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Thread: Need help planning a weekly family menu

  1. #1
    Senior Member Shinob1's Avatar
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    Need help planning a weekly family menu

    To provide some context on why I need to create a menu, my mother is very ill and needs to focus on eating a healthy diet. Long story short, she has stage 3 chronic kidney disease, borderline diabetic, and has heart disease. She has many other illnesses, both physical and mental. She’s not a good cook, (doesn’t have the mental faculties honestly), and often will eat boloney sandwiches for a week at a time. And by a sandwich I mean maybe 1 slice of meat and tomato between white bread with some mayo, that’s it. She does like to eat a variety of food, but she is on social security/disability and as such has a very limited budget. About once a week I take her out to eat somewhere or make a nice meal for her on Sunday’s to make sure she’s getting something decent to eat. However now I want to start preparing all of her meals to ensure she is eating healthy.

    The specifics I need help with are:
    • Keeping down costs – budget is going to be about 150$ a month as that’s what she has in food stamps
    • Making sure that the food tastes good after being re-heated
    • Meals have to be healthy, goal is kidney and diabetic friendly
    • Best way to execute the cooking – need to be as efficient as possible
    • Making sure I have enough variety so she’s not bored eating the same thing

    Any tips or suggestions are welcomed and greatly appreciated. However I really am looking to partner with a person or two on this forum on this issue. I would like to work with someone on an on-going basis to continue improving my culinary skills and menu planning. I’m willing to pay someone for lessons over skype, E-mail, etc. If this goes well, my end goal is preparing all of the meals for my mother, wife, and I.

  2. #2

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    Whew! That's a tall order in my opinion! My nutrition class in school I did something similar, cooking for a diabetic who also claimed a milk allergy and seafood allergy. I only had to do one meal per week though! I had actually thought of doing this professionally once as I was approached by a family to do something similar. Idea was to make pre-made, pre-portioned healthy meals that could just be pulled out of the freezer reheated and served for dinner. Basically, fresher healthier TV dinners! In metro area markets I discovered there are already companies that do different versions of this, but nothing remotely close to where I live. I did not have the resources to pursue it.

    I think your stumbling block will be budget.

    I think bento boxes are a perfect approach to what you are trying to do, that was my concept.

    There are countless books and web sites out there that are there teaching how to do exactly what you want to do. Many written my mindless celebrity chefs or "hostesses." We used this book in school and I thought it was pretty good:
    http://www.amazon.com/Good-Taste-Con...aste%22+victor

    -AJ

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    Buying meats, fresh veggies, and dried goods in bulk from sam's club/costco/etc. will help manage costs, but might require you to pre-cook 1+ weeks worth of meals at a time though. Might give you some extra knife time breaking all that down though
    Remember: You're a unique individual...just like everybody else.

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    +1 to AJ's comment about budget being the stumbling block.

    Honestly, in order to get one month's worth of meals for $150, you're going to have to be very selective of what to buy simply based on price. There is almost no way you will be able to say, "I want to buy a, b, c" and just buy those ingredients. You'll be at the whim of what's on sale, seasonal, and likely frozen (e.g. fish, and fruits and vegetables during the winter).

    That being said, I highly recommend going to ethnic grocery stores first to see what their prices are. Here in California, Mexican/Latino/Hispanic/Chinese/Korean markets can be cheaper than buying goods from Costco; fruits and vegetables are almost always cheaper at the Mexican/Latino/Hispanic markets and you're not forced to buy in bulk.

    But, more importantly, I think its critical that you have an understanding of what is required to make food that meets your requirements, especially what makes something "kidney friendly." (Foods and dishes that are diabetic and heart healthy are pretty commonly known.) The type of information and help you're looking for generally comes from nutritionists and doctors, and they're not cheap. You'll also keep your own costs down if you have a strong foundation of what needs to be done before simply asking someone for help. You're also opening yourself up to being scammed if you ask for help blindly. Read a lot first.

    I will just add that one thing that I've also learned from my friends who are or have become diabetic, is that you need to make sure she has the proper medication for this. Diet alone may not be enough.

    Best of luck with this.
    Michael
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  5. #5
    Senior Member Shinob1's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the responses so far. My high level plan is I would do a weekly shopping trip with her and on a Sunday, cook up a weeks worth of meals. So buying in bulk and cooking in bulk is definitely okay with me.

    I agree that the budget will be a major issue. If I have to chip in some money by adding in an extra 50 a month to make due, it wouldn't be the end of the world. However the goal is to be as close as possible to the $150 a month.

    As for the medication, she's on more meds that you can shake a stick at. Recently they have added in medication for the kidney, diabetic, and heart issues. One of the main goals will be to have her not eat processed food, limit salt, and eat a regular amount of meals a day. She loves veggies, fruit, and seafood. So pleasing her will be very easy. The hard part will be being in budget and having enough variety to stick with it.

    Buying in bulk or ethnic groceries, I'll have to look into that. We have Sam's Club, which I think is the same thing as CostCo. I have shopped there before when I was dieting an exercising, but my membership has expired. I'd be willing to renew it if it meant I could stretch a buck for her and obviously I'd benefit from buying in bulk for my meals.

    As for the professional help, I'm going to see about attending some more doctor appointments to fill in the knowledge gaps. I go over her paperwork regularly and will see this weekend if they included information about diet. If not, I'll do some additional research online to get started.

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    In a way, it can't be done, and not to get too soap boxish, but speaking as a Type II Diabetic, all of the foods that are "diabetic approved" are out of your budget. The staples you can afford, rice, potatoes, bread, pasta are all off limits. It is very difficult to eat healthy and not go broke. And I'll stop there before I get worked up.

    -AJ

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    Senior Member Shinob1's Avatar
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    AJ - I appreciate the honesty and candid response. As someone who is diabetic, if you'd be willing to share with me what foods are diabetic friendly offline I'd be very grateful. If in the end I need to spend more money out of my pocket, then that's what I'll have to do. Right now it would be helpful to know what it is that the money needs to go to.

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    The diet basics are not hard but I think not in your budget that's all. If you think you can supplement just. Little bit, that changes the dynamic. When I get home to my computer with. Keyboard I will type up. Few ideas.

    -AJ

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    Senior Member Shinob1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajhuff View Post
    The diet basics are not hard but I think not in your budget that's all. If you think you can supplement just. Little bit, that changes the dynamic. When I get home to my computer with. Keyboard I will type up. Few ideas.

    -AJ
    Sounds good!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajhuff View Post
    In a way, it can't be done, and not to get too soap boxish, but speaking as a Type II Diabetic, all of the foods that are "diabetic approved" are out of your budget. The staples you can afford, rice, potatoes, bread, pasta are all off limits. It is very difficult to eat healthy and not go broke. And I'll stop there before I get worked up.

    -AJ
    AJ,

    What success, if any, have you had using the glycemic index to determine food choice?

    Rick

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