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Food Friday: The Vegetarian Week Menu 
3rd-Aug-2007 11:32 am
A friend of mine1 mentioned that when you've not been vegetarian and you're trying it on for size, it's difficult to decide how to plan your week's meals/grocery list.

I've gotten most of my meal planning from my mother and grandmother. They've always been about simple, healthy meals. This is what I default to when I'm doing meal planning. I can cook big, elaborate meals, but you know...I'm not being paid to cook, so I've got to be economical with time during regular days.

The biggest thing to remember, for anyone planning a meal for vegetarians, is that you cannot directly substitute meat from meals with vegetables.

For example, if you take a beef stew and change it to be zucchini/courgette stew, it won't have the same sticking power. Put another way, you're probably not going to feel as full. Why? You taken away the fat and protein from the dish.2

So, when you plan your meals, think of what you will use for protein, and yes, fat, in each dish. If you can't think of a way to alter a recipe to include protein/fat, have some nuts or a bit of cheese as a side dish.

So, a sample week.

I do meal planning from Friday to Friday because I like to have the best selection in my pantry/something already prepared for Sabbath.

Also, in case you're wondering, this list is largely gluten free. I'll indicate any places that would need substitution.

I'm not including lunch/breakfasts, for the most part. I eat very little other than fruit/cheese/raw veg for those meals, so there isn't much I can tell you about them.

Friday: Put some beans on to soak in the am. (Pinto or black, black for preference.) In the afternoon, boil them and have some of those beans with some rice for supper.
If you're not into beans, have some lentils over the rice instead.

Beans or Lentil recipe
Once boiled, season with salt and pepper. For a bit of interest, stir in some tabasco sauce or some garlic oil.

Boil for the time listed on the packaging. (I've been using Sainsbury's brown lentils, boil for 20 minutes.)
For taste, boil with a bay leaf in the pot. Lentils are also nice with garlic, if you feel like mincing.

While you're preparing for Friday's dinner, make up a casserole with the rest of the beans, if you've made them. If you're not into making your own beans, you can cut corners and use the Heinz Mexican beans/pinto beans in water that come tinned.

Tortilla casserole recipe, this is redthought's by the way.
Layer tortillas, salsa, the beans, and cheese in a baking pan.
Start with the salsa, then tortillas, then beans, ending each layer with cheese.
Homemade salsa is a nice touch, but not a requirement. :)
Make it gluten-free with all corn tortillas.

Bake casserole. Eat. (Ah, simplicity.)3

This usually ends up to be an eating out sort of day.
If it isn't, I make some sort of curry.

Fast Thai and Indian Curry recipes
Serve both of these with rice.

Mix anywhere from 2 to 6 tablespoons of curry paste (get it at a Asian grocery) with a tin of coconut milk. Stir to combine the two over low heat.
Add whatever veg/ingredients suit. I personally like the Quorn chicken pieces and broccoli. Asparagus, edamame, green peas, snap beans, tofu,4, baby corn, or mangetout are also good.
If you're feeling fancy, garnish with chopped peanuts.

Chop up onion (or puree in a blender if you're not a chunks o' onion fan) and sauté it in about 1.5 Tablespoons of ghee (also available at an Asian grocery, it really makes a taste difference).
Once it has started to get tender, add a tin of chickpeas/garbanzos, a tin of chopped tomatoes, and a half a tube/a small tin of tomato paste.
When it's all warm and mixed together, season it to taste with white pepper, coriander, and cumin.
If you're feeling fancy, garnish with coriander leaf/cilantro.

You will have leftovers from something from the weekend.
Eat those. Leftover curry is brilliant.

Pasta. Use rice pasta if going gluten free.
Serve with sauce.
Have a side of carrots.

Serve with a cheese toastie/grilled cheese sandwich. I make gluten free bread in my breadmaker when needed, but you can buy it very easily in the UK and relatively easily in the US.

Eggs, sausage, peas, and oven browned potatoes.

Oven browned potatoes recipe
Cut raw potatoes into long strips. Aim for about 8 strips per potato.
Spray with a little oil (Pam is great stateside, we purchased a hand pump spritzer to do the same here) over the potatoes and then season with salt and pepper. Lawry's Salt was a favorite when in the US.
Bake at 200C/450F for 30 minutes...or until it's done/burnt to your satisfaction.5

I prefer the Cauldron Cumberland Sausages, though they aren't gluten free. drjoan has a fantastic burger/sausage recipe. Perhaps she'll post it... She did, there it is.

So, that's a sample week. Hope it's helpful.

I'll be sending more recipes along to him via email, but I'll ask:
Got a good vegetarian recipe you'd like to share to get him started?

1- percible, for the curious.
2- Yes, I know that fat is teh evilz, but we need a bit of it every now and then.
3- I eat my biggest meal at lunch time on Sabbath.
4- The firm kind. Seriously, if you get silken tofu and try to put it in things, it will fall apart. Such is the way of silken tofu. Trust me on this.
5- I love burnt things. I don't know why. It's genetic. drjoan does too.
(Deleted comment)
3rd-Aug-2007 03:04 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes. Another of Tom's favorites: hummus, falafel, and pitta bread. (Or pita. Depending on which side of the Atlantic is breathing down your neck...)

