September 10, 2017 at 7:07 pm #60219
I am wondering how people organize their cooking schedules with ADHD.
Do you have a fixed schedule? Or can you see recipes just from watching the ingredients in the fridge?
Do you use cooking books or have cooking notes organized by ingredients?
I was thinking to make a themed schedule like every monday pasta, every tuesday… .
How do you know what to cook?
September 10, 2017 at 10:00 pm #60225
I usually just look in the fridge/freezer to find something in the afternoon. If I can’t find anything I either go to the store for something easy (read Stouffer’s lasagna or similar). If not that we eat out. I plan nothing, but I should.
September 22, 2017 at 7:17 am #62107
When I was younger, I had the same problem. I knew we had to have meats, veggies, and starches…. when my children were very young I kept it very simple. Back then we used to even eat boxed mashed potatoes. As they got older, having enough money for food when all the food is easy, got complicated. At that point I discovered that buying refrigerated foods meant things constantly went bad before they were eaten, because I forgot they were in there and had tunnel vision when I opened the fridge. I went to freezer foods, but by then I was already refusing to eat vegetables that weren’t frozen or fresh, and we had to buy frozen or they went bad if it was a busy week. Then I tried a menu…for months I made everything from books, prepared specific meals. BUT during the week, I would forget what day it was… mostly my knowledge of days was based on if it was school or work that day. So, the only day I always knew was Friday and Monday and whichever day of the week I had off of work (I won’t lie, at least a few times my husband had to say… “You don’t work today” and there were days that I got up on Saturday and tried to send the children to school).
So, then I started using recipes to use things up in the house. That wasn’t too successful, but improved my knowledge of cooking extremely.
Then I tried teaching my children to cook…. that was seriously not organized but I did manage to get one interested in cooking, two can make boxed foods, and one pretty much only eats fast food. Mine are all adults now.
At some point in their teen years the cost of food became far too high for what was available in the budget/assistance/etc.
Then I learned to make bread, I tried making pasta (I don’t like making pasta), I made quick breads and desserts regularly… but I don’t like making cookies, they are time consuming.
From there, the shopping part of eating got easier. I would pick meats on sale — in the end I discovered what meats were typically cheaper and where, which meant I didn’t have to remember to check the adds. I also learned to cook everything up and freeze it. Then, I have meals that are easy to remember…. Here is my cheat sheet.
Every month I buy at least five pounds of chicken breasts (they go for everything), 10 pounds of hamburger, a box of eggs, and one other meat – pork usually, sometimes a roast. IF there is spare money I buy salmon, I love salmon. When I get home I boil the chicken, fry the hamburger, and bake the pork. I divide it all into meals and freeze it. If I buy salmon I don’t cook it or any other fish ahead of time. At the beginning of the month I check for flour, quick oats, baking powder, sugar, and stuff like peanut butter or chocolate chips or nuts in the cupboard. Anything low gets stocked up on. I buy a big bag of cheese (usually mozarella), a big thing of sliced cheese, a bag of rice (if we are out), 10 to 15 lbs of pasta (if we are out), parmesan cheese (if we are out) and two cans of spaghetti sauce (we have a Gordon Foods here, so this stuff is all bulk, and if there are adult children in the house that need food, it is easy for me to have food for them – sometimes some of my children don’t make enough money or have bad times during bad seasons).
Then I randomly buy different big bags of vegetables for the freezer, the cheapest is always the mixed veggies or peas or carrots. I randomly buy things like tuna, jelly, etc.
Bread seems like a pain in the neck, but if you have a mixer with a bread hook you don’t have to knead the dough, a bag of yeast lasts some time.
Then it is easy, there is plenty to choice from, there is a little Save-a-lot near my house. If I want to make pizza, I just grab some pepperoni, or make it with hamburger, or chicken. I can make bread every day, or not. I can grab fruits when out for other reasons, and we can buy quick foods (fast food is rare, but swinging buy and grabbing a bag of frozen french fries and chicken strips is sadly not uncommon). Rice takes like 20 minutes in the microwave, it’s a forget me food (and trust me, I forgot stuff a LOT). Running out of veggies is a quick stop to the nearby store or run in between other errands. Trust me, a stocked cupboard makes life easier. Everything this way is a “casserole” it’s toss whatever you want into a bowl and stir. Especially with the rice. Even pasta though, if you buy other noodles than just spaghetti. Make it and toss in whatever you feel like that day. Or in some cases, whatever is left. 🙂
IF this stuff isn’t easier, and you can afford the cost, I have a friend who wanted to solve the kids not eating what she cooked, and wanted to stop cooking. She would find can deals and stock up on everything from canned pasta through soups…. she was so frustrated with her children she didn’t cook anymore, at all. Her cupboards are FILLED with canned and boxed foods…. everything, Ramen, mac and cheese, etc. She rarely buys food for meals unless she intends that day as a family get-together.
