I'm having a hard time lately preparing wholesome, nutritious, affordable meals for my family. DH often works late and if I wait for him to help me cook, we end up eating late. Plus, he's so tired by the time he gets home (mandatory overtime at his workplace) that he wants to take the easiest route (not always the healthiest). I'm 20 weeks pregnant with a 14 month old. He's been teething and fussy lately, wanting to be held near constantly. This can make cooking hard. Plus, a few months ago, my 11 1/2 year old DSD moved in with us full time, and it's really changed the afternoon routine in our home. Add to that the fact that I'm beginning to pack for a move in about 3 months (but I need to get most of the packing done within 2 months). I've been feeling overwhelmed in general and have been wasting a lot of money on takeout. I've also been feeding my family processed crap.
I really need ideas for wholesome, healthy vegan meals (some can be vegetarian or with vegetarian options) that are relatively easy to prepare. It's okay if they're not quick as long as they don't take a long time and require a ton of monitoring. For example, I'm fine with a pot of soup simmering for an hour or chili beans for half a day. Things that have multiple steps or require constant monitoring for a long period of time are more difficult. I don't really have a reliable crock pot. Ours works when it wants to. :-( I feel silly because I've been vegetarian, off and on vegan, for 8 years now and feel like I should have this stuff down. The difficulty is that most of the meals I like to prepare are time consuming and/or labor intensive (and some of my favorites aren't affordable enough).
Please offer advice or menu samples. Thanks so much!!
Something that might really help you out is to plan your meals every Sunday night for the whole week. That way, when you are struggling with time or what to make- you can just refer to your schedule. You don't necessarily have to follow it exactly, but it will help when you are feeling lost in the meal preparing department. I have found it significantly lowers going out to eat as well. Your menu plan can be a simple as sandwiches for dinner, as long as you have a plan. And always enjoy leftovers :)
Chili is a great option that is easy, nutritious, and delicious. You can put any bean that you like in-even add some crumbled tofu/tempeh, red peppers, and corn. Add a toasted tortilla and enjoy!
If you make brown rice one day, make enough for a couple of meals. It is an easy thing to fall back on regardless of what style of cuisine.
Some more easy ideas:
scrambled tofu(you literally can make it a mexican style, italian, or asian-depending on what spices/oils you add to it-i like to scramble tofu and eat it like a lettuce wrap with cabbage or romaine),
roasted vegetables(just prepare them and put them in the oven),
veggie burgers with sweet potato fries,
wraps with melted daiya cheese and assorted vegetables,
pasta bakes-literally boiled pasta added with WHATEVER you want, and baked,
cabbage salad with cooked tofu and a soy sauce dressing with sesame oil.
I don't know what you make or your style so this may seem to simple but I hope it helps you. Good luck !! :)
Cinnamon toast, soy yogurt, fruit
Oatmeal with sunflower and hempseeds, dried fruit and brown sugar
Pan fried tofu with toast and sauteed spinach
whole grain toast with nut butter and a serving of fruit
french toast (&fruit)
pancakes (&fruit) - I add hemp and sunflower seeds to the whole grain batter to boost nutrition and satiety
Kid and DH- almost always PBJ and fruit
Me: almost always a big salad with grains and beans in it
Monday - Dinner-shaped dinner night - lentil loaf, baked potatoes, veggies
Tuesday - White bean soup night - (this is an every week meal for us, Tuesday is parkday and so we are starving when we get home - white beans cooked in a crock pot, when I get home I add salt, lemon, garlic, sage and kale to the pot, let sit 10 minutes, serve with bread or polenta)
Wednesday - Taco night
Thursday - Pasta night - WW pasta, lots of seasonal veggies and a bean
Friday - Eastern night - curry (Indian or Thai) or stir fry with rice or quinoa
Saturday - flex night - this week we're having scratch-made BBQ 'ribz' with cherry chipotle BBQ sauce from the freezer, coleslaw and biscuits
Sunday - Veggie burgers and oven fries
Also, watch for sales, you can get a 2 qt crockpot at Target for less than $12, and they are SO worth it. Hot crockpot of beans destined for the dinner table = no excuse for take out. That is why I always make crockpot beans on days when I know I'll be home late.
I try to stick to a loose theme for each night, but have fallen off track due to first trimester exhaustion & reflux, and am just now getting back on track.We aim for: Indian, Mexican, Pasta, Soup, Leftovers, Pizza, and don't plan the 7th night at all, in the summer Soup night becomes BBQ night. That makes it easier to plan. I can do fajitas, chili, baked nachoes or quesadillas & guac for Mexican. I can do crock pot curry veg or chickpeas or both, or stove top/baked curried stuff, cheat & use frozen samosas , or make them from scratch for Indian. Pizza is DH's department, he buys pre-made dough, we all chop veggies, while he gets the doughs set up, then everyone tops their one.Every week, I know I just need to think of one dinner that fits each category. Some are fast & easy, some take more time, and some I can easily prep the day before (like chop all the veggies for the mexican dish AND the pastas dish on the same day). I plan a night for leftovers, so that we remember to eat them up. We're not vegan, so alot of our menu will include cheese/dairy. Our only food restrictions are vegetarian by choice, and DS is allergic to peanuts. I find it much easier to plan this way. I don't have a 'must eat pasta on monday' plan, I just know what my 5 planned meals will be, and grocery shop to fit - I can also easily substitute a meal based on a sale, IE: which soup I make can be whatever veg are on sale, or if the avocados look really dreadful, I'll switch to chili for Mex night. I also always have pierogies in the freezer (I buy them homemade from a friend & freeze them), and have all the ingredients for veggie pot pie on hand all winter. That gives me 2 ready 'back up plans' for when I need them.
We need help in this area too so I am taking notes.
Our new favorite quick meal is peanut butter or sesame (tahini) noodles with broccoli. You can add marinated tofu or use different veggies and have lots of variety with these.
Cheryl, wife to an amazing man, homeschooling SAHM to Gavin 12/03, Rhys 09/06, and Ian Aug 11, 2010.