Join Date: May 2017
I have been slowly losing energy since I started transitioning to a more vegetable based diet and now have been dealing with a consistent headache. I have no time for meal prep due to my bf 2 month old taking up all of my spare time. My need for quick grab energizing meals that won't break the bank is prominent as well as the nutrition I need to intake for my child's and my needs. I struggle every day trying to decide what to eat without it being the same thing over and over again. I am about ready to give up until I have more time to figure everything out. It is difficult without time or money.
In addition to the good advice that's already been offered, I wanted to mention that you may qualify for federal food assistance, through the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility and/or through the USDA's Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program: https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/wic-how-apply . These linked webpages will tell you how to apply for this assistance.
If you qualify for the WIC program, you will also receive free sessions with a Registered Dietitian. They will be able to give you practical and accurate information about planning delicious vegetarian meals for your family. These dietitians are accustomed to working with busy working families, so they should have excellent ideas for fast meals.
Another option is to request this book at your local public library: The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book: https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Ve.../dp/144052551X . This book covers vegan nutrition for infants, in addition to vegan pregnancy. The author, Dr. Reed Mangels, is the nutrition director of the Vegetarian Resource Group, a very reputable vegetarian/vegan organization. If your local library doesn't have this book, they can get it for you through an "inter-library loan". This service should cost no more than $3.
An immediate option is to read the Vegetarian Resource Group's webpage about vegan nutrition for children. It includes very detailed information: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php
Here are 50 vegan recipes with 5 ingredients or less: http://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/...vegan-recipes/
When I cook, I almost always cook lots more than I need right now and then store in the fridge for later in the week or in the freezer for later in the month.
For lunch I like to make a big bowl of starch-based salad (eg: brown rice or wholewheat pasta) and keep it in my fridge for the week (last about five days). Or a big jug of soup, potato or pasta and vegetable based, served with wholewheat bread.
Dinners are frequently pulse based, one pot cooking. Our regular 'prep and freeze ahead' favourites include black bean chilli served with tortilla chips, chickpea and vegetable based tagine served with couscous, cajun black-eye beans served with rice and sweet potatoes, pulse and vegetable based curry served with chappatis, bean or grain based patties served with potato wedges and salad, baked beans served with baked potatoes and corn on the cob.
I try to cook the equivalent of eight days worth of main meals (for two of us), one morning at the weekend. That's usually two different dishes of eight servings (or more) each. They all get boxed up and put in the freezer. Then I use a meal planner app to keep me organised and on top of the menu for the month ahead.
That probably sounds quite a lot of work / planning if you don't have much time, maybe you could just start with one or two meals that can be prepped in advance, like a vegetable curry or pasta sauce. Once you get used to planning ahead, it saves a lot of time.
I'm also newer to this whole thing and so far what's working for me-
-prep my veggies/fruit once a week, after I bring them home. I pull out my cutting boards and glass jars/containers and spend around 30 minutes cutting/dicing veggies (onions, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers etc). I don't wash them at this time but just slice and dice and then stash in the fridge. Fruit like berries comes out of packages and goes into my fresh produce containers (cannot recommend Rubbermaid Freshwork containers enough!). Bananas are peeled and put in pint sized freezer bags and put in freezer. Cantaloupe is cut up and put in a container in fridge. Greens (spinach, kale and lettuce) is put in large Freshwork containers and put in fridge. 30 minutes of work and I now have all my base foods prepped! Mushrooms and sweet potatoes are the only things I don't do any prepping for ahead of time.
-every morning I make a green smoothie-this is the foundation of my day and takes under 10 minutes to put together because I've already prepped the things that go in it. I start with a base of unsweetened almond milk, coconut water and ice. Then I add spinach, kale, a berry (either strawberries or blueberries), a frozen banana, a 3rd fruit (cantaloupe, kiwi etc), and then ground flax seed and chia seeds or sunflower seeds. Blend through twice with my blender and dump into a canning jar. It takes me about 30 minutes to drink it and I can do this while I'm getting ready/driving etc. Green smoothies can be calorie bombs if you want them to be-depending on what you add you can easily get them up to to 400-500 calories.
Lunch is usually a rice/pasta dish with veggies. I gravitate towards instant white rice because it's fast and easy. You can also make it ahead of time and then portion it out in your fridge/microwave when you're ready to eat it. I love throwing a bag of frozen steamer California blend veggies with it and then Sweet Baby Rays Sweet n' Sour sauce. I also sometimes throw sunflower or pumpkin seeds into it. For pasta I prep it while heating up jarred marinara sauce and then I saute' mushrooms and onions in a separate pan. Combine the 3 things for a filling meal that takes under 15 minute to put together. Or I'll do massive salads with prepped veggies and canned refried beans.
Supper is simple-(canned) soups, oat bowls (oats are an amazing base for all sorts of things!) or sweet potato 'fries'-I buy the largest sweet potatoes I can find and then wash/slice into fry shape and bake on 400 degrees for around 20 minutes, flip halfway through.
Afternoon snack is cashews, walnuts or olives. Or toasted sprouted grains bread or whole grains Waso crackers with raw honey spread on them.