Personally, I never found that weekly menus worked, or planning meals weekly/monthly. I found this system worked best for me and still kept costs down. The down side is that we rely heavily on carbs because they are cheap. I do have a garden now, so we do get to substitute during the summer months, but I rarely manage to grow enough to make it through winter with it. Also, a lot of people don’t like to make bread…. I will be starting my sour dough again here soon, which I do buy taking it out every day, dividing it in half, mixing each with new, and putting one half back in the fridge. So, for many days, to keep my sour dough growing, I will make at least something with bread every day.
September 11, 2017 at 3:18 am #60231
I feel that’s amazing.
If I open the fridge and freezer I see boxes, but can’t put things together to make a recipe.
At least few times per week I get scolded that things got rotten and it is a waste of money.
Do you have any advice how to improve this lack of inside?
September 11, 2017 at 11:41 pm #60399
Plan your meals WEEKLY around what’s in the fridge first.
Even so, if I don’t point people at the right food, it all rots. It’s like my family loses 50 IQ points upon opening the fridge.
Plan, make lists, shop from list, point family at correct food, win!
- This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by gentlygenli.
September 11, 2017 at 10:36 am #60241
Terry Matlen’s book, The Queen of Distraction, offers so many strategies in this area.
Here are more tips to end dinner stress:
I just discovered the app “Meal Time” — I choose from the recipes to make a plan for the week and it creates the grocery list instantaneously! Took me less than 15 minutes to have a meal plan and grocery list for the entire week.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
September 11, 2017 at 11:39 pm #60397
I would never cook if I had to make the same things all the time! It’s easiest for me to cook multiple meals 2-3 days a week. I cook from books, usually. I have fast books and slow ones, depending on my stress and business.
But my system doesn’t matter. You need one that works for you and, hopefully, also makes you happy. Whatever it is!
What I recommend for everyone is to plan your meals, looking at perishable ingredients you already have first, and make a list and shop weekly from that list. The rest is details.
- This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by gentlygenli.
September 21, 2017 at 4:45 pm #62039
When I was working full-time with 2 toddlers, I was desperate to get organized for meals. I ended up walking my grocery store aisles from one end to the other (I like to finish with the produce), and then typed up a list of the weekly items we bought and liked, as well as more generic items like: Meat; Fruit and Veggies, etc. with items on the list in the order of the aisles. This allows me to pass down each aisle once! Save the list and print off 10 copies at a time. Every Sunday – our shopping day – I go through what is in the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what I have to use. Then I make a list of meals based on our schedule for the week. (The list of meals has fluctuated, based on my kids taste and my energy level. I have made lists in past years to reference when I am not coming up with ideas.) Finish up the grocery list based on your list of meals, and lunches for the kids, etc. And hand off to my spouse! I hope you have a supportive partner who is willing to do the shopping once you are finished. Typically by this time my focus is all used up!
September 21, 2017 at 5:16 pm #62047
My husband came up with this idea and I live by it. It requires an investment of about an hour or so a month but then it saves alot of planning and indecision on a daily basis. I peruse my cookbooks for recipes i would like to make, then create a list with the cookbook title, page number, and a categorized list of the ingredients. (Meat, veggies, starches etc. So it’s easier to make a grocery list afterwards). Putting it in a spreadsheet form helps
Then i make a master list of the ingredients i need for that month, and that becomes my grocery list (you will have to buy the perishables as needed but otherwise you can stock up for the month) That way no decision making or wondering if you have the ingredients to make something. Just pick something from the list and you know you have the ingredients on hand. It sounds overwhelming/complicated at first but it really works for me. May not work as well if you have cupboard scavengers who eat up your ingredients without noting that they are set aside though. The other advantage to this is you can go for the big shop in one big hyperfocus binge, and then you don’t have to go back except for small less overwhelming shops after that.
September 21, 2017 at 8:40 pm #62062
I cook the same 4-5 meals over and over again. I rarely make something new, even if I’m totally bored and fed up with my current line up. I have cook books, but don’t ever use them, too many new ingredients and steps to follow. I get over whelmed. My dinners are very simple and lacking in flair. And there’s just the main and a side which is usually the steam bag of broccoli, green beans, or some kind of oven potato. Crock pots are great though. You just toss everything in, and let it cook for 6-8 hours and then eat it. My meals are usually: Chili, oven backed chicken leg quarters, tacos, spaghetti and a meat sauce or Italian sausage, stew I make in the crock pot, pulled pork shoulder which is another crock pot item, chicken fajitas, and sometimes tilapia or sway in a frying pan. I just got a gas grill this summer and that makes cooking a lot more fun. I prep cook a batch of chicken breasts for my salads. My husband doesn’t care what I make or that I make anything at all, and sometimes he cooks. I think it helps if the people in your life on the receiving end of the meal help out or understand your difficulties.
