help: vegan and omni meals that are cheap and healthy - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-12-2007, 08:30 PM
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here's the deal. my husband is omni (please don't get up in arms about that it's the way it is and that's that) and i'm vegan. we don't eat together very often because of working opposite shifts. but we keep saying we want to make big batches of stuff we can have leftovers of through the week. the 2 or 3 nights a week we do get to eat together, we've been trying lately to come up with meals that can work for both of us. like stirfry: we'll make the rice and veggies together, he'll cook up his chicken and i'll heat up some marinated tofu, and we'll add them to our plates when everything's done. we don't have to make 2 different meals, it doesn't take much more time or work to do, and we get to sit and eat together as well as prepare the meal together which we enjoy.



now we're re-analyzing our budget and finding that we spend too much money on groceries every week. not so much we but him. because i work most nights and he eats along he finds it easier to pop a frozen pizza or pot pie or something in the freezer. he eats a lot of frozen convenience foods. he realizes it's not healthy or cost efficient and wants to change it.

and i'm sort of looking for a new job that would have me on day shifts, so if it happens we'll be able to eat together every night. woot!



but we're both sorta lousy cooks. a lot of my vegan cookbooks have complicated recipes using ingredients i can't easily find here and know nothing about. what we need are simple healthy dishes that can make leftovers and are not expensive to put together.

we find stir fry tends to be pricey because we prefer to use fresh veggies and half the leftover veggies end up in the garbage eventually by the time we go to use them up. so recipes that use a lot of the same fresh ingredients would be helpful so that we can get one batch of veggies to make more than one meal.

meanwhile we are going to sacrifice taste and use frozen veggies which are cheaper in the longrun but i find don't cook up as nicely.





i do not have a crockpot but i do have a rice cooker which doubles as a steamer, and a small fondue which claims it can be used as a crockpot (haven't tried yet)











also any tips for making my own iced tea that's not full of sugar but still tastes good? we both feel we need to cut back on sugary drinks but don't want to get into buying expensive products. the cheapest drinks are the worst ones for you it seems. i would like to try making iced rooibus (sp?) tea which is naturally caffeine free but tastes like a black, chai or green tea depending on the variety.

I'm singin' here to get rid of fear
Hope it disappears right here with the rain
But I know life is pain, not like a fairytale
Meaningless to pray, so just goin' on my way
~Miyavi "Torture"
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#2 Old 08-12-2007, 08:55 PM
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i should add that hubby is not entirely opposed to vegan foods. he likes the vegetarian bolognese, and any time i've made anything with textured soy protein (faux ground beef) he's liked it. but he avoids tofu and things like veggie burgers and dogs etc. basically if it's IN something he doesn't care but if it's the focus of the dish he doesn't want it. so he would be ok with certain things like maybe stews and casseroles and the like where the protein is mixed in with everything else.

I'm singin' here to get rid of fear
Hope it disappears right here with the rain
But I know life is pain, not like a fairytale
Meaningless to pray, so just goin' on my way
~Miyavi "Torture"
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#3 Old 08-13-2007, 07:59 AM
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I dunno if I can offer specific recipes (I could but I'm at work, without them) and honestly there are people here with better ones than I'd have But I can say that, I'm in pretty much the same position, though I'm not technically vegan. My husband is Omni but he will aslo eat anything I cook- though sometimes he eats just a litte and asks for a snack later. He too may never change.



I tend to cook a well rounded dinner and let him fend for himself and add meat or cheese. This has gotten easier and easier with practice. I'll leave out anything obvious that he won't like such as tofu, seitan etc. Though after many times of trying these things I know how to cook it so he will eat it- tofu at least. Often I just make a whole bunch of something and let him eat it when I'm not around or I'll eat it if he isn't. I cook in batches of two meals each. That said, experimenting with cooking different things, and trying new recipes has saved me from making boring food. (but it takes practice, buying foods every once in a while at a HFS, and dealing with the screw ups.) If you both sit down and figure out what you will eat together- I mean actually make a list- you may find there are many things you both enjoy. Start with those on a regular basis and try new things when you can.



As for tea, I have an iced tea maker that I loooove! It makes a pitcher of iced tea which I then add simple syrup to (just sugar melted in water). I don't add much and can control how much I use, which is nice. Or sometimes I just add lemon, or make green tea. It is much much cheaper and healthier than anything else.



