28 answers

How I Wish I Were a Good Cook!

I'd have to say one of my major desires in life is to be able to cook well for my family. I'm not trying to be a gourmet chef, just very basic tasty food--American and international. I am so discouraged and frustrated that I cannot cook well, though I have tried and tried for YEARS. I don't consider myself an idiot, yet I feel like one. Why can I not do this? I have three little boys and a husband. I'd like to cook a few meals a week for them so that they will have some nice memories, nice nutritious meals of "mom's cooking." With the food network, all the great recipes out there, etc, I have tried MANY. I end up cooking with the little time that I have and throwing it in the trash! It just doesn't taste good. Yes, my family can be picky, but even I don't like much of it and I am not picky at all. I really feel like never trying again and relying on take out and Super Suppers for the next 20 years.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I love to cook. What kinds of things are you wanting to make? Perhaps if you list some things you would like to make we can come up with some easy recipes....I cook from scratch, can, bake and because I have MS I have to make it as easy as I can.........

1 mom found this helpful

Well, I actually used to be a chef and went to culinary school, so I am a good cook. I have one piece of advice for you. Get the cookbook "The Joy of Cooking". It is a classic and is very easy to follow and has every basic recipe you could ever dream of. It is the only cookbook I ever refer to even though I have hundreds. My first instructor in culinary school was asked once if she could only have one cookbook what would it be and that is what she said and I could't agree more. You could search forever but would never find a better tool for learning to cook! Good luck!!!

I see you have received many responses already. I just wanted to add that I love Angela M advice. Take it slow, and perfect one thing at a time. Also a must have in my opinion is the book The Joy of Cooking. Many basic receipes and it teaches you terms and how to do many techniques as well.
The only thing that gets food on my table is planning, planning and more planning.
My husband (a chef) also just suggested putting a dry erase board on the fridge and keep a list of what is in there.
I forget what we even have pushed to the back and things go to waste-so far it has been a great help and keeps that part a no brainer.

More Answers

Try menus4moms.com. You can subscribe to their free weekly email that will give you a weekly (5) dinner menu, including recipes and grocery list. I consider myself to be a good cook & this is wonderful for our family, as it does the planning for me. The recipes are good & easy to follow.

Hope this helps!

2 moms found this helpful

I am NOT a Pampered Chef consultant (so there's nothing in this for me), but I am a huge fan of their products. Their recipes are usually easy and delicious. My family likes them very much, and they are picky. For example, there is a recipe for bubble-up pizza that goes like this:
1 tube of Biscuits (cut into quarters and put into a bowl)
spaghetti sauce (pour 1/2 to 1 cup in the bowl and mix with the biscuits.)
mozzarella cheese - put about a cup or more to taste in the bowl
your favorite topping (cooked sausage, onions, peppers, pepperoni, whatever) mix it all up in the bowl, put it into a baking dish, bake at 350 until it is hot and bubbly.
You can go to www.papmperedchef.com and check out some of their recipes online. With every new Pampered Chef season, they have a small recipe book that costs $1 and has a good variety of seasonal recipes for that season. They also have cookbooks to purchase. It's a home-party based business, so keep that in mind if you decide to find a consultant. But I swear by the recipes!

1 mom found this helpful

with 3 under 4 it's little wonder you can even stand up in front of a stove, much less cook on one. give yourself a break. besides, the problem probably is that you are trying to mix nutritious with good. once you take out all the butter, sugar etc. it's just not that good! anyway, i'm no help, i live on frozen dinners or fast food and I really know better, but with 2 sets of twins under 5 I just don't have the willpower or desire to try to think up and prepare decent food. good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I love to cook. What kinds of things are you wanting to make? Perhaps if you list some things you would like to make we can come up with some easy recipes....I cook from scratch, can, bake and because I have MS I have to make it as easy as I can.........

1 mom found this helpful

Here's a few easy recipes.

