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 Post subject: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:02 am 
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I have no idea if the grammar in the title is correct.

Anyway, I have practically no time to cook (dinner) anymore, and it seems to me like cooking up a storm is the only way to eat well as a vegan.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I have grad classes until 8 (except Monday, where it's until 10). I pretty much trudge through the door and heat up or throw together whatever I can find. (I'm used to eating at 5, so by the time I get in the door, I need food ASAP!)

On Thursdays, I have time to cook.

On Fridays and Saturdays, I sometimes have time to cook, but more often than not, I have work until late.

On Sundays, I have time to cook.

Essentially, I have 2 nights in which to prepare enough food for my lunches and dinners for the whole week. Does anyone have any really awesome strategies to deal with this?

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:08 am 
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Chili, fruit & nut dense scones, all the hummus

Or you can do what I do and subsist entirely off Amy's frozen mac & cheese.

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:23 am 
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Ignore this!
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Maybe every week make one big batch of something to eat during the week (casserole, pasta, soup, chili, etc) and supplement it during the week with sandwich fixings and quickie meals (my current favorite: baked beans on microwaved baked potato)

Another idea: every week, make a double batch of an entree, and freeze portions in individual sizes. Over the next several weeks you'll develop a nice variety of frozen homemade meals. Supplement with easy salads, raw veggies, fresh fruit.

A couple of Vcon recipes that I've had good luck freezing and reheating are Midsummer Corn Chowder and Pumpkin Baked Ziti. The Spinach Chickpea Curry from VWAV freezes well too, as does any chili. I bet the Vcon lasagne would be a good one to freeze too, though I haven't tried it.

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:26 am 
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I make lots and lots of soup. Mostly because it's cheap. Also because it's really easy to reheat soup (micro or stove, both are super quick). Freeze some, so you don't get burnt out. Casseroles are good too, if you can find really veggie-laden ones. Also, prepping ingredients is a good tactic. If you know you'll be making (let's say) lots of sammiches, cut up your veggies, etc. the way you like them. Wash all your produce when you get home from the store, that'll also save prep time.

I second the scone idea. Muffins are good too for grabbing on the go.

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:06 am 
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I keep washed and/or cut up veg and greens in the fridge, so when I get home it's not hard to put together a salad. The cut up veg are also easy to throw in a packed lunch. Mock tuna's good for sandwiches, and one can of chick peas makes plenty. Cooking and freezing double batches of an entrée is also a really good idea.


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:43 am 
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I have time to cook most nights, but cater to a few fussy appetites. I also like to take leftovers to work for lunch.

My solution is to cook large amounts, or just regular amounts if only I am eating it, and freeze leftovers in one-serving portions. When I do this regularly the supply builds up so there is always a selection of frozen meals in the freezer and I don't get tired of eating the same thing for a week and the kids have something they can choose from if I make a supper they don't like (They are not very fussy, we all just have certain things we do not like and I acknowledge that).

Yesterday for lunch I had hoppin' john that I made three months ago.

There are also convenience foods that help - prewashed bagged vegetables, pre-baked tofu, good canned soups, fake meats if you like them. I try to stay on top of things because I know if I don't I will eat some crackers and peanut butter and feel yucky. If there is something easy I will eat it.


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:45 am 
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I make a big batch of beans/lentils and rice/quinoa and then add different spices or flavors to it when I reheat for nutritious quick dinners. For example, if I cook up a batch of lentils, I will add curry when I reheat it for one meal. At the next meal, perhaps I add fresh basil and a sprinkle of nooch. Keep snacks on hand for immediate gratification when you walk in that have nutritive value, like hummus, bean dips, veggies, nuts/nut butters, fruits, etc. That way you can get something to eat when you walk in, that is also part of your meal. Most of that type of "snack" works well as a lunch. I also default to oatmeal/soy milk probably once a week. Cornbread or biscuits only take about 20-25 minutes start to finish, and make a nice addition to a leftover meal. I also have a couple of super quick pasta creations that literally come together while the water is boiling/noodles are cooking. One is lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped kalamata olives, pepper flakes, olive oil, salt, pepper - whisk together in a large bowl, dump in hot angel hair pasta. Another is saute onion in olive oil until soft, add garlic, thow in a large can of chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, your favorite Italian seasonings, and whatever else you want (I often add white beans; if I feel spicier, it's pepper flakes, olives, capers; if I have them on hand, artichokes - you get the idea). These leftovers make a great lunch. Another life saver is fried tofu. Take extra firm tofu and slice into 8 thick slices. I put it on a kitchen towel, cover with another towel and press out excess water. Then, fry. I tend to coat mine in nooch and dry fry in a cast iron skillet, but this is a tasty addition to beans/rice or steamed veggies/rice or in a sandwich with grilled or sauted veggies.


