Friday Tips: One Pot Meals

Vegan Goodness:

Today we ate:

  • Breakfast: Green smoothies and cheerios for Dad and LP.  Mom had some cheerios when she staggered out of bed after a rough night with IP.
  • Lunch: We went out for another special treat: falafel!  Well, for LP his special treat was french fries at the falafel place.  He earned a treat after getting five smiley faces on his aptly named “Smiley Face Chart.”  he has been earning a smiley face for having a successful nap that results in clean and dry underwear.  Apparently all my angst was for naught – all we had to do was bribe him.  Luckily, we are now done with our bribing – ahem, I mean “reward structure.” 
  • Dinner: Orzo with carrots and homemade pesto – LP declared it a “good dinner” and even said “Thank you for dinner Mommy.”  I guess we might need to have this more often.
  • Mom and Dad had peanut butter cookies after the kids went to bed

Money Matters:
Today we spent the following:

  • $14.83 for our special falafe treat lunch.  LP not only got french fries as his treat, but he also got to eat them in peace without Mom and Dad nagging him to eat other things too.

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

One-Pot Meals

Dishes are the bane of my existence.  They never end.  I absolutely love cooking, but I dread cleaning up, especially with two kids to put to bed at night.  With all these factors I often turn to one-pot meals.  95% of our dinners are already all-in-one meals –  no main dish and side, just all the goodies all lumped on the plate.  And 85% of what I make only requires one pot!  Sometimes I will even take a 20 minute recipe and stretch out to 30 minutes of cooking just to eliminate the use of one pot.  Yup.  I really hate dishes.

Trying to stop washing pots and pans after the kids go to bed?  Try these tips to turn any dinner into a one-pot meal!

Pasta: Pasta is a staple for many quick-and-easy meals.  It makes sense – it is fast and easy and can be dressed up with lots of different sauces (including my version of puttanesca), lots of different veggies and even with delicious proteins (spicy tempeh and rotini?  Extra yum!)  But, a lot of pasta recipes call for you to cook the pasta in one pot while making the veggies, sauce, etc. in a separate pan.  Sure, this is quicker, but it makes more dishes.  So, take a little extra time and use one pot.  Saute veggies in the pasta pot, transfer them to a plate, cook your pasta in the same pot, and then toss the veggies back in.  Or, you can even just chop your veggies and throw them in boiling pasta water for the last few minutes of cooking to soften them a bit.  Then, when you drain the pasta you have the veggies mixed in too!  When it comes to sauces you can always make them in the pasta pot in advance, transfer the sauce to a bowl, briefly rinse the pot, make the pasta, drain and then mix the pasta and sauce back together in the same pot.  This is even easier if you make sauce in advance – then you just need to pull it out of the fridge, put it in the pot to warm up while your pasta drains, pour the pasta back in the pot, heat and serve!

Soups, Stews and Chili: These are the quintessential one-pot meals.  Soups, stews and chili have it all – veggies, beans and grains already all mixed together into one delicious comfort food.  Soups are on our menu at least twice a week in fall and spring for this reason  – and because there usually use only one pot!  We often have biscuits on the side which does get a pan dirty, but if you have a dutch oven or slow-cooker you can make dumplings to cook right on top of your delicious dish.  Then you have the ultimate one-pot meal!

All-in-one rice and veggies: When I didn’t have kids I would often make some kind of veggie and bean dish in one pan (such as bell pepper, onion and black beans with cumin, or chickpeas and sundried tomatoes with rosemary) and then put it on top of a grain (salsa rice, quinoa, etc.) that was cooked in a second pan.  These were always pretty easy meals, but when I had kids, and even less of a desire to do dishes, I started to get this all done in one pot.  Sometimes I make the grain pilaf style but sauteing some onion, garlic and other veggies in olive oil, then putting in the rice/quinoa and seasonings with veggie broth or water.  Cook it for the time required for the grain and you are good to go!  One of my favorite versions of this is my curry rice, which you could even add some chickpeas or other beans to for a protein boost.  Another option is to cook the grain, and then just add in some beans, spices and greens towards the end of the cook time.  In this case the beans really just have to be warmed up, and the greens just need to be steamed a bit.  Quick, easy, and only one pot to clean!

Life is too short to do dishes.  In fact, tonight we had our orzo tossed with carrots and pesto all from one pot, and I got most of the kitchen cleaned while cooking it all up in one pot.  Then, I ended the evening enjoying a glass of wine while the G-man cleaned that one little pot.  I call that a good night!


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