A Week of Vegan Meals

Sunday, 24 January 2016

One of the most common misconceptions of veganism is probably that you’re super limited in what you can eat, that you eat only the same things all of the time, that you only eat grass, etc. etc.  The reality couldn’t be further from the truth – you only need to peruse a couple of vegan food blogs to see that!  But, not all of us are foodies who can devote lots of time to food preparation and not all of us can afford 100% fresh ingredients for every single day of the week.  I don’t know about you, but I found veganism a little bit daunting at first because of the amount of mainly raw food vegan bloggers and Instagrammers with their colourful meals and the time they spent preparing their own vegan parmesan and a week’s worth of rainbow smoothies.

I’ve been wanting to blog about what I eat for a while now, and I thought what better time to blog about vegan meals than Veganuary?  If you don’t already know, Veganuary is an initiative to get more people to try going vegan for the month of January; this year as many as a whopping 20,000 people have taken the pledge which is pretty huge considering less than half that decided to do it last year.  The month is nearly over, but for people who are struggling or who are thinking about continuing to eat vegan after January has ended, I’m hoping that my meals will be at best a bit of food inspiration, or at least a reminder that no, you don’t have to eat really exciting, healthy meals all the time to eat vegan!

Before I dive into the food, I’ll tell you a little bit about my lifestyle and taste in food in general to get an idea of why I cook what I do.  I work full time Monday to Friday, so not only do I lack time and energy in the evenings to prepare really extensive or exciting dinner menus, I also eat my breakfast at work because I have to get up so early (and eating as soon as I get up makes me feel sick).  So, as well as either myself or my Other Half cooking dinner each weekday night, I also have to prepare my breakfast and lunch in advance too.  Most of the time, my lunch will be leftovers from one or two nights before, and we always try to cook enough that there’s some spare for at least one of my lunches.  During the weekend though, I have a lot more time to play around with food and do things that require more time or more preparation, and this tends to be when I eat the most interesting meals.

I’m also one of those people who will eat basically anything!  I’m not a fussy eater in the slightest – in fact, most of the food that I was picky about is off the table as a vegan now anyway (tinned tuna and mayo for example, yuck).  So, I eat a variety of different things and mix everything up quite often.  I love curries (although none feature in this post) and I love lentils, beans and pulses.  But, I also love store-bought vegan mince, bread, sausages, rice, pasta and other ‘less healthy’ vegan food options.  Whatever it is, I’ll probably love it and gobble it up in no time.

I haven’t recorded or written about my snacks throughout the week, partly because I don’t snack too much and partly because I couldn’t be bothered (oops) but if this is something you would be interested in then let me know!

With that said, let’s get cracking on the meals I at last week…


DAY ONE
Breakfast – French Toast with Golden Syrup
Since I don’t have the time during the week to have nice breakfasts, I usually have at least one day at the weekend every now and again where I cook something indulgent – usually this is pancakes, but this time I thought I’d try French toast since we had some white bread in for a change.  This is a simple recipe made by coating the bread in a mixture of non-dairy milk, a bit of flour, brown sugar and spices, frying it off until crispy and then slathering in the syrup of your choosing.  It takes less than 15 minutes to whip up and is just as tasty as a non-vegan version.

Lunch – Flatbread with Hummus and Pitta Chips
This one is a prime example of when I use the weekends to prepare more interesting meals – both the hummus and the flatbread here are homemade!  The flatbreads are super simple; I used to make them with just flour and water, but this is just as easy with a bit of oil and non-dairy milk as well as water.  There’s a bunch of different recipes of flatbreads out there, so have a look around and find one that works for you.  For these, all you have to do is roll them out and then fry them in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes on each side.

The hummus you need a food processor for, but if you have you just whack in a tin of chickpeas, some olive oil, a spoonful of tahini, salt, pepper and lemon juice and you have a delicious, homemade hummus.  I sprinkled mine with paprika and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  I don’t use much oil or tahini in mine because I like the more chunky texture, but most recipes call for way more than I actually use.  This way, it’s much healthier though and way cheaper than buying it from the shops!

The pitta chips were delicious and from my The Vegan Kind box this month – I’ll be writing a bit more about them in my review of January’s box.

