Meal planning

We decided to try a vegan meal plan just to get out of the rut we are currently in and to see what other vegans are eating.  There are an awful lot of meal plans out there, I found, but very few as comprehensive as the one we found on VegCooking.com.  I made a long list and went shopping.  What I discovered is that too often, new vegans opt for replacing old comfort foods rather than discovering new foods altogether.  Many of these recipes were simply old SAD (Standard American Diet) choices “veganized” with fake meats.  My kids and husband and I have grown so accustomed to veggies for veggies’ sake that these imitations did not go over well.

I prefer to reinvent the entire meal concept, centering everything around a veggie rather than a “meat.”  Meat replacements are fun once in a while, but if you check the list of ingredients, they read like something out of a science fair experiment gone wrong. Isn’t the whole idea to be healthy, to eat natural foods?

What I recommend is picking a favorite veggie for each day of the week and going from there.  If there’s a veggie that you don’t particularly like, try to prepare it in a new way.  For example, there are those among us who do not like brussel sprouts (you know who you are), but once these little mini-lettuces (or so my kids call them) are cooked up in a soup, they become delicious and complement broccoli quite wonderfully.  Check out the Asian markets -- there are so many veggies out there; think outside the bag of frozen peas and carrots!  I usually just pick something up even if I’ve never heard of it, then Google how to prepare it.

Have fun with grains -- there are many out there that you may not have tried: spelt, amaranth, millet, quinoa, etc.  Or try some soy noodles (Shirataki is one brand found at many natural food stores) -- a bit chewy, but you certainly don’t feel as full after you eat them!

And there’s no rule against just eating a la carte.  Corn on the cob, grilled asparagus, sweet potatoes, and a bowl of raspberries -- our favorite meal in the summer!
After you’ve picked a veggie, pick a new grain to try.  Or pick up some tempeh or some seitan -- they’re not only fun to say, they’re amazingly tasty.  Then add fresh herbs and spices -- experiment with new flavors.  You will become a chef in no time, and the best part is that you will learn to really appreciate fresh foods.