Take a loaf of french bread.
Slice french bread length ways. You can slice as thick as you want.
Sprinkle with olive oil.
Apply a layer of mozzerrella cheese
" " " of sliced tomatoes
Sprinkle salt/pepper... oregano (optional oregano)
Apply a layer of pepper jack cheese

Put in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes; until french bread looks toasty/cheese appears melted. You can alter this recipe with cheddar cheese.
serve with salad

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Does your family like beans? There's various types of packaged beans with seasoning packets. Really easy...
soak the beans the night before
drain beans
pour beans into a crock pot
pour about three cans of chicken broth enough to cover the beans
add seasoning packet
add half an onion; sliced
add a link of smoke turkey sausage; sliced

cook on high if you want this within four/five hours. if later in the evening... cook on low for about seven hours.

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Pot Roast

Chuck roast

One package of dry onion soup mix
One can of cream of mushroom soup
One or half can of water
slice a bellpepper, onion, garlic pod
mix all of this together in a crock pot
put chuck roast in the mixture
cook for about four-five hours on high.

Sometimes I slice the roast in 1/4 slices and cook that way.

Then serve this over rice. Get a rice cooker. They are the best way to cook rice. Pour rice/water/push the lever!!!

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mac and cheese box mix
slice up smoke sausage (cook in the microwave for about 1 minute or so)
about two cups of sliced frozen brocolli (cook in microwave for about 2 minutes or until they appear tender)
mix the sausage/brocolli/ and prepared mac/cheese together
serve with sliced tomatoes.

good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I love kraftfoods.com. The recipes are fairly simple and good. They use most of the foods they sell. My husband and son love whatever I make from there. I don't have near the load you have but I hear your desire to want to cook! Good Luck in your quest!

I don't know how I survived my first 2 yrs of marriage, but, I will say, the Junior League of Austin Cookbook and a 20 min meals Weight Watchers cookbook helped. Also, when I was in college, i took a beginner's cooking class that taught me the basics of what NOT to do with eggs, etc. Now I'm good enough to make most anything out of ground turkey/tuna/ chicken breast/veggies...etc... We don't eat pasta so that is kind of hard. Also, for starters, I used www.menus4moms.com but didn't stick with their plans - just used the ideas...

good luck!!!

I am not a good cook either. I am the youngest in my family and I had always depended on my mom and my sisters to cook for me when I was living with them.
Now I am married with 2 little kids and just makes it harder for me to cook anything good.
I am frustrated for a while but I kind of find my solution to the problems. I tried to plan ahead of time. I will look up recipes on website like allrecipes.com and recipezaar.com
I will print some of the good recipes out or send those recipes to my blackberry. I choose about 5 recipes for the week and then I will go grocery shopping in the beginning of the week. I will try to get all the ingredients that I will need for the week and then each day, I will cook a different meal. The easiest thing to do is to use a crockpot, follow the recipes exactly. Put all the ingredients in the pot ahead of time and then you can leave it cooking for 6 hours and dinner comes, you are all ready.
Another suggestion is that you can find freezable meal recipe on the website that I said earlier. You can marinade everything and put it in freezer ahead of time. That will save you so much time. I hope this will give you some ideas!
Good luck and eventually you will find cooking is the funniest thing to do.

BLESS YOUR HEART!! You must be exhausted.

I'm with you, girlfriend..... I'm a single mom with teens and want to cook so much better for them. I just bought a small charcoal grill and am learning how to use it so I can PERHAPS do better dinners for us.

If your husband is home on weekends, could you grill a TON of stuff on Saturday or Sunday and then eat that throughout the week? All you'd have to do is add some veggies and fruit for dinners........ Some of my friends cook casseroles on Saturdays and freeze them and eat them during the week.
This may be NO help at all!!
Just my thoughts...
I'll be reading everyone's response to get some ideas of my own. :)

B.

PS I know you didn't ask for advice about this but I want to let you know that the older your kids get....... the easier it gets. I PROMISE. You're at the point where it's physical draining right now and that will get so much better. Parenting is exhausting but in my opinion, the baby/toddler ages were far more difficult than the Elementary school years. Hope this helps.

God love you, you have THREE babies to take care of!! Of COURSE you are exhausted. Don't even worry about trying to learn how to cook right now, my advice is to wait until your twins are in kindergarten and THEN take a fun hands-on cooking class @ a community college or at the classes they have @ the Farmer 's Market. Your main job right now is just to stay SANE - I also had twins and then another - three in diapers at once - and I know this can be the most demanding job on the planet. But it WILL get easier. Can you start a Babysitting Co-op with friends from Church? This way you can leave your kids in a safe place for a few hours and go home and SLEEP or watch your cooking shows with NO little people distracting you. Hang in there!

