To be ashamed of my family's eating habits and to ask for help in how I can learn to cook

(105 Posts)
MrsSeanBean1 Mon 31-Mar-14 02:40:53

I am married with a 2 year old DD and a 4 week old DS. I have always hated cooking and been absolutely hopeless at it. Ever since I left home in my mid 20s I have lived on ready meals and eating out (I am now 37). Now that I have finished my family I really want us all to get fit and healthy, particularly as I am suffering from health anxiety due to many of my family members being diagnosed with cancer over the last few years.

Both my husband and I are overweight, I am actually very obese. When I had my much longed for DD I vowed that she would never suffer with weight problems like I have all of my life (I was always rewarded with food and now have a very unhealthy relationship with it). I have done my very best to stick to that and my DD eats very healthily. She loves fruit and veg, and I cook her a very basic organic meal every evening. Usually this is pasta, veg and a cheese sauce or potatoes, veg and meat. These meals are very plain and boring (no salt, seasoning etc.) so my husband and I don't fancy it. This means that we end up with a quick ready meal after my DD has gone to bed. I can see how ridiculous this is as I am 'cooking' for my daughter so could easily cook for everyone.

I never learnt to cook at school. I went to a very academic girls grammar school who did their best to keep girls out of the kitchen so home economics lessons were very few and far between. I would love to learn now and have looked into cooking courses at local colleges but cannot find anything suitable. Most basic cooking courses are aimed at people with special needs or are more specialised. I just want one to teach me everyday healthy family recipes.

I have enrolled on my local Why Weight? programme for new mums to lose weight and have been trying to draw up a weekly menu as a starting point. However, I am finding it so hard. At the moment, over 7 days of evening meals, I have 1 red meat dish, 2 chicken dishes, 1 salmon dish, 1 white fish dish and 2 vegetarian dishes. I think this would be balanced but I really have no idea. I now need to find a recipe for each day and learn to cook it! I really don't know where to start.

I have also looked online for any online cooking courses but can't find any. They all seem too complicated. The only time I've ever cooked successfully is when I followed Gordon Ramsey's Cook Along Live. I found that really good.

Can anyone suggest a way forward for me or am I beyond help?

schmalex Mon 31-Mar-14 02:55:26

The recipes on bbcgoodfood.com or in the Good Food magazine are very reliable and they have lots of family/midweek kind of meals.

Jamie Oliver's books are good for beginners - maybe try your local library?

mantlepiece Mon 31-Mar-14 03:17:59

I think you can cook as you are already doing it for your DC!
YouTube is your friend if you want to pick up tips on how to deal with unfamiliar foods and techniques, and also to see how deal with various bits of kitchen equipment.

I would start by thinking of a dish you enjoy and search on YouTube for that, you will quickly see that there is no one way to do things, just what suits you.

Have a go.. Success breeds success !

PasswordProtected Mon 31-Mar-14 03:27:33

Cooking is all about techniques and methods, then applying those to ingredients. In addition to YouTube try a basic "how to" cookery book such as Good Housekeeping, Delia Smith or Cordon Bleu as "theory". The GH one is good as it has a lot of very basic recipes that can be adapted.
Good luck & have lots of fun!
PS. I went to a very academic girls' school, too, but we had a year of compulsory cookery.

CharityCase Mon 31-Mar-14 03:29:41

I like bbc good food. I am not a good cook- can follow a recipe but zero flair for it- but everything I cook from there turns out well. As a tip, I find most recipes work fine if you up the veggie to meat ratio- esp stuff like cottage pie and chili.

AdoraBell Mon 31-Mar-14 03:57:56

I also like BBC Good Food.

