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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone!

To cut a long story short although I'm better now due to a rare intestinal disorder which put me in bed for a year I can no longer eat meat, drink coffee and alcohol as well as a few other things like too much milk.

This has made me into an involutary vegetarian, or one where I can only take small quantities of meat when it is mixed with other food. Even drinking a standard amount of whey protein in milk will make me sick

I am getting back into Gymnastics training so really need some protein in the diet.

I can't stand cooking, don't care much for a meal so long as it tastes ok, don't have a lot of time or money and really need some simple ideas for a well rounded meal that I can make for the evenings.

To give an example years ago I once made two huge pots of Bolognese which I froze and then ate for 4 months daily. All I did was unfreeze a box for that week, cook up the pasta and sprinkle some parmesan, job done, tasty and well rounded and very cheap.

So anybody any ideas for something simple, fast, cheap, regular and healthy?

I've been thinking something like egg fried rice daily? Just depends on the contents? High fibre is also a thought.

Brown Rice or White Rice? etc. etc.
 

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Hi Verbatim,

Glad you are feeling better, sounds like this was a long, very unpleasant illness. I am not going to offer any recipes here, but rather, talk about general strategies.

I went strict veg when I was in grad school, had very little money and really didn't even know how to cook. Yeah, it was definitely a crash course... What I learned was this: when you consider cost, convenience and how healthy it is (or isn't), it is nearly impossible to maximize all three of those factors. In other words, you almost can't have food that is truly cheap, fast and healthy. You can usually achieve two of those, but not all three. The cheapest and healthiest food almost always takes some time to prepare.

Two cookbooks I recommend for you: _Vegan on $4 a Day_ is the first. I will admit that $4 a day is kind of unrealistic (the book was written a few years ago) but the general ideas are excellent ones, and many of the recipes are healthy and no-fuss. Note that the book relies heavily on cooking from scratch - because this is far cheaper. For example, buying canned beans vs. cooking the beans from scratch is something like a 400% markup on price!!

Another cookbook that is good: _McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook_. These recipes are all fast and easy to make, but also healthy. (They are not necessarily cheap, though, because they rely on things like canned beans and instant rice.)

Try checking these out from the library and making a few of the recipes; this will give you some ideas of what ultimately will work for YOU to keep you fed. You have the right idea, by the way, to make large quantities of something and then freeze for later use. I do that a lot. Cook your own beans and freeze them, make soups, rice, casseroles. This helps a lot. Note that when I can, I also use a crockpot. It still takes time to prepare the ingredients, but the crockpot does simplify the cooking process a great deal. You might try googling "crockpot vegetarian" and see what recipes you find.
 

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A few options that come to mind are lentil stew with veggies, bean chili, black eyed pea stew or chili. All should freeze well, all could range from a thinner soup version to a thicker stew that you could eat on its' own or over brown rice, couscous, or quinoa.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks rocket indeed it was a long one...also thanks for those books and pointers.

In other words, you almost can't have food that is truly cheap, fast and healthy. You can usually achieve two of those, but not all three. The cheapest and healthiest food almost always takes some time to prepare.
I beg to differ! :) For £80 (circa $130) I made 4 months worth of bolognese including parmesan and pasta, yes it took me the whole day. I made sure there were a range of ingredients to cover vitamins, so additional herbs etc. for taste, celery as well etc. etc. It was a very well rounded bolognese. Fast to make (12 minutes pasta and bolognese cooking time), healthy and damn tasty.

That equates to less than $1.5 a day!

I have a rice cooker which makes excellent rice, I am thinking I might want to use it as my 1 meal a day maker. So throwing in different vegetables etc. also poaching two eggs in there while it's happening. That would make it a 12 minute affair. Only thing I need to get down is ingredients, higher protein and fiber foods.

Brown rice is an option but takes a long time!

Oh yea can't do lentils either! They don't like me..
 

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I beg to differ! :) For £80 (circa $130) I made 4 months worth of bolognese including parmesan and pasta, yes it took me the whole day. I made sure there were a range of ingredients to cover vitamins, so additional herbs etc. for taste, celery as well etc. etc. It was a very well rounded bolognese. Fast to make (12 minutes pasta and bolognese cooking time), healthy and damn tasty.

That equates to less than $1.5 a day!
Ok, yes, your Bolognese is inexpensive to make, but I would have to argue not terribly healthy because of the meat and Parmesan and you did post looking for fast, inexpensive and healthy... But possibly it could be made without the meat and that definitely would increase the health factor. If you like that recipe, why not give it a try and see if it works?

