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veg*n meal planning

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hey ladies :-) I love reading the 'what's for dinner' thread to get new ideas and all... but I find the day to day meals posted a little daunting. I'm a single, full time working, mom of three (ages 6, 4, and 2 and a half) and I am having a LOT of trouble with meal planning. So, I look on that thread and everything seems so delicious, but time consuming and expensive jaw2.gif. So... they are awesome ideas, just mostly not for me, lol. Is there anyone who has a handle on vegetarian meal planning for someone with little time/little money. I need cheap and easy! lol . My fall back is always noodles with veggies, or rice salads, etc, sometimes a fritatta. I need some help :-/

 

(we eat eggs and dairy on occassion fyi)

post #2 of 7

I don't know how you even get anything on the table being single with so many little ones. 

 

My first suggestion is to remember that right now you're in survival mode until the kids get bigger. I understand wanting to make better meals, but if you can't figure it out for a few years, don't beat yourself up about it.

 

That said, I use my freezer as a fast food drive-thru. I freeze soups, sauces, and gravies in ice cube trays so that I can just heat up the amount I need. Also, you can freeze cooked pasta on a wax-paper covered cookie sheet then store it in a freezer container. You add a bit of water when you heat it up so it gets soft. You can also freeze rice the same way, though if you microwave it you don't need to add water.

 

So, I'm basically a SAHM to a 3 and 6 year old with a husband that works and does his share of childcare. I have the same issues about making healthy, interesting meals that you do. I'll be curious to see what other folks have to say.

post #3 of 7

Like SundayCrepes, I am a SAHM with only two children (and they are in school)  and a very helpful husband and I struggle to get healthy meals on the table every day redface.gif.    I really do not like cooking so I prefer easy meals (I would rather clean than cook any day!)  I am looking forward to reading the responses.

 

I fall back on tacos/burritos/enchiladas one night most weeks - which in our house are often varying combinations of similar items (beans, veggies, onions, spices, sometimes rice or 'fake meat').  Tomorrow I will make tacos which are really quick on the stove top.  The next day the tacos can go into the children's lunches or I can turn the leftover taco filling into burritos.  We use red cabbage on top of the tacos instead of lettuce - it lasts longer in the fridge and gives a nice crunch.  These are also good meals because they can be made with pantry/freezer items when you do not have time to get to the store or you can get as fresh an elaborate as you want - like making your own tortillas which I rarely do.  (There are times I had nothing fresh except an onion so I used canned beans, jarred salsa, frozen peppers and corn, spices etc.)

 

I used to make a quick lasagna every week but we haven't made it lately.  I just layer the noodles, veggies, sauce and cheeses, cover and bake.  I do not precook my noodles and they turn out fine - it is much easier and faster to throw together.  I use jarred sauce - we like Muir Glen and Eden Foods.  I buy a soft mozzarella and just mix it with the ricotta and eggs so I do not need to take time slicing and layering.  This meal also makes enough for the next day's lunch and can be put together the night prior.

 

We also like 'breakfast for dinner' - usually a fruit smoothie, eggs and hash browns. 

 

I've posted this before, but it is so good and although it looks time consuming, it is really quite easy once you make it one time.  It is good the second day so you could make it on a weekend for the next day.  I tend to make it whenever I see mushrooms on sale.  http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/01/mushroom-bourguignon/


Edited by dbsam - 4/30/12 at 10:46pm
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much!!!!! I love those suggestions...... I never think to freeze things, and that sounds like a great idea..... and that mushroom bourginon sounds sooo good... lol

post #5 of 7

I'm a single mama, too. I am learning how to cook since my husband died because he was a chef and made amazing food. Oh, how I miss his food! My children and I eat a mostly plant based diet. The kids will eat meat and cheese when they go to their grandparents' houses. I basically cook side dishes. Tonight I mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with soy milk, steamed asparagus, sour dough bread, raw veggies, mango, berries, guac and tortilla chips. My meals are usually all over the place but we like the variety. I buy veggies and work with them instead of a big protein. Sometimes I make pizza with fake cheese, or fake taco meat tacos, various pastas. I am not a natural cook! I follow a vegan diet for dietary reasons. I feel better when I eat mostly fruits and veggies. After Ben died, I really tried to teach myself how to cook meat. I just couldn't get the hang of it and it was too expensive to keep screwing up $15 organic chickens!
 

post #6 of 7

A couple of super-easy things I like to make -

 

* Crockpot baked potatoes - wrap dry potatoes in foil & place in crockpot (no water at all), cook on low all day or high 3-4 hrs. - add toppings

 

* Canned beans + tortilla/chips/tostadas (or rice from the rice cooker) + toppings

 

* Soup - prepared broth + noodles + vegetables & seasonings you like

 

* Grilled cheese / quesadillas

 

* Fried egg over rice or noodles

 

* Stir-fry (w/ or w/o tofu) is easy if you have a rice cooker. Two veggies is fine & use stuff that doesn't need to be cut like edamame, snap/snow peas, baby corn, baby carrots.

 

* This red lentil soup: http://www.pinkofperfection.com/2011/03/red-lentil-soup-with-spinach-and-lemon/

 

* Sandwiches!

 

A crock pot and rice cooker are very helpful. Also, when it gets busy, I tend to make one night Mexican, one night pasta, etc. so that it's easier to shop. I try to always have canned tomatoes, pasta, rice and canned beans in the pantry.

 

And when the kids are older, do what my mom did as a single working mom of 3 (who doesn't like cooking to boot) - have the kids take cooking at school so we could make dinners. eat.gif

post #7 of 7

I love my crockpot.  I homeschool my oldest daughter and have a toddler and we are out and about a lot so I use the crockpot often. Also, our budget is super tight.  I like to make soups a lot. I get organic tomatoes for cheap at our local produce shop. Today I got an especially good deal and made lentil soup that should last up a good three days of lunch and dinner. Happily, my family doesn't care if we do repeats.

Tonight I also made--because soup wasn't ready--snobby joes. They cost about four dollars to make and we have left overs for tomorrow.

Another cheap quick recipe is kale with chickpeas. I cook the chick peas overnight in the crockpot and then saute kale with garlic and put the chickpeas over that. My girls love that.

Oatmeal is cheap and easy.

I also always try and have frozen brocoli. I can add it to rice or whatever easily.

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