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Tried-and-True vs. New?

I'm curious to know if most vegwebbers on a regular basis eat tried-and-true recipes  (old favorites, I guess you'd say) most of the time, new recipes most of the time, or a balanced mix.  For a while there I felt like everything I was cooking was new, but I cannot keep up the pace.  :P

However, my tried-and-true recipes are so plain (sweet potato with EB, pasta with marinara, etc.) that I get tired of them. How do you balance your meals without spending all your time in the kitchen--or is that what you like to do? When I'm cooking new things a lot, I feel like I spend all weekend in the kitchen. I think my DH is getting tired of my being in the kitchen all the time even though he likes to cook, too. Part of my problem is that I'm cooking more fresh stuff--not using processed or packaged food nearly as much as I used to. I like doing that but it does contribute to my "problem."

Thoughts?????

If I had all the time in the world (and my life was not consumed by nursing school) I think I would cook something new everyday or every other day...  I love trying new recipes, learning about new foods, and preparing healthy meals... There is something kind-of therapeutic to me about chopping up fresh veggies, its kind of my way to relax and de-stress... However, since I pretty much only have time to do "experimental" cooking on the weekends, I mostly rely on tried-and-true recipes during the week.  This includes things like black bean, brown rice, and vegetable burritos; stir-fry; or stuffed bell peppers.  One of my favorite meals of all time (especially good in the summer cause I can use fresh veggies from the garden) is to just throw a whole bunch of cut-up veggies on a cookie sheet and roast them in the oven for a 1/2 hour or so...  Super easy and delicious. 
If you are bored with your current meals, try making new things using convenient ingredients such as frozen veggies.  They save time and are as nutritious as fresh.  I have to say I am sure happy to have found vegweb, I think 90% of the recipes I try come from here!
Happy cooking  8)

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I tend to cook in magnificent bursts (3 days straight of scratch meals and leftovers and nothing for a least a week); this is in part due to our not-so-predictable schedule.  And I'm terrible with recipes.  I actually feel that i don't contribute enough to the recipe department of vegweb, mostly because it doesn't feel right to comment if I didn't actually follow the recipe.  So I end up sticking with tried-and-true and then updating them with some of the ideas that I've found.

When I first became veg (10 yago), I got REALLY into it and did a lot of exploring; then I got kinda lazy, thinking that I'd figured out all there was to figure out.  Then I found vegweb, which has been a magnificent source of inspiration, and a not-so-gentle reminder that I don't know half as much as I thought I did  ::)

That being said, I was raised on your typical crappy fried southern food (my grandparents actually wrote a cookbook called _this is real_ "The Fat White Guy's Cookbook") and we do tend to eat a lot of what Will has termed "Southern-tarian."

but it works for us...there are many nights, however that I wish I could just take a dinner pill and not screw with it.  But that's why there's cold cereal and popcorn...

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I, too, have blinding bursts of cooking energy followed by draughts of "standbys"...  Salads with beans and grains are our lazy standby, or brown rice angel hair pasta with lots of steamed veggies...  I make a huge crockpot of chili about once every two weeks, and we eat that for lunch all the time...  and my husband would LIVE off of hummus if I didn't force him to occasionally consume other foods...  we also make fruit smoothies a lot.  Casseroles, I've found, are an easy lazy standby, and you can make them healthier by adding lots of veggies.  Here's one I make all the time, and it only takes about 15 minutes to throw together: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=14194.0
Part of the reason that it's so fast, though, is because I buy prechopped mushrooms and onions and butternut squash from Trader Joe's when I plan to make it...  those prechopped (and sometimes prewashed) things are really a lifesaver on those low energy nights...

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For me I think it depends on the season.  In the winter I feel like I cook more because it's so cold outside, I like having a warm kitchen filled with hearty food therefore I try out all kinds of recipes and baked goods. I have only been veg*n since November but  I have already got a few new favorites though thanks to the wonderful chefs on this site!  When I went veg*n, I bought 2 new cookbooks, both of which I like but most of my recipes come from this site.  In the summer, my DH and I grill out a lot - and he is the GrillMaster!  :D - so when I do cook, it's salads and lighter stuff.  And like Nutdragon said...cereal sometimes!

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Reminds me of that old children's song
"make new friends but keep the old,
one is silver and the other gold"

I use both old and new, but I do go in spurts. Right now, I have more time, so I am trying more new recipes from all sources. And, since it is Lent, the family is eating vegan with me, so it's easier to get more motivated to cook new dishes.

Normally, I try to keep tried and true ready to go in the freezer. Things like lentil or bean dishes, soups, grain dishes and muffins. I prepare big batches on a Saturday, and freeze them in smaller batches. Then, I can add something fresh or creative and quick at mealtime and put the two together. That's usually what works best for me.

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Okay, guys, then let me ask this...how often do the new recipes you try become ones that become your tried-and-true? Seems like I make a lot of one-shot dishes. And lordy, I do admire those of you who create these recipes. I'm afraid I'm a recipe follower for the most part. I may tinker around with them but no way would I be able to "invent" something edible on my own.  :P :D

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Funny, I've been wondering the same thing lately. It's kind of tough to know how people eat and cook as a vegan for me because I've grown up in a family with no veggies and even now, no vegans and all non-cooking 20-year-olds. Sometimes I feel I'm the only one in town that even cooks anything from scratch.

I have some tried-and-trues, though I'm very open to eating whatever is in the kitchen. I'm on a tight budget ($100/month for groceries), so I don't have the money to buy fancy ingredients for new recipes all the time.
I've settled on a pattern that seems to work financially and energy-wise. During my weekly grocery shopping I buy my staples, plus ingredients for ONE new recipe (unless that recipe uses only my staples, which is rare but it happens).

My tried-and-trues are curries (lentil, potato, etc.), grains with nutritional yeast, pudding-like things (creamy oatmeal, bear mush, grits, rice pudding, etc.), plain salads, stir fried veggies and/or tofu, etc.
I tend to have a lot of one type of food and make-up dishes as I go with that food and whatever I have at home. Sometimes I have a whole bag of potatoes and make everything and anything you could think of with potatoes, sometimes I have a big jar of lentils and use those a lot, sometimes I buy a lot of quinoa and that's all I cook...

Recipes that I got off VegWeb and have made a lot since then and added to my permanent collection are Dawn's Vegan Waffles (modified to my liking), Grammy Cooks Banana Bread,and Spicy Fries (with different spices every time)
I also leaned my peanut sauce recipe on some VegWeb recipes (among other recipes online and offline), and that's a staple in my diet (peanut sauce makes anything taste like a complete meal  :P_

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I constantly experiment with my food.  I'll look up a recipe, but generally end up only using it as a guideline; that's why I'm reluctant to rate anything.  I like how my dinner comes out, but it most likely is not what the recipe's developer intended.  I read cookbooks, like read them, so I don't often make the same thing twice because I'm always finding new, yummy ideas.  Even my "tried and true" meals, such as chili or pasta w/ marinara or stir-fry, never turn out the same.  I'm always adapting them to fit what's in the fridge or pantry, or perhaps a new spice combination I dreamt up.  And really, that started after I went veg.  I'm just more aware of food now, so I really enjoy cooking.  It's no longer just a job that has to get done.  When I think about it, though, it kind of makes me sad that I love to change things so much.  When I think about my childhood, I can smell mom's tuna casserole, and taste the chili that my dad makes, that his grandma used to make.  Those foods were good, and consistent.  Same smells, same tastes, same textures every time they were prepared.  My kids will not have those memories, but with any luck they will grow up knowing what is good for them, and the environment, and all other living beings.  And hopefully, I will teach them to not be afraid of what's new and unknown.  Even if it's only in the kitchen.

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with me i have one veggie soup i like to make. i call it the not so home made veggie soup. the reason for that is b/c i take a family size can of tomato soup, put whatever veggies into the pot with the soup and add water (if the veggies are canned then i use the juice from those) and add whatever spices i think will taste good in it (usually chili powder, garlic powder). i adapted it from a recipe i found online a couple yrs ago. if i can get my mom to buy the family sized can soon then i will make it again (been almost a yr since ive made it. last time i made it our old neighbor ashley loved it. i only got zack to eat it once.  ::)

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I love to cook and create (though it never feels like, "Oh I think I'll invent a recipe today." It's more, "Let me see--I've got this and that and the other, let's put them together and see what we get." Then I set the "cooking autopilot" and just let the veggies tell me what they want me to do with them! :D). I can always tell when I'm stressed or unhappy because my creativity stops and I find myself cooking the same dishes again and again. I love a tofu gan sandwich but I realise I've been eating them almost every night for a week! And for lunch, lately it's been beans, beans, beans! Then also when I'm not happy even my tried and true recipes tend to turn out slightly wrong!
All of the recipes I've submitted to VegWeb have been my own creations...and I just realised when I read this post how long it's been since I've created anything. I miss it but due to stress my creative fires are banked and sort of "waiting". I hope the situation changes soon, before I start hating my own cooking.

