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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I have a very busy year ahead of me with university, music practice and being a lone parent of 3. I can't keep spending 2 hours in the evening preparing dinner, as I often have been. I'm looking for ideas on simple, healthy meals, which can be prepared quickly (preferably within 30 minutes). Or meals that can be made in bulk and kept in a container or pot in the fridge, for a few days' dinners. I'd appreciate any help. Thanks!
 

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Originally Posted by troub View Post

banana.

1)peel

2)????

3)profit!!!!!!!!
underpants gnomes!

Quote:
I'm looking for ideas on simple, healthy meals, which can be prepared quickly (preferably within 30 minutes). Or meals that can be made in bulk and kept in a container or pot in the fridge, for a few days' dinners. I'd appreciate any help.
Soups. Soups are so, so easy and they are ready to going those sealable tupperwares. You can make a soup out of almost anything. Get some veggie stock and throw in your favorite vegetables. And of course there are tons of recipes out there.

Also, I make large batches of veggie curry and rice and divide it up into tupperwares and its ready to go in the morning.

I carry a tupperware of mixed nuts with me everywhere I go.

I also carry little individual packages of microwave popcorn.

Are you a music major? I am too. I think it's probably one of the most time consuming majors. What do you play?
 

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Super easy chili.

1 can chili beans in sauce

1 cup salsa

1 cup frozen corn

Combine and heat. For four people, you'd probably want to double this.

I like to serve this over baked potatoes, cornbread pancakes, or polenta.
 

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Originally Posted by Sarah+13 View Post

Super easy chili.

1 can chili beans in sauce

1 cup salsa

1 cup frozen corn

Combine and heat. For four people, you'd probably want to double this.

I like to serve this over baked potatoes, cornbread pancakes, or polenta.
mmmm, that sound good!
do you use just any salsa?
 

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Originally Posted by avocado View Post

mmmm, that sound good!
do you use just any salsa?
I've made it with various brands of salsa, and it seems to work fine. The kind I usually buy, and thus use in this "recipe" is On the Border. I've always used a tomato based salsa, though. I don't know what kind of results you'd get with a verde, for instance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It's just been 23 hours since my post and already I have some really helpful suggestions. I'm printing them as I type this, as they're all useful. CP, I'm actually doing a BA, my subjects being philosophy, sociology, and English literature. The uni. closed its music department just before I began, following funding cuts by the state's conservative premier, so I'm not studying music as part of this degree (which is no indication of my commitment to music/the hours I put in). For the past 5 years I've been mainly playing an original hybrid lute, based on a theorbo. I recently gave it up however & I'm back to guitar, which although is a beautiful instrument, I'm not really satisfied with it & I'm planning to seriously devote myself to hammered dulcimer as soon as I can. Is that your instrument in the picture CP? Not much different from hammered dulcimer in most ways.

I look forward to any more quick-prep meal ideas anyone may kindly share.

Thank you!
 

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Stir fry is incredibly easy and quick. The quicker the stir fry the better it is. Pasta (spagetti style, not lasagna) can also be very quick and nutritious.
 

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I agree with the stir fry suggestion:

Thinly sliced tofu marinated in a bit of soy sauce and tomato paste (overnight), tossed in cornstarch, seared, and stir fried with some peanuts, sesame, bean sprouts, bell peppers, more soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar, serve with udon or rice noodles, and you're set. It will also keep in the fridge. Just reheat in a pan, rather than the microwave or the vegetables will end up too soft.

Other easy stuff:

Falafel or other patties from dry mix with grated cucumbers, mint and mayonnaise.

Tortilla chips with salsa...

...or baba ghanoush: Grill eggplant until blackened, remove flesh, mash, add lemon juice, oil, black pepper and if you like tahini, (soy) yogurt, walnuts, paprika or toasted cumin. The grilling part will take more than 30 minutes, but the rest is a matter of putting the ingredients in a blender. You can freeze it or keep it in the fridge until needed, and then add chopped onion just before serving.

Beets (pre-cooked) puréed with olive oil, stale bread, walnuts and garlic spread on bread. Or the same thing with raw or grilled red bell pepper.

A can of chickpeas simmered in tomato sauce and seasoning of your choice.

Alternatively, throw that can in a blender with oil, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, tahini and cumin and you have hummus.
 

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tacos/burritos are fast and easy.

Just sautee some onions and garlic, open a can of refried beans, and add a package of burrito seasoning or your own spices.

At the same time cook up some brown rice.

Have some lettuce, guac and salsa on the side and let everyone make their own. You can also make extra and freeze the leftovers (Without the guac or lettuce), then they can be pulled out and nuked for breakfast, lunch or dinner. That actually makes a great portable, nutritious school lunch!

Stirfries are quick and easy if you use pre cut frozen veggies and some tofu/chickpeas or cashews. Then again you just sautee the onion and garlic, thrown in the veggies and protein, then some sauce and your good to go.

You can use rice, noodle or the extra speedy Quinoa as a base.

For grains, Quinoa and couscous both cook much more quickly than rice, and they are a nice change, and give you a different spectrum of nutriton.

Mock tuna sandwiches are also speedy- Just take a can of chickpeas, mash them with a fork with some vegenaise, salt, lemon juice, and green onions (I also add nutritional yeast) and make some sandwiches or wraps.

Tofu scrambles are also quick and great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and the leftovers can be wrapped into pitas or tortillas.

