This recipe has become one of my go-tos. It’s super easy, tasty, and makes me feel healthy because of all the vegetables I’m eating! It’s a great quick and low-maintenance dinner for your family—or, if you’re a college student like me, it can be […]
Meal planning, right? We’ve all been there. Finding healthy, easy, and relatively inexpensive meal ideas isn’t for the faint of heart. As a vegan and gluten and soy free college student, I’ve come to find this out first hand!
Here are a couple of general principles I follow to keep my meals as cheap as possible:
- Shop out of bulk bins as much as possible. Often items cost much, much less this way. Buying out of bulk bins is especially convenient when buying some ingredients for a new recipe that you don’t have on hand already. You can get just the amount you need, and then next time (if the recipe turns out, that is) you can stock up if you choose.That keeps the trial and error process of finding go-to meals as cost effective as possible. Some of the best bulk bins I’ve found are at Winco and Sprouts.
- Use dried spices instead of fresh ones. Whether a spice is dried or fresh when it goes into a recipe often doesn’t significantly, if at all, alter the taste of the recipe. Buying dried spices can be cheaper and much more convenient. I don’t know about you, but when I have bought fresh spices here and there, I use a tiny little bit and then the rest goes to waste. Also, the jars of dried spices often have equivalency information so you can be sure you’re putting the right amount into your recipe.
Luckily, I have found a few good recipes that vegans and non-vegans alike have enjoyed, so hopefully some of these will ease the struggle for you just a bit. Besides being delicious, each of these recipes and meal ideas is also healthy AND easy AND relatively inexpensive. Three for three. The following are five recipes that I hope will be beneficial to you and your family:
Lentil Brown Rice Salad
This is a family favorite that makes a nice, light spring or summer meal when paired with a fresh green salad, cooked veggies, grilled or baked chicken if you aren’t vegetarian, or even grilled tofu if you are vegetarian. I’ve even eaten this as a stand-alone lunch before.
1 ½ cups cooked brown rice (cooked in veggie broth)
1 cup cooked lentils*, cooled
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
⅓ cup sliced green onions, including tops
1 Tbsp snipped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Combine rice, lentils, tomatoes, onions, and parsley in medium bowl. Whisk remaining ingredients in small bowl; add to rice mixture and toss. Chill. Makes 4 servings.
*To cook lentils, combine ½ cup dry lentils with 1 cup water in saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain.
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Another family favorite! Quinoa is packed with nutrition and is a complete protein by itself, so this salad can be a well-rounded meal by itself since it contains unrefined carbs, protein, vegetables, and a little healthy fat. Again, this can be paired with salad, other veggies, lean meat or tofu, or eaten by itself.
1 cup raw quinoa
1 ¾ cups water or veggie broth
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp grated lime zest
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼-½ cup diced red bell pepper
¼-½ cup diced cucumber
1 roma tomato, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 green onions
⅓ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
In a saucepan, combine quinoa, water or broth, and 1 Tbsp of oil. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, whisk together lime zest, lime juice, and 1 Tbsp oil.
Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Add beans, bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, and chopped cilantro. Drizzle with the lime mixture and toss gently to coat.
Serve warm or chilled. Makes 4 servings and 6 cups total.
A baked potato bar is a great way for families to eat together while letting family members personalize their own meals. Some of my favorite toppings as a vegan are salsa, green onions, and guacamole. For non-vegans, sour cream, cheese, and butter are some additional options. Chili or leftover chunky soup or stew are other tasty toppings. A simple green salad really compliments these well, and feel free to add meat or tofu to round out the meal, if desired.
I usually follow this aluminum foil oven baking method from “The Kitchn” website.
Tomato Basil Cream Pasta
Some people live on Ramen noodles their freshman year of college (and for the duration in a lot of cases– let’s be real); however, I lived on this stuff. It’s quick and easy, and you can substitute ½ to ¾ a can of plain diced tomatoes for the fresh tomato called for in the recipe for convenience. Bulk bins are a great place to look for affordable prices on cashews.You could use whole wheat or brown rice pasta to make this very healthy, or you could even swap out pasta for quinoa. Add a cooked or raw veggie on the side and you’ve got a complete, hearty, nutritionally balanced meal!
Here is the recipe.