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We eat at least 3 new recipes a week.  Sometimes its a new main dish (just tried, and LOVED Bryanna Clark Grogan's TVP loaf w/ potatoes and oatmeal) and sometimes its something simple (tahini and capers on broiled cauliflower).  I tend to 'invent' things when I'm missing ingredients and then cannot remember what the heck I put into it to create again.  (I made a red lentil dal pasta a few weeks ago, and cannot remember what I put in other than peppers, lentils, onions, and garlic.  ::))  I don't have lots of 'tried and true' recipes; it's more like a recipe style (i.e. - Indian curry, Italian pasta, French casserole, Mexican one-pot, etc.) that I go back to for my weekly meal planning.  On average, I'd say 1 out of every 4 new recipes gets repeated with minimal tweaking.

Speaking of planning, anyone else write out a menu for the week in advance?  I even have a menu board in our kitchen that gets updated nightly.  ;D

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At the end of the week before (and before we get groceries) I make a list of 7 meals for the next week, then we decide which one of those we feel like eating on a particular day. If there are dishes that need advanced preparation, I make those on the weekend. Usually we have leftovers from those meals and I have those at work. My DH either doesn't eat lunch (he gets busy and/or distracted), eats some of the leftovers, or lets me have the leftovers and fixes himself something else since he's at home (retired). Before I get home from work he prepares our dinner and has it ready or starts cooking and I pitch in when I arrive.

After I make the list of 7 meals, I use it to make a grocery list of food we'll need. All week long I also add to the grocery list as we use up things or see that they are getting low. We try to make sure we eat the meals that have produce that will not last, but otherwise, if we don't need all the meals I've listed, I move them to the next week's list. I think I moved General Tao's Tofu from list to list for 3 weeks before we actually got around to making it.  :D

I keep a 3-ring notebook of favorite new recipes and I pull out the ones is needed for meals that week and put them in the pocket on the divider at the front of the notebook so we don't have to track them down when we need them.

This works pretty well for us. Makes me feel oh-so organized and efficient.  ;)

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I have been blessed with a husband who will eat the same thing every day. When we both worked the Mon-Friday 40 hour week, he would make Far East rice pilaf, top it with a chunk of White Wave baked tofu & take that to work for lunch, every day. He was known throughout his department as the veggie guy who ate the same thing every day. I took to chopping a tomato up for him to add a bit of color & flavor & you know, it is a really good meal! But I love to cook, so we have lots more than just that & he likes that too.

So my regular cooking is stuff like pasta, Dragonfly's cheeze sauce mix, oatmeal, tofu scramble. On weekends I like to make a casserole or a pot of soup. Here's where I try new things if I feel like it, but I think I kind of go through phases. For three months or so, I made Isa's tempeh crumble/white bean gravy every week. Then I just stopped & it's been two months since I've made it. And in another few months I will start making it again.  :D  Recently, I've been experimenting with Dragonfly's cheese sauce & making perfect pizza. Also, lower fat choco chip cookies. I like to set cooking challenges for myself, like the time I made biscuits every weekend until I could accomplished perfect biscuits, everytime in about 30 minutes. Zang!!

8)

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We eat at least 3 new recipes a week.  Sometimes its a new main dish (just tried, and LOVED Bryanna Clark Grogan's TVP loaf w/ potatoes and oatmeal) and sometimes its something simple (tahini and capers on broiled cauliflower).  I tend to 'invent' things when I'm missing ingredients and then cannot remember what the heck I put into it to create again.  (I made a red lentil dal pasta a few weeks ago, and cannot remember what I put in other than peppers, lentils, onions, and garlic.  ::))  I don't have lots of 'tried and true' recipes; it's more like a recipe style (i.e. - Indian curry, Italian pasta, French casserole, Mexican one-pot, etc.) that I go back to for my weekly meal planning.  On average, I'd say 1 out of every 4 new recipes gets repeated with minimal tweaking.

