on the fundamentals that are typically brushed aside by culinary schools with mixed results. The ones that grasped the fundamental principle that cooking feeds the soul as well as the belly have gone on to develop the necessary skills. The who haven't, realize their mistake. For the family that doesn't cook, no amount of tv food shows or cookbooks will bring out their recessive cooking genes. One on one guidance and coaching is the only method I know of to improve a home body's cooking acumen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chefsia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i've never really understood how any of those shows could help because so much of what "food" is is tied up with smell and touch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (i.e. how can you teach someone when a steak is rare if you can't let them touch it? half the time i know to go to the next cooking step by the smell of the food.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That's funny that you say that about the smell of the food... when DH is cooking something on the stove, I can tell by the sound and smell when the heat needs to be lowered on the burner. He gets a little put off that I'm directing his cooking from the couch on the far side of the room, facing the other direction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: chefsia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Glad you found Chowhound, Chef Sia! Interesting observation about cooking aptitude being "hard wired" into the brain, BUT... I have long thought that it has more to do with a person's creative talents. My observation is that darn few people with "creative talent" in any one field are EVER only talented in the single talent that may have eventually brought them to the public's attention. For example, Patty Labelle is famous for her cooking skills almost as much as her singing/performance skills. The list of multi-talented celebrities will fill volumes! So I'd like to ask if you showed a higher level of creativity as a child? In addition to being an obviously highly talented and now published chef (and may your book climb the amazon's best seller list quickly!). do you excel at any other arts such as singing or playing a musical instrument or painting or maybe even architecture?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In my mind, I've always thought of CREATIVE cooking (as opposed to having excellent skills at following recipes) as an art form. I think of the "Great Chefs of the Western World" (and all other parts of the world as well) as artists more than cooks. What do you think, and do you have "broader talents"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I hope you don't feel offended by my question, but you're the first of the chefs among us to be as open about who you are and what you've accomplished. And here's to your health, and a GREAT and full recovery! But most of all, welcome to Chowhound!!! I just am torn about hoping you have time to stick around or that you'll be so busy with your publishing success that you won't have time! Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        as an admired professor once said to me "be artful and designerly in everything you do. see what other forms of art can speak to you. Dance? it is about movement through space and therefore architecture. Painting? it's about how to make a 2-D space intriguing. learn how to (perform personal hygiene) in a considered manner."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        he was pretty cool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: chefsia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        " cooking aptitude or lack thereof is hard wired in one's DNA."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Could you provide a citation for that please?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You mean like a brain scan uploaded as a photo? lol..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Or at least a study done by NIH or someone :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. A seldom-cooking friend, with 2 young sons, bragged that her oven had been non-functional for 3 years. I finally shamed her enough to get the *(#$ thing fixed. First thing she baked: frozen pizza. Sheesh. I had to teach her how to make cookies from scratch--she'd never heard of such a thing (in some defense, she wasn't raised in the U.S. and didn't have an oven growing up).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Same thing happened to one of my tenants. Broiler worked but not the oven. Went a long time before she mentioned it to me. 3 generations in the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Actually checked out my Publix supermarket last night before responding. The frozen food section has just over 3 times the shelf space as does produce and the meat department. This store is a neighborhood style that they insert into low income communities. About one quarter the size of the super-duper Publix.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And that is how you do not need to cook to feed yourself or your family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Yes, I work with someone who PROUDLY proclaims she doesn't cook. Their oven was broken for months and she never bothered getting it fixed as she doesn't use it. The kids are in numerous activities after school and on weekends, so they are rarely home. They get picked up, driven through wherever and eat fast food in the car multiple times a week. Lunch is whatever school provides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My son is the only kid at his preschool that brings real food for breakfast. Everyone else is trix yogurt and pop tart EVERY DAY, sometimes gummy fruits on the side, or a box of fruit loops and strawberry milk with it. I mostly feel bad for those kids. What kind of day can you have with nothing but processed sugar in your belly. They recently discontinued the food service that provided lunch to those who wanted to pay extra for it and I shudder in horror to think of the Lunchables and other crap people are giving who never packed before and aren't going to start making food now. I take shortcuts too sometimes, but a can of Amy's organic soup in a thermos is a lot better than a lunchable. And at 4.5 years old my kid has never, ever had fast food. We don't eat it, and neither does he.