I also have 1 cup (2 servings) of beans every day, usually paired with lunch. Either the refried beans with a salad, or my bean 'mix'-this is another prep ahead thing and makes things so easy during the week! I dump 5 cans of various beans into my crock pot (I don't even drain them), with a bottle of low calorie barbecue sauce (I've found some tangy ones that are great). Cook on low for a few hours and then after they cool, portion out into 1 cup servings and freeze in pint sized freezer bags. Then every morning I just pull one out and defrost in the fridge/microwave before eating.
I have no problem hitting my calorie targets eating a mostly whole food, plant based diet. I haven't substituted meat with meat like products because they're expensive. I've never had tofu, I don't buy fancy vegetarian pre-packaged meals and I don't worry about organic. I keep things simple and easy and it's working well for me so far
Canned soups would be a good idea. Is there a specific brand that is vegetarian/vegan. I don't see many at Wal-mart or Publix. I'll look again though cause I may be missing out! Thanks for the advice too. I will try to keep a lot of things in stock at home. Rice and veggie dish, what kind of veggies would you use? I always get stuck with only Bell peppers and mushrooms in my mind and cannot think outside of that box knowing that those don't offer all the nutrients I should get.
Having a baby does make everything a bit more difficult! I assume you're new to eating veg? Have faith, it gets way, way easier the longer you are! You find foods and combinations most people never think to eat.
Where are you? Foods and prices are different in different countries. I'm in the US so I'll give my ideas of good staple foods
I always stock Better than Boullion no chik'n, and no beef bases. They're veggie stock pastes that really mimic the tastes of those broths, and are so handy in adding to soups, casseroles, and cooking rice and seitan. Heat a cup of water on the stove and mix in a heaping teaspoon of base. Whisk 2 tablespoons of flour into a cup of cold water, then whisk into the broth- easy fat free gravy (I could be off on these proportions, just wing it!)
Keep canned beans on hand. Mash them up with whatever kinds of mix ins you'd use for chicken, tuna or egg salads. Use in wraps with thin sliced or sauteed veggies, as dips with veggies or crackers
Think ethnic. Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mideastern, Ethiopian cuisines all lean towards vegetarian.
What kinds of foods do you think to reach for, that are easy and cheap? List them and we can brainstorm ideas. I recall the early days of finding it hard to think beyond salsa, fat free refried beans, tortillas, hummus....
Use nuts as proteins. I often take rice, frozen brocolli, and peanuts and use some Chinese take out condiments for a quick grab work lunch. I use walnuts in pasta, and for pesto instead of pine nuts. Just walnuts, lots of fresh basil (I grow it) olive oil, some salt and pepper, maybe roasted red peppers- put in a food processor
I don't eat much processed food, although recently I have tried many Gardien options! I don't find them to be more than meat though the prices seem to vary a lot between stores. I would keep some in the freezer for an alternative to going to out.
The best thing I got to make food with, and really wish I had it when my kids were small, is the Instant Pot- the electric pressure cooker. I've had to figure out a lot of times and propotions on my own and would love to start a thread if there's interest. I only paid $65 at black friday sale, but there are other brands to look out for. It's just so fast and easy for grains, complete pasta meals, beans, soups and stews, potatoes and other root veggies, even an enchilada casserole.
Peanut butter and hot sauce or spices, ( I like curry) makes for a delicious sauce for cooked veggies and pasta, or grains. Put hot foods over chopped spinach to quickly wilt it.
Take advantage of frozen veggies, just don't follow package directions on cooking. Let thaw, then quickly stir fry or steam enough to heat
Beans are really good when added to a little hot oil and spices to give a bit of a sear. I like this with tomatoes, mushrooms, onion and peppers in a cast iron. Oh yeah, cast iron is what I use for everything! Adds iron to your diet.
Tofu is one of my favorite foods. I keep it simple, sauteed. sometimes I'll shake it in some corn starch and seasoning and lightly fry
Tempeh-- I get it at trader joes for $1.99 a pack- cheapest. Makes great sausage patties in a food processor- i have the recipe in the recipe section- easy tempeh sausage. Good with rice seasoned with liquid smoke
Liquid smoke-- adds so much flavor! Remember- bacon, sausage, those are tastes added to foods, not just meat.
Smoothies with fruits, fresh and frozen, ground flax or chia, even oats, maybe add some greens to them. Personal favorite is pineapple, berries, ground flax, ginger, and nut milk
Silk has some great new nut milks-- a blend of almond, cashew and pea protein. They have 10 grams of protein and only 2 grams of sugar. They are thick and delicious! Very neutral taste and make good nutritional yeast sauces.
Nutritional yeast. Like it? I started kinda 'meh', used it on popcorn. I have grown to love it after finding how I like to use it. In sauces I always add some lemon juice, and garlic, and salt. As a parmasean type topping I mix with garlic powder. It's great with vegan mayo and garlic powder
Vegan mayo--add some of this to foods to change foods you think ' eh ' to make yum. I even had some spaghetti I let dry out really bad. I mixed in a bit of Just Mayo, nooch, and garlic powder and it was delicious. I find a lot of really healthy grain based foods can be made so much tastier with a little mayo. I never even cared for mayo as a spread, but use it as an ingrediant a lot