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Feeling useless, can't feed our family

(27 Posts)
Sausagedog1 Fri 16-Oct-20 19:24:19

I feel completely overwhelmed and useless at the moment.
I have never been able to cook. In my twenties I just lived off ready meals or went out for dinner/take outs or jacket potatoes. Then I met DH and he's an incredible cook. I've always done loads of other jobs in the house but never cooking.
Fast forward to now and I have a 4 year old and an 8 month old and I'm completely useless, it's making me depressed. My DH is too busy to cook right now after losing his job and having to work every hour god sends so it's down to me.
My 8 month old lives off pouches which I'm utterly ashamed of.
We have so many dietary requirements I don't know where to start. I'm vegetarian (since birth) my DH is mostly veggie since living with me for 10 years but will occasionally have fish. My kids are both pescatarian like DH, but the only fish they have is fish fingers at home, but occasionally have other fish when out or at school.
BUT...
DH is allergic to gluten, milk and eggs.
I am intolerant to mushrooms (fungus so no Quorn) and intolerant to egg.
So basically we might as well be gluten free vegans but it's too expensive to eat like that so I eat normal pasta and normal bread and so do the kids and DH has gluten free etc. The kids and I eat cheese but DH can't so cheesy pasta sauces out the window.
It's impossible. I don't know where to start.
I can't make 3 meals every night. The baby still needs mushy food, the child is a good eater but doesn't like curries or other fancier food, loves pasta and chilli!
I just need some simple recipes that will feed us all and cheap but also balanced as we all need protein. But I don't know how. Help.
Sorry to sound so useless.
It was all fine before as I just used to make my son easy simple meals and then my DH would pull something together for us in the evening (and enjoyed cooking!) But adding a baby in has scuppered me and I want to be able to cook for me and DH too.
If anyone has any tips for feeding us it would be so amazingly helpful, including what I need in the cupboards to make it easier and what utensils etc if need be.

OP’s posts: |
7Days Fri 16-Oct-20 19:37:11

Argh that's tough.

My sis has ages similar to yours and a few different intolerances in the house.
She serves up a LOT of hummus, flatbreads and carrot sticks.

Bolognaise style sauces (blitzed with a stick blender and loosened with water for the baby) with whatever pasta suits.

Another favourite is poached/grilled salmon with rice and broccoli, a bit of soup or sweet chilli sauce for the adults, again stick blended for baby.

Simple mash, peas and veggie sausages?

But I think if you were in the habit of making easy simple meals, stick to them, even for yourself and DH.

If you ever do make a curry, say, or DH does, make double and freeze. Then you can gave that while the kids get something v easy. Same goes for blitzed baby portions, always have a few little pots in the freezer for those OMG I Can't evenings.

You definitely cant be making 3 dinners every evening, so don't put that pressure on yourself

7Days Fri 16-Oct-20 19:38:36

That should be soy not soup.

That reminds me though. Mash and soup is a kiddie favourite at my sis's , and full of whatever veg works.

edin16 Fri 16-Oct-20 19:41:17

This sounds like a struggle, I find it hard coming up with stuff to eat every night with no dietary requirements to follow!
Off the top of my head I can think of...
Burger night (this is one of our favourites)- freezer burgers that suit each of you, rolls that can suit each of you and the rest of the packet can go in the freezer. Then you can mix up the sides (salads, onion rings, sweet potato wedges, chips). For the baby they could get one of the burgers cut into strips, some cucumber, tomatoes ect.
Stir fry - get the ready made sauce and noodles (You can probably get them allergy free), one or the ready made stir fry veg mixes, and add some more veg (grated courgette, peppers, carrots, mini corn). Again your little one could have some of the veggies, and maybe mash up some of the noodles a little bit.

Picky tea - a pizza, some nachos, lots of cut up veggies and humous, and basically anything from the 'party snack' bit of the freezer section in the shop.

I'd recommend you get some of the pre cut ingredients from the supermarket freezer section (onions, peppers ect).