Tofu scramble: again, sautee the onion and garlic, throw some drained, firm tofu into the pan, and kinda scramble it up, then add your choice of veggies. I like brocolli, grated carrots and green beans, but you can do anything.

Then add some sauces. I've done spicy peanut sautee, or just a little soy sauce, salt, pepper and lemon juice. You can basically do anything to this. So versatile!
 

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Great suggestions so far!

I have three kids as well, and a wicked tight schedule, so I can understand totally!

Here's our aproximate dinner "menu" for the next two weeks: (We don't follow too closely - change things if needed - my kids aren't vegan so they do add cheese to some items).

S: Tacos and lots of fixin's. (Burger crumbles mixed with salsa and corn for the taco "meat", shredded greens instead of lettuce, carrots, jicima, avacado, olives, tomatoes, etc..).

M: Spaghetti, sauce with meatballs (from Trader Joes), garlic bread, salad, brocolli

T: Baked potatoes (Done in the crock-pot while we're gone) <recipe link> with chili (from a can or leftover) to top them. Probably have greens and fruit here too.

W: Falafel with made-ahead falafel patties, pita, cucumber, tomatoes, salad, etc. We put cole-slaw in our falafels - we're weird that way and get extra veggies in too!

Th: Stir-fry veggies and cashews with rice (rice cooked ahead in my rice-cooker with a timer) you can also cook rice ahead and re-heat.

F: Veggie "fajitas" with stir-fried veggies, black beans (made in crock-pot) and spanish rice (leftover rice quickly stir-fried with veggies and salsa).

Sat: Veggie Pizza made with left-over peppers and mushrooms from Friday. Fruit smoothies with frozen fruit and silken tofu.

Sun: "Chicken" noodle soup with Morning Star Farms Meal Starter Strips, veggies, whole-wheat noodles.

M: Taco salad (goes together super fast with drained, rinsed black beans, olives, tomatoes, cilantro, avacado chunks, cucumber, lettuce, chips all mixed together in a big bowl) and salsa on the side.

T: Tater tots, veggie dogs, buns, etc. Fruit salad (made ahead) and cabbage-carrot-kale slaw (also made ahead and dressing added at the last).

W: Chinese potstickers from an Asian market. They have all sorts of vegan/vegetarian varities and they fry up in just a few minutes. Steamed veggies with peanut sauce. Rice.

Th: Hot "turkey" sandwiches with Tofurky slices, mashed potatoes (white and sweet potatoes cooked in my pressure cooker for 7 min then mashed) gravy and toast. Some veggies in there too somewhere.

F: Crockpot chili (soak the beans the night before, put stuff in crock pot in the AM) with cornbread, garlicky greens.

I've been making quick meals for years, so lots of stuff comes together faster for me than it might for other people... also, depending on the ages of your kids? They can help a LOT!!

Even my 7-year-old can make salads (older sisters do the cutting), set the table, take out trash and recycling, pour juice, clear table, unload dishwasher... you'd be amazed how much that helps things come together quickly!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It's very impressive that you have a fortnight of meals planned. That may save time too in some ways. My children have also beginning to cook, my 13-year-old daughter being especially tanlented and enthusiastic. Maybe ideas for recipes children can prepare would be a good topic for another thread. Thanks for taking the time to share your fortnight of planned meals, TNS. Do you usually follow these plans very closely? I imagine you'd allow some flexibility. I often try planning a week in advance, but then give up on it, as we may not feel like what's set for the day, there may be something simpler available, or many other things may come up.

What are the advantages of such planning? Does it save time?
 

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Planning ahead saves me a lot in "impulse" purchases at the store or having to run to the store at the last minute.

It saves me the headache on the way home thinking "What do I cook tonight?" and saves me from throwing peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches at my kids when I'm dog-tired...

It also saves arguing about what's for dinner since they can all read - and they are the ones who have helped plan the menus, and get to pick their favorites a lot of the time...

We do allow quite a bit of flexibility - sometimes I'll make too much and we'll incorporate those leftovers into a meal, or we'll have run out of something because I didn't plan well enough
If we don't "feel like" having whatever on a certain night, we just juggle a little.

Tonight was supposed to be "fajitas" with peppers, onions and mushrooms and rice and beans on the side - but the kids wanted bean-and-rice burritos and fresh cut-up veggies to dip in ranch-dressing instead, so I was OK with that.

Most everything I listed is pretty easy to put together and hardly needs a recipe. My 13- and 16-year-old cook like me and hardly use recipes except for the general ideas any more... Just put what you LIKE in a stir-fry or vegetable soup and taste as you go, if needed - it'll be fine...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I noticed your use of a rice cooker, & thought it's a good idea to save a bit more time, so I went out to buy one. I came home with a crock pot instead, & then noticed that's also on your post. I'm really enjoying it, especially not having to give it much attention while cooking. I save about half an hour each morning by making barley &/or rice congee in it overnight, with a timer set to have it ready & cooled a little by breakfast. It makes it better than my morning-rushed version of it too, the long cooking time breaking up the grain like congee should be. And I make plenty of soup & stews. I'll buy a rice cooker when I can too, for the precious few minutes it'll save me.

I think a large part of my problem is that I enjoy cooking too much, as a creative outlet. Also, as I've spent about 2 hours on preparing dinner many or most nights of the week for the past 13 or so years, I've developed & reinforced via much repetion certain habits, or ways of doing things, which take much longer than necessary, and my teperament naturally inclines me to be slow, steady, thorough, and careful.

Anyway, thanks again for the tips. I have the above posts printed with stars next to my favourite ideas.
 
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