Have you been to thescramble.com? You can get the cookbook or subscribe to the service... The meals take between 10 and 30 minutes to make. They're nutritious, and you get a grocery list every week. Also, if you have a crockpot, you can just throw some ingredients in and leave it for the rest of the day.

I agree with one of the other responders; you've got your plate full (ha)! I have 3 kids, including a one year old that does not have much patience when mommy is cooking. I try to prepare stuff while she's napping that I can just pop in the oven, make sure I'm only cooking one time consuming thing or real recipe per meal (for example, if I'm making a chicken recipe, the sides are rolls and salad). Also, remember that not everything has to be made from scratch. Heat and eat food is just fine! One of my son's favorite meals is "mom's spaghetti" (it's really a jar of Ragu). Here are a couple of other simple things to try. Chicken Tostadas (put chicken breasts in crockpot with two cans of chicken broth and a packet of taco seasonin. Cool all day, then drain, shred with a fork and serve on tostada shells with cheese and shredded lettuce). Ranch Chicken (Mix 2 tbsp. or olive oil, 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar and one packet of ranch dressing mix in a ziploc. Add chicken breasts and marinate for 30 minutes. Broil for about 10 minutes on each side.) My kids also love quesadillas (the picky one has just cheese, the less picky ones have cheese and bacon or canned chicken and black beans). They also like burgers on the grill, boboli pizza (purchased boboli shells with sauce, cheese and whatever other topping you like), breakfast for dinner, etc. Good luck!

I have a hard time cooking as well. I try but have never been good at it. One thing I do sometimes is get together with my sister and mom on the weekend and we cook together(they are great cooks). Then we divide up the food and that way I have some things to heat up during the week. It also is a good time for us to get together and for my kids to play with their cousins.

Go to www.missionmenus.com they have some very easy and tasty recipes! I do cook quite a bit but mostly easy stuff. My kids LOVE quesadillas! They are easy to make! Just tortillas, butter, cheese and whatever they want in them -- my kids love bacon and cheese in theirs! It is a quick snack or dinner and gets them dairy, meats etc in it. My oldest son hates pasta and I love it and so does my youngest son so I dont make it as often as I would like but I LOVE to make homemade sauce! that is pretty easy too - though time consuming sometimes preparing -- but you can sneak all kinds of veggies in! I'd be happy to email you some easy recipes. Email me at ____@____.com! Have a great day!

Hello M., wow you sure received lots of support from other stay at home moms! Sounds like you were given great ideas.

I wanted to share with you some cookbooks that I would recommend. We are just about to add them to our family online store as we are a distributor for the SUE GREGG Cookbooks. Sue Gregg cookbooks are great and have nutritious recipes. They offer a master plan cookbook that encourages planning one month at a time in a limited timeframe! they have recipes for breakfasts, lunch, main meals, and more. they encourage whole foods and raw fruits and vegetables. Here is an email I recently mailed out to many on my email list. Please feel free to email me for more information.

SUE GREGG COOKBOOKS

Sue Gregg Cookbook: Meals in Minutes
From Freezer to Table: Five o’clock has past. Long ago you breakfasted a husband, let the dog out, chauffeured the kids, splotched your best blouse, crashed the computer, answered a home equity loan phone solicitation, skipped lunch, napped the baby but not you, were called and begged by your old boss to fill in tomorrow at the office, heaped up two shopping carts at the supermarket, forgot to return your mother-in-law’s call, picked up toys, and let the dog back in. You are tired, tired, tired. Five-thirty approaches. You haven’t even begun to think about dinner. The pitter-patter of small feet approaches. Heavier footsteps will follow. What to have? Call for pizza? Again? Out for dinner? Not with your tribe on your budget. You know it is futile to check the cupboards, and the pantry is hopeless. Where to go for inspiration? The refrigerator? You open the door and stare at the shelves. They stare back. You need a plan!

What would it be like to have a freezer full of “use me” dishes waiting for the times when you’re too busy, too late, and too tired?