Hyggemama Fri 16-Oct-20 19:48:00

Hi we are a vegan family with a 4 yr old and 1yr old.
Firstly, your 8 month olds baby doesn't need mushy food. That was just propaganda from baby food companies. They can eat whatever you're eating unless its something like steak.
Okay onto recipes, we normally make something that would normally be meat based but substitute meat with dried soy TVP mince that you just soak beforehand, tofu, lentils or beans (from a can so much easier than cooking)
Each week we'd probably have:
cottage pie
veg curry and rice
Pasta and bolognese
Tofu Stir fry and rice
Mash potato and bean chilli
Sweet pot chips, vegan burger and salad
Beans on toast - always at least once a week when we can't be bothered to cook anything.
I have this as a menu in my mind but generally only cook a few items from it but double quantities so I'm not cooking the following day.
HTH

Fivemoreminutes1 Fri 16-Oct-20 20:02:28

Vegan satay curry www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/satay-sweet-potato-curry
Lentil ragu www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/lentil-ragu served with jacket potatoes.
Tofu rice noodle stir fry with GF soy sauce www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/edamame_and_tofu_97832
Tofu fried rice www.gousto.co.uk/cookbook/vegan-recipes/10-min-scrambled-tofu-fried-rice
Chickpea tagine and Gf couscous
Shepherd’s pie realfood.tesco.com/recipes/vegan-shepherds-pie.html

jomaIone Fri 16-Oct-20 20:23:23

Can you just have a weekly menu, Monday - Friday so you have the same 5 meals during the week, every week to make it easier? Weekends be a bit more free. I hate planning meals so have like a 'category' per day.
Sunday - roast chicken
Monday - leftover chicken meal
Tuesday - something with potatoes
Wednesday - pasta
Thursday - veggie
Friday - freezer tea or takeaway
Saturday - wild card

Makes it a bit easier!

Bingbongbinglybong Fri 16-Oct-20 20:29:29

That's incredibly difficult. Blimey.

You probably need to kit yourself out with some good chopping knives, a sieve, a colander, a wok or saute pan with lid, a chopping board, a few saucepans, a large baking tray and an oven proof dish. Also a few flexible silicone rubber spatulas for scraping and a wooden slotted stirring spoon or slice/turner.

Try roast red peppers stuffed with quinoa, sweetcorn, black beans etc (lots of recipes online), roasted jacket sweet potato with various toppings.

You can get a good Vegan mayonnaise and make tuna mayo, or put it in a coleslaw.

Vegetable soups are always a hit in my house and the baby would like them.

giantangryrooster Fri 16-Oct-20 20:53:33

You say your dh is a great cook, he must have cracked the code. Why not ask him for the recipes he uses?

Sausagedog1 Sat 17-Oct-20 08:18:44

@giantangryrooster he used to often make one meal for me one for him and one for our son , partly because he and I like different things anyway and we had the luxury of time. This was before the baby was eating.
It was always haphazard and disorganised but he didn't care as he is like that and enjoys cooking. He didn't really use measurements just throws things in.
Anyhow I can't function like that so thanks for all the tips and ideas. I'm going to try some of these recipes and ideas. I'm a terrible planner so this is going to take some work.
I'm also a really awful cook, complete novice as I've never done it which makes it overwhelming.
I realise I definitely need a set meal plan for the week.
Certain things are frustrating like mash veg and sausages works but the gluten free sausages he likes contain mushroom so I can't eat them and the ones I have contain wheat, so end up needing two lots and often won't have them both in etc.
I think my best bet generally is rice tofu and veg based food that can be thrown in one pan, and things like chilli and pasta and bolognaise, lentil or bean based and make loads of it.
We are having a chat about it today as I got really upset yesterday when my son was complaining of being hungry but I didn't have anything ready and the baby was crying non stop as so tired. Thanks so much for all the advice.

OP’s posts: |
Weepingwillows12 Sat 17-Oct-20 08:31:33

You aren't a terrible cook, you are a beginner! Stop being hard on yourself. I would find some recipes that you think tick all the boxes then make batches of these (often recipes are 4 to 6 people so stick with that). When its cooked divide it up (adults =1 each, kids maybe half a portion depending on appetite). Freeze what is left for another day. If you do a load of cooking at the start then after a bit you only need to cook a few times a week and eat frozen the rest. Then think about some quick go to meals like jacket potatoes with various toppings or vegan burgers in the oven or perhaps gf quiche and chips. Make a list. When it feels overwhelming just cook from the list.

burglarbettybaby Sat 17-Oct-20 08:52:05

This is really tough.
Stir fry veg and rice or veg fajitas
Pasta pesto (cook a chicken breast for dh)
Salmon veg new potatoes
I would also buy some pre packed meals but serve with veg and potatoes to bulk them out

7Days Sat 17-Oct-20 08:52:38

So maybe;
Mon - rice, tofu, veg
Tues - bean chilli
Wed - bolognese type pasta
Thurs - fish fingers, chips and peas.