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:00 am 
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Making travel sausages, falafel, etc. really helps. You can keep them in the fridge and get some variety into your office meals.
Oh, and I always keep emergency muesli bars and trail mix in a drawer (or my bag).


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:17 am 
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Kale Wreath
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On your night off, plan out a menu for the rest of the week and prepare everything in advance. Make big pots of stew/soup, chop veggies and make dressings for easy salads, etc. If you refrigerate/freeze in individual portions than you have minimal work to get ready for the day in the morning. And if you sleep in or something you can always throw together a PB banana sandwich super-fast if you need to. I take lots of fruit to snack on, and sometimes crackers and spread as well. A thermos for hot lunches/dinners is also great. That's how I do it!

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:42 am 
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mostly already said:
-soup
-freeze a lot (the VBrunch sausages freeze really well, i make a double batch every time and freeze them)
-i eat a lot of fruit- no prep needed. if it doesn't fill you enough, PB or almond butter or whatever to eat with the fruit, seed powder to sprinkle on it.
-also, weekend cooking and using the rice cooker (whether you have a timer on it or not)

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:33 am 
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Like everyone else has already said: cook big batches and freeze in portion-sized containers.

Also, stock the fridge with big packs of raw nuts and fruits that are easy to grab, or pack for snacks on the go.

When I my life was ultra-busy I used to cook on Sunday afternoons/ evenings, usually just one giant pot of soup or stew (though there's no reason you couldn't do something funner, like lasagna, or enchiladas, or whatever floats your boat).

Then I'd keep maybe two portions in the fridge for use for lunch over the next 2-3 days, and freeze the rest in small containers or ziplocs. Over time I had a giant archive of different foods to choose from in my freezer. At night I'd just take out whatever I felt like eating for lunch the next day and let it thaw. In the morning I'd pack my lunch box. (I'd usually ad some salad greens or some other type of raw veggie.) All this with no more than a total of 2-3 hours tops spent cooking each week.

Also, I got myself cute lunchboxes and bentos to make the experience more fun for myself. I was the envy of my entire floor at the corporate high rise.


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:20 am 
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Monday through Friday, I get home around 7:30 and on Wednesdays, I get home at 10:30. I do what others on this thread have said which is basically cook large batches of staples. Like last night I cooked quinoa and roasted squash, those were used for lunches today and will be used for dinner. It took very little active cooking time. So I'm not opposed to cooking food for the next day. I don't cook something every day but Wednesdays I definitely don't cook.

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:11 pm 
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get a crock pot! just take a couple minutes to throw stuff together in the morning and come home to a hot dinner waiting for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:55 pm 
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I need to stalk this thread because my eating tends to suffer when I work 14-15 hour days 6 days a week. Sometimes I can plan ahead well enough. This week I survived on tempeh shepherds pie and beet apple soup for lunch/dinner the entire week. Boring, yes, but better than eeating junk.


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:24 pm 
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I agree with everyone else, about cooking large amounts and freezing them or keeping them in the fridge. I generally cook a big batch of beans and rice and some steamed veggies or maybe some pasta on the weekend and eat that for a few days. Kind of boring, but it works and it's better than eating junk for sure!


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:31 pm 
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I have that same problem too! Everyone has good ideas, but I don't really know how people have time to cook so many things on the few days they have off. I cook whenever I can. I think accepting that a very simple meal is ok is important. Pasta and tomato sauce is totally fine meal. I also accept help from tofurkey and frozen things. I didn't used to buy these things as much, but being able to make a sandwich and bring it to school with me is such a big help.

I don't know what your classes are like, but I have class from 5-8 some nights and at about 6:30 pretty much everyone takes out their dinner and eats it during the lecture. I would die if I had to wait till 9 or 9:15 when I got home. Maybe it's only acceptable because we are nutrition students, but it's ridiculous to think that people can have class at that time without eating.

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:39 pm 
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I do pretty much was everyone recommends above--cook on my days off and simplify my meals. When I'm really busy, I pretty much have some variation of a bean soup every day--I make a giant pot whenever I have time (usually Sundays), divide it into containers, freeze a few and put the others in the fridge to grab during the beginning of the week to throw in my lunch bag. The frozen ones are for later in the week or just to have on hand.