September 22, 2017 at 6:33 am #62106
This post could have been written by me (down to getting a gas grill this summer!) I have a list posted in my cupboard of the 8-9 meals that my family likes to eat. I do my grocery shopping online, so I look through my cupboards to see what I need to make those meals over the next 2 weeks (i.e. fish taco bowls usually need cilantro). It makes life easier to know I have all the ingredients I need and I can make it without too much fuss. I have four kids who are all pretty picky, and we don’t have much time on our weeknights, so I don’t get overly creative right now. GL!
September 21, 2017 at 11:32 pm #62081
I was thinking to make every day a theme day.
Mo: pasta/Italian tu: European We: Japanese th: pizza Fr: left-overs Sat:oven Su:vegetarian
And with each team to connect 4-5 recipes. This way I hope to create a rotation that that would come back once a month or so.
But my wife says I should stop planning and just cook from what is available because I always plan but never do something.
Also she often scolds me that ‘again’ food got rotten and wasted. Another negative-feedback I receive is with a schedule like that there is no room for seasonable foods creating the need to buy expensive out of season foods.
And because we live in a small house with a very small freezer, preparing in advance is not really an option.
(From next year we will have a small biodigester for biogas, I hope that would make better use of my failures so wasted ingredients wouldn’t be just thrown away 🙁 )
September 21, 2017 at 11:36 pm #62083
How many people do you have to cook for? Are there any picky eaters?
What’s going to work best for you is what’s easiest for you to do.
I like cooking 2 nights a week. The other five I resent it, so I try to make it as easy as I can.
I double or triple recipes so I don’t have to cook every night. Frozen vegetables are quick and easy to prepare, especially in a microwave. Broccoli is really easy to prepare compared to green beans or other more complicated vegetables (and if you smother it in butter most people will eat it). Quinoa cooks twice as fast as rice and is a great substitute. Chicken breasts microwave very easily and are often more moist than cooked on the stove.
Tomatoes are in season here right now. Yesterday I made scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions. Today I made gazpacho in a blender and quadrupled the recipe. Some I froze for the winter, some I put in the fridge for tomorrow, and I cooked chicken thighs in what was left.
A big pot of spaghetti sauce makes spaghetti, lasagna, tacos, and sloppy joes. I make a lot and freeze the extra in jars for spaghetti or tacos when I don’t have time to cook.
I make sure that I always have my staples on hand (e.g. herbs, canned beans, frozen vegetables, pasta, rice, soup stock, eggs, tinned fish) because I hate not having what I need and having to go to the store for it. And when I’m desperate, pasta and canned tuna with some frozen veg is easy and hits the necessary food groups.
I also look for recipes to make sure they’re easy to prepare and don’t need too many ingredients. I have a handful I know I can do without thinking about it.
The other day I realized that I felt comfortable playing around with my co0king because I’d put in my ten thousand hours. (Yikes!) Keep at it, and do what you enjoy eating. It may never be fun but it will be easier.
September 21, 2017 at 11:47 pm #62084
I just read what you posted while I was writing.
Why do you want to have theme days? Because you like the idea or a schedule, or because you don’t know what to make? Will it make the decision easier for you, or will it set a bar so high it will be hard to reach? Someone did some research and found that most American households have only 5 different dinners and they make these over and over. What you’re proposing is far more than most people do who do a lot of cooking.
If you don’t have enough freezer space to freeze things like spaghetti sauce, make enough for two days and use it one day and then two days later so you don’t get bored. For example, make chicken breasts one night, and serve the leftover chicken the next day with pasta or as a salad with chicken and mango.
Instead of a schedule, I’d suggest finding five recipes with five or less ingredients. Once you can make them without thinking about it, you’ll feel like you can play around with them when you get bored with the meal, change the vegetables to something seasonal, switch the meat with another or maybe fish, change the rice to pasta or quinoa. Soon you’ll be creating your own dishes.
Learn to walk before you decide to fly.
- This reply was modified 9 months ago by ariadne.
September 22, 2017 at 1:09 am #62090
I have a shopping list, with little check boxes of all the items I use in my home. Cooking, cleaning, restroom items, medications (Panadol etc). Once a week I will go through my house, check off everything I need and that’s my shopping list.