One similar idea to this that might work well for you is this lasagna - my very favorite lasagna and easy to make. It does use pre-made pasta sauce, which is a bit pricey, but if you buy it on sale or in a great big jar, it's not so bad. Any time I make this lasagna, I freeze the leftovers - I have been known to make a double batch just for that. Link: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/03/my-favorite-lasagna.html

I do think your idea about using your rice cooker is a great idea. Some rice cookers will make both brown rice; see if yours will. White rice is not ideal, but if you are getting plenty of fiber from other sources, it's not that bad. Plus, rice (white or brown) tends to be very economical.
 

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Fast, easy and healthy....HMMMMM!

Pasta-

Veggie Bolognaise: Lentils to replace the mince, frozen veggies thrown in, with a jar of tomato sauce. Instead of Parmesan (dairy isn't really that great for digestive issues) you can pan fry some nuts, like cashews or pine nuts to sprinkle on top. Or Nutritional Yeast.

There are loads of variations on this one. I like to throw some spinach into it, makes it taste fresher and it's probably not terrible for you!

Veggie Lasagne- These taste great, they take a little while to cook but once you've done a big batch, they keep for a while and leftovers are great!

Basil pesto- http://vegetarian.about.com/od/morerecipes/r/Veganpestorec.htm
(This recipe uses more garlic than even I would use and I don't use nutritional yeast in it, but it's pretty much how I make pesto)

Rice dishes-
Curry- Jar of curry sauce, vegetables (I recommend loads of mushrooms and chickpeas because they work well in Indian cooking). There's also a brand called Tasty Bite. They're microwave meals, fairly inexpensive and good in a jam.

Stirfry- Same deal as the curry. Though, I'd recommend trying to make some of your own sauces. They're not that hard, pretty quick to make and most have the same basic ingredients of tamari and garlic, with additions of things like ginger ect.
One of my favourites is to use firm tofu (you can drain it, cut it up, throw it in the freezer for an hour or two, to make it a bit chewier), with broccolli and cook it all in sesame oil with a touch of tamari. Tastes delish!

Wraps- Refried beans, blackbeans, chickpeas, tofu, you name the veggie filling and there's a recipe that will suit it. I recommend hummus as a must have for most wraps because it's delicious.

Pizzas- Just leave off the meat. (I like to add on more mushroom).

Majority of those can be pretty inexpensive to make, though using fresh fruit and veg is nicer at times.
 

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I love my rice cooker. You can make any kind of grain or smallbean like lentil. In a crock pot you can make a bunch of chili, soup, stew and freeze it in small containers lik you did your spaghetti sauce. I like to cook more than you, but freezing meals ahead is a regular thing for me. Beans are high protien. You did not say if you ate eggs. I make at least one omlette a week. If you are still eating any meat at all you should be getting enough protein. People need a lot less protein than mds say.

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Sorry did not see prior post about lentils. And about fiber. Get a coffee grinder and grind small amounts of flax seed to add to your food. This can't be done in advance. it adds fiber to food.

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im very new to vegetarianism, but ive always enjoyed cooking, usually on a budget and with limited time. last night my dinner had maybe 5minutes of prep, and was simply some strips of smoked tofu, chopped yellow onions, red and green bell peppers, can of black beans partially drained(makes a slight sauce with the other ingredients), some salt and some "5 pepper" shaker seasoning wrapped in tinfoil with the top open and just threw it on the grill for 15ish minutes until it was nice and hot. served over some leftover white rice, tasted great, was filling, didnt take long at all and it made enough for atleast another 2 meals, i'll definitely be making this one again
 

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Can you still eat beans? If so this might fit the bill:

1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can haricot beans or butter beans
1 small can sweetcorn
1 courgette - chopped in bite size chunks
1 pepper - chopped in bite size chunks
1 jar passata (in the UK you can get ones with garlic and onion already added)
1 packet texmex spices (usually this has salt in it already so no need to add extra)

Pour all the ingredients into a big saucepan - let it simmer for about 20mins. Serve with rice. It freezes well in portions.

Veggie curries are another good one - but I find they don't freeze as well. However I used to make a chickpea and spinach curry that stood up to the freezer test.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thanks everyone, some great ideas here already.

Can you still eat beans? If so this might fit the bill:

1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can haricot beans or butter beans
1 small can sweetcorn
1 courgette - chopped in bite size chunks
1 pepper - chopped in bite size chunks
1 jar passata (in the UK you can get ones with garlic and onion already added)
1 packet texmex spices (usually this has salt in it already so no need to add extra)

Pour all the ingredients into a big saucepan - let it simmer for about 20mins. Serve with rice. It freezes well in portions.