Easy Vegetable Curry
This goes together so quickly and so easily! It has a very mild flavor, as far as curries go, so don’t be scared if you’re weary of strong flavors. This goes great over rice, quinoa, or even pasta. Because it’s a vegetable curry, no additional vegetables are required to make this a complete meal–bonus! As always, a side of lean meat would be a healthy addition for non-vegetarians.
Here is the recipe.
By Samantha Bullock
Summer is just around the corner, and that means melty popsicles, sunny pool days, family fun, and good barbecue. Here’s a deliciously easy recipe for classic pulled pork. You’ll need: 5-6 boneless pork chops 12 oz of your favorite cola drink (Dr Pepper, Coke, and […]
These bran muffins are the easiest breakfast-on-the-go! They are so delicious and so filling, and don’t even need anything to go with them (although they are delicious with butter or jam). The best part? The batter literally lasts 30 days in the refrigerator so you […]
With one month almost gone by in the New Year, my resolution to not eat chocolate every day is slipping.
That’s right, I am used to eating chocolate every day (my husband says I am a chocoholic). My resolution was made in an effort to feel healthier and not spend so much money buying sugar and cake mixes.
So what’s a chocoholic like me to do when those cravings start raging? Make some flourless chocolate muffins! I found this little recipe on Pinterest and it originally was posted on mywholefoodlife.com.
At first, I was skeptical of a four-ingredient recipe that was supposed to be “healthy” and taste good. But then I made them, and one bite transported me from skepticism to chocolatey peanut butter heaven (a chocoholic’s happy place). Those cravings were satisfied, and I have a guilt free snack I can eat every other day.
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
- 2 very ripe bananas
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- Pre-heat oven to 350.
- In a food processor combine all ingredients. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times.
- Once everything is mixed well, spoon batter into lined muffin cups. I used silicone molds. The batter will be VERY sticky. I found wetting a spoon kept it from sticking.
- I topped a few of mine with chocolate chips. Feel free to do the same.
- Place muffin pan in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.
- Wait until these are completely cooled before removing from the pan.
*Note: I also added a handful of chocolate chips after combining the ingredients in the food processor.
I need to share a few wonderful things with you all today. First is this video. It is How the Grinch Stole Christmas in American Sign Language, and you cannot tell me that this little girl isn’t the most adorable thing or that you don’t […]
This is a recipe I’ve seen pinned fairly often, and to be honest, the main reason I want to share it with you is because it is DELICIOUS. It’s perfect for fall (and pretty much any other time) and the ingredients aren’t too crazy. The […]
If you’re like me, which is to say, addicted to Pinterest, then I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of the same recipes floating around. Certain recipes get pinned hundreds of thousands of times.
But I want to know, do they actually work? Or is it just a pretty picture with a bogus recipe? So I tried this one out for you. You’re welcome.
One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta
The recipe can be found on the original blog here.
I made a few adjustments to the recipe, because I was only cooking for two (the recipe calls for 1 pound of pasta? Whew). Basically, I just added the amounts of ingredients that looked like enough to me, and luckily the recipe easily accommodates those changes. So if you’re cooking for one, two, or for all five of your roommates, this recipe is really adjustable.
Don’t have thyme? Don’t worry, I didn’t either. I used a couple dashes of oregano, which I really liked. Basil or Italian seasoning would work well with this dish.
Now for the most important part; how did it taste? I think that every dinner should have a protein, but I didn’t even miss it with this dish. It has a light, creamy, Italian taste. All of the vegetables work really well together, and parmesan is always a winner. Those things, along with the pasta, fill you up better than I thought just vegetables and pasta would.
The only thing to be careful of is how much water you use, because otherwise, your sauce turns out a little watery and not so delicious. If I made this again, I would be sure to salt the water that everything boils in, add the other seasonings sooner, and drain off some of the water to avoid the watery taste my sauce had a hint of.
All in all, this recipe is easy to follow, easy to adjust, and you only have to clean one pot afterwards! Win win win.
By Sam Lund
Ingredients: 8 Chocolate pudding cups 1 package of Oreos 1 package of mini pumpkin candies Directions: First split 8 Oreos into halves, leaving one side with all the cream filling. Set the cream filling ones aside. Take the remaining sides of the Oreos and crush […]