That's 4 days without having to think any more.

Maybe you could do some research today about veggie type burgers/grills/ sausages that would suit all of you. Even if you get one brand that works, that can be a staple for another evening.

So then you have Fri,
Veggie burger (say) mash and broccoli.

And definitely freeze extra of the chili etc for the kids then you and DP could get a takeaway on the odd evening.

It might make sense to learn a bread recipe that suits everyone, cheaper than buying it, and it's such a staple with soup or for lunches. Would take a bit of research though. But once you've got the hang of it it will slot into your routine and make things easier, specially as the kids get older.

ChateauMargaux Sat 17-Oct-20 09:21:54

That sounds tough, specially when you describe your son being hungry and the baby crying. I have three children and complex dietary needs so I get it!! We are gluten and dairy free but not vegi and eat eggs so can't give you my full list!

We don't eat beans or lentils but you can make bean or lentil soups and stews. I used to look up recipes then pare them down so they were simple but still tasty.

Puy lentils, carrots, onion, garlic and some herbs works.
Red lentils with a little garram masala and fried onions.
Roasted chick peas are a great snack and get your foodie husband to work out a simple aquafaba recipe to make omelettes with the chickpea water. There are loads on line but all seem to need extra ingredients so I wouldn't want to be the one trying those out! I am too scarred by years of tears trying out recipes with strange ingredients that result in inedible food to suggest that for you.

I got a tip from Lucy Burney link at the bottom and I always cut up some vegetables for the children to eat while I am preparing meals.

And if anyone is hungry.. there is always a packet of rice noodles, gluten free low salt stock cube or herbamare and as my son used to say.. scraps of meat (tofu, salmon, prawns) and I use the vegetable peeler to put a few slices if carrot and courgette in with the water. Healthy instant noodles.
Keep loads of rice cakes in the house, staves off any hungry person!

Easy meals:
Rice and salmon, with time this can get better with a few carefully chosen herbs and spices.
Roasted vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, courgettes, peppers, carrots)
Jacket potato with vegan cheese, coleslaw / tuna made with egg free mayonnaise
Pasta vegan pesto and courgettes with rocket or spinach.
We eat a lot of rice, I buy it in bulk 5kg. We mix it up by buying rice wraps and sushi wraps but my kids are older so this is something they can get involved in.

I have also found myself making several meals but I really try to limit this as it's just too hard. We eventually found a suitable sausage that fitted everyone's needs for example.. but being wheat free and vegi is quite an ask.

For breakfast, do porridge so they are not so hungry at lunch time.

I have lost count of the times I have written a list of meals we can have and stuck it up on the wall. Even if your husband doesn't have time to help cook, he can help with the brain storming, list writing and help to get things organised.

www.amazon.co.uk/Optimum-Nutrition-Babies-Young-Children/dp/0749926228/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=lucy+burney&tag=mumsnetforu03-21&qid=1594390096&sr=8-1

ogbbyfrog Sat 17-Oct-20 14:42:28

Sorry this sounds tough. There is a really good recipe my mum has for a lentil ragu. Really tasty makes loads and you can top with potato the next day for a veggie shepherds pie. Would also be nice served with rice could top with cheese etc. so a big batch of that would cover at least two days and you could freeze some.

https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/puy-lentil-bolognese-with-pasta

violetbunny Sat 17-Oct-20 17:36:16

Do you have a freezer? I your example with the sausages it might make things easier if you could easily keep both kinds in, frozen.

PineappleUpsideDownCake Sat 17-Oct-20 17:37:50

Following

FallonCarringtonWannabe Sat 17-Oct-20 17:39:45

What meals did your dh do? My dh does the cooking. Im veggie, he is mostly. The kids are just bloody fussy. I joined lots of vegetarian and vegan fb pages. Look at bosh.

Feefifo9 Sat 17-Oct-20 18:06:28

Sausagedog1

*@giantangryrooster* he used to often make one meal for me one for him and one for our son , partly because he and I like different things anyway and we had the luxury of time. This was before the baby was eating.
It was always haphazard and disorganised but he didn't care as he is like that and enjoys cooking. He didn't really use measurements just throws things in.
Anyhow I can't function like that so thanks for all the tips and ideas. I'm going to try some of these recipes and ideas. I'm a terrible planner so this is going to take some work.
I'm also a really awful cook, complete novice as I've never done it which makes it overwhelming.
I realise I definitely need a set meal plan for the week.
Certain things are frustrating like mash veg and sausages works but the gluten free sausages he likes contain mushroom so I can't eat them and the ones I have contain wheat, so end up needing two lots and often won't have them both in etc.
I think my best bet generally is rice tofu and veg based food that can be thrown in one pan, and things like chilli and pasta and bolognaise, lentil or bean based and make loads of it.
We are having a chat about it today as I got really upset yesterday when my son was complaining of being hungry but I didn't have anything ready and the baby was crying non stop as so tired. Thanks so much for all the advice.

