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Recipes (Meal Ideas) for someone who doesn't cook?

I would be very thankful for any ideas on this subject!

Little background: The question is for my father. He is in his 60's and recently diagnosed with diabetes. He cannot cook (and will not try much!!!) although he did ask me how to make scrambled eggs the other day. After his diabetes diagnosis (about a year and a half ago) he lost a ton of weight and was doing very well, however because he doesn't cook and was living on chicken breasts, canned tuna, salads, and frozen veggies old habits started creeping back in when he got bored of eating the same four things.

I am trying to come up with some ideas for easy meals for him. I've taught him about eggs and how to add on some simple items to what he is eating to add variety. He has to limit his carb intake so pastas, rice, and breads must be very limited. He also can't eat veggies like corn, or peas and fruit with a lot of sugar or carbs (apples, bananas) are a big no-no.

As you can see he's limited...and I am running out of ideas. Any ideas or help would be greatly appreciated. I do cook meals for him (and freeze portions) so even ideas that are diabetes and freezer friendly would help me help him. I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, so thank you in advance!

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  1. I'd start with large-batch foods, such as soups and stews.
    Vegetable soup
    Creamy vegetable soups that are pureed so no real cream is needed (butternut, cauliflower, pumpkin, asparagus)
    Chili with a ton of veggies and ground turkey
    You get the idea- make it once, eat it several times.

    Can you get him a slow cooker? It might be helpful to sell him the idea that all he has to do is a bit of prep and dump in the morning and forget about it for the rest of the day.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monavano

      Thank you! He does have a slow cooker-so that is helpful and it's easy to create meals with it.

    2. Log on to the Special Diets board, as well. You may find lots of answers there.

      1 Reply
      1. re: critter101

        Thank you! I hadn't noticed that board before!

      2. Does he like fish? When I'm trying to eat the way that his health requires, a quick meal of vegetables and a fish filet is delicious. Can even be successfully microwaved...

        3 Replies
        1. re: mr99203

          He does like fish. I should look up some ways to microwave it...that would be less intimidating for him which may lead to him learning more. Thank you!

          1. re: sarathegreat

            Take a look at Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet book. She is a huge fan of fish in the nuke and has lots of good ideas. There's a vast trove of info in the (I think she calls it) index that shouldn't be ignored as well as the specific recipes.

            1. re: monfrancisco

              Thanks I will look into that! I think the info on how to do simple things will be especially useful.

        2. Definately use the slow cooker! There are a ton of websites dedicated to them.
          I just found this from cooking light:

          A while back i kept seeing a recipe for salsa chicken- baically a jar of salsa and chicken. Done. I'm sure google can help you find the "recipe", i never made it (i'm vegetarian).
          Teach him how to make hard boiled eggs-perfect for a snack or adding to salads.

          Also teach him how to roast veggies- just the basic olive oil (make sure he measures it) and salt/pepper whatever seasonings he likes. Everyone gets sick of steamed veggies since they're often mooshy and water-logged. Then he can roast broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, etcetc.

          Salads are the perfect no cooking fast food, but so many people get stuck in a boring greens and dressing rut. I have my own "formula" for a meal sized salad, you could make him a handy little chart with examples that are his favorites and appropriate for his diabetes.

          I do: base of greens (i switch from mixed greens, arugala, spinach etc) + chopped raw veggies (most groceries even sell pre chopped veg now) + a whole grain (quinoa, brown rice, etc) + protein +small amount of fat (nuts, seeds, avocado, cheese) + really flavorful salad dressing

          Great salad toppers include left over roasted veggies, beany thick chili, olives or capers, pickled veggies, or whatever is leftover in the fridge.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Ttrockwood

            I love roasted veggies but I have never made a mushy waterlogged steamed veg in my life.
            He can steam them in the microwave and keep extras for snacks.