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i'm in complete agreement with you that high sugar/fast food = terrible.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            that said, though,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            not cooking doesn't necessarily mean that the ONLY thing left is high sugar/fast food crap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            there are many healthful alternatives that don't require full-fledged cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I feel like I should just follow you around saying "what she said!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              People hear "don't cook" and it seems to translate into "unhealthy".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think the phrase "I don't cook" begs to be asked for clarification. it can mean so many things. my mother prided herself on always cooking, but frankly 3 out of 5 nights I wish she hadn't bothered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lunchables are a food travesty. They are the bottom of the pit, IMHO. My kid came home from 3rd grade one day a couple years ago and absolutely begged me to buy him one because some other kid had brought one to school for lunch. Yuck. I felt bad for the kid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "They recently discontinued the food service that provided lunch"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  that is sad, I was disheartened 14 years ago on a photo shoot in CA at a school and saw there simply was no kitchen. just a re-heating oven and a daily Sysco delivery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's so sad. My daughters preschool serves some "shortcut" foods- but they're overall healthyish meals. Today is chicken "nuggets", rice, and steamed broccoli & cauliflower. The nuggets are chicken cutlets, cut into nugget size and breaded. Whole wheat bread, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, and cucumbers are available every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I have a friend with 4 kids and she gets home too late to cook. She has ramen on hand, makes big batches of spaghetti w/jarred sauce and ground meat and buys a few rotisserie chickens over the week. In the morning she has frozen waffles, granola bars and cereal available. Lunch is bought at school. Weekends it is takeout pizza or frozen food for dinner, fast food for lunch and she makes pancakes from a mix for breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    in other words, other than maybe a few specks of dried fruit in the granola bars, her kids are not getting ANY fruits nor vegetables.. . . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    a huge nutritional hole that there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It also seems that there's not much variety in those meals, either. I like to try new foods, whether at home or at a restaurant, and I would get really bored with some of the dining habits I'm reading about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Hungry! Since it's only me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. A good supermarket rotisserie chicken is much better than anything I can make at home-- it's the spit cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The supermarkets here usually sell a whole chicken for $4.99. Hardly much more than cooking it at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Being a white meat person, it's been the rare rotisserie chicken where the breast isn't overcooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You know I agree :) And while, for a real meal, I go for the smallest and best chicken I can find, for roasting one for sandwiches etc. I'll buy the cheap, big ones and roast the same way. Still better than anything I've done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks to you posting several times about Zuni chicken I tried it LOVED it and became a convert. I did the Thanksgiving turkey breast with a Zuni prep. I live alone (for now ) and I really love skin on bone in big chicken breasts on my non *meatless* days.For years I have used Ina Garten's roasted chicken breast recipe (which is very good too) but after I did the whole Zuni bird I prepped two skin on bone in breasts Zuni style and roasted them on high heat and they were perfection. BTW I read on another post about your loss. I am sorry you have to be going through that:( I hope I am not overstepping my boundaries but I feel as if I know you because your vibrant personality and love of good food and the humor in your posts has *imprinted* on me:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                MamasCooking, thank you for the kind words. I'm so glad that you love Zuni! I was converted a year ago and have never looked back...except, tonight. I needed comfort food and roast chicken fit the bill but I had no time to do a proper Zuni so will be trying Thomas Keller's recipe tonight but this weekend I promised my family a Zuni chicken feast! Roast chicken and potatoes was one of my grandmother's favorite Saturday night meals or supper as she called it and so I thought it was appropriate to honor her with the best. You are too sweet, and I'm glad that my quirky, sarcastic, enthusiasm translates via the internet :) I'm quite the goofball. Don't ask the kitten - I just entertained him with a rendition of the "bop," the first dance my grandma ever taught me, in my socks and pajamas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was an RN for many years. I know how physicians roll:) I have augmented my education and been taught by some great physicians....psychiatrists etc. I *get* the humor...anyone working in the medical field better be equipped with a penchant for sarcasm......sardonic wit and some sadism directed at them on rare occasions:):)!!!!Your food tribute to your grandmother is sweet. My young adult son who is so far from serious that it can be scary baked his late granny's pineapple pie for me last Christmas. He did a lattice work crust instead of her meringue but she would have been so proud of him:) Your grandma too. Her pride
