We were "at-home" vegetarians for about 3 years, but in the last couple of months we have started to incorporate a little meat into our diets due to the rebellion of the males who live here (and obviously I'm significantly outnumbered!). People constantly ask me what we eat because the typical diet revolves so much around the standard meat-and-potatoes. Vegetarianism seems to be especially rare in more rural areas such as North Idaho, maybe due to the amount of hunting? Anyway, I've never really liked meat, especially red meat, so it was actually fun for me to explore a different way of eating when we made the switch. Even now, we eat the majority of our meals vegetarian, and if we're having red meat, I try to make it easy for me to avoid the meat because it just doesn't do nice things to my digestive system (I will spare you the details!).
So, for lack of anything more interesting to blog about (it snowed this past weekend and even though it melted, it still feels like WINTER here, blah...), here is what's on the menu this week at our house! Notice two things...First, pretty much everything can be made in the crockpot. I have realized that late afternoon is NOT the time for me to prepare a meal in our house. The boys don't like to cooperate with that, so I now take the time in the morning to prepare the meal when they are slightly more independent. This makes for much less interesting meals, BUT it helps us avoid the dinner-time-panic. Secondly, while I don't really plan it in advance, we always have some sort of a veggie on the side if the dinner isn't chock-full of veggies already. Along with fresh veggies, I keep a full supply of frozen veggies and home canned green beans! My boys love steamed broccoli & canned green beans more than anything so we have those A LOT. Also, the last couple of months, the Aerogarden has been providing us with a couple of salads per week! Yum.
The bonus of cooking this way: there is virtually no temptation to eat out, because it's all planned ahead and mostly cooked ahead. The prep-time is minimal. And it's cheap (except for the fish that we try to eat at least a couple of times per month)! It's not uncommon for our grocery bill to be around $200/month, not counting another $300 or so per year for stocking up on bulk foods. I'm hoping this will actually go down since we're expanding our garden this year, but we'll see!
Breakfasts are: granola/yogurt, smoothies, eggs, oatmeal, pancakes (any combination...John is in charge of assembling breakfast in the morning). Our lunches during the week are generally leftovers, PB&J sandwiches, quesadillas, wraps, etc. Pretty uneventful.
Monday: We had Black Bean Soup with homemade bread and canned green beans.
Tuesday: Tonight, already in the crockpot, we are having Vegetarian Curry with quinoa. I made a couple of substitutions, but that is the basic recipe that I used. It looks really yummy already! (This is my absolute FAVORITE crockpot website. I've made probably 90% of the vegetarian meals from there, and most of them have been good!)
Wednesday: Leftover curry with quinoa.
Thursday: Salsa Lentils with rice (I make a big batch of rice and use it for leftovers)
Friday: Taco Salad, using the leftover lentils, and probably some taco meat for the boys if there aren't enough leftover lentils.
Saturday: Lunch - Split Pea Soup from the freezer (PB&J for the boys since they don't like Split Pea Soup), Dinner - Spaghetti
Sunday: Lunch - Grilled cheese sandwiches & tomato soup, Dinner - Salmon & rice (leftover rice)
There you have it. Not gourmet by any means, but they are meals that we all like (except the split pea soup), that are healthy, which is a pretty big accomplishment with my picky eaters. I used to just plan 1 week of meals at a time, but the past few months I've been doing 4 weeks. It is so helpful to me to plan ahead (and stock up on bulk purchases at Winco!). I only make it to Winco maybe 3-4 times a year since it's a bit of a drive, so I stock up on dried foods when I go (rice, lentils, beans, quinoa, flour, oatmeal, etc.), and this way I can figure out how much we really need. The cashiers probably dread it when I go into their line...they have to type in a million bulk food numbers!