Now you can prepare freezer dishes once a week or once a month or just increase your recipe on any given day and freeze the extra. Double, triple, or quadruple recipes for large families. Single? Divide into smaller portions. With a freezer full of twenty-six Meals in Minutes recipes you can manage convenience and control costs without compromising low fat-high fiber nutritional standards. By six you can still say, “Dinner’s ready!” PRICE: $8.95


Sue Gregg Cookbook: Main Dishes
Main Dishes: With 140 complete menus, Main Dishes is an American style cookbook combining nutritional quality and appetizing taste without the health food shock! A cookbook that eases meat ‘n potatoes, biscuits ‘n gravy, dumplings ‘n chicken, and even fries ‘n burgers diehards into some higher fiber/lower fat fare with a little California Lite on the side.

Appetites are satisfied with quality ingredient alternatives to refined flours, sugar and hydrogenated shortening. Costs are controlled with low budget menu plans along with a printed cost analysis of each recipe and menu.

Vegetarian alternatives. Considerations for allergies and special diets. Exchange values for diabetics and weight watchers. Nutritional analysis for each recipe and menu. Sue Gregg’s Main Dishes shows you how to eat better, one recipe at a time.
Spiral-Bound with plastic cover sheets, 286 pages, 3rd Edition. PRICE: $19.95

Sue Gregg Cookbook: Breakfasts
Breakfast with Blender Batter Baking & Allergy Alternatives: From Dairyless Shakes to Wheatless Coffee Cake.

Recipes & menus that balance convenience and cost, nutrional value and appetite appeal. Enjoy fresh whole grain waffles and pancakes even if you don’t own a grain mill yet. Recipes so versatile that you can choose from buckwheat, barley, corn, oats, millet, rice, rye, kamut grain, spelt, and varieties of wheat.

Muffin, coffee cake & crepe batters ready to pour in five minutes. Made possible with blender batter baking recipes.

Spiral-Bound with plastic cover sheets, 300 pages, 3rd Edition. PRICE: $19.95

Sue Gregg Cookbook: An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking
An Intro to Whole Grain Baking: This new cookbook from Sue Gregg teaches you the basics of whole grain baking by two methods: Both with the conventional approach, and with the “Two-Step Process” that utilizes the techniques of soaking, sprouting and fermenting to unlock grain’s nutritional potential. An important purpose of this introduction is teaching how to adapt the process to all whole grain recipes, whether found in Sue’s cookbooks, or others. This book provides the basics you need for real proficiency.

Use with Curriculum, or Without: The next book listed below on this Web page, is Sue’s curriculum for teaching High Schooler’s baking, at home. This “Intro” book stands on its own, or you can use it with the High School curriculum, for which it serves as the instructional text book.

PowerPoint CD Included: With the Introduction to Whole Grain Baking book, you receive Sue’s Whole Grain Baking CD (shown at left) with over 30 step by step demonstrations that show you clearly how to prepare the recipes in the book. The close up color photos will bring the recipe steps to life. The slide format allows you to proceed at your own pace, and even go back and review as you wish. Even without the High School curriculum shown below, this Intro book serves as an excellent introductory cookbook in baking, for all ages. Book measures 5-1/2” x 8-1/2”.

Spiral-Bound with plastic cover sheets, 173 pages. Also includes CD. PRICE: $22.95

Sue Gregg Cookbook: Curriculum for Baking with Whole Grains
A Comprehensive One-Semester Course for families of High School students. You’ll master 16 basic whole grain recipes for waffles, pancakes, coffee cakes, crepes, cornbread, muffins, scones, biscuits, tortillas, quick loaf breads, cinnamon rolls and sour dough. Introduces blender batter baking, fresh flour quick breads, and whole grain yeast breads. Balances academic research and practical applications. Emphasizes a Biblical creator/creation perspective, nutritional value, convenience, taste appeal, cost control, and research. Lessons are structured and sequential, but there are also opportunities for creative activities, bonus projects, and serving others.

Included: This set incudes the 284 page Student Notebook and the Test and Answer Keys CD. Both are illustrated at left. Notebook measures 8-1/2” x 11”. Spiral-Bound with plastic cover sheets, 284 pages, 2nd Edition. Also includes CD.

