10 Quick Easy Cooking Tips for Veg or Vegan
How to Eat a Healthy Veg Diet With Little Time or Inclination to Cook
Most vegetarians and vegans I know don’t have much time to cook. Some of them aren’t that fond of cooking either. They do it to survive and hopefully thrive.
But they know that’s not gonna happen if they eat the cheap fast food veggie options. Or Meals Ready to Eat wrapped in plastic and cardboard, loaded with food additives, preservatives, pesticides and gmos.
Most of us have jobs and responsibilities, plus we want to have a bit of fun. There doesn’t seem to be much time or energy left over for food, even with good intentions.
We tend to eat breakfast while running out the door - if at all. We feel virtuous if we take 5 minutes to throw together sandwich, cookie and apple for lunch. At supper time, we’re worn out and just want to collapse in front of the TV with a frozen pizza.
Catch 22: It Seems Like You Have 2 Choices:
1. Eat a horrible diet and feel unhealthy and guilty because you know better – but you do have time for a life, even though you might feel too lousy to enjoy it.
2. Spend all your time shopping and cooking (and eating) healthy food – but you don’t have time for a life, even though you have the energy to enjoy it.
Is it Possible to Escape the Vicious Veggie Circle? Yes It Is!
10 Tips for Eating Healthy with Time to Play:
1. Do you care enough about your diet to make a few small but meaningful changes so that you eat well without spending all your time on food? All right! Read on!
2. Compromise your food ideals for your own good. You know the ones I mean.
Just a few examples: Eat 100% organic, non-gmo, sustainable and Fair Trade; be a perfect label-reading vegan animal activist; eat an all-raw diet all year round even though you live in Minnesota; grow all your own food and cook everything you eat from scratch
It’s better to practice a few ideals well than quit because you don’t have time for all that. I said ‘well’, I didn’t mean ‘perfectly’.
3. Do you have anything in your cupboard or fridge that’s been there for more than a year, has been opened or is past it’s sell-by-date?
You don’t really want to cook with it, but it gives you the false impression that you have food you might cook if only you could bring yourself to do it. Same goes for the limp veggies and the science experiments in the fridge.
Clear it all out and toss it. It’s holding you back.
Restock your cupboards with foods that you like and you know will be part of your diet in the near future. No need to buy everything at once – just as needed for your cooking.
3. Practice Time Management. Most of us know what that means, and may even apply it in our work and personal lives. Apply it to food as well.
Take a few minutes on your day off or a free evening to roughly plan your meals for the week and a list of the foods you need to buy. Then go shopping and get everything you need in one trip.
Keep a running list on the fridge or a bulletin board or in your cell phone of foods you’re low on or out of and replace them on your weekly shopping trip.
4. When or if you do cook, go for variations on simple one-pot meals that you make again and again, rather than multi-course meals. Stir fries for example.
Eat the same thing for supper that you had for lunch or save it for a take-along lunch the next day, or freeze for an emergency supper.
If you have time and inclination, make big batches of your favorite foods to freeze so when you come home starving and tired, you’ve got something instant to eat. If you cook a grain or noodles, make enough for several meals and store it in the fridge or freezer.
5. Meal Planning: Plan meals that you can throw together in minutes with food that you already have on hand.
After you’ve shopped, adjust your meal plan because you’re not going to find everything on your list at the price you want to pay, and you’ll find things that weren’t on the list at a great price.
Always keep food on hand that you can use for instant gratification. When you’re tired and hungry, it’s a life-saver to have a few very quick, easy and healthy options.
Such As: black bean quesadillas, a hummus wrap or a re-heated veggie burger or soup, nut butter on toast with raw veggies & dip, a fried tofu sandwich and a salad, steamed or microwaved frozen tortellini & veggies.
A piece of fruit and a handful of nuts is a quick nutritious breakfast. So is fruit and yogurt with a handful of granola, or a muffin from the freezer – to eat or take along.
Planning meals gets a lot easier after your cupboards and fridge are reasonably stocked and you’ve got a food pipeline going.
6. Processed food is your friend. At least some of it is:
Canned and frozen veggies, beans & soups; condiments and sauces; pickles, olives and fermented foods; dried and frozen pasta; breads and flatbreads, crackers and chips, breakfast cereals, cookies; herbs and spices; cooking oils; nut butters & hummus; non-dairy milk, yogurt, sour creme, tofu, tempeh & seitan; baking supplies if you LIKE to bake.
Buy good quality, buy organic when & if you can, stock up at sales.
7. Take full advantage of all the time & labor saving devices that you can afford or talk somebody into buying for you or find used. I’m talking about things like jar blenders, stick blenders, food processors, pressure cookers, crockpots, electric kettles.
Invest in a decent set of knives (chefs knife, paring knife, bread knife), learn how to use them and keep them sharp. Plus big & small cutting boards.
If you’re not actually planning to cook except for re-heating stuff, skip the tools you’ll never use. Invest in a good microwave, glass containers and a toaster oven.
8. Quick & Easy Recipes from Savvy Vegetarian:
- Chickpea Salad Sandwich Spread
- Refried Beans
- Tofu Burgers
- Tofu, Pasta & Veggies
- Tofu Salad Sandwich Spread
- White Beans And Greens
9. It’s worth buying a few quick easy cookbooks for ideas and inspiration, whether you enjoy cooking or it’s a necessary evil. Owning some real print cookbooks boosts your cooking confidence, helping you learn more about cooking, and making it easier and more fun to cook.
Quick Easy Cook Books I Recommend:
- 30 Minute Vegan
- New Fast Food Pressure Cooker Ebook
- Quick Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson
- Speed Vegan by Alan Roettinger
- The Everything Vegan Cookbook
- Vegan Express by Nava Atlas
10. Food Economics: Relying on simply processed foods is more expensive than making everything from scratch and growing some of your own food. That takes more time, but you can live on less, and you don’t have to work as much for money to buy food, so you end up with more time. At least that’s the theory.
On the other hand, if you can think of a dozen activities that you enjoy more than cooking, it may be worth it to spend more money to free up more time. If you always eat out, find restaurants that serve nourishing filling meals.
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian