I make menu plans a month at a time and I stick to them quite closely. But deviations creep in, and they are predictable! At the very end of the month, after weeks of “compliance,” I just get lazy. Usually this extends to not making the next month’s meal plan until a couple days into the new month. Oh well, no meal planning equals no grocery shopping either, so it’s an opportunity to use up food that’s on hand!
September’s meal plan was typical. It started on September 3, which was just after a 3-day weekend. This month we made 6 different meals, each in big quantities, that lasted for a total of 15 evenings.
- Barley and mushroom stew (2 nights) – from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
- Lentil stuffed peppers (2 nights)
- Orzo salad, Greek style (3 nights) – from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
- Vegetable moussaka (3 nights)
- Carrot cashew burgers (2 nights) – from Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook
- Curried rice salad with cheddar (3 nights)
One night we had French toast and another night we had canned baked beans! We had dinners out twice, and dinner at my parents’ place weekly. I work one evening a week now, so on those nights, Rom and I fend for ourselves and have simple things.
In an ideal world, we would make extra meals and freeze them so that we could eat well no matter how lazy we felt. In the real world, the go-to easy foods are:
Level 1 – Easiest
- Toast with peanut butter
- Cheese toast made in the toaster oven
- Soup or beans from a can
- Prepared hummus with pita bread and carrot sticks
- A big baked potato cooked in the microwave
I don’t have cold cereal for dinner – I have too much of an appetite – but I’ve been known to make oatmeal!
Level 2 – Easy
Note that all of these require “cooking”
- Kraft Dinner (Kraft Macaroni and Cheese) from a box – or Annie’s brand, if you are more wholesome!
- Pasta with bottled tomato sauce
- Grilled cheese sandwiches made in the frying pan
- Apple and cheddar paninis (I won’t mention the banana and Nutella ones…)
- Rice with chick peas
- Scrambled eggs or an omelette
- Falafel Sloppy Joes (using a falafel mix)
- Salad (included here because of the effort of washing lettuce and chopping vegetables)
Level 3 – Simple
- Pizza made with fresh ingredients on a pre-made crust
- Stir fry
I believe that’s my complete list of quick and easy veggie meals right now. Everything else we make takes at least an hour!
What are your go-to quick meals? (Do you have packaged foods you can’t do without? Do you order in? Or keep something in the freezer?)
Love this post, Dar!
I also have a list of “Easy Dinners” that I resort to in between the main cook nights. Our ‘top 5’ are: (1) Omelettes (2) Steamed Veggies (from frozen packs in the fridge) with a fried egg on toast (3) Spaghetti Puttanesca (4) Baked Beans on Toast (5) Mac Cheese or Toasted Cheese Sandwiches.
Often I do these if my husband’s away for work and it’s just J. and I. But sometimes all 3 of us have these as well.
Thanks; I really like your idea of the fried egg and toast with veggies! Now that I can come home for lunch many days, I’m using quick meals then, too. So I’m actively looking for more ideas.
I seriously need to get out more because I’ve never heard of some of these foods! I was a vegetarian for 5 years until I got pregnant and my doctor said it was dangerous for the baby! Now I know that’s a load of nonsense! Ironically enough… my son that I was pregnant with is now a strict vegetarian!
LOL! I have only been a vegetarian for 1.5 years; my kid is an avowed carnivore!
Our go-to Level 1 meals are exactly the same. Level 2 it’s scambled eggs, RM Pizza + Salad or (from the freezer) Chili over Nachos.
Having some chili in the freezer would make me happy, but it would never last! I keep hoping I’ll get ambitious on a weekend and make a lasagna for the freezer. It won’t be this weekend!
You are really organized to menu plan by the month! I only have a general plan based on what I bought which is based on what was a good deal. I’m going to try the stuffed peppers as we love them made with other stuffings.
That came about because last year we were new to vegetarian cooking, so we each chose 3 or 4 recipes from a cookbook and assigned them to certain days on the calendar. Then we used leftovers and quick meals to fill in the gaps, and Voila! – it filled up a month.
I usually keep chili or homemade soups in the freezer for those quick fixes. I have recently started menu planning and I currently plan Mon-Fri and on the weekends my goal is to creatively use up left overs to avoid food waste. It seems to be working. I would like to get as organized as you and be able to plan for a month.
I made some soup for the freezer last winter. I’m hoping I’ll feel more inspired when the weather cools off! Although I plan meals a month ahead, I grocery shop weekly. We also swap one planned meal for another whenever it’s more convenient, and it works out by month end!
I don’t really plan my meals at all, which is easy when you’re only cooking for yourself. My go-to meals for lazy or busy nights are baked potatoes with salad, scrambled eggs with veggies, bacon and eggs or nachos. I try to make a big batch of something on Sundays, then my meals get simpler and simpler as the week goes on.
That makes perfect sense! I would think that one big cooked meal each week and its leftovers would do the trick, with some easy meals to round it out.
Rice with veggies, sandwiches of all kinds, and pizza are quick and easy favorites around here. We used to meal plan before my husband was deployed, and just haven’t gotten back into the habit since he’s returned. I like your idea of picking just a few meals and filling in with leftovers and quick fixes. I’ll have to try that!
We have a very high tolerance for leftovers and will eat the same thing 3 nights in a row, which not everyone would choose!
This is so useful – I think we all have meal burnout and just want the easy way out! Mostly it falls on a Thursday for me, and this week, the BF took us out, and it was nice! but I need to create a similar list, and also keep some stuff in stock so I can whip it up on nights it’s otherwise too hard!
When the planned meal is too time-consuming, I try to switch it for an easier meal on the meal plan. But sometimes I’ll just have cheese toast or eggs, and go back to the meal plan the next day. I wonder why I don’t acknowledge that will happen? It would work so much better to have some stand-by meals in the freezer!
We had a quick dinner thrown together with leftovers tonight – I used last night’s marinara sauce leftovers, some stock (I used chicken, but vegetable would be just as good), a can of romano beans and a cup of small tube pasta. The marinara was already seasoned, so all I had to do was add the other ingredients and bring it to a boil until the pasta was done. It makes a pretty hardy soup, especially served with salad and bread.
That sounds yummy!