I like that idea for winter squash. I like it, but I don't know how to make my own. Cheers! :)
4th-Aug-2007 02:25 am (UTC)
you might like to try cous cous tacos - make a 'stew' (I guess that's the best word) with some tinned tomatoes (you need to liquid) -I use the mexican style, with the chiles in- taco seasoning, (I think there may be an ingredient I'm missing) bring to a boil and add 2/3 cup cous cous. Drain and dice 1/2 block extra firm tofu and stir in when cous cous absorbed liquid, usually about 5 minutes after cooking (Oh, and turn off the heat when you dump in the cous cous). Serve in warmed taco shells with cheese of choice, shredded lettuce and tomatoes (and a salsa as spicy as you like!)


I got the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens book they put out a few years ago, I'll check the recipe to be sure I didn't mess up a proportion or something.
4th-Aug-2007 02:33 am (UTC)
That's what it is: water. You may need to add some to make the cous cous hydrate enough. About a cup.... if you have a proportion you usually use to make plan 'cous, add enough H2O to make up the difference.
(Deleted comment)
3rd-Aug-2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the idea for FF. :)
(Deleted comment)
3rd-Aug-2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
Oooh, this sounds very nice. Plus, gluten free as well. Woohoo!
3rd-Aug-2007 02:10 pm (UTC)
hey, I was just thinking of you, actually. Was wondering if you'd have any ideas about something I could grill/make for a 'cook out' sort of meal that's vegetarian, and well-rounded (in terms of nutrition).
3rd-Aug-2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I love cook outs.

Normally we do veggie burgers. (I hear that Boca burgers are nice, if you don't have time to make your own.)

Normal toppings for those: tomatos, lettuce, cheese, onion, ketchup, mayo/miracle whip, mustard, and dill pickles.

Also, time permitting, grilled corn is lovely. I pre-boil mine and then just warm and brown it on the grill.

A great cookout dessert is slices of pineapple, rubbed with brown sugar, wrapped in foil and left to cook while the rest is being eaten. :)

Red potato salad is nice as a side: mayo/miracle whip, boiled red potatoes, celery and dill or sweet pickle to taste.
And of course, lots of fresh raw veggies with onion dip.
3rd-Aug-2007 03:45 pm (UTC)
Do you know how to make your own? I've tried Boca, and they're okay, but I'd really like to make them on my own, too.

The pineapple sounds great, especially them put over a bit of ice cream. yum.

thank you!
3rd-Aug-2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
I'll ask my mom for the recipe. If she posts it, I'll give you the link, otherwise, I'll email it to you. :)
3rd-Aug-2007 03:53 pm (UTC)
lovely, tia!
3rd-Aug-2007 07:21 pm (UTC)
She did!


Here tis.
3rd-Aug-2007 02:23 pm (UTC)
Personally, lunches in the summer wind up being PB&J and yogurt with some fruit. Dinners get more complicated. Also, there's some research suggesting that one eats more calories if there isn't the fat/protein fixers to make one feel satisfied.

Do you eat fish or eggs? If so, the NYTimes had a list of 101 Minimalist Summer meals--many of which don't contain red meat or chicken. For example, 1-6:

1 Make six-minute eggs: simmer gently, run under cold water until cool, then peel. Serve over steamed asparagus.
2 Toss a cup of chopped mixed herbs with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pan. Serve over angelhair pasta, diluting the sauce if necessary with pasta cooking water.
3 Cut eight sea scallops into four horizontal slices each. Arrange on plates. Sprinkle with lime juice, salt and crushed chilies; serve after five minutes.
4 Open a can of white beans and combine with olive oil, salt, small or chopped shrimp, minced garlic and thyme leaves in a pan. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are done; garnish with more olive oil.
5 Put three pounds of washed mussels in a pot with half a cup of white wine, garlic cloves, basil leaves and chopped tomatoes. Steam until mussels open. Serve with bread.
6 Heat a quarter-inch of olive oil in a skillet. Dredge flounder or sole fillets in flour and fry until crisp, about two minutes a side. Serve on sliced bread with tartar sauce.

If you want the full list, I'll email it--it's in the archives section already.
3rd-Aug-2007 03:08 pm (UTC)
Also, there's some research suggesting that one eats more calories if there isn't the fat/protein fixers to make one feel satisfied.
One of the reasons I don't go fat free, only low fat if I'm cutting calories.