Dinner – Spaghetti Bolognese
Bolognese sauces used to be a go-to of mine but I hadn’t done them in a while, and this was my first go of doing one in our slow cooker.  All you need is vegan mince, a variety of vegetables, a tin of tomatoes and some tomato puree and passata, a splash of red wine and/or red wine vinegar and whatever herbs and seasonings you like.  I like to add a little bit of marmite for an extra level of savouriness.  We had ours with whole wheat spaghetti and a glass of nice red wine!


DAY TWO
Breakfast – Chocolatey Cereal
#notsohealthyvegan.  This is that Star Wars cereal my mum gave me for Christmas – it’s tasty, easy, chocolatey and vegan!

Lunch – Spiced Porridge with Nuts and Seeds
Sometimes I don’t always eat a savoury meal for lunch and just have a second breakfast instead.  This was one of those days!  The porridge base was Tesco’s Bircher Muesli base, which it says to use for a kind of overnight oats-type dish but I just heat it up and it achieves the same effect.  I then added stevia sweetener, allspice, cinnamon and nuts to it with (obviously) some soya milk.

Dinner – Flatbread topped with Bean and Tofu Salad
Using up the rest of the flatbreads from the day before, I made a quick salad out of black turtle beans fried with some smoked paprika and chilli, and some tofu fried off in the same spices.  The salad is lettuce, red onion, tomato, grated carrot and cucumber, but you could add whatever you wanted to it.  I always forget how nice grated carrot is in sandwiches and carrots are dirt cheap so it’s great value for money, too.


DAY THREE
Breakfast – Sweet Potato Porridge
And so we enter the working the week!  My breakfasts are always some kind of fruit with either oats, granola or muesli, served as a hot oatmeal or just eaten cold with soya milk or yoghurt.  This time, I had hot bircher muesli and used up the rest of an old sweet potato that I roasted and turned into a purée, plus flax seeds and a bit of stevia to sweeten it further.  This was incredibly delicious and so filling I didn’t even really need my lunch, but I’m greedy so I ate it anyway.

Lunch – Bean and Tofu Salad
This lunch was just the leftovers from the night before, minus the bread.  The salad, beans and tofu made a really light but filling, tasty meal.

Dinner – Bolognese with Pasta Shells
We used up almost all of the rest of the Bolognese sauce, but used shells instead of spaghetti this time.  Sometimes when we do big batches of food we’ll freeze it, other times we’ll just eat all of it up throughout the week.  Either way, cooking in bulk saves a lot of money and time.


DAY FOUR
Breakfast – Summer Berry Oats with Vanilla Yoghurt
A simple cold breakfast using frozen summer berries (frozen berries are a huge money saver for breakfasts and smoothies), with some rolled oats, flax seeds, nuts, raisins and some (not pictured because it was in my work fridge) vanilla Alpro yoghurt.  Alpro yoghurt is easily the best non-dairy yoghurt I’ve tried so far and the vanilla version is delicious.  I especially recommend buying lots of it when it’s on offer, because unlike dairy yoghurt, non-dairy yoghurt can last for a couple of months in the fridge.

Lunch – Pasta Bolognese
Leftover pasta from the night before!

Dinner – Vegetable Soup with Butter Beans and Tofu
Sometimes the Other Half and I will eat different meals since he’s an omnivore and I’m not, and this is an example of something really quick that doesn’t take much preparation or thinking about that I can throw together while he’s preparing his food.  It’s basically just carrots, celery, onion, kale and frozen peas and sweetcorn cooked in a vegetable stock with some butter beans and leftover tofu that needed using up, but on a cold winter night it’s not only healthy but very warm and comforting.


DAY FIVE

Breakfast – Summer Berry Oats with Vanilla Yoghurt
Yes, again.  I’m a normal human who sometimes eats the same meals several times in one week.

Lunch – Vegetable Soup with Butter Beans and Tofu
Leftover soup from the night before.