Required: This curriculum also requires the use of the book An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking, available above and that book is not included with this set. (We list and price this set separately in case you already have the Whole Grain Baking book.) PRICE: $39.95

Sue Gregg Cookbook: Lunches & Snacks
Lunches & Snacks with lessons for children: Capture children’s curiosity about food and food preparation at the opportune moments. Beginning reader-ready lessons help young cooks understand the “why” as they practice the “how,” from set up to clean up.

Recipes written by the numbers help avoid confusion. Nutrition questions for discussion highlight the value of key ingredients. Help your children discover how to satisfy appetites with quality alternatives to refined flours, sugar and hydrogenated shortening. This cookbook applies the philosophy parents understand well — If they make it, they’ll eat it!

Spiral-Bound with plastic cover sheets, 180 pages, 3rd Edition. PRICE: 13.95

Sue Gregg Cookbook: Cooking with Children Curriculum CD: Available with or without Cookbook

Now recipes come alive to children before kitchen activities begin. They can view step-by-step recipe photo demonstrations on the computer. This speeds the learning process because parents do not have to master the recipe and then model it for the child. Parents and children can learn together! For ages 3 to 13.

This set helps parents tap into in-built interests and channel opportunities for children to learn to serve as well as to be served. Take a little extra time once or twice a week to teach a new recipe. Then let the young cooks repeat the recipes on their own. Practice builds competence. Competence builds confidence. By age 13 they’ll be doing the cooking for you!

Choose: Choose either the “book + CD” (the first Buy Button below), or, if you already own the Lunches & Snacks cookbook, you can purchase the CD alone (the second Buy Button below.) Note: This book is also available without the CD. See the book above.

PRICE: Set of Lunches & Snacks + CWC/CD $23.90
CD Cooking w/Children: $9.95

Sue Gregg Cookbook: Soups & Muffins
Soups & Muffins with menu combinations: Muffins…so versatile they enhance any meal. Soups that serve as light appetizers or satisfying main dishes. Together they combine for heart warming lunches or hearty dinners.

Save nutrients with soup stock. Get whole grain high fiber with low fat. Versatile recipes with allergy alternatives. Enjoy flavors without nutritional negatives. Combine cost control with convenience.

Spiral-Bound with plastic cover sheets, 104 pages, 3rd edition. PRICE: 8.95

Sue Gregg Cookbook: Desserts
Desserts: with low fat & allergy alternatives. From “no fat” Angel food cake and “fat free” oatmeal cookies to three minute refreshing Fruit Shrub, these recipes balance nutritional value and convenience.

Here is a cookbook that preserves appetite appeal in chocolate chip cookies and German chocolate cake without resorting to nutritional negatives. No hydrogenated fats, refined flour or sugar.

Allergy alternatives for chocolate, milk, eggs, wheat and corn make desserts a pleasure for everyone.

With one third of the recipes calculating at 30% or less fat (by calorie count), you can cut back on the fat without losing the yum!

Spiral-Bound with plastic cover sheets, 171 pages, 2nd Edition. PRICE: $12.95


Sue Gregg Cookbook: Master Index Menu Planner
Here’s a reference book that answers questions: Which cookbook was the Applesauce Muffin recipe in? What is Kamut? Is is pronounced Kam-Ut or Ku-moot? Where can I find recipes that avoid my allergy? How much sugar is there in that recipe? Why can’t I find the perfect diet? How can I make the best use of leftovers? Where do I get started with menu planning? Which recipes freeze well? When should solids be introduced to my baby? Where can I find a curriculum for teaching healthy cooking? How can I make my yeast breads rise higher? This is the book that… Helps you find answers by referencing the resources in all of Sue Gregg’s Cookbooks with an Ingredient Index, a Subject Index, and a Recipe Index.

Shows you how to incorporate your favorite family recipes along with Eating Better Cookbook recipes into monthly menu plans. Researches the baby books to answer questions mothers have about feeding babies and children wholefoods. Addresses concerns cooks have about improving taste and appetite appeal without sacrificing nutritional quality. Shows you how to manage to maximize convenience and save time and money. Spiral-Bound with plastic cover sheets, 281 pages, 3rd Edition. PRICE: $12.95

Shipping prices are reasonable. I can email them to you, if you are interested.