Buy both types of sausages, freezer the ones you won't use then defrost them for next week. I used to set alarms for frozen meat on my phone so I would remember to get them out a day before.

CountTessa Sat 17-Oct-20 18:17:42

My easiest finger food option was pasta and bits - little bowls of cheese, tomatoes, sweetcorn, peas , whatever other bits I could find and then the kids could choose what they want. This would work for the baby too! And as it didn't involve mental effort I could just about manage something for me and do

doadeer Sat 17-Oct-20 18:22:11

How about getting a slow cooker and literally throwing in some veg and spices and lentils to make a curry? Or a chilli? It's a pain doing it at 7am then come 5pm you are so relieved! You could even stick some jacket potatoes in the oven this afternoon.

Also roasted veg is delicious you honestly can't go wrong, cut things like peppers, courgette, sweet potato, onion and add cherry tomatoes, lots of olive oil and some fresh herbs. In oven for 20 mins. Serve with a protein.

doadeer Sat 17-Oct-20 18:24:00

I also make torilla pizza a lot. Just get a wrap add tomato paste (a sundried tomato one is nicer) oregano herbs, some veg like spinach, tear up mozerella and put in oven for about 8 mins, serve with salad.

caringcarer Sat 17-Oct-20 18:50:27

Could you not have pizza? Home made veg soup?

WarriorsComeOutToPlayay Sat 17-Oct-20 19:09:35

OP we all have to start somewhere, don’t be so hard on yourself.

I am not veggie or gluten free so forgive any errors below but why not try the following...

You can make lots of variations on one ‘base meal’. So you only really need to know 3 or 4 dishes and then it is just serving it differently to keep it interesting. I would make a big batch of base meal(s), you can freeze some if you like. Good base meals are bean chilli, veg Indian style curry, dal, Thai green curry (supermarket pastes are fine to use), veggie bolognese, cauliflower cheese (with veggie milk and veggie cheese) and then you can serve that base meal as follows:

1. With rice (Ok not with cauliflower cheese but everything else works!)

2. With jacket potatoes

3. Put at the bottom of a pie dish and put any of the following on top and bake: mash (you can cheat with frozen), sweet potato mash, ready rolled pastry (you can buy gluten free and it can be shortcrust, puff or filo), sliced potatoes, aunt bessies frozen roast potatoes, frozen carrot and swede mash, gluten free torn naan bread, sliced Gluten free garlic bread.

4. Wrap in gluten free wraps

5. Wrap in pastry and bake like pasties

Also there is nothing wrong with jacket potatoes and baked beans !!

A book that might be helpful for you as it’s has great flavour combos, minimal washing up and prep are They Cooking Tin’ series, here is a link to the vegan & veggie edition www.amazon.co.uk/Green-Roasting-Tin-Vegetarian-Dinners/dp/1910931896/ref=asc_df_1910931896/?hvlocphy=9045917&linkCode=df0&hvptwo&psc=1&psc=1&hvnetw=g&hvadid=310762441626&hvpone&hvlocint&th=1&hvpos&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl&hvqmt&tag=mumsnetforu03-21&hvtargid=pla-488786546040&hvrand=10770284145307001275

madroid Sat 17-Oct-20 19:34:51

Lentil, almond & apricot curry.
Rinse and simmer red lentils for about 15 mins (put a vege stock cube in the water and some cardamon seeds if you want.
Gently fry a chopped onion, ginger, deseeded chilli pepper and some curry spices like tumeric, cumin, garam masala, black onion seeds etc.
Add in the drained lentils, chopped dried or tinned apricots and some ground almonds. Simmer for about 5 mins and add some coconut milk. It should be a thick paste consistency (simmer to let the water evaporate if it's too watery).
If you can, make it the day before because it's x100 better the second day. Serve with rice and anything else you fancy.
You can make massive quantities in one go and freeze portions.
The kids love it because it's sweet but it's pretty healthy.

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