Maybe that helped? I think I forgot my brain at home today- sorry if that's not useful If you want I can post a sample week of what we'll eat together or specific ideas for menus... though I'm no health expert nor super chef.
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#4 Old 08-13-2007, 08:09 AM
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cool, thanks for the tips.

there are a few things we make together now when i have a day off or early shift and am home at dinner time. but it seems like we keep cycling through the same 2 or 3 dishes and they're getting boring and aren't always cheapest to make. we both love indian food so sometimes we'll get a jar of sauce and do chicken in one pan and chick peas in another. that's pretty easy to do and relatively cheap. otherwise it's usually pasta (always the same noodles and sauce lol). sometimes we get premade pizza crusts and make our own pizzas which is fun but not very often cause it takes a lot of time and counter space lol

I'm singin' here to get rid of fear
Hope it disappears right here with the rain
But I know life is pain, not like a fairytale
Meaningless to pray, so just goin' on my way
~Miyavi "Torture"
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#5 Old 08-13-2007, 09:09 AM
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Oh I hear ya! And meals together are so nice, aren't they? If you have the same two or three meals you make together, I can understand you getting bored. Why not try a taco night? We put the leftover fresh veggies, like you said, out and make our own. I love it cause I can saute some squash, and put in avacado, brown rice, and tomatoes and I'm in heaven. Plus, I plop them all wrapped up in the heated "squash" pan and "grill" em. Yum! So that's easy but there's lots of stuff you two can make. Pastas are easy to add stuff to later, and like you said, so are casseroles, and stir fries. J loves it when I cook like his mom used to, I just veganize it. He'll grill his stuff outside, and I make green beans (any vegetable) with garlic, or lemon or whatever, mashed potatoes, or crusty bread with evoo and balsamic vin, you get the picture. I'll eat some black beans for my protein but he loves those nights that I make the greens, protein, and starch. It's easy but has a good home cooked feel too I do recipe searches by ingredient or by time, and try and find things I can get excited about that he'd like too. Frozen veggies do make things easy, since there's no waste and it's less expensive. Eat fresh when you can but only buy what you know you won't waste.
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#6 Old 08-13-2007, 10:01 AM
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Do you need things you can both eat (or can easily change for both of you to eat) or things for him to eat when he would usually eat pre-packaged food?



For iced tea: I make my own iced herb tea. You can buy an iced tea maker, or just do your own and put it in the fridge. I find that the fruity iced teas are also good for breakfast.



I found it tough when I first went vegetarian to build up a good selection of recipes to use. "The Student's Vegetarian Cookbook" has good veganizable recipes which are pretty easy and geared toward a beginner cook without a whole lot of money. There are just so many options, that this might work as a starting point.
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#7 Old 08-13-2007, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyFaile View Post

i should add that hubby is not entirely opposed to vegan foods. he likes the vegetarian bolognese, and any time i've made anything with textured soy protein (faux ground beef) he's liked it. but he avoids tofu and things like veggie burgers and dogs etc. basically if it's IN something he doesn't care but if it's the focus of the dish he doesn't want it. so he would be ok with certain things like maybe stews and casseroles and the like where the protein is mixed in with everything else.





Curry sauces are pretty expensive (and have lots of hidden salt), so if you want to cut your grocery budget, have a go at making your own. You could buy a tub of ready mixed curry powder, or make your own. You could make a great big pot of basic sauce and freeze portions. Then do your pan of chickpeas and chuck some cooked meat into some for your husband. There was a good thread here recently on cooking your own curry.



Fajhitas is a good one to share .. .make a bowl of veggies, then you can add tofu and he can have chicken pieces. Knock together a bowl of salsa and guacamole. Good and tasty, quick to make and fun to share.



What else do you like to eat? Hot and spicy? Creamy? Pasta?
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#8 Old 08-13-2007, 09:13 PM
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thanks for the tips so far

we've done taco and fajita nights to death too so we're giving them a break for a bit lol.

we both like hot and spicy. both like chinese, japanese, indian, thai (though i don't like peanut sauce i've discovered lol), mexican, italian.

it's easier when we get a day off together and it's nice out cause we can bbq burgers and veggie burgers and do up a salad and fries etc. but that's not always a cheap way to go either and doesn't allow for leftovers.



he was nice tonight and made pasta while i was at work so there were leftovers for me when i got home



and yep what we need is things we can both eat, wether he adds meat to his or not as long as there's nothing "wierd" in his share lol.

I'm singin' here to get rid of fear
Hope it disappears right here with the rain
But I know life is pain, not like a fairytale
Meaningless to pray, so just goin' on my way
~Miyavi "Torture"
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#9 Old 08-14-2007, 01:08 PM
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Have you been to veganmeat.com? It has some really good suggestions for couples in your situation.