Hope this can benefit you or anyone reading this email.

Blessings
C.

Inspiring the Wellness In You!
www.pebblecrossing.com

Well, I actually used to be a chef and went to culinary school, so I am a good cook. I have one piece of advice for you. Get the cookbook "The Joy of Cooking". It is a classic and is very easy to follow and has every basic recipe you could ever dream of. It is the only cookbook I ever refer to even though I have hundreds. My first instructor in culinary school was asked once if she could only have one cookbook what would it be and that is what she said and I could't agree more. You could search forever but would never find a better tool for learning to cook! Good luck!!!

Okay, at this point I would say trying to make "balanced healthy meals" might not be a first choice. You want the kids to eat. I know that it's ideal for them to eat the 5 food groups however, with toddlers and younger that's sometimes a fight that I don't want to choose. My daughter is 5 and we just started (within the past year) making her eat what we were eating. We do alot of pasta-for us we keep the sauce on and for her we let her choose. Most of the time we just cut her's up and put parmeasean cheese on it. She LOVES edamame-those are soy beans. They are really good and very high in protein. Mac and Cheese and hot dogs, fish sticks and french fries, or hush puppies, tater tot casserole, grilled chicken, think fun things for kids to eat. ie..anything they can dip. baby carrots in ranch, hot dogs in catsup, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, watermelon. you can make sandwiches and then use different cookie cutters to make them into shapes, the same goes for different fruits (watermelon, cantelope, honey dew melon). I know that these aren't really sit down family meal suggestions but they worked for us and sometimes its easier to just feed the kids what they want, put them to bed and then enjoy a quiet meal on your own. It does get better as they get older. The twins are probably following the lead of your oldest too. pm if you need any specific recipies. M.

I'll just add two quick things I didn't see in the other responses.
1- HomemadeGourmet.com had great packets of ingredients ready to go. All you do is add one or two fresh ingredients, bake, and you have a great meal. The name says it all.

2- And as far as cooking goes, sometimes you shouldn't follow the recipe exactly. For example, my oven runs hot. So, when a recipe says I should bake something for 30 minutes, I set my timer for 20 minutes and check on it then. Meals in my oven are usually ready in around 22-25 minutes.
So, if your cooking issue is that meats are too tough, meals are dried out, or things are getting burned, you might want to experiment with temperatures or cooking times. Your appliances might be like mine and may be running too hot.

Feel free to write back with the specifics of your cooking issues if there is something else I can help with.
Hope this helps, good luck!

I can help. You are welcome to contact me or check out my website. Wildtree Herbs offers great mixes, sauces, spices and helpful recipes. The products are preservative free, no dyes, no MSG, low sugar, great tasting and good for you! I have wonderful recipes to share and we offer a fantastic hostess program for you to earn FREE products. I look forward to hearing from you.
J. Jackson
###-###-####
www.joycejackson.mywildtree.com
____@____.com

Give yourself a break! It seems that some plan whereby you could do minimum cooking for the next 2-3 years would be in order. The suggestion of cooking on week ends, or husband doing some of the cooking is a good one. Also, I have heard of friends trading out chores: some friend who likes to cook cooks extra casseroles, etc and freezes them for you, and you do something for her/him in return. You mentioned your family is picky; I'm not sure what that means, but if they don't like healthy foods, there are at least 2 recipe books on the market that specialize in "hiding" veggies, etc. in good tasting food. When the kids are older if you still want to learn to be a good cook, do so then, but you could cut yourself some slack now with 3 under 4 and plan on ways to get good food for your family with someone else doing the bulk of the cooking, or cooking on week ends. I can understand, though, how exhausted you must be, and to spend your week ends doing something that is hard for you doesn't sound like fun. Bless you and hope you find a suitable solution for you and your family.

