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I’m running out of ideas/options to make mom, for dinner. I’m spending too much time each day on the web (time I don’t have) searching for different recipes, only to find that I’m getting overwhelmed and frustrated, and no where further with ideas. It’s obvious that I’m burnout but until help arrives, I may have another month or two of this (it’s already been close to a year).


Does anyone use an app or website to plan out their week/monthly meals? The ones I’ve found are too “healthy” for mom. She’d never eat 3/4 of the suggested meals. She’s picky. Meat and potatoes kind of girl. Nothing fancy. No quinoa or kale here lol Just simple. Thanks in advance!

Have you considered meal subscriptions where you/she gets to choose your mom's meals. Plans like Blue Apron will send you weekly the recipes and all the ingredients for the meals. Plans like Freshly will send you already cooked meals weekly which you microwave. These plans have lots of options to choose from.
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If you know anyone at a nursing home or hospital, ask for some menus. Gives you some pretty good ideas that you can doctor up to your own liking. I do a lot of soups for lunches and freeze them in single portions. (Mom not much of a sandwich eater anyway). I'm a once a day eater, however mom still clings to our raising - eats 3 meals a day, every day. All that food is more than I want to deal with, especially planning/cooking.

I keep oatmeal and raisin bran for cereal choice. Fruit - about 3-4 different ones all the time. Whole grain bread for toast. Eggs, Bacon or sausage. Jimmy Dean sausage pancakes. She can pick what she wants from those. Sometimes boiled egg, sometimes chopped green onion/tomato to make an omelet. Every once in a blue moon, fried egg.

On the soups - you can buy a rotisserie cooked chicken and boil it down. It already has seasoning on it. Then just add some veggies or rice or noodles with it. Easy. Leftover chicken soup can be thickened a little to make a couple of pot pies - freeze. For a quick soup, buy a stuffed baked potato - mash it all up and add some milk for a delicious potato soup.

I buy chicken fried frozen chicken tenders. Pull a few out, pop 'em in the toaster oven and fix a nice salad. Dump the chicken on top and add honey mustard. That's a meal!

Anything you cook for yourself - make a little extra and freeze it in individual plastic food trays to be eaten in next couple of weeks. They usually don't hold up well in freezer (unless I use a vacuum sealer).

Lunches can also be cheese, nuts, sliced tomato, crackers, chicken or other meat. Filling and easy.

The menus can spark new ideas that you can add your own twist to.
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Don't count on frozen peas. I'm 80. Won't eat them! ("petit pois", canned, yes!). I'm not the only one, and I live in a retirement community that furnishes meals. But Orzo? Quinoa? No. Stick with the familiar.
Much of taste is regional. Depends a lot on where a person grew up. Northeast? South? Southwest? Ask her what her mother used to fix and look for recipes, the simpler, the better.
We ALL boycott kale, arugula and "mixed" greens with unidentified "stick-like" things! Don't know anybody who doesn't like mashed potatoes and gravy, though! (Preference for "white" or "brown"varies). You can use salt substitute or Ms.Dash.
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MargaretMcKen Oct 29, 2020
I agree that it mostly depends on where you grew up, often on what you got as a child. However I have never before met anyone who couldn't meet the challenge of frozen peas - you've got me there! My daughter eats all the kale-type things, I won't touch them. My grandson eats them too, poor little thing. I reckon it's child abuse.
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Oh wow, I remember serving squash soup to my mom. She was not a happy camper! She would have been happy to have canned soup and white bread for every meal.