Veggie curries are another good one - but I find they don't freeze as well. However I used to make a chickpea and spinach curry that stood up to the freezer test.
Yes I can still eat beans, although the flatulence after eating them is a tough one for me to come to terms with.

Curries sound great actually, completely forgot I once made an excellent veg curry that I ate for 2-3 weeks. Oddly I can eat very spicy food, just not meat and high protein..

I love my rice cooker. You can make any kind of grain or smallbean like lentil. In a crock pot you can make a bunch of chili, soup, stew and freeze it in small containers lik you did your spaghetti sauce. I like to cook more than you, but freezing meals ahead is a regular thing for me. Beans are high protien. You did not say if you ate eggs. I make at least one omlette a week. If you are still eating any meat at all you should be getting enough protein. People need a lot less protein than mds say.

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Yes I can have eggs, but not too many. I can't do a 4 egg omelette daily, but I can incorporate an egg into a meal daily.

I suppose I would love to find a well rounded recipe that I can make daily for months on end, and do it all in my rice cooker, with the rice at the same time. I imagine beans will have to be involved despite my reservations about my known flatulence. I quite like to eat the same tasty thing daily, as I really dislike putting too much thought, time and effort into food. I suppose at most I'd try a new recipe/meal once a month or 2.

I'm imagining flax seed rice, with a poached egg, chick peas, lots of herbs... mmmmmm :)
Something like this (although again this requires frying and not just a rice cooker!):

http://www.7aumsuvai.com/2013/05/flax-seed-rice.html#.U-KrXaNQbGA
 

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Helloo!

I've been vegetarian for three years and started when I was a freshman in college. At one point I worked mostly for rent and had very little to spend on groceries. I can say while it may be challenging, it's definitely possible to eat vegan/vegetarian and healthy on a low budget!

Like everyone else has said - cooking a lot beforehand and freezing it/storing it so that all you have to do is heat it up later is your best bet.
Places like Earth Fare and Whole Foods that are notoriously expensive DO have items that can fit on a budget if you know to shop.what to look for. One thing you can do, which I did, if you're really in a bind is buy vegan/vegetarian ramen from health food places and then add things like tofu and flax seeds. You can google recipes to make some pretty tasty/healthy dishes out of them!

Also, have you tried Primal jerky strips? They're made from different things like seitan, soy, and I believe mushrooms, taste like real jerky, and are packed with protein. They can be pricy depending on where you buy them but they are usually cheaper than protein meal bars. I used to eat this before or after I worked out.

I hope this helps and good luck! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Thanks Trippy.

Anything too high in protein will make me sick, same goes for whey protein which is vegetarian.

I think I'm going to base it around a rice cooker, so cook the same meals daily in a rice cooker..

So it'll be a staple of Basmati rice, flax seed and other things I can add, maybe beans. A well rounded diet with a good amount of fibre in it..

I'm not sure why everyone considers white rice to be so bad.. When I only eat rice I tend to lose weight..

P.S. Apparently flax seed isn't so good for men, especially the prostate. I know soya isn't good for men which is why I tend to stick away from Soy containing products, not that I won't eat it I just won't make it a staple diet.
 

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Oh woops, I misread your first post about the protein.

How do you feel about fresh veggies and such?
Salad has never failed me, but it can get old after a while.

I'd also try smoothies. If you have access to a decent blender, you can do wonders with it. There's also a bigger variety of smoothies and you're not as likely to get tried of them as quickly.
 

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Lentils are cheap and quick cooking. You could do them in the rice cooker with the basmati rice, some chopped up vegetables (or a can of veggies even), and some herbs/spices. There are inexpensive mixes of spices, like Mrs Dash, that give food some zing. Sesame seeds or peanuts, walnuts, whatever's inexpensive, you can sprinkle on top for some good fat and protein.

To aid digestion, make sure you chew your food very thoroughly.
 

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Can you eat potatoes? They are cheap, easy (microwave cooks it in like 3 minutes) and filling, and sweet potatoes especially are pretty healthy IMO. They are a great base starch over which you can put pretty much any veggies, beans, onions, mushrooms, nut sauces, chia seeds, pretty much anything you want. I mixed in a spoonful of apple jam with a microwaved sweet potato last night for a late night snack and it was stellar.

Sometimes when I don't feel like cooking for a while I will just make a batch of some sort of cashew or walnut based sauce in the blender and then just put that over top of potatoes and frozen vegetables (warmed up in microwave) for a few days.

walnuts, chia seeds and ground flax seeds are good vegetarian sources of alpha-linoleic acid (omega 3), so I try to incorporate a T of those somehow into at least 1 meal each day.

