I get home from work at 5:30 and by the time I'm done feeding my 6 month old, it's 6pm. It's hard to get motivated to make a vegan meal by that time (especially if it involves beans which have soak time in addition to cook time). I know if I pack a late afternoon snack like a piece of fruit, and prepare some beans/grains in advance on the weekend (as Alicia suggests) it takes some of the pressure off, but still...how does anyone workin 40 hours with kids find the time to make any home cooked meal, let alone a vegan one?
Also complicating the problem: my wife is not vegan (yet) and so whoever is making dinner would usually have to make 2 meals.
Cooking grains and beans on weekends really helps. Cooked beans freeze well, too. I'd also suggest cooking one vegan meal and then adding meat for your wife if possible. There are a lot of one-pot or -pan vegan recipes out there in the world of vegan blogs.
I highly reccomend getting in a slow cooker rhythm/routine
(if this feels right to you)
I find this can be very helpful, as I do better with fresh as possible for my energy field, technically even raw, but I'm still learning how to do that
and also feel like I need different things different days
(though I make extra too to plan ahead, gratittude attitude)
With the Slow Cooker: (crock pot)
soak beans during the day, slow cook over night
(just allow time to cool to put in fridge before work- like after you have tea in am?)
can slow cook grains too overnight, even winter vegetables
i feel iffy leaving it on during the day if out. also
chop vegetables at night/on the weekend- like kale that takes washing!
my yoga teachers suggest that, they do that, teach all day
I also like to keep easy to prepare veges on hand: zucchini, carrots....
(i.e. bug free :) )
Quinoa is great
I find beans can be heavy for dinner sometimes, so I like that
nutritional yeast, nuts/seeds (possibly soaking them to germinate)
There's a brand called Tru Roots that has pre sprouted mung beans
they cook in five minutes (they cost a bit more but do go on sale- maybe worth for a pinch) they have lentils too- both are a bit lighter, mung beans are light in general (I'm more a lunch person)
finding things to have on hand, as I don't know about you, I don't have kids, but my two cats are like kids and things come up, and I like to have options, to be in the moment, also
at the farmers market near me they have sprouted beans (a mix of ) for like $2
I also just started taking a raw protein powder meal which I'm loving
for depending on what time it is when I eat dinner (sometimes its later, and also for yoga, need lighter meals at times) the Raw Meal from Garden of Life is great
or I like to make soups with vegetables and maybe sunflower seeds added in in the vitamix,
baked yams/squash are easy in winter/fall!
for mixed eaters, it seems people suggest to make main vege/grain dishes and the protein on the side, (or make quinoa, even amaranth has protein, millet too, just not quite complete like quinoa) maybe buy a cooked chicken at whole foods?at least here there on sale on Tuesdays for $6, and often with a free side
I'm working on all this in progress too, but these things help me
sometimes I also like to take at least five minutes to transition from the day before cooking dinner, re fresh, re group, re gear- splash face with cold water... if one is a little tired the standing of cooking and cleaning up can get me at times, though I stand a lot all day in general/walk etc
I hope this helps and you find what works for you on a daily basis!
Hi Brandon, we also cook on the weekend. We make all of our food for the week usually within a few hours on the weekend and then just have to reheat during the week. My husband is doing his medical internship and I work 2 jobs so this is so convenient for us. We us the cookbooks from Dr. John McDougall and his recipes are really easy to make and you can make a ton! We usually double or triple the recipes and then freeze some. That way there are some weeks where you don't need to cook at all. All of our recipes are veggie based with brown rice or other whole grains, usually no faux meat except rarely for a special meal.
I second the slow cooker (I can leave it on when I'm at yoga and dinner is ready when I get back) and rice cooker. I also love my food processor as I can toss whatever needs chopped in their, pulse it a few times, and I'm good. When I need something quick for dinner, I make stir fry with tofu over rice/rice noodles/soba/etc. and it takes 10-15 minutes. Or I might grab some pita bread, hummus, veggies, fruit, and peanut butter if it's been a particularly busy day and I'm famished. You can buy canned beans, frozen vegetables, and frozen fruit which can make life easier. I often use the frozen vegetables in my stir fry though I do typically add a couple scallions. Frozen fruit and vegetables are often on sale really cheap and save you time since you won't have to cut them up. Corn cooked in the microwave (I have this as part of lunch at work sometimes) is also pretty quick (put it in a deep, microwave safe bowl, a little water, cover with plastic wrap, and cook for 5 min.).
Cooking on the weekends is a lifesaver, but luckily making vegan meals doesn't take any longer than making non-vegan ones. Stir-frys and pastas are some of the easiest and quickest things to make. I think it will be a lot easier for you once you find a good stockpile of vegan recipes that you like and make often enough not to need the recipe in front of you every time...
To eliminate the 2-meal issue, try making vegan meals that use more typical ingredients and fewer vegan substitutes that non-vegans tend to shy away from. Here's a whole list of vegan recipes that have gotten rave reviews from my very non-vegan husband.