Are frozen meals an option? You have to watch the salt and sugar content but it would give your mom a lot of choices. Part of the problem might be her loss of making her own meals. An aunt, who was a great cook, moved in with her son and lost her kitchen privileges after burning a few things. She couldn’t get over the fact that her DIL didn’t cook a big family meal for the 3 of them everyday.
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Imho, even my extremely picky mother liked the simple Birds Eye bagged meals, called "Voila." Also, since elders often do not like things with a high sodium content, you could prepare and freeze chicken soup.
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Scrambled eggs....adding everything possible, top with cheese:

Potatoes
Shredded zucchini
Spinach
Mushrooms
Ground beef or sausage
Bacon bits (from real)
Chopped up Canadian bacon
Chopped bell peppers, yellow, orange, red
Broccoli snipping the tiny tops small, into a seasoning
Parsely and Cilantro, green onions,
Sour cream, or thick plain Greek yogurt, stir in at last minute

Supplement a few meals with a fruit and ice cream and yogurt smoothie.
Add blueberries.
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My vege experience with elderly rellies is that they will all eat peas and sweetcorn, both of which come in easy frozen packets. Tests have regularly found that frozen peas are actually better health-wise than fresh ones (unless you can pick your own immediately before cooking). Bacon and egg is good for simple protein. I halve and microwave potatoes, and then crisp them up in the frying pan – much healthier than chips. Meat, potatoes, frozen peas and carrots was all that my own late FIL and my younger sister’s late FIL would ever eat. Variety was unnecessary. I have also reformed the diet of DH2 and a past ‘looking’ attempt (much to the amazement of their families – he’ll eat GARLIC?), but the fact that it was necessary tells me that there are still a lot of old-fashioned eaters out there. For a spouse, it’s worth the effort. For someone elderly, I go with the flow.
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Frances73 Oct 28, 2020
You make and freeze baked potatoes too. I make big batches of soup and freeze individual portions. You can also make and freeze pasta and sauce in portions.
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I looked up Frito pie and it sounds delicious. I thought it might have Fritos as one of the ingredients. I would like to make it soon.
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Frito pie. You can make it as bland or spicy as you want and it is delicious. Make a big serving dish of it. It keeps well in the frig. Just warm some up when hungry.
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I printed a copy of a weekly menu from an assisted care facility. I figured they had more experience in what elders eat. Because my mom doesn't like to wear her dentures I really can't serve her meat unless its broken down like burger or slow cooked meats. She also started hating veggies (toddler tendencies anyone?). Another thing I tried was letting her chose the shopping for the week by giving her a grocery store flyer. I ended up with a huge amount of food to store and she was still sticking her nose up. Bottom line...she just wants lighter meals. She sits in a chair all day and is not burning calories. Breakfast is the biggest meal of the day so I sneak greens into her omelette and serve some breakfast meats. By suppertime its just yogurt and a bran muffin. I don't like making separate meals for everyone (me, mother, husband). That is want takes up so much time! So I recently ordered some pre-made dinner type meals that will be frozen. It's similar to the meals on wheels program but you pay for it. I'm hoping this gives me a break a few days a week. I can already hear her saying..."that's too much to eat", so I will try to do smaller plate and smaller portion.
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NeedHelpWithMom Oct 28, 2020
My mom eats very little so she prefers smaller potions too.

I’m the same way. I will lose my appetite if I see a giant mound of food on a plate.

You’re smart not to serve a ton of food at once.
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Snowcat,

So many ideas! Honey, you could do an infomercial! Great tips and very time efficient!