I'm lacto-ovo and my husband's omni. Our compromise is that he eats meat a couple of days a week (I usually have seitan or tofu or beans in place of the meat on those days, but otherwise we eat the same meal) and when he goes out and he eats whatever I eat the rest of the time. This works because we have the same schedule, I do the cooking, and he's too lazy to make himself meat when there's perfectly good food ready, so it might not help at all in your case.
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#10 Old 08-14-2007, 03:40 PM
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What a cute site!! I just got through the "why I do this" page and had a major Awwww moment. Too bad he isn't interested in changing his ways but rock on for supporting her. J is the same way, he's not going to change... but what he doesn't realize is that he's changed a lot since being with me. Every little bit helps



I can't really get a sense for what you're looking for. I do understand the position your in though. It's tough sometimes. We grocery shop together. That way I see what he really wants to eat (and sometimes secretly put it back hehehe) and I can get creative around that. I do all the cooking so that helps me too. Trying to do all this on the cheap sometimes has it's limits though. Buying food and wasting it is a huge budget killer, so here's some further suggestions:



Make a "meal" list. Don't think of it as, "oh we're out of green beans better get some more", try and think of it in terms of meals you can make and how much you need to buy to do that. I'm waaay too lazy to fully meal plan out a week but I generally buy stuff that are parts of meals and then I buy stuff I can make big batches of and eat at least twice. Whatever the case, I look at the grocery list, or glance in the cart, and see if there is too much of something and if I can buy something to use it up and complete a meal.



Try and adjust the budget so you can spend what you want on food. This was a tough one for me. But really, if you can't spend money on food, the thing that keeps you going and provides your nutrients, then what are you spending money on.... for me it was soy lattes at starbucks which they always burned the soy and I gave up trying anyway.



Figure out what you both like, and also what you do not like. J hates rasins. Hates em. I love them on salads, in bannana bread but I just get over it and eat them when I'm out. Grocery shop accordingly.



Make a pantry list. Things you need on hand to make other things. I need at least 4 different kinds of vinegar, 3 mustards, 2 kinds of rice, sauces etc. I always have tofu, cans of beans, though I like to make them fresh, pasta of all shapes and kinds, fresh garlic, lots of seasonings. vegetable stock is super handy, as are canned tomatoes, artichoke hearts, miso paste, slaw mix, egg roll wrappers, and burritos. In the freezer, keep veggies, like brocolli, mixed pepper strips, spinach, green beans, and homemade lettuce wrap fillings around for easy meals.



Wow I'm hungry now but I just ate! With all that stuff on hand I can make at least 15 different meals that we both like. Tonight I made a "Just like honey" and lemon pasta with mixed pepper strips, broccoli and lemon pepper tofu. It was freakin awesome... and easy and cheap. I made two batches, one for dinner tonight for me and him (he works all night tonight so he'll eat there) and he, of course, grabbed a can of tuna to top off his. It will also make a wonderful cold dish for tomorrow's lunch.



Phew- sorry that got so long! I hope that helped at least a little
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#11 Old 08-14-2007, 06:33 PM
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I tend to buy a few "key" vegetables for the week and morph them into different meals. We're also on a tight budget with me still in grad school and only taking in a grad assistant's salary. This week we spent $40 on groceries. Last night I made a stir fry with broccoloflower (leftover from last week), 1/2 red pepper, 1 zucchini (his parents dropped off some squash), a can of chickpeas, and some snap peas from my garden. Made a miso-tahini sauce and tossed it all with some vegetable soba noodles from the asian market ($1). Tonight we had tofu scramble with more gifted squash, a broccoli crown, the other 1/2 of the pepper, and a few carrots shredded. Served with the bag of tater tots that will never end from my freezer, and corn on the cob from the garden. Tomorrow night I've got study group and he's going out with friends, so it'll be leftovers when we get home. Thursday I'm making angel hair pasta with squash and breadcrumbs. Haven't figured out Friday yet, but we'll still have some broccoli, and a red pepper, still working through sugar snap peas, and whatever else comes out of the garden by then. This is just an example of how the same batches of vegetables morph into entirely different meals throughout the week!!



In general, we shop in season, and I try to figure out ways to use the same veggies in different ways so we use them up. Spices and sauces are quick and cheap ways to really change the same old ingredients. I use tofu, beans, and homemade seitan (~$1/lbs) in lieu of meat substitutes. I also try different grains to keep things interesting. I buy them in bulk at the coop and they're all pretty cheap. We plan all meals ahead of time so I know what I'm making when and how much of everything I need. Less waste that way! And a faster time at the grocery store.

http://megatarian.blogspot.com
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#12 Old 08-15-2007, 10:32 AM
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so what i did so far was go through my cookbooks a little bit and write down a few of the meals that stood out as meat and vegan friendly. i'm off today so when he gets home i'm going to have him sit and do the same thing with his cookbooks (yeah we have veg and omni cookbooks lol)and choose some meals that look good to him that are vegan friendly. then we're going to make up a plan for the week, figure out what we need to make each meal and make our grocery list. then tomorrow we do groceries since he doesn't get paid til then.



umm except i seem to have lost the list. hah.

I'm singin' here to get rid of fear
Hope it disappears right here with the rain
But I know life is pain, not like a fairytale
Meaningless to pray, so just goin' on my way
~Miyavi "Torture"
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