Friday Tips: A few go-to meals

Sorry about the late posts!  We’ve been working on recovering from both jet-lag and the flu, so these drafts were “in-progress” for a while!

Vegan Goodness:

Today we ate:

  • Breakfast: Toast with butter and a strawberry smoothie
  • Lunch: The rest of the leftover cassoulet
  • Dinner: Bean soup and some masala burgers.  We all needed some soup to fight this fall cold!

Money Matters:
Today we all hunkered down and tried to get some rest and fight the flu.  The upside . . . no money spent!

Friday Tips for Living Vegan and Living Cheap – with kids!:

A few good meals

It’s always good to have a few meals in mind that you can always make with ingredients you have on hand.  Sometimes we don’t make it to the store before our menu for the week runs out.  Sometimes we realize that what we planned to make for dinner is going to take longer than we thought.  Sometimes something unexpected happens (yeah, we have kids) and we have to pull dinner together at the last minute.  When this happens we’re very happy to have our go-to meals!  These are the dinners that we always have the ingredients for.  Some take more planning than others, but all can be made with some basic ingredients we always have in store.  When something goes awry in my planning, or I need to round out our menu these are these are the stand-bys we can always turn to:

Trader Joe’s 17 Bean and Barley Soup: Trader Joe’s has a great soup mix – well, really, a bean mix – that is super easy to prepare.  It does require a bit of planning since the beans need to be soaked ahead of time, but once they are soaked the soup goes together quickly.  The recipe on the back of the bag calls for carrot, celery, bell pepper, canned tomatoes, veggie broth and italian seasoning.  I make it with whatever veggies I have on hand, which can range from simply using a few carrots, or peppers from our CSA, cabbage, parsnips . . . you get the drift.  If I’m on my game I will have pre-chopped carrots (and onion among other things) in the fridge.  Then putting this soup together is a snap when there is “nothing” in the fridge.

Caramelized Onions with Lentils and Rice: This is one of my favorite recipes from Veganomicon.  It’s pretty simple: carmelize onions and cook some rice and lentils with a few surprise spices (cinnamon, for example).  Stir it all together and you’ve got a delicious meal (when paired with a salad) and excellent leftovers that are extra-special with pita chips.  We always have tons of onions since we use them in everything and therefore buy big ol’ bags of them at Costco.  Similarly, we always have a stock of lentils and rice.  It takes a while to carmelize the onions in the oven, but most of the time cooking is inactive, so with minimal planning and mimial work this dish can be on the table any night of the week.

Tofu Scramble and Waffles:  This is my go-to quick meal and also one of my favorite comfort foods.  I have always loved having breakfast for dinner, especially when waffles are involved!  I always have all the things I need to make waffles and tofu scramble (specifically, the Chelsea waffles and basic tofu scramble from Vegan Brunch).  The waffle ingredients are the baking basics (flour, baking powder, soymilk, etc.) and the tofu scramble has onions, tofu, carrot and any other veggies I might want to throw in.  This “dinner” also come together in 30 minutes or less and is great for those nights when the G-man and I suddenly look up and realize that we are supposed to feed the family sooner than we thought.

Pasta with Marinara Sauce or Pesto: I’m Italian.  We have pasta in our house at all times.  The G-man is a gardener extraordinaire, and for the past two years he has grown tons of basil and frozen a large chunk of it in the form of pesto.  (Just an FYI – we make our pesto with almonds instead of pine nuts, both to cut costs and because the G-man has some nut allergies).  So, we have a plethora of pesto in our freezer, and we always have a jar of marinara on hand.  When it doubt this dinner is the quickest yet, with little to no prep needed.  Sometimes we round it out by adding some steamed carrots and celery to the pasta, but some nights we just go straight carbs.

These are just a few of my go-to meals.  It’s always good to have some idea of what you can make with staples you have on hand.  Then you are never at a loss for what to have for dinner and you are always ready to avoid the take-out trap.

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