I like tortillas too. So much lighter than bread. They are a nice change of pace.
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Snowcat60 Oct 28, 2020
Needhelp,
Hi and thank you for the kind compliments. I love to cook and cooked for my Mom too so I know what it’s like trying to come up with ideas and save time.
‘She too was a picky eater so it was a challenge, which I’m happy to say I won 😋.
Its funny though I bought the Ninja Foodie on a whim and never looked back it’s my favorite appliance.
The pressure cooker is amazing, not like the old school ones which I’ve had blow up on me, lol.
The tortillas are great since I gave up bread, which I adore but adhered immediately to my hips.
Im glad to have helped and enjoyed sharing. Take care and be well.
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First and foremost keep it simple. I love using tortilla’s for just about everything from eggs and hash browns to meatloaf and pizzas. You name you can put it in a tortilla. Roll them, fold them or leave open the possibilities are endless. They even have mini ones and low carb ones, my favorite.
I cook with a Ninja Foodie which pressure cooks, bakes, steams, fries, sautés,broils and air fries.
Find out what your Mom truly enjoys and make it ahead of time and freeze portions. For instance, you could take a nice organic* chuck roast and pressure cook it and make beef tips and egg noodles, BBQ, pot roast and potatoes. Let your imagination go. Pressure cooked baby carrots take 8 minutes and are to die for!
It even makes hard boiled eggs.
Pastas can be made and then frozen for later, make up sauces like pasta meat sauce, chili, Alfredo etc. to go with the pastas then heat and serve.
Cooking with this appliance is fast and so easy! You can make some nice air fried chicken and fries in less than 30 minutes. And clean up is a snap. Just one pot.
Like I said the key is to keep it simple, meals do not need to elaborate or time consuming.
In the Ninja foodie, one of my favorites is taking a nice ribeye steak and cutting it up into small pieces then sautéing in butter or beef tallow and putting it on a soft tortilla with cheese. That’s it! You can add any veggie you like if you desire.
You could pressure cook a nice pork loin and make all kinds of dishes from that to freeze up for later.
Look for organic packed salad greens if your Mom likes salad, have them on hand add what you want, like maybe the pork or steak bites I mentioned above and bam! You’ve got yourself a meal.
Hope this helped? As for me I could not live without my Ninja, it has totally simplified my life with wholesome delicious foods.
Do try to keep things organic and stay away from prepackaged foods as they are loaded with unhealthy garbage and chemicals.
Check out the Ninja Foodie, once you cook with one you’ll never go back to the stove or oven.
Hers another example, for dinner tonight I made hamburgers in a hotdog shape and rolled them in a tortilla with my favorite toppings and cheese. I airfried them in the Ninja for 2 minutes and enjoyed a nice simple dinner in less than 10 minutes.
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Your mom doesn’t like vegetables...I don’t either unless they’re raw. I have been a selective eater since childhood and I’m now 71. I love a spinach salad with shredded carrots, chunks of cauliflower, etc. it’s the odor of cooked vegetables (except potatoes) that I find nauseating. My ear, nose, throat doctor believes selective eaters are actually hypersensitive to textures, odors, etc. Similar to having an allergy. As we age, our taste buds change as well.

if your mom isn’t diabetic, will she eat applesauce? Keep a jar in the fridge, always have peanut butter handy, cottage cheese, cereal, eggs, milk, cream, shredded cheese, cheese sticks, bread, rolls. Suppertime for seniors can be as easy as scrambled eggs with cheese, toast and bacon. And selective eaters will often stick to the same things (with little variety) and be perfectly happy.
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DWinHull Oct 28, 2020
Thanks for this perspective. In my ongoing search to feed my mom I realize I just need to make it simple. Stick with the basic foods she likes --- all the ones you have listed above except raw veg. Cooking homemade applesauce with apples from our outing to an orchard has been a huge favorite. No sugar added for the diabetic -- still very delicious with a touch of cinnamon.
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I use Plan to Eat. You need to populate it but once you do it's very easy meal planning app. And it creates a shopping list.

It goes on sale every Thanksgiving. I re-up on Black Friday every year.

I don't really enjoy meal planning. What I like about Plan to Eat is I can just copy a week from say- July- and cut/paste and it's done.
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Stick to meats she likes: chicken, beef, pork, fish (?), seafood (?)... and add veggies and a carb: potato, rice, bread, pasta. Get creative with sauces you can buy ready made at the store: Alfredo, marinara, garlic and butter, teriyaki, bbq... I try to go for 1/2 plate of steamed or stir-fry veggies or salad, 1/4 plate of meat, and 1/4 plate of carbs. If LO "eats like a bird," make sure she gets the meat and veggies first. Carbs can fill the stomach and don't provide a lot of nutrients other than calories.
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My mom is addicted to some of the healthy choice and lean cuisine frozen meals. They are easy to microwave. Watch the sodium though if your LO has BP issues.
Our Publix has deli soups that are fresh and she loves those plus their chicken tenders.
She loves homemade soup, tuna casserole, meatloaf, shepherd's pie and any kind of a pasta bake.
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Frances73 Oct 28, 2020
Trader Joe's has lots of single portion frozen meal options.
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Someone may have suggested this but consider the menus of the places your mom liked to eat out.
Your version of lasagna may not be the same but it would be something to try. What places did she frequent? Mexican, seafood, Chinese, fast food, Italian, steak house? Make it simple. Visit with her about what she liked at the restaurant. Maybe it was the Mac and cheese. Maybe it was the dinner rolls. Maybe it was getting dressed up to go out. You could have one night a week be restaurant night at home for fun if you have time and interest.
You are sweet to be catering to her. I hope she appreciates you.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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Does she have any old fashioned cookbooks that she used and loved?

