RE: Convenience Food?
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 8:04 AM
Hello, My family and I started our vegan lifestyle in January with the kick start. We've been doing great and are loving it! I spent the last couple of months researching and trying out recipes, and to be honest I've been quite consumed with the task. It wasn't too big a deal for most of that time because I was a stay-at-home mom, and menu planning, shopping and cooking were my main job other than taking care of the kiddos. Now though, I have started working outside the home in addition to my already busy volunteer schedule and such. I find that I am too exhausted to plan, shop & cook after going all day. Do you have any ideas for satisfying meals that I can whip up in a flash or that require little prep time? (In my former life I suppose I would have just eaten out or fixed a convenience packaged dinner.) By the way, I have a picky 4 year old that doesn't like anything with beans! Suggestions please?
Cook once, eat twice... For example, make a big pot of brown rice, serve half with stir fry veggies one day then mix with lentils or quinoa (they cook fairly quickly) and different veggies. Make a pot of soup on the weekend and pull that out to reheat. Make mix'match dishes - keep the beans separate so that any who choose them can have them and others not. Works for Italian, Tex-Mex, Asian, etc. Oh, also, what kinds of beans are you working with? Pintos, black beans, white beans, chickpeas are all very different flavors and textures. Likewise, canned beans are much different than cooked from dry. And, no, dry beans aren't a whole lot of extra work once you get the process down - and it's really easy if you invest in a pressure cooker. We'll soak a pound of beans overnight then pressure cook them the next day - take minutes to cook that way - then store in portioned containers in the fridge so they're ready any time quickly, to just reheat and/or mix in. Before the pressure cooker, we'd just set aside time to be able to supervise as needed (start the beans cooking on a back burner while starting dinner then they're ready to pack up before bed, for example).
Also, I'd consider what someone else said and re-evaluate where/how you are spending your time - adding working back into the rest of things (volunteering, family, etc) changes a lot of things, maybe the volunteering hours are due for a change.
And, when in doubt, make pancakes for dinner! We do whole wheat+buckwheat pancakes about two or three times per month for dinner. They can easily be made vegan and we put out a topping buffet of sorts - real maple syrup (made by someone we know locally), agave, local honey, cinnamon, pecans, nut butters, jams and jellies, cinnamon, apple butter, Nutella-type spread, applesauce (hubby like PB and applesauce mixed), fresh fruit in season (like strawberries and blueberries - we don't mix them into the cakes for those who might prefer not having them that day), etc.
We deliberately plan one 'leftover buffet' into the week each week and just eat up whatever we can find - bits of leftover chili or soup mixed with leftover rice or pasta, for example. That's for those no time or energy for cooking days.