Just pick a recipe for something you already like, try To start off with simple Recipes.

redcaryellowcar Mon 31-Mar-14 04:00:01

Sounds like you are already doing better than you give yourself credit for. I think if you can persuade your dd to eat the same as you you will find that its a lot easier to only cook Once, i do sometimes do slightly larger portions or double up a recipe that ds will like to freeze some for evenings when we don't all eat the same.these are things like bolognese sauce for having with pasta, macaroni cheese etc.
Meals we all eat together include spaghetti bolognese,shepherds pie, turkey chilli (i don't add any chilli, so its not 'hot') with rice, this is v low fat and freezes well .
There is a great salmon recipe in Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal book where you lay salmon fillets on tip of asparagus in a baking dish quarter a lemon to drizzle over and leave wedges in dish, take a tin of anchovies and draped them on top of the salmon and drizzle oil over. Pop in a free Cherry tomatoes and put under hot grill for 20ish minutes, serve with new boiled potatoes and some steamed Veg.
Lastly worth a Google, 'waitrose delia Thai chicken' again i leave outcome chilli but dh and ds love it.

AwfulMaureen Mon 31-Mar-14 04:08:38

One of the biggest tips I can offer is to learn about herbs and spices....they make even the plainest foods better. Buy a pot of basil and one of tarragon to begin...basil ripped up and stirred through pasta is lovely and is also great on top of wholemeal toast with a drizzle of olive oil and sliced tomato....tarragon works with fish or curry. Some dried mixed Italian herbs along with crushed garlic will make spag bol tastier.x

Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food is aimed at people who can't cook. Lots of nice recipes in that.

Mckayz Mon 31-Mar-14 05:01:56

The Jamie Oliver Ministry of food book is brilliant. In bit a good cook but I find all those recipes really easy.

Mckayz Mon 31-Mar-14 05:03:08

I'm not a good cook even. blush

Really shouldn't mn during the night.

Sunnysummer Mon 31-Mar-14 05:12:16

Another one that could be helpful for you is 'The Kitchen Revolution' - it's a cookbook that's entirely about a week of meal planning for families, including a full shopping list, one 'big' meal, one meal of leftovers, one thing you can make and freeze etc, so it's a great introduction to family meal planning.

SteveBrucesNose Mon 31-Mar-14 05:19:13

BBC Good Food is great for recipes, however Delia 'How to Cook' is great.

Delia online also has a 'techniques' section which isn't just the arty farty stuff - lots of beginner stuff which will shopfeully give you confidence

ClearlyMoo Mon 31-Mar-14 05:21:56

I lived in N Wales a while back and in an attempt to make friends looked at evening classes. There was a very reasonable "celebrity chef" cooking class. Each week the teacher (an ordinary school domestic science teacher by day) let us choose two recipes from a selection she's picked from celeb chefs and help us make them. It was fun and sociable and added to my list of dishes I liked to cook.

As a life long weight watcher / attempt at healthy eating myself, I find the weight watchers cook books very helpful but also scour book stalls at local fetes/ charity shops for "healthy" cook books. Often 50 p each!

I'm recently married and currently pregnant and haven't been coping well with cooking after work so DH has been getting involved. His Mun gave him "hairy bikers, Mum knows best" for Christmas and he's found those recipes easy to follow. They have a hairy dieters book too!

I'd also say "batch cooking" casseroles/lasagne etc can be helpful, make your own ready meals!

Also there's nowt wrong with "meat and two veg" sausage mash & peas, chicken breast fillet/ Kiev (from super market) with jackets and veg etc, quite easy to cook.

Well done for wanting to change and giving things a try. All the best smile

carcassonne Mon 31-Mar-14 05:31:32

I have found having an Abel & cole box delivered helps. Their cookbook came free and there are recipe sheets each week. It means I have to look up a few recipes to make sure am using all the box contents and now do my weekly shop once I know what's coming in the box that week. I find it easier to meal plan as I have the box as starting point, eat more healthily and spend less.

sashh Mon 31-Mar-14 05:50:02

Is ready steady cook still on TV? That's how I learned to cook.

I could cook basics and follow a recipe but it is true to say RSC taught me how to look at what I had in and make something edible.

I know you probably don't want too much salt but you can season with herbs/spices/pepper.