I know what you mean about too healthy. Most of us cook healthier for ourselves. They still like the original recipes. Many recipes were from the newspaper or magazines.

You can google vintage recipes.

I would cook in batches and freeze in small portions. My MIL taught me that years ago. She said, “Cook once, eat two or three times.”
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Frances73 Oct 28, 2020
I have my Mom's church cookbook. I swear every recipe starts with "take a stick of butter!"
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Can you give us an idea of what she does enjoy eating?

I make lots of planned overs when cooking. This way we have frozen dinners available for the days I don't have time to cook.

I don't enjoy the same thing for a couple days in a row but, you can skip a couple of days and then serve it again.

Reheating methods are important for the quality of the leftovers, not much reheats in the microwave well. Using steam, toaster oven and the stovetop can make leftovers taste like you just spent hours preparing a meal.
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Mysteryshopper Oct 26, 2020
You're right about reheating methods having varied results. I don't care much for the microwave either. Crock-Pot makes a food warmer that works beautifully on all sorts of different leftovers like making bread soft again, soups heat uniformly, and even heavier things like lasagna will heat all the way through and not burn the tongue around the edges with cold ricotta cheese in the middle. I use mine multiple times a week and leftovers are definitely more appealing this way. It's small and just plugs in to the wall. Easy storage and cleaning.
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Soup and Sandwiches weather. Try grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Fruit (even canned pears/peaches) over cottage cheese, on a slice of romaine lettuce.
Have on hand jello cups and applesauce cups.
Tuna & Noodle Casserole.
Can of salmon (or sardines) over crackers.
Can of Chili over baked potato.
Hard boiled eggs prepared ahead, 3 days worth.
Cinnamon/raisin toast with apple butter. (Strawberry preserves).
Microwave quiche appetizer servings.
Avocado on toast.
Spaghetti

I would say hot dogs with cottage cheese, but unless Knockwurst, very bad for you.
Ice cream in individual cup servings.
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earlybird Oct 25, 2020
I am getting hungry, Sendhelp. The meals and snacks sound so good. I might just make a few of them next week.
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I also make what's called an Impossible Pie with Bisquick, and it's the best way in the world to use leftovers. You can use the base recipe of 2 eggs, 1 c. milk, and 1/2 c. of Bisquick and throw anything else in there you have on hand. A half-hour in the oven at 400° and you're good to go. It's a decent meal, gives you plenty of leftovers, and you can put vegetables in it, meat, cheese -- whatever strikes you that day. That was my go-to to feed my picky kids when they were growing up, and frankly, older people are a lot like little kids. They'd happily eat anything they like every day if given the opportunity.
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Isthisrealyreal Oct 25, 2020
I make this as a hamburger meal and it is always a hit, whether I make a regular cheeseburger, a pattimelt, green chili burger or whatever I have needing used. A side of lettuce and tomato rounds out a nutritious meal.

I just saw where you say she won't eat hamburger unless just a burger, try different things and if nothing else dad will enjoy the frozen leftovers.

Check out everydaycheapskate.com for a homemade bisquick recipe if you don't have any on hand.
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Tuna casserole? Have you asked Mom? What does she like? So often we forget to ask the senior. Ask her what she would like for supper.
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The simplest way to do this is to just cook extras for your own meals and pack them up for her - do you eat a drastically different diet from your mother?

