Low-fat / low-calorie and high-fat / high-calorie food simultaneously
September 2, 2019 12:45 PM   Subscribe

A friend is cooking both for herself (low fat or low calorie; mostly vegetarian though does eat fish and very occasionally meat) and for her mother (medical advice is high fat or high calorie; not vegetarian, though not all meals need to include meat). How can she avoid cooking two completely separate main dishes? For instance, she has thought of making a cottage pie where one side is lentils and the other is mince.
posted by paduasoy to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would recommend making base recipes and then modifying into two variants. For instance - pasta with sauce - make a tomato sauce base, and have spiralized veggies as the “pasta” for herself, with caramelized onion as the flavor driver. For mom, maybe bacon and mince fried up quickly, with real pasta as the pasta.

She’s going to want to get good at meal planning in advance, mise en place, and having template meals in her pocket that can move in different directions.

Another example idea - brown rice with veggies as the big batch meal. for mom, make with a rich Thai peanut sauce, and maybe added protein such as chicken. for herself a light ginger soy sauce and some frozen shrimp she can quickly thaw. Stuff like that.
posted by seemoorglass at 1:02 PM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would consider having a big salad and a heavier cooked dish with every meal and just swapping percentages on the plates. The same would work with a side dish of steamed or roasted veg.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:22 PM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Veggies with / without peanut sauce? Maybe cook tofu and chicken options?
posted by salvia at 1:36 PM on September 2, 2019

I've done this. The way I dealt with it was to follow the Mediterranean template of several simple courses, and then each person gets a different balance of food. So there'd be antipasti, pasta, main, cheese and dessert. This looks overwhelming, I know, but only the pasta and the main needed to be cooked the same day. Everything else could be from the fridge or pantry and it doesn't matter if it's the same over a week.
For antipasti -- a choice between raw veg and charcuterie. Bread on the side, with plenty butter
For pasta -- anything really simple, same for both. Yesterday, I had spaghettini with olive oil, garlic, chili and tons of parsley. The person on a low calorie diet only takes a spoonful. In my fridge for tomorrow are ravioli. Same procedure. Rice dishes are fine, too.
For the main -- a piece of meat or fish, prepared in any way. A green salad as a side. Person needing calories eats a full portion of everything, person cutting down eats only salad, or salad + a one inch square of protein. Some proteins can be repeated during a week, so you only need to buy/cook once. Charcuterie chicken. Salmon, first time hot, second time cold. Etc.
For cheese -- person needing calories has a full choice + fruit, person cutting down sticks with the fruit.
For dessert -- person needing calories has a rich yogurt or ice cream, person cutting down has nothing or a coffee or lingers on with fruit from cheese serving.

I have a wonderful Italian friend who drives the efficiency of this to extremes. I mean, sometimes the not-main dishes are quite boring and icy cold. But the thing is, they are nourishing for those who need and what is really important is the conversation and the care. We all get our vegs and we always get one spectacular dish.

What I've sketched above is based on an Italian template, but you can also look at other European and Asian traditions, where you put a lot of different foods on the table and leave it up to each individual to eat what is good for them. I do that quite often. Again, you only have to cook one or two of the dishes from fresh, the rest can be refrigerator staples. Yesterday, we had butter chicken, rice, broccoli and an Indian salt-pickled cucumber salad. Everyone created their own balance. In this case, the broccoli and the salad were leftovers.
posted by mumimor at 1:45 PM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cream sauce.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:59 PM on September 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

It is pretty easy to add a T of cream or butter or oil to each meal plus two extra high-fat snacks in a day = 500 extra fat calories. Snacks ideas: devilled egg, cheese, avocado/guacamole, dark chocolate. Added fat in a meal - cream to coffee, butter or oil drizzled on bread or over meal or salad.
posted by RoadScholar at 2:33 PM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Chili. Make a big batch of meatless chili using a couple of different kinds of beans. Cook up some meat on the side for mom, if she wants it. Mix meat into mom's portion only. Sides of cheese and sour cream available for mom to add to taste.
posted by Nerdy Spice at 10:27 PM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

tacos / taco salad
posted by oceano at 10:39 PM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

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