Meal Plan Monday: Eating Well When Short on Time

Yesterday was such a busy day I didn’t get to post my meal plan. I attended a Christmas Party with my husband at a nice Italian restaurant. They brought special food for my husband and I so we were able to enjoy salad, dinner and dessert without animal products. ūüôā

We have been so busy lately that I don’t have a lot of time to cook. Honestly,¬†I do have time (usually).¬†I just prioritize poorly. I know you know what I’m talking about because YOU do the same thing. Go ahead and admit it.

This week I’m going to (attempt) to pay closer attention to how long it actually takes to prepare meals. I’ll report back on My Plant-Based Family’s Facebook page. A little note, if you already like my page but don’t see regular posts you may need to add it to your interest list. ūüôā

Meal Plan

Breakfast is always easy; oatmeal, granola, cereal, toast with nut butter (or seed butter), and fruit. My husband usually eats fruit but he eat several pieces, he loves smoothies too. Oatmeal is my favorite right now, packed with flax and chia seeds, dried fruit and cinnamon.

Lunch is often leftovers that can be quickly assembled. This Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole is great reheated. Veggie Stuffed Pita with hummus is my favorite lunch. Sometimes my boys get a parfait for lunch. I start with 3/4 cup of non-dairy yogurt, about 1 Tbsp of chia seeds, 2ish Tbsp ground flax seeds, 1/4 cup walnuts, some granola if we have it and dried or diced fruit. Almond butter sandwiches on gluten-free bread make a regular appearance too.

Snacks are often fruit sometimes with almond butter, smoothies, or veggies with hummus. Sometimes something like chips and salsa (and guacamole) are just what I need.

Dinner Time! We eat dinner together as a family, have I mentioned that before? It’s important to us to have that time together. It doesn’t always work but it is the norm. Last night we had salad and pasta at a Christmas party. Later in the week I’ll be making dinner for another family so I plan to make the Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole and take some tortillas and guacamole. Today or tomorrow I plan to make BBQ Chickpea Salad and Three Bean Chili. We still have some cooked black-eyed peas and quinoa that are ready to eat.

To save time I plan to use my slow cooker some this week and eat more big salads; also cooking double batches of things like rice and beans to save time on other days. I’ll also use my microwave to quickly steam veggies and “bake” potatoes. I try to keep cooked beans frozen in 2 cup portions for easy meals.

What are your tips to save time in the kitchen?

Bean and Grain Bowl

I’ve mentioned that I LOVE to make (eat and share) Bean¬†and Grain Bowls; I’ve said it often enough I assume you know what I mean but in case you don’t allow me to explain.

I try to have at least one type of grain and one type of bean cooked and in the fridge at all times. It doesn’t always happen but it is a goal none the less. I keep a few cans of beans in the pantry too.

I recently had a lunch meeting where lunch was being provided, I didn’t know what would be served but I was certain I wouldn’t be able to eat it. As I was rushing to get ready I stopped and put some cooked quinoa, some rinsed black beans (from a can) and a few tablespoons of salsa in a container. I didn’t even taste test it.

Once I got to the meeting pizza was being served. A friend of mine, who is working toward a Plant-Based diet, was there too; I gave her a taste of my quinoa and bean bowl and she LOOOVED it! She went out and bought the ingredients and made it for her family.

You don’t have to use quinoa and black beans AND it doesn’t have to be in a bowl.

This was made with cooked Barley (not gluten free), pinto beans, and homemade salsa served on a corn tortilla (pictured above). It was very tasty as well. If you are looking for maximum “comfort food” taste without the guilt you can make these nachos, pictured below, using a grain that has been seasoned with Mexican spices. I like to use my homemade taco seasoning, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder, sometimes I’ll add cumin and tomato sauce.

Brown rice, chickpea’s and steamed veggies make a great bowl as well, if you’re looking for more flavor add in your favorite Asian inspired sauce.

Yesterday I even mixed up some beans and grains that stuffed them into bell peppers then stuck them on the grill. One pepper contained my usual quinoa and black beans with corn, diced tomatoes, and jalapenos; but the other was quinoa and lentils.

So let your imagination run wild, as wild as beans and grains can get. Maybe try a different grain every week. I use quinoa a lot but millet  and amaranth are also good options. Some grains like Rye, Wheat, and Barley naturally contain gluten so if you are gluten free you may want to do a little research before trying them.

Meal Plan Monday:Quick Meals

About a month ago several friends of mine were talking about how busy there summers were going to be. I just sat back with a smirk because I had almost nothing planned, that is until my calendar started filling up. This week is a very busy week in our household. We had a much busier weekend than normal and didn’t even do our normal grocery shopping.¬†

My goal is to make due with what we have, maybe make a fruit and almond milk run, and have all dinner take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Breakfast and lunches usually only take about 5 minutes to make. I like to cook beans and grains on the weekend so they can be heated for a quick meal, alas I did not do that this weekend. I’ll make sure I cook these when I find spare time in the afternoon.¬†

Meal Plan

Breakfast will be oatmeal, toast, cereal, and fruit.

Lunch will be sandwiches, wraps, or leftovers, inventive I know. 

Snacks will be fruit, mini muffins I made over the weekend, and chips and salsa.

Dinner 

Monday: Brown rice with taco seasoned lentils, corn, salsa and guacamole.

Tuesday: Baked Potato (busy evening)

Wednesday: Veggie Stir Fry (made with spinach, carrots, red bell pepper, onions, garlic, and some frozen veggies to round things out)

Thursday: Spinach Dal

Friday: Bean Burritos 

The only thing that will take over 30 minutes to make is the brown rice. I’ll make a big batch and use the leftovers through the week to save time later.¬†

Do you have any tips or tricks for saving time in the kitchen? What is your favorite quick meal?