As some of you may remember, I used to frequent here up until about a year ago after moving to take a new job. After which I went back to a meat based diet. I've been eating vegetarian a lot more again, but still typically eat meat at least once a day. Usually that meal is lunch, as I've stopped cooking meat at home almost entirely again.
In order to save money, I've tried to start bringing my lunches. Frozen meals are expensive and I usually have to eat 2 of them to fill me up, so in the end I'm not saving all that much money. So I'd like to start pre-cooking a weeks worth of lunches and freeze individual portions to take to work with me. I made a batch last week (with meat) that turned out good, so I'd like to get suggestions on some hearty vegetarian options that still taste good after freezing. I love to cook and am used to cooking for myself, but haven't learned to pre-cook meals like this until now.
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
there´s a recipe on this site for a taco soup with black beans, I take that with me ever so often along with cornbread - yummy!
I am also struggling with getting back into portable lunches, since I have a new job and have to bring my own lunch. I have been loosely following South Beach Diet for a while now, and the most important thing it has taught me is to balance each meal (veg to carb to protein) in order to stay full. So I try to do about half veggie, and 1/4 each of lean protein and carb. That usually means a bean and veggie soup with a small serving of whole wheat bread, or some type of tofu dish with lots of veggies, and maybe some rice or amaranth or some whole grain.
I really like bean soups, since everything goes into one package (I am one of those picky people who doesn't like my various foods to touch, so it's a lot of containers if it's a separate veg and carb and protein). I have a recipe for Turkish Lentil Soup on this website which I have been eating this past week, but I also like things like black beans with roasted veggies and a couple whole wheat tortillas.
I think I'm not alone in saying I'm addicted to the Vegan Lunchbox website... Maybe you can get some ideas there too (and obviously tailor them for a grownup, since it's her kid's lunch)-- it's http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com
My suggestion is to always make sure you cook an extra portion for dinner the previous night. I assume you have microwave facilities at your work space. Simply pack the meal in a microwave proof container. Add a container of salad and a couple of slices of good bread to your 'lunchbox' and voila. Salad is fine made the night before as long as it is not dressed. Just take a small container of dressing to work with you.
I realise this is not exactly the information you requested but thought it may be useful nonetheless.
I like to take leftovers of whatever I have cooked for dinner to lunch with me and warm up in the micro.
If you have the time you could cook up batches of your favorite meals and portion them into freezer containers.
Here are some ideas, acutally modeled on the frozen ones I like:
Pasta and sauce -- I add vegetables to the sauce and cook them until tender
Any casserole would work - I like veggie lasagna with spinach in the sauce and assorted other veggies like onions, zuchini, and peppers (I am sure there is a recipe on this site you could use, I wing it and use herbed tofu instead of cheese, I don't put any cheese on top, and don't use any fake meats) but it takes so long to make I don't make it very often.
Soup or stew
I have found to keep from getting hungry I have to eat more protein and a good amount of fiber - I try to add more to my breakfast by eating oatmeal or Grapenuts, soymilk, add wheat germ and some jam for flavor or cinnamon and brown sugar. After I have been doing this I have noticed I am not as hungry during the day as before.
Good luck and let us know how it's working for you.
I often freeze:
- Shepherd's pie
- Cabbage rolls
- Burritos with salsa, refried beans, and mashed sweet potato
- Curried chickpeas
I also keep store-bought frozen vegan foods in the freezer (perogies, vegetable dumplings, vegetable buns, veggie burgers) and those are simple to prepare. If I make those for dinner it's hardly any effort to make extras to have leftovers for the next day.
Um, I don't think vegan pizza freezes very well, but when I make pizza for dinner, I like to have the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Submarine sandwiches also make a good lunch (as do tortilla wraps...hummus, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red pepper and olives make for a tasty wrap!)
Worst case scenerio: vegetable ramen noodles.
Cali tried that & was quite successful. Here is her post from Krista's site. Maybe you can get some good ideas & tips from this:
Cali also posts on this site, so if you have questions, direct a thread to her.
on edit: Some things to avoid freezing: cooked potatoes -- at least whole ones or diced ones. I mashed some up once & added to a soup broth they came out ok. Also any kind of sauce made with cornstarch. When it thaws the sauce is a funky consistency. I don't know about other thickeners, though.
*blushes* Thanks Lezly!
Freezing and reheating is a great way to add variety to lunches or days you don't feel like cooking. Should you make up a batch of burritos you can hold some over for the next week to have something different. Or if you make two weeks worth of lunches then you can have alternating meals every day.
As Lezly said, some things do NOT freeze well. I have had horrible luck with sour supreme and any soy milk reheating well. It tastes fine, but it can get lumpy and look very ugly after its reheated. I have stayed away from those.
Things you could make: Individual sized quiche (I prefer mine on a rice crust), burritos, tamales, soups, handheld pastries full of veggies & sauce, wraps and casseroles.
Honestly if I was planning 'portable' food I would make up a batch of:
-burritos w/ rice, beans, small diced veggies sauted w/ chilis and lime juice as well as some salsa
-mini quiche in either Corningware or glass ramikins though you could also use disposable aluminum mini pie pans
-Tale Tale Kale in tupperware.
-Puff Pastry wrapped around veggies & seitan ala pot pie but portable.
-Tamales (if I was feeling adventurous)
-Soup or stew of any kind in individually sized tupperware.
Once all that was in my freezer, I would simply pluck out what I felt like that day, drag it to work and reheat.
Good luck! Let us know what you try.
I haven't tried reading any more on Krista's site (that was new to me as of this thread), but I did read your cooking-for-December adventure. :) So, I am curious, now that it is May, have you done this cook-for-a-month routine often? Does it turn out to be worth the effort?
I have the additional challenge of a meat-eating spouse, and a 2 3/4 yr. old daughter that we still have trouble getting to eat solids (she's been sick a LOT, and, after throwing up, it takes a week for her to get back to 'normal' eating). Ideas on kid-friendly vegan snackies that are protein-packed? (Okay, so that should have probably been another post...)
Will your daughter drink smoothies?? You can add avocado, flax or hemp oil / seeds, protein powders, nut butters, soy yogurt etc with banana, berries, soy milk, juice etc whizz it all up and there you go, yummy drink with hidden protein. Give it a try.