I did the vegan thing (pretty strictly) for four years. At the beginning of 2014, I needed a break. I ate many of the foods I had missed. I learned that the things I missed weren’t always the things I thought I would. In late 2014, I got more serious about leaning more to the vegan side. For our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals I had meat on my plate, but all our sides were vegan. While I now allow myself to eat meat when out (chicken wings! eggs Benedict!), I often opt for a vegetarian entree.
Since June, we’ve been cooking a lot more. I can follow a recipe. In fact, I never leave them as is; I’m always tweaking or changing something. The problem is making carnivore food for him and vegan for me.
Over the summer, I discovered Good and Cheap. Leanne Brown is a recipe rockstar! Since her goal is $4/day eating, many of the recipes are vegetarian; I can easily veganize most of them. I cooked pinto beans and Leanne’s corn bread (from scratch, not Jiffy!). We were both quite satisfied. Bonus: a big batch of beans lasts 2-3 dinners for us, freeing up more time for us. Note: Emil not only enjoyed a vegan meal, he ate it 2-3 days in a row. This is now a rotating staple for us.
A few months ago, I envisioned three pans on the stove: his, hers, and ours. Think pasta (us), marinara sauce (us), and meat crumbles (him). Or, there is taco night: tortillas, beans/rice, veggies galore, fajita chicken for him, cheese for him, and vegan cheese for me. I knew that if I could think of a couple of simple examples, I could come up with others. I spent a few of our D&D nights brainstorming these combos while listening to game play and waiting for my turn. I came up with ~20 meals that are essentially a bunch of vegan sides with a meat entree for him.
I’ve always coveted the idea of Once A Month Cooking, but knew I could never pull it off. I don’t think I could even be on my feet that long. Along those lines, a few weeks ago, I started learning about Freezer Cooking. I dove in and made a low-carb/vegan mushroom stroganoff, a white bean stew, and a few others. Over the xmas break, I checked out Don’t Panic Dinner’s In The Freezer and it’s sequel from our library. Those books didn’t have many recipes I could use, but I did learn some great concepts. Last night, I thawed the spaghetti sauce and “neat” balls I made with the first Freezer batch. The “neat” balls crumbled so my sauce gained the texture of a meat sauce. He was eating sausage links, but I had him taste it and we have another vegan winner.
Now, if anyone ever told me that I’d find two vegan meals that Emil would truly like, I’d have called them a liar. But, I have done it. Now, I’m on a mission to find more.
All that while…
Now, I made all those finds/discoveries while learning to do something new. What I’ve always been bad at is menu planning. Well, I practically made that a part-time job so I could figure out how to do this in a way that works for us. I have Pepperplate on my desktop/phone/tablet. I plan ~5 meals. Between leftovers and a social life, that can last us 2-3 weeks. I finally figured out to menu plan again soon after a shopping trip so that I’m always a week/two ahead of the game. That makes the whole thing less frustrating. Oh and this is compounded by our busy schedule. I can shop on Tuesday afternoons or we have to go on the weekend. But, we are eating at home about five nights a week and some weekend meals, too.
What We Eat
Here are recent/current/future meals. There are more for me since I’m working at home. Or, those become my dinner “entree” when he eats meat.
- homemade pizza
- his/hers chili
- spaghetti with “neat” sauce
- pinto beans with corn bread
- cauliflower bisque (hers)
- broccoli “cheese” casserole (hers)
- veggie soup (hers)
- creamed spinach (hers)
- mac & “cheese”
- pot roast (his) with veggies (ours)
- chicken piccata (his…but man is this one good)
- creamy cajun pasta, with veggies for me and chicken for him
Lower the carbs. This is hard to do in the winter when so many warm dishes are also carb laden.
- less pasta and more veggies
- less potatoes and more cauliflower
- less sweet/starchy veggies and more green veggies
Get Emil eating more veggies. He has pretty simple tastes, so I can work things into recipes without messing them up for him.
No one is ever 100% vegan. It’s impossible. However, it’s easy to be 98% vegan. I think I’m about 70-80% right now. I need to get closer to 90%.
Keep on Pinning. Every week or two I find some new vegan blogger or recipe site. Other people have the stamina to try a recipe several times and tweak it. I can do that once, but not 3+ times. I need to use their work; that’s why they shared it! In fact, the next one I’m going to try is a Mac & “Cheese”.