First of all, quit condemning yourself for gifts that you do not have. That doesn't mean don't cook for your family but don't be too hard on yourself. Have you tried getting a cookbook geared to beginners - maybe even one for kids? If you didn't learn absolute basics - like boiling eggs, making a grilled cheese sandwich, etc. - when you were young - you aren't going to automatically be able to make fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy now. Start really, really basic and learn one thing at a time. While you are getting that one thing down, buy prepared or semi-prepared things for the rest of the meal. While you are getting practice, I'd recommend some frozen meals for the crock pot. These come with all of the ingredients and seasonings and taste very homestyle. I think the hardest thing about preparing a meal is the timing. So if you just work on one part of it, purchasing the rest prepared, that part will be much easier. Another idea, once a week, buy a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket. Then all you have to do is prepare a veggie. Best to you!

Sounds like you have your hands full girl! So cut yourself some slack... though I see you've said you have tried and tried for years, so am assuming that was before kids?
As far as fast and easy meals while the kids are young - crock pot meals are great, and if you are going to use the food network as a recipe source consider the Rachel's 30 min meals (I personally think they are bland, but they are a great start, and I just kick them up a notch), or Sandra Lee's Semi-homemade, where you start with a box, or canned item and doctor it up. They also tend to use a lot less exotic, hard to find ingredients and don't take hours. Also consider doubling recipes and freezing 1/2 for later, or cooking with friends and splitting the meals(like doing dream dinners at home) it makes if fun, and you have an extra set of hands, and if your husband likes to cook, let him 2-3 times a week. Of course none of this will make you LIKE the food, just makes it simpler.

I personally think the key to good cooking is having an arsonnel of good recipes! And of course, reading the directions/steps BEFORE you start is critical. Read the ingredients, if it has ingredients you don't like, most likely you won't like the meal. A great source is all.recipes.com - all recipes are rated 1-5 stars, and have tons of reviews. Beware, alot of people take the recipe and completely change it, and then call it a 5 star recipe! Or say they hated the recipe. Ugh!
That said, you are pretty much guaranteed that a 5-star recipes that has been rated 5 stars by 300+ people is a good recipe! Another way is anytime we'd go somewhere - friends, restraunt etc and my family liked the food, I'd ask for the recipe! NO need to invent the wheel here! Or I'd get the name from the menu and go on-line and search for similar recipes.

Of course that doesn't mean your family will like it.
You might start with a list of ingredients and foods and TEXTURES you know that your family likes and dislikes (I am sure they will very honestly tell you what they DON'T like and why :)) They may have texture issues vs taste. It seems most kids and some husbands can be oh so picky. But I believe they should all have to have a bite and taste. So many times my kids said they didn't like it, and then I forced them to taste it, and of course they loved it (though wouldn't always admit it!) I have one that likes everything soooo plain, and the other who eats sushi, indian food, and thai etc. That said, I only make ONE meal. If we are having spaghetti.. I just pull some of the noodles out and toss with butter salt and pepper for one, and pour sauce on for the rest of us, If we are having some kind of dish with onions, I just leave a corner of the pan with no onions, you get the idea. I make it a point that we are having THIS for dinner and not accomodate with another meal. or make sure that there is always one part of the meal that the picky eater likes. The kids know if they abosolutely hate it I always have yogurt and fruit on hand (something healthy that they like but don't necessarily love - so it is not tempting them away from the meal, but they don't go hungry, and I am NOT having to cook. If you really like international foods - you might have to start slow to introduce to your 3 year old, by doing americanized versions, and simplier/milder versions etc. Just introducing some of the flavors. Then of course the way it looks matters to kids. I found it's helpful to give the recipes fun names or serve it to kids in a way that is fun. Stew inside a pile of mash potatoes (volcano stew), you get the idea.

To get you started. Try these.
This is the easiest recipe ever. 10 min prep. 8hrs in crock pot then <30 min to finish off. You can not mess it up. Also, I seriously have NEVER had a person who did not like it(and this includes kids) And I've made it for dozens of families for service meals and company for the last 8 years.
(though will admit, not so sure I've served to one year olds), so be sure to cut it up good. Let me know how it works out!

Kalua Pig
(hawaiian word, not alcoholic drink!)

(this makes a very large pot - we eat 2 meals of it during the week or freeze 1/2) You may consider cutting it in 1/2 to see if they like it first.