I've just checked your profile and see that you are living with your parents. Might I ask why are you devoting so much time to meal planning? If there are special dietary requirements (diabetes, CKD, coumadin)? They obviously fed themselves before you arrived so I would concentrate on making the kind of meals they always made, tweaked for dietary if necessary.
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Lov3Lif3 Oct 25, 2020
I lived independently for 17 years prior to my move home to care for mom. Unfortunately I eat very different from her, to which why I'm struggling. Before my mother got sick, they used to dine out for every meal. She's now nonambulatory, so life has changed a lot.
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Here's one recipe that I use from this forum:

"I cook grass fed ground beef, add onion, garlic, spinach and maybe another green veg, tomato, mushrooms, sometimes black beans, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and add cooked pasta or can do rice. Place in meal size containers and helpers for Dad only have to heat up one item. Can make with chicken too. I call an all inclusive meal."

I don't know who posted it in the first place, but it's brilliant and works very well. It's fairly simple and can be easily modified according to tastes. I usually double the recipe so I can serve some today, portion some for the next day, and freeze one entire batch. The frozen batch can be thawed overnight and put in the crock pot. Just make the pasta/rice fresh each time. In fact, my group has passed on the rice altogether and it's fine without it.

I have never used an app for cooking/planning. By the time I figured out how to use it, we would all be VERY hungry. I write my menu ideas on the back of my shopping list and it all seems to work.

Like earlybird said, I pick 4-5 meals for the week - I really don't plan a full 7 days. I know there will be leftovers in between and/or a night where we might just want cereal or something.
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Lov3Lif3 Oct 25, 2020
This sounds great for me ; ) Mom has to have something different every night or she'll turn her nose up to it. You'll pray for me when I tell you she doesn't eat beans, not a fan of ground beef, unless it's a hamburger and it can only be fresh ground beef lol and she said she never wants to see chicken again after the rehab facilities (though if breaded I've been able to sneak it in). ☺️
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I pick 4-5 meals per week. I make foods my mother is familiar with and likes. I need to puree my moms food so I make extra and freeze them. It makes such a difference especially when she has appointments. I bought some nice freezer containers to put her food in. Baked haddock, mashed potatoes, peas/ carrots, Salmon, sweet potatoes, beets, pasta with veggie meatballs, fresh homemade soup. All the above freeze well, just put them in a microwave. You can replace the seafood with meat. Home delivered meals might be a good option. I hired a personal chef for a few months to assist with pureed foods for my mom and got lots of ideas. Food Network. Taste of Home might be a good choice for ideas. Good luck.
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Lov3Lif3 Oct 25, 2020
Taste of Home ~ great idea. I just need the ideas and will save them and plan them out. I'm in a fog with being 'innovative' lol I'll also look into Home Delivered meals and price it out. Thank you!
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Think of it this way.
1. 1 protein
2. 1 starch
3. 1 veg

Make a list of the things she will eat in each category (rice, mashed potatos, peas, string beans, carrots, chicken thighs, strip steak, salmon, turkey burgers etc.

Write these out on index cards in 3 piles. Pick one from each pile and cook!
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Lov3Lif3 Oct 25, 2020
This is a good idea! Sadly she doesn't eat vegetables but this is still a great and creative idea. Not only is it useful, she can participate and help in the process. Thanks!
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I think as we age we like meals that are familiar to us from our childhood or younger years. Many nursing homes and ALFs have these kinds of menus I think. Maybe see if you can find menus posted by such facilities to get some ideas. When my husband was in a rehab place last year, we were struck by how "old fashioned" the menus were. Food was not bad, and my husband was happy enough with having a lot of meals from the 1940s-50s! Maybe ask your mom for a list of her preferred meals and foods and go from there. Maybe she had a favorite cookbook or kept recipes.
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Lov3Lif3 Oct 25, 2020
Yes!!! I could kick myself because I took the menus from CareOne for appx a month and have no clue where I put them. They're simple, plain and kept her satisfied. I'm sure I can simply Google nursing home menus. Thank you!
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