Now, I don't eat fish. I do eat eggs.
Someone had linked to this earlier...I think it was you, maybe. I'm getting very muddled in my old age. :)
I really like the idea of the whitebeans. I should use them more often.
3rd-Aug-2007 03:51 pm (UTC)
we make chili using white beans, red beans, and black beans that's really very gorgeous. We usually eat it with brown rise with a small amount of mixed cheese on top. would be lovely with a bit of cornbread rather tha rice, though.

white beans also make a good spread if blended up with a bit of olive oil, and seasoned to taste.
3rd-Aug-2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
I don't use/eat beans as much in the summer, but there's some great ideas in the article. I don't think I linked to it, but if you want it, let me know...
3rd-Aug-2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
How is meal planning theoretically harder as a non-vegetarian? Because we theoretically have more options?
3rd-Aug-2007 03:45 pm (UTC)
I think my starting sentence was just confusing. Edited for clarity.

I'm not suggesting that it is harder. For either group.

Just that easy meals don't always spring to mind when you've done one or the other exclusively and then tried a switch.
3rd-Aug-2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
Ah! That makes much more sense. My brain was trying to figure out why non-vegetarian meal planning was somehow harder. ;)

There is definitely a mental switch that has to happen in there. When I went vegetarian for awhile (health reasons) a few years ago I really realized how much I enjoyed the texture of nuts in various things, as they were my default protein to add to things that I might otherwise have used meat in.

I think the largest trap that non-vegetarians fall into is trying to substitute various product for meat instead of trying to create complete proteins in other ways.

Hell, I can't stand most of the faux meat out there because some of them (like Boca) try to hard to be meat rather than celebrating all the other interesting things you could use in a similar way.
3rd-Aug-2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
No prob.

I admit that I really, really, really like some faux meat. Unfortunately, I really, really, really don't like most of it in the UK. The two I listed in the post (Quorn chicken bits and Cauldron Cumberland sausage) are pretty much it.

Boca seems to popular with people moving away from meat. I suppose it has its place. To...heavy (?) for me. Hmm.

What I miss the most? Prosage. Worthington makes it, but I think it's getting harder to find.
3rd-Aug-2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
You already know my favorite vegetarian dish. I love me some of my mom's Special K roast. Though it never lasts long around my house.

I'm also a big fan of spinach quiche but again only the way my mom makes it. She makes it mostly spinach with a bit of cheese and only enough egg for binding. I like egg and cheese but quiches that are too much egg and cheese might as well be omletes to me.

Honestly, except for eating out, I'm perfectly happy to eat vegetarian at home. So if G wants to do a mostly veggie thing, it would be fine with me. Makes it easier to be a cook for him. :D
3rd-Aug-2007 03:42 pm (UTC)
3rd-Aug-2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
My default meal for vegetarian friends (which I'm going to have to expand on because one of my new housemates is vegetarian and THANK YOU so much for the ideas!!!):

Portabella mushroom caps stuffed with a mashed mixture of butter, minced garlic, and flat-leaf parsley and then broiled until the black buttery juices run everywhere

Spinach salad with cherries and goat cheese (with or without dressing - you don't need it, but I generally mix olive oil with orange juice, vinegar, and some rosemary and salt and pepper in case anyone wants it)

Roasted butternut squash mashed with brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger with a touch of heavy cream for consistency

Can you tell I like my food heavy and rich? Small wonder I'm expanding now that I'm left to my own devices in the kitchen.
3rd-Aug-2007 06:22 pm (UTC)
That salad sounds scrumptious. :)

4th-Aug-2007 12:25 am (UTC)
You plan all your meals in advance? The most planning I do is sometimes getting stuff out the freezer in time to defrost, or shopping for a sunday roast, though not necessarily on a sunday. Otherwise I decide what I want to eat 5 minutes before I make it.
4th-Aug-2007 08:31 am (UTC)
Not as much when I'm here by myself. I tend to stick with my lunch routine for all meals when it's just me. (Some bread, but mostly cheese/fruit/raw veg.)

I always like to know what I'm going to do for a week so I can avoid going grocery shopping often (and that's just laziness, because I don't have a car).

8th-Aug-2007 02:59 am (UTC)
I'm going to have to try your moms veggie burger recipe- sounds delish. G & I tried this portabella mushroom fajita recipe and have loved it both times.

6 whole wheat tortillas
⅓ c. water
2 T soy sauce
1 T lemon or lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1 T sugar
¼ t. liquid smoke seasoning
2 large yellow onions
2 bell peppers, green or red (or one of each)
3 large or 4 medium portabella mushrooms
salsa, tofu sour cream, and cilantro for garnish.

Preheat oven to 250°F. Stack the tortillas, wrap in a layer of parchment paper followed by a layer of foil, and place in the oven to warm.

In a small bowl, mix water, soy sauce, lemon or lime juice, garlic, chili powder, cumin, sugar and liquid smoke.

Heat a little water in a large skillet. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, until onions begin to soften. Add peppers and mushrooms and cook for about 10 more minutes, until all vegetables are tender and slightly browned, adding more water as necessary to prevent sticking. Lower heat to medium and add the sauce mixture. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

Serve filling in warm tortillas garnished with salsa, tofu sour cream, and cilantro.
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