For cooking, I use a six week calendar. Every day of the week had a specific theme: Monday – Eggs, Tuesday – Macaroni & Cheese, Wednesday – Indian/Curry type, Thursday – Steak Night, Friday – Pizza, Saturday – Slow Cooker, Sunday – Asian.
On my calendar, I have a specific dish listed every day based on my themes. I did six weeks to keep us from getting bored. I never buy anything not on my grocery list and I never vary from my schedule. I have a book I put together with the recipes I use so I never lose them.
I am the envy of other working mum’s – but they don’t understand that if I don’t do this, I don’t have the brain power to even get dinner on the table. Really. The time I spent doing all this, putting it together, totally worth it. My kid is on meds as well as a monitored diet so the effort really has been worth it.
September 22, 2017 at 7:43 am #62109
The Instant Pot has been a lifesaver (and timesaver) for me. Even if I don’t plan enough in advance, I can still cook a nice meal quickly. I have cooked frozen chicken tenders and pork tenderloin that turned out quite well. A lot of times I cook a whole chicken and debone it so I can use it for two or three different meals. In the half hour that the chicken is cooking, I am soaking my rice. Once the chicken is done and cooling, I strain my stock and then cook the rice in the same pot using some of the strained stock as the liquid. It’s easy and fast. Then I might make a casserole the next night and chicken salad to have for lunch the next day. I shop Aldi and Publix and use the apps to sort of make a plan for meals based on sales. I’ve even started using digital and printed coupons at Publix. I only spend 10-15 minutes selecting or printing coupons for things we use. But I have saved a lot of money with little investment. Plus it forces me to at least plan our meals a little. Long, babbling story to say instant pot is awesome and easy. Oh! Plus I found a site to help me use up leftovers by entering up to 3 ingredients and then it gives you recipe ideas. https://www.bigoven.com/recipes/leftover
September 22, 2017 at 9:49 am #62123
Ugh, chores like dinner feel so darn tedious. I have been struggling with this too, but I feel I have finally found a routine that works for dinner. Crockpot freezer/dump dinners. I use Pinterest to find the recipes. On Sunday I go pick up all the ingredients for the week and prepare everything for each recipe into gallon freezer bags. Food prep seems to go quickly this way. All the freezer bags of prepared ingredients go into the freezer, put the one you plan to eat tomorrow in the fridge to thaw. Each morning I just pull out the baggie and dump it into the crockpot, 6 hours later and tada, dinner is ready! When I get tired of the crockpot I can do similar with “one skillet” meals. Right now I’m still testing recipes, but after I find the ones I like, I plan to increase meal prep to have the entire months worth done in one day rather than week by week. Also there is an added bonus to this method – less dishes! When you are only food prepping on one day out of the week/month and using one crockpot to cook on all the others it has made the monster chore of dish washing manageable.
September 22, 2017 at 11:41 am #62142
Wow, my post is not of any help, but just wanted to say that all of the posts are great. I could never do something like that. I don’t trust myself to do any cooking stovetop-wise because I’ve almost started fires every time. Unless it’s eggs and you have to stand with it constantly, I can’t cook. And about half the time I forget to turn the burner or the oven off. I’ve even started the oven with the stored pans still in it. Also, I cook for 1, and cannot find anything that I can make that is feasible, even with the freezing of the leftovers. I go real simple, salads a lot, Lean Cuisine, frozen or fresh veggies, fruits, protein shakes (I don’t care for meat at all, although I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian). It was inspiring reading all your posts, so thank you!
September 22, 2017 at 12:03 pm #62149
Consider the meal kit delivery services, I use http://www.blueapron.com. You hop online to choose your recipes for the upcoming weeks, and the ingredients arrive neatly packaged with very simple instructions. It eliminates the need to shop, plan, measure, etc., and eliminates waste as you are only shipped enough of each ingredient that is relevant to the recipe. It definitely results in greater menu rotation variety, and the food is delicious. They have 30-minute choices if you want to choose the meals that have the quickest prep times. My teenager enjoys cooking in this manner as well, much less overwhelming.
September 28, 2017 at 5:52 pm #63057
Thank you for the many replies!
I will be cooking for 3: My wife, my 2year old picky-eater daughter and myself.
The theme day idea was mainly to get myself interested to cook because for me it is just a waste of time.
Cooking for 30min-1h and eating in 10-15min doesn’t make the time sense. (Especially because I am trying to start my own company and got a deal with my wife that she works full time and I would be ‘houseman’ while in early morning working on my company)
All of you have had many good idea’s and I will try them out.
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