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and joy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: lemarais

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A Popeil rotisserie oven pays for itself pretty quickly! I can often still get a normal chicken at 69 cents a lb, so for a 4 or 5 pounder like the supermarkets sell already cooked, it should only cost you $3.50. Might not be worth it to some, but that's the way I like to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I absolutely love my Ronco rotisserie oven. Set it and forget it baby. Paid for itself over and over again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. When I was about 10, I spent a few years living that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Breakfast was either McDonald's or whatever microwave offerings at the convenience store near my school had. Sometimes also the local fast food diner that served breakfast, which had sausage, eggs and toast or congee (that was in Hong Kong). I remember having tried every single breakfast item at the McDonald's menu which I knew by heart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lunch was eating out at one of the many eateries near school geared for students - economical and kind of varied. Cafes with set lunches, noodles or congee, also Korean and Vietnamese, and of course more McDonald's, KFC's and the like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I often skipped dinner (not that I was on a diet - don't ask)... but none of that really bothered me. I suppose if you were a kid, especially back then, you would just accept it the way it is. However, that would definitely bother me if I see children eating like that nowadays!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. what counts as "cooking"? i've noticed in reading this thread that some people seem to interpret that as "doesn't make ANY food themselves", while others seem to think it means "doesn't make EVERYTHING themselves". i guess i'm somewhere in the middle. i often just brown off some sausage, boil some noodles, toss it together a jarred sauce, make a salad with romaine/store-bought croutons/pre-shaved parm/bottled caesar dressing, couple slices of bought baguette, and call it dinner. it's not fancy or gourmet, nor made from scratch, but i wouldn't call it "not cooking". same as "just frying an egg" or whatever, isn't "not cooking".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i live alone, so when school and work get crazy, i'll often go days up to weeks without "cooking". some of my food is takeout or delivery, but a lot of it is just cheese/meat/pickle plates with bread and olive oil, sandwiches and wraps, salads, pita with hummus, raw veggies, fresh fruit, clif bars, cereal with milk, yogurt, grocery store rotisserie chicken ($5 for a chicken every friday on special), etc. i'll also often make some rice in my rice cooker and use that for a rice bowl, or use a boxed meal like rice mixes or macaroni and cheese (adding things like precooked proteins and frozen or canned veggies/beans). when i have the time and feel like it, i *can* cook and bake just fine... i just don't always have the time or energy. while what i do day to day isn't fancy, it *is* inexpensive, efficient, nutritious, and reasonably tasty. it seems like you could probably feed a family ok like that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Everyone is at a different place on the food journey is what I like to say. I ate much like you did around 20 years ago when I lived alone, but there is no way I would eat most of what you've described now, because my place on the food journey makes me abhorrent at the chemicals and preservatives and CRAP that's in most pre-prepared foods. Anything that comes out of a box or pouch or whatever is just horrible. Things I ate 20 years ago, I can't fathom eating now, like rice a roni or something. The list of unpronouncable ingredients is just too much for me, and the MSG and lab-made "tastes" in these foods turn my stomach. I can't in good conscience feed food like bottled dressing or boxed rice mixes to my family. Plain rice or a plain tomato would be better than a boxed mix. It's not nutritious if you can't read the label without stumbling over how to pronounce an ingredient. and between GMOs and pesticide-laden foods that aren't organic, and BPA in cans, I just shop completely differently now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I try not to judge. Everyone does the best they can for where they are on the food journey. But I don't eat much of anything that you described above, outside of the "just fry an egg" camp. Take a look at the ingredients on a bought baguette, which takes me all of one hour to make, and costs 5x as much, and I just can't do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    just looked up the ingredients on the baguette i buy...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Shepherd’s Grain unbleached flour, water, malt, salt, yeast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    hm. to what is it you object, again? i do buy stuff pre-made... but i also read labels. not all pre-made products are created equal, after all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The list of ingredients on the baguette made at my local grocery is not so friendly. Agree, not all pre-made products are created equally, but where I live, there are few good choices in the pre-made arena.