Speaking of planning, anyone else write out a menu for the week in advance?  I even have a menu board in our kitchen that gets updated nightly.  ;D

Wow! You should open a restaurant! I would eat your featured meal every day!

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Quote:
I keep a 3-ring notebook of favorite new recipes and I pull out the ones is needed for meals that week and put them in the pocket on the divider at the front of the notebook so we don't have to track them down when we need them.

I love it!

I have a system of keeping my tried-and-true in a notebook. Any recipe that I liked enough to make again, I keep in my notebook. As I find improvements like a substitution that works well, or a different spice to add flavour, I make a note in the recipe. I am just in the process of putting my recipes in the computer - nearly done.

Then, I have a computer file, and a paper envelope with recipes to try sometime. So, when I'm looking for something different or new, I choose from them (often gleaned from this site).

As far as finding new great recipes, I do a lot better than I used to - I think I keep about 70% of recipes to use again after trying them the first time. About 2 a year are so bad that I throw out the leftovers and won't eat it a second time.  For me, the improvement came with realizing that there are some things I just don't usually like. For instance any main dish that is a meat-loaf imitation (after all, I never liked meatloaf!) and things that lean too heavily on certain overpowering spices. Now, when I read a recipe, I try to imagine what it will taste like, much like a musician might "hear" music in his or her head when looking over sheet music.

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Speaking of planning, anyone else write out a menu for the week in advance?  I even have a menu board in our kitchen that gets updated nightly.  ;D

Me, me! And always teased for it. I'm also on a ridiculously tight budget for food like veganna... .. I aim for 80 dollars a month, but usually hit around 95-100.. Which hasnt been working well with my new years resolution of not being that vegan who lives only on pasta.. I've been using nearly all fresh veggies and fruits, and since I'm not sure of what is ever in season, I tend to grab whatever is good and deal with the prices at the checkout ("Those bell peppers are 4.99 a pound?!?! WHAT?!?! But if I put them back I have to put everything back and rewrite my weekly meal plan....")

Sigh.. It works though.. I manage to eat pretty well and try to get all the good healthy foods in, but there are days when I make a banana and orange last all day til dinner.  ::) Stupid college.. Stupid minimum wage job... Stupid out of season vegetables.

As for the original post.. For me its a weekly spurt of new recipes. One week I'll have my old linguine with diced tomatoes and spinach like 3 times.. but the next week, every single night I'm cooking something new.. I usually try to tie all the recipes together with one or two ingredients (this week, it was beans and bell peppers... bell pepper soup, burritos, red bean burgers, etc..)  It usually depends on whether or not I've looked at my bank account.. I end up having to mooch off of my bf for dinner if I go over my budget too badly.. But thats okay.. His family owns a Chinese restaurant  ;D Mmmm free curried tofu and spring rolls...

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Ooh, for once I've got a website recommendation! :P I love being useful for a change!
Janeyboo, Food Network has a what's-in-season-and-when chart, online here:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/ck_cg_produce_guide/text/0,2677,FOOD_22176_32191,00.html

It's even got a few recipe recommendations for each fruit/veggie, though most are obviously not vegan. (Many are easily messed with.) So it's fun to look through anyway.

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Thank you!!! I'm glad there are lazy people like me so that helpful people can do their thing ;D Haha. Now to start next weeks grocery planning..  ;)

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I make lots of new stuff, either becasue I saw a recipe I just HAVE to try (or learn about a new product I want to test) Or else I do it becasue I havent grocery sdhopped in weeks adn just invent something from odds adn ends I have around. Sometimes whatever I invent will become one of my favorites and I will make it time and tiem again.

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I'm so busy with work and school, it's been tried and true and I'm bored with it.  Stir fry one day, pasta the next, beans and rice the next, and fajitas the next, chinese take out the next........booring.    Before school I used to cook more and try more new recipes and I'm looking forward to it.  Then it was a balance of old and new.  I've got Vegan With A Vengence and a couple of other cookbooks untouched and I'm itching to start cooking. 

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