Spices are important, they aren't really that cheap but they should go a long way for just sprinkling on top of quick meals. There are lots of salt-free options out there, but if you are not opposed to a bit of salt, try some of the flavored salts like kala namek, hickory smoked salts, herbamare, himalayan pink salt etc. They make things taste great.

Oatmeal is great and healthy. I don't care a ton for it as a hot cereal, but the old-fashioned oats you can just eat cold with some raisins thrown in and almond milk over the top. I also mix in some chia seeds and some bran flakes. I eat this for breakfast almost every day and I find that I have a much easier time staying focused on a plant-based diet when I make sure to have a good whole grain breakfast.
 

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Cheap and easy are most veggie soups.
If you want something that takes little to no effort with minimal ingredients, get some organic non-GMO rice (to avoid arsenic) and mix that with some veggies. You can do a stir fry as well which I do enjoy. You cook up the rice, put it to the side. Cooke up a few eggs in olive oil, and boil up a mix of frozen stir fry veggies. Use olive oil in a skillet and cover it with olive oil, add in the rice and toss it around a bit. Add in the eggs, veggies, and some soy sauce and continue stirring it around for about 6 to 8 minutes. BAM! Simple and cheap. Takes me about 15 minutes to make when I have the rice cooked. I use a small rice cooker I got from walmart.
 

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Our 5-min-don't-want-to-cook-meal consists of

* Asian noodles,
* soy sauce,
* (egg),
* veggies of our choise, mostly onions, carrots and tomatoes.

Cook the noodles in salty water for as long as it takes (depends on type of noodles).
Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and fry pieces of carrot and onions until they gain some color (they may still be crunchy, the carrots at least).
Add the cooked noodles, a slightly beaten egg if using and the soy sauce and cook until either the egg is done or the soy sauce mixed with noodles and veggies.
Add some cut up tomatoes on top.

This takes about 5 minutes, you can use all sorts of fresh or frozen veggies and the dish is really filling.

I personally don't like eating out of the freezer (the thawing process somehow puts me off), so I would go to quick fresh meals in your situation - sandwiches, quick warm salads, one-pot meals, frittatas, maybe green smoothies (with fruit, greens, vegetable). A smoothies takes a about a minute - throw everything into food processor and that's it.

Book recommendation for quick and easy veggie meals: Easy vegetarian one-pot.

Best,
Fidi
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thanks everyone I thought I may update you for where I am at.

Yes I can eat beans, I can eat lentils but they make me fart like hell so I dislike them, spartanfish I cannot each porridge/oats for some odd reason which is annoying because I really like porridge it's as bad as having a steak, I also cannot eat too many mushrooms unless they are blenderised I best leave them out. As for potatoes yes I'll eat them but I am not a huge fan, for me really rice is king.

So I'm buying a new rice cooker on Saturday.

I want to nail one Bean & Rice recipe that I can make in the rice cooker with as little outside prep as possible (what I mean by this is no additional cooking in seperate pots etc. all to be done in the rice cooker.)

After much reading I've decided to drop white rice and go for either wild rice or black rice (although there is red rice that has me perplexed). I am doing many body weight exercises/amateur gymnastics so need to keep protein in mind and beans are great for this.

Black rice has a 35 minute prep time, as do many beans (I may start from cans but will eventually want to prep my own beans from dry). So essentially those two will go together perfectly and I'm happy to have a 35 minute prep time. Which beans I am to use is another matter.

I just need to formulate some sort of well rounded meal covering, vitamins, some fats etc., with some sort of taste so I can buy bulk. I will be paying a visit to the Chinese supermarket so so far my ideas are:

-A massive bag of black rice.
-A massive bag of black beans.

How do you feel about fresh veggies and such?
Salad has never failed me, but it can get old after a while.

I'd also try smoothies. If you have access to a decent blender, you can do wonders with it. There's also a bigger variety of smoothies and you're not as likely to get tried of them as quickly.
Veggies are great. Actually I am quite happy to eat the same meal daily. I find without choice you eat because you are genuinely hungry and not because you just want to satiate your desire for various tastes, while still enjoying the meal you eat.

P.S. I am quite happy if this rice cooker meal deal comes out as some kind of conge, it doesn't have to be a nice dry rice and bean recipe..

I think I should make another thread about a simple bean and rice recipe that can be done in a rice cooker.
 

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Just on the beans....are you draining them and running some water over them before adding them to the cooking?

Because seriously lentils used to have me farting up a storm before I started doing that. Now, I'm fine with them!
 
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