4-5 Lb pork butt or shoulder roast
2 C apple juice/cider
1 clove of minced garlic
3 Tbs coarse ROCK salt
2 Tbs of liquid smoke
1/2 to 1 head of cabbage (depends if you really like cabbage)

Stab the pork all over with a sharp knife, pour smoke onto meat and rub into meat. Repeat process with salt and garlic. Place in crock-pot, and add apple juice. Place on low setting and leave it alone until evening ~ 8-10 hours (depending on size of roast).Take meat out of crock-pot, remove fat, and shred pork.
Slice cabbage into 1" strips and add to juices in the crock, turn to High and cook for at least 30 minutes.(or you can steam - it is faster)Just don't overcook the cabbage to death. Return meat to the crock and toss together. Pour over steamed rice, and add a little juice from the crock. Serve a salad with it.

For kids (who often don't like cabbage) I pull 1/4 of the meat out and do not mix with the cabbage. Of course I don't offer that or show it first. I give them a small taste w/cabbage. If they freak out or hate the cabbage, I then give them the portion with out the cabbage and make note for next time.

Sorry for the novel! GOOD LUCK

Go to Sam's Club and get some meals that are already fully cooked and all you have to do is put them in the oven and put them on a nice plate. They have this fully-cook brisket that is already sliced and I put it in the oven and it was wonderful. We are still enjoying it on sandwiches. They have many frozen meals that are fully cooked.....just be sure you get enough if they want seconds! Add some cooked or steamed vegetable, a salad, and a dessert and you'll do fine.

M.,

Start small. Pick ONE thing you want to make and concentrate on that. Getting the ingredients, preparing. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I felt very clueless when I began to cook. I am married to a man who is a very good cook and I relied on him until I stayed home and had more time to do it. Now, I can't believe the people who tell me "you are such a good cook." Who, me? It still seems like yesterday that I didn't know anything.

Good luck!

I know the feeling!!! I feel like I turn out a good meal about 50% of the time an the rest it is average or below. My guess is that you have the same problem that I have and that is distraction. I have a 2.5 yr old daughter and a 1 yr old son and it is nearly impossible to concentrate on following a recipe with the two of them running around screaming. I have this idea that it would be great to cook 1 or 2 times a month and fill up my freezer so I could be my own Super Suppers but I haven't found the full day I think will be necessary for that or the recipes but I know they are out there.
I do like Rachel Ray's 30 minute recipes. They generally take me about an hour but that is OK. I also try to do recipes with fewer ingredients, that seems to be a more workable solution for me.
Good Luck!

I see you have received many responses already. I just wanted to add that I love Angela M advice. Take it slow, and perfect one thing at a time. Also a must have in my opinion is the book The Joy of Cooking. Many basic receipes and it teaches you terms and how to do many techniques as well.
The only thing that gets food on my table is planning, planning and more planning.
My husband (a chef) also just suggested putting a dry erase board on the fridge and keep a list of what is in there.
I forget what we even have pushed to the back and things go to waste-so far it has been a great help and keeps that part a no brainer.

Classes cost and take time: Old cookbooks look great (as do many new ones) and the Chefs on tv make it look so easy, but you try their recipe and no one likes it. Try Americas Test Kitchen. It's on Public Broadcasting & they have a web site. As long as I stick to their measurements my family eats the food.

M., I think you are trying to hard and already have it set in your head that everything will turn out bad. I love to cook and I am planning on opening a resturant soon. I know it is difficult to cook with little ones around, so I put them to work with me. I would start off with something simple like a casserole. One of my families favorite is a creamy chicken casserole. I take chicken and cut it into cubes, then cut up some onions and celery. Add about 2tbl spoons of butter to a saute pan. Saute the chicken, celery and onions. Then you can do one of many things, I sometimes use lansanga noodles and layer the chicken mixture, cream of mushroom soup, and cheese (mozz or chedder). Make about 3-4 layers depending on how much you want to make, then pop it in the over @ 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Until it is golden brown. You can also make macroni noodles and mix cream of mushroom soup and chicken mixer. Put cheese on top and pop it in the over @ 350 for 30-45 mintutes. Or use rice. You can add veggie is you want too. My family loves it and the kids like to mix stuff together. Just make it fun and if it does not come out just right it is okay. I was lucky my mom had us in the kitchen from the time we could walk. I do the same thing with my kids. Have fun!!! And good luck.

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