I have recently adopted a mostly meat free diet. I picked up a copy of the kind diet at our local library yesterday and would like to try to be vegan/vegetarian as much as possible. However, I am a single parent, working and going to college full time. Most of the time I either have too much to do to cook, or I just don't feel like it given that I don't have a lot of free time. Are there any ways to eat a vegan lifestyle that is easier than having to cook/plan meals all the time? I obviously can't afford to eat out all the time either. Another problem I have is financial, many of the vegan recipes seem to call for either pricey, or hard to find ingredients. Has anyone else had these sorts of issues and if so, what advice do you have?
Hi, Thea! Whereas I have not been in your situation, I completely understand it! Some of the easiest/inexpensive routes I've taken in the past were pasta dishes (watch those noodles), salads that I added other items to and peanut butter/tahini (bought when I had extra funds). With the pasta dishes, I was just so tired of jarred pasta sauce and I couldn't afford fresh tomatoes so I would get a regular can of petite diced tomatoes, add seasonings (italian) and there's my sauce...my grandmother even prefers it to the jar variety. If you need to have some kind of "meat" may I suggest Boca Ground. The package even states that 1 cup of the ground is equal to a pound. As for the salads...you can go crazy on that one. I get the salad mixes (rinsing them, of course) and add mushrooms, beans (canned that have been rinsed), nuts, chow mein noodles, zucchini, squash, olives, just whatever catches my eye when I open the fridge...for a change, I may just add fruit (mandarin oranges) to a salad and use a chinese inspired dressing. Beans and cornbread (made with soymilk and egg replacer - yes, it is a bit expensive but it lasts for quite a while). Easy veggie soup/stew or even bean soup/stew. Peanut butter can be your friend as a quick snack pick-up for either you or your child. Also, fruit and nut mixes that you can create at home...think of all those things you see out and about that are easy to pick up and just go. Don't forget, home-made pizzas!!! Oh, so yummy. Sometimes, if you know your local Italian restaurant chef (I was lucky enough to work for one), you can purchase the dough already made...just spread it out, add your toppings (even think cheeseless)...and go. It can be so fun and soooo quick.
In alot of cases it isnt actually the cooking that takes the time, its the cutting and preparing of the produce. Which to be honest only takes 10 minutes for most meals.
Try and make up a little book of recipes for fast meals. Pasta doesnt take long to boil, saute some mushrooms and chop some peppers your good to go. Vegan chillies and curries are pretty quick as you can just leave them cooking. Its the cutting of the produce again that takes the bulk of the time. If your too tired come dinner try wake up a little earlier cut up the ingredients leaving them in a bowl.
So when your coming back from work you can just take 5 minutes to bring to boil and leave to simmer for whatever time. The 5 minutes it will take you to bring to the boil would be the same time a microwave meal is done anyway:). Its all in the preparation ive found.
I am just starting/considering becoming vegan as well. I do have some ideas to offer you though - from previous dietiary changes. I always liked the idea of & did well with cooking big batches of a few entrees on a Sunday (or predetermined 'down' day) and having the leftovers for the week to eat on as you go! I know that if I am super hungry, but don't having anything already prepared, that's when I fall off the wagon and eat something quick & usually unhealthy! With kids, OMG it would be nearly impossible to make something from scratch at every meal, so pre-preparing is a must!
Also, not sure how old your kids are, but I used to volunteer for an after-school program that taught kids how to cook. The youngest was 10 and he had the best knife skills of anyone in the class. It's a great way to spend quality time with your kids and to keep them on a healthy diet themselves.
I don't have any munchkins to put to work so I do a lot of cooking/freezing on the weekends. Soups and sauces are perfect for freezing. And since food prep time is usually longer than cooking time, I've found that cutting up produce in batches saves me tons of time. Keep them in tupperware in the fridge or get some of these veggie-saver bags. They really do work!
Doing things in batches is really easy. And you don't even have to do it all in one day! I usually make a big batch of brown rice or quinoa when I'm out of it. Boil the water, pop the rice in and set the timer - you won't need to do anything with it for 20-45 mins other than let it boil. That way you'll have time to study or spend time with your kid(s).
Cutting the veggies, I agree, is the most time consuming part. Invest in a food processor, or even one of those little hand choppers you can get at Target for around $10 since you said you are on a limited budget. Really saves time for me.
When I was working full time and going to school full time, the only way I managed keeping up a healthy menu is knowing what is in my fridge and having a general idea of what I wanted for dinner. It was a hard habit to get into but eventually it bacame second nature.
I was pretty intimidated with the cost of some of the sauces, so I don't use them. I have some pretty basic spices that really help make the food more flavorful. Get some basics (that you probably already have) like garlic, dill, onion... ancho chilli pepper makes almost anything taste awesome too!
Join the Discussion!
Login or create an account on The Kind Life today and you'll be able to leave comments, share photos and videos with friends, and participate in community events!