My meals go pretty much like this: Steel cut oats cooked overnight in my fuzzy logic rice cooker with some apple and cinnamon. I add a blob of nut butter or some walnuts and chia seeds, and whatever else I feel like. This is what I eat if I'm not going to the gym before work.

If I am going to the gym, I make a almond butter and jam sandwich on high fiber bread and take that and some fruit with me to the gym and then eat it at work.

Lunch: A container of the aforementioned soup, maybe half of an almond butter sandwich or some crackers, baby carrots, an apple, and some nuts and prunes for an afternoon snack. I usually throw in some chocolate or something else sweet, too. (Note: this afternoon snack is super important so I don't totally crash before I can eat dinner.

After work I go to teach Pilates for an hour or two, then get home. Dinners are SIMPLE. Maybe some pasta with tomato sauce and a small salad on the side (I buy huge containers of baby greens so I all I have to do is plop some in a bowl, dress, and eat). Sometimes it's corn chips with guacamole. Sometimes it's quinoa (cooked in my fuzzy logic rice cooker) with some sauteed garlicky kale and garbanzos. If I got my act together in the morning, I might have put some things in the slow cooker to make a soup/stew (I LOVE coming home and having dinner already ready). Sometimes it's a rice bowl with avocado, nori, tofu and cucumbers. Dinners tend to be really fast and easy.

In a nutshell: I use my fuzzy logic rice cooker like mad to have grains cooked when I need them (if I had to come home after a 10+ hour day and cook a pot of brown rice, it would never happen). I rely heavily on canned beans. I make huge batches of bean soups so I have some quick and satisfying protein readily available. I keep it simple. I plan my weekly dinner menu in advance so I have a plan and can go on autopilot when I get home to make dinner.


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 5:00 pm 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
I think accepting that a very simple meal is ok is important.


I think this is key. When I worked part-time, I used to spend an hour and a half or two hours preparing one meal. Now that I work full-time, I have to accept that sometimes, dinner is just going to be spaghetti with tomato sauce and kale.

I do most of my meal prep on Sundays. I go grocery shopping, wash all the produce, cook a batch of beans and some type of grain (quinoa, brown rice, etc.) and freeze those. I usually also make a big batch of vegetable dumplings for lunches (I walk home from my office for lunch) and put together some pizza dough to proof in the fridge. I'll also try to flip through my cookbooks and write down some recipes that sound good so that on days where I come home and don't know what to make, I'll refer to the list.

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 5:08 pm 
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Frozen & tinned veg make things so much easier.


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 5:33 pm 
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I'm not a super busy person but I do work nights and that means that I have no time to cook a few days a week. I usually make a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week and eat it every day (if something is good I can eat it every single day until it is gone, I know some people can't do that). Sometimes I will do quick breakfast for dinner meals with fronch toast or tofu scrambles. I always have fruit and veg on hand and usually make a batch of rice or other grain to keep in the fridge.
Occasionally I will cave and have a frozen kashi meal.
I would like to be one of those people that plan their meals and then shop for them. I'm not there yet. I've been looking at that vegetarian slow cooker cookbook on Amazon and might pick it up, I should use the slow cooker more.

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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 5:59 pm 
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Melomeals just posted a nice write up about cooking a few things on Sunday and eating throughout the week: http://melomeals.blogspot.com/2010/11/tips-and-sample-weekly-menu.html


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 Post subject: Re: Busy PPKers! How do you eat healthy throughout the week?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:35 pm 
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Invented Vegan Meringue
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
I have that same problem too! Everyone has good ideas, but I don't really know how people have time to cook so many things on the few days they have off. I cook whenever I can. I think accepting that a very simple meal is ok is important. Pasta and tomato sauce is totally fine meal. I also accept help from tofurkey and frozen things. I didn't used to buy these things as much, but being able to make a sandwich and bring it to school with me is such a big help.

I don't know what your classes are like, but I have class from 5-8 some nights and at about 6:30 pretty much everyone takes out their dinner and eats it during the lecture. I would die if I had to wait till 9 or 9:15 when I got home. Maybe it's only acceptable because we are nutrition students, but it's ridiculous to think that people can have class at that time without eating.


We're allowed to eat, but I usually just bring snacks to tide me through until I can get home.

I'll try some of these tips for the coming week, guys, and I'll let you all know how it goes!

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