As you say you are cooking for your daughter.

OK how about this, cook what ever meat your daughter likes and veg for three people (IMHO plain veg is fine with a seasoned meat fish)

For you and dh you need

foil
2 pieces of salmon
1 pepper (any colour but I like red)
1 mushroom each
seasoning - I would use saly and pepper but you can get 'season oil' from the supermarket or you could use paprika or if you like hot food chilli or ginger - anything ground to a powder

make a cross of foil and very lightly grease it - the spray stuff is fine or a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil - rub over as large a space as possible

slice the mushrooms and pepper and put them in the middle, put the fish on top - add seasoning, better a little than a lot.

Make the foil into a loose parcel and stick in the oven for 20 mins. Viola a health oily fish meal.

HowContraryMary Mon 31-Mar-14 05:54:16

Most people only have 10 or so favourite recipes/meals they use regularly.

Children don't have to have bland food, you can experiment with seasoning and herbs.

LoveBeingCantThinkOfAName Mon 31-Mar-14 05:57:17

We'll done for making this decision, it feels so good when your doc love something you've made and ask for more.

Jamie's ministry of food book was made for you. In the series he actually got people saying the same as you and taught them to cook some basic recipes and they loved it.

What sort of food do you like and try and find those sorts of recipes and add in some new ones.

Also the good food magazine online has some fab recipes for all levels and I find the comments from others who have made it really useful.

Try not to think of your own food as boring and try to have meals with your dd .

adsy Mon 31-Mar-14 07:03:38

Honestly, if you can read and follow basic instrctions then you can cook. Just get the Delia book and start!

Mckayz Mon 31-Mar-14 07:07:14

The Hairy Bikers books are really good too. We have almost all of them now and I've never struggled with any of the recipes.

BikeRunSki Mon 31-Mar-14 07:11:14

Surestart children's centres often have exactly the kind of cookery class you have described.

littledrummergirl Mon 31-Mar-14 07:12:03

Soups are really easy. Take whatever veg you have, put them in a saucepan with a stock cube, cook until soft and blend. You dont even need to chop the onion, just cut it in half.

Stir fry, chop veg and small amount of meat, add a tiny amount of oil to stop it sticking, boil noodles and mix with a little soy sauce.

Jacket potato with salad.

Spag bol. Chop onion, cook on low heat until soft stirring occasionally. Add tin toms and a stock cube, leave on low heat until soft.
Add tom puree, garlic puree to taste and 1/2 teaspoon sugar.
Add quorn mince and serve with pasta and frozen peas.

These are cheap as well.

nochips Mon 31-Mar-14 07:14:44

I absolutely echo what everyone says about Delia's online site. I never cooked until I was in my 30s. I started cooking when I met DH and wanted to cook romantic meals. I am now a pretty good cook- it is my main hobby, and I have even contributed some self-developed recipes to our local magazine and am thinking of starting a food blog. I started with Delia's site on quite easy things, and have never looked back!

Also- I bought a book called Nosh for Busy mums and dads by Joy May. That is a great book. Lots of child-friendly and family friendly gorgeous, healthy dishes. There is a honey sesame chicken that is now a staple for us.

tumbletumble Mon 31-Mar-14 07:19:44

Menu planning is your friend. Turn your red meat / chicken / fish plan in your OP into 7 simple healthy meals using the books already mentioned and cook that for the first couple of weeks. Then gradually add a few alternatives. Agree with the poster above who said that most people have 10 or so dishes they cook regularly rather than a vast choice.

MaryWestmacott Mon 31-Mar-14 07:19:48

Any reason you can't just add salt and pepper to the meals you serve dd once they are served up? We tend to have hot sauce or chilli flakes on the dining table to add heat to meals we sharing with the dcs, and I always salt my food before eating now (have to remember when out most food cooked for adults will be pre seasoned and not do that!).

But yes, other than salt, not reason you can't start making less bland food for your dd and eat as a family (or reheat later for yourself if you don't fancy eating at that time).

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