            1. re: Ttrockwood

              Perfect ideas! I love making charts so it will be fun (I must be crazy haha) to make a chart with ingredients for salads. There really is such a great variety of what you can do but you're right it's so easy to get bogged down in greens and dressing. Thank you!

              1. re: sarathegreat

                My sister just told me she uses this recipe for the slow cooker salsa chicken. She doesn't like anything too spicey and said it was great with a black bean salsa or mango salsa too. And she's used chicken breasts no problem.

            2. salsa can be tossed onto most proteins - salmon, chicken, turkey chops - and then throw it in the oven and bake - it'll keep the protein moist and flavorful with very little effort and very healthy. spices are also his friend - paprika, garlic powder, onion powder - can all be sprinkled on chicken and then thrown in the oven and baked for dinner with very little effort.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ahuva

                Yes! Salsa! Love that idea-thank you!

                1. re: sarathegreat

                  Just be sure the salsa doesn't contain any added sugars - tomatoes are carb-y to begin with.

                  Pesto is another great option for adding tons of flavor and moisture. A mustard-mayo combination seasoned with his favorite herbs and spices also works well.

              2. Veggie-loaded frittatas are good fresh and as leftovers- just choose less-carby vegetables and you'll have tons of variations. I like my egg mixture with half the yolks removed- still plenty of vitamins and nutrients from the yolks, but not overdoing the cholesterol and fat. Some of my favorite inclusions are:
                sauteed onion
                sliced scallion
                sauteed sliced garlic
                mushroom (just cook throughly, and then cook some more, to ensure that they don't waterlog the mixture and throw off the texture)
                steamed spinach (again, make sure it is not too watery)
                fresh herbs (basil, tarragon, thyme, parsley, oregano)
                diced steamed zucchini (also a potential waterlogger)
                artichoke hearts
                roasted red peppers (yes, a little higher in carbohydrates, but a little goes a long way)

                If you have an oven-safe pan, going from the stovetop to the broiler avoids the nail-biting flip maneuver. :)

                You can also have some of the extra fritatta fillings saved up in storage containers in the fridge so he has it ready to add to scrambled eggs.

                Homemade Asian egg omelets are also a nice variation. The iteration I make most often includes lots of fresh mung bean sprouts, scallion, garlic, bits of shrimp, and soy sauce, all added to beaten eggs and cooked up with a touch of toasted sesame oil.

                Another easy Asian-inspired dish is lettuce wraps. Season diced raw chicken with sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and scallion. Saute till cooked through, cool, then pile into leaf lettuce and crunch away. You can add in lots of other non-starchy vegetables into your wrap, like bean sprouts, fresh raw scallion, etc.

                That's all I have for now. Good for you for taking such great care of your father- wishing you and your whole family good health!

                1 Reply
                1. re: 4Snisl

                  Thank you so much for the suggestions! I think I am going to do some of that for myself haha! What's so nice about your ideas is that I can help him prep all of that and then he can make what he wants. :)

                2. I volunteer-assist a lady who has to eat low carb, low fat, low sodium, and gluten-free and has multiple disabilities that limit her abilities in the kitchen. We have made headway with corn tortillas and a variety of foods to roll up in them and then cover with some kind of salsa. Within the parameters of your Dad's diet, you might offer cooked chicken, beef, or pork, chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, coleslaw, limited amounts of cooked or refried beans, chopped scallions, marinated artichoke hearts, shredded cheese etc etc and let him assemble what he likes and can eat.

                  Another thought in case your Dad is not enthusiastic about low-carb salad greens: If you take one slice of wholegrain bread, lay it on a dinner plate, butter it then spread it thinly with horseradish, and put a slice of deli roast beef on it, you can then cover it with a huge portion of dressed mixed green salad (greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, etc) and somehow the salad becomes disguised as a legitimate meal eaten with a knife and fork. I have used this trick on myself when dieting.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Querencia

                    Wow! Love that idea about the open faced "salad!" Thank you!