Dinner – Cajun Roasted Vegetables
Although they take a while, roasted vegetables are another great dinner because they’re just so easy.  If we have enough time in the evenings, all we do is chop up a bunch of veg, pop them in the oven with some oil and seasoning and then just leave them for about forty minutes and then bam, dinner.  This one was made up of onion, sweet potato, parsnip, carrot, half of a leftover yellow pepper and some chickpeas mixed with salt and some Cajun spices.  Although buying fresh vegetables all the time can be expensive and you need a lot of them to fill you up, sweet potatoes and root vegetables are still really nutritious, affordable and are great roasted with some nice spices.


DAY SIX
Breakfast – Peanut Butter and Banana Porridge
We got bananas in, so on Thursday I had a banana-based porridge with bircher muesli, flax seeds and a spoonful of peanut butter for extra flavour.

Lunch – Vegetable Soup with Butter Beans and Tofu
Yes, again.  This is the last of it though, promise.

Dinner – Sausages with Brown Rice and Boiled Veg
I’m still disappointed that the Tesco vegetarian sausages I used to eat weren’t vegan, but these Linda McCartney ones are good enough!  I think these are the rosemary and red onion ones, and they taste basically like stuffing which is pretty okay with me.  For veg, we used up the last of our carrots along with some frozen peas and broad beans, served with a side of brown rice.


DAY SEVEN
Breakfast – Spiced Walnut and Banana Porridge
Another banana in my breakfast, this time with some walnuts, cinnamon and allspice for a tasty, festive porridge, again with the Tesco bircher muesli.

Lunch – Brown Rice with a Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwich
Yep, you read that right.  I’m not that bothered about my lunches at work, so when I’m tired or have run out of food, I totally just eat rice or peanut butter sandwiches.  We had some rice leftover from the night before, but not enough for a meal’s worth, so I just sprinked it with hot sauce and then had half of a PB&J sandwich to get me through the rest of my Friday.

Dinner – Pizza
Finishing the week off with a bang is one of my favourites – vegan pizza!  I prefer to just have a cheeseless pizza rather than use a vegan cheese substitute, and for a quick last-minute pizza I use one of the Napolina bases that are vegan and last in your cupboard for ages (and can also be frozen).  Usually I use a home made sauce, but this time I had a bit of a jar of sauce leftover from when I had to bring my own food for a New Year’s Eve party (yes it was a while ago…) so I used that mixed with a bit of tomato passata.  This one also features my favourite topping: red onions, capers, olives, artichoke and fresh tomato with a sprinkle of chilli and oregano.  Done in under 20 minutes, and way healthier than a cheese-covered frozen pizza.

And that’s it – a week of vegan meals.  As you can see, I’ve been pretty honest and I like to think pretty realistic compared to some of the meal sharing posts and blogs you see around.  I don’t have an Instagram diet, I don’t have super interesting things every evening and I duplicate meals and eat leftovers a lot, but I do still eat balanced, healthy and generally affordable meals.  You can be a healthy vegan with a diverse diet without it being really healthy, raw or exciting all the time!  I hope you found this interesting, entertaining and/or in some way helpful!  If you have any meal-related tips, tricks or ideas you’d like to share, let me know in the comments.

8 comments

  1. This post is so helpful! I really get disheartened sometimes when I see great looking vegan food online but there are 35 expensive ingredients in the recipe. Love your honesty about eating leftovers and the same meals on repeat :)

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    1. Thanks! Honestly that's part of the reason why I did it, I want to see more ~real people~ food posts on blogs and social media so I thought, why not be the change I want to see? Haha. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  2. This is exactly what I needed to see! Last week, I started a 30-day vegan challenge, and I'm planning to stick to it afterwards, so inspiration is always helpful.

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    1. Happy to help and I hope your challenge goes well!

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  3. I love houmous and flatbread but I've never thought of making my own before, yours sounds delicious! I've been using vegan recipes more and more recently so it's really interesting to see what you eat on a daily basis - I'll have to try making the vegan bolognese with marmite :) xx

    Toasty

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  4. Wow, all of this looks sooo good! I'm trying to eat more vegan meals this year, trying to phase out most dairy products. Great inspiration! :D xx

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  5. My GOD these look yummy! I've written a few down to try and will keep coming back for more inspiration. I've also recently tried the Linda McCartney sausages and they're surprisingly really tasty - more so than the Quorn ones for definite!

    With love, V. x
    veeosullivan.co.uk

    ReplyDelete

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