I’ve been mostly vegetarian for over 3 years now, and I’ve hit a slump. I haven’t told anyone because they’ll say, “At last, you got that out of your system!”
At our house we have continued weekly grocery shopping, and alternating who cooks the evening meal. Usually each of us makes a dish that lasts for 2-3 nights. In principle, that’s still working.
Although I don’t spend a lot on fine dining, I border on being a foodie. Rom, meanwhile, would happily survive on Weetabix, oatmeal and crackers. (Maybe it’s a British thing? Tea and digestive biscuits versus coffee and chocolate chip cookies?) I feel like we have reached an impasse.
When we started this way of eating, we both used cookbooks and tried loads of new recipes. We made up monthly meal plans, and intentionally varied the menu from week to week. After a while, we built up a repertoire. Theoretically, we could go back to that any time, or expand the range with new recipes. Instead, there is a growing tendency to “shop the pantry” and make a soup or stew from whatever is on hand from the cupboards and freezer, with few fresh ingredients or seasonings. In other words, we’re in a rut!
It would be easy to throw in the towel and say, “We gave it a good try, but it didn’t work out over the long run,” – it was too restrictive. I don’t believe that, though. Everyone I know has jags of not wanting to grocery shop or cook; of being bored with meals; of “What’s for dinner?” angst. We have to feed ourselves every day forever – obviously we are not always going to relish the effort.
I have looked at the options.
Go back to cooking meat. It would add in more flavours, textures and meal options. I’m sincerely not interested, though. I am a vegetarian for three reasons – the environment, health, and a dislike of handling and cooking meat. All of those reasons still stand.
Have meat-based meals elsewhere. Long time readers know that we eat meat if it is served to us in someone else’s home. In my opinion, how does it help the environment if I refuse food someone has already cooked for me? Each of us has a meat-based meal occasionally, out of the house, but I can honestly say we don’t have cravings and go on meat binges! No desire to increase those opportunities.
Eat out more often. This could easily become a regular thing. We love our neighbourhood restaurants and all the veggie places in the city, and I could picture us dining out every weekend. But I am thrifty enough not to want to do this. Furthermore, most of the meals available are things we can make at home inexpensively. But do we?!
Add meat substitutes to our diet. We don’t buy fake meat products such as tofu hot dogs, soy crumbles (TVP) or chik’n nuggets. We have been eating real food made of real ingredients for ages, and I don’t want to add industrial processed foods back in. I don’t mind “veggie fast food” once in a while, but I wouldn’t want it to be a dietary staple.
Buy prepared vegetarian foods. Last week we picked up local take-out samosas which were awesome. It’s easy to get prepared burritos, veggie burgers (made with real food ingredients), bean salads, and so on. I usually do keep a vegetarian pizza in the freezer for rush-rush evenings.
Cook ahead of time for the freezer. I shouldn’t wait until I’m inspired and then cook lots, because those motivated days can be rare! But just schedule it like any other “chore” and get it done. When I start cooking, I get into The Zone and enjoy it.
Go back to monthly meal planning. Right now we plan and shop for our meals one week at a time. That is good for picking up in-season produce and specials at the grocery store. When we did a monthly meal plan, we paid a lot more attention to how often we had each dish, and we made sure we had a good balance over the course of the month. We swapped meals from one day or week to another depending on evening plans.
Try more new recipes. There is really nothing like getting fired up over new tastes, and finding new favourites!
Do a challenge. Maybe there’s already one out there I could try – like 30 Day Vegan.
My action plan? Get back to monthly meal plans, try new recipes and cook for the freezer sometimes. Mix it up with restaurant meals and take-out now and then. There is finally beautiful summer produce, and salads are waiting to be made for lunches. I just need a kick in the pants sometimes to get going! If I get really enthused, I could even barbecue 🙂
What do you do when you get the cooking blahs?