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VEGAN SUGGESTIONS

I WAS WONDERING IF ANYONE COULD HELP  ME OUT WITH A BEGINNERS SHOPPING LIST.  I FIND IT A LITTLE HARD TO 'KEEP' FOOD IN THE FRIDGE DAILY, I RUN OUT OF FOOD OFTEN. IS THAT NORMAL...I EAT ALOT OF RAW FOODS, BUT I AM TRYING TO KEEP MY FAMILY'S  INTEREST BY MAKING DISHES WITH MEAT REPLACEMENTS.  I GUESS I AM ASKING FOR A BASIC FOOD LIST, IF POSSIBLE...ALL ADVICE, SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOMED!!!! :-\

THANKS,
DEMI

Hey - good question! Umm...

- Cornstarch or arrowroot (both are thickeners for sauces and such)

- An entire cabinet of spices (oregano, basil, herbs de provonce, parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt, ground black pepper or whole peppercorns, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, extra virgin olive oil, paprika, chili powder, spicy Cajun seasoning, and cumin all come to mind, but there's probably fifty more I'm not listing.)

- Most generic semi-sweet chocolate chips are vegan, so I like to keep 2-3 bags on hand. Recipes such as http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=6429.0 (Chocolate Silk Pie), http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=6815 (Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies), and http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=11743 (Absolutely the Best Chocolate Chip Muffins!!) are wonderful crowd pleasers, and I know that your family will love them.

- Vegan sugar (that hasn't been filtered through bone char), white flour, whole wheat flour, and (if you can catch it on sale) bread flour.

- Bell peppers, cucumbers, portabello mushrooms, carrots, celery, fresh onion and garlic, tomatoes, spinach, and lettuce are always nice to have on hand.

- Bread for toast and sandwiches (http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=5716 {Outrageously Easy BIG Bread} if you're into homemade, read the ingredients label if you're not), tortillas for quick sandwiches or a Mexican dinner, hamburger buns for black bean burgers or Boca patties.

- If you like tofu, then I'd keep it on hand. Personally I -hate-  the taste, and the only way I'll eat it is when it's making a pie extra creamy like the Chocolate Silk Pie link above. With that said, when stuck in a blender Lite Silken Tofu will add an incredibly creaminess to dishes. You might want to consider keeping a vacuum packed box around the house (not the water sealed kind, since I think that goes bad faster). If you do go for water sealed, change the water every day. I've heard that makes it taste better.

- Vegetable broth

- Non-hydrogenated vegan chips are great for the munchies

- To me, Boca Vegan Chick'n Patties topped with a little Romain lettuce taste like McChicken sandwiches. Actually, no they don't - they taste better.  ;D And Vegan Boca Soyburgers can easily be turned into a "baconburger" by adding fake bacon.

- If you don't want to bake cookies all the time, Oreos are vegan. Believe it or not, this "Accidentally Vegan" page by PeTA was extremely helpful in figuring out what what vegan or not: http://www.peta.org/accidentallyVegan/.

- Oh, and for a really quick meal, keep Morningstar Burger Crumbles and some Manwich nearby. Tastes like "real" Sloppy Joe's to me!

For meal ideas, keep watching the front page. The ones that get reviewed a lot usually are good.
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=7126.0 (Dragonflys Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix)
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=8769.0 (General Tso's Tofu, also good with Morningstar Fake Chick'n Strips)
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=6863.0 (Incredible This-will-become-your-favorite Veggie Pot Pie)
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=10161 (Veggie Stew with Dumplings)
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=7589 (Dragonfly's Vegan Ribs)
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=7653 (Black Bean Burgers)

Hope that helps...

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Personally, I find meat analogues (packaged prepared stuff, like soy "burger" and "chicken" patties, etc.) pretty boring and very limiting.  Useful for the occasional quick and easy meal, but I would lose interest in that stuff if I relied on it even once every couple of weeks or so.  For me, the transition to a vegan diet was made easier by being willing to explore new cuisines and ingredients.  It's hard for me, too, to keep stuff in the fridge.  But you can stock up on cabbage and cauliflower, and have them when you can't force yourself to the market.  Also, quinoa is great, and can be reinvented several times over by changing a few seasonings and veggies.  Same goes for rice and beans (yes, the old veg*n stand-bys).  For example, chickpeas can be the basis of an Indian curry one night, then the next toss them with garlic, olive oil, broccoli (frozen, if needed), and whole wheat pasta for an Italian meal.  Then, later, take the chickpeas to Morocco in a tagine style dish.  Check out different ethnic cookbooks (veg*n or otherwise, it's simple to translate omni stuff to veg*n).  I like Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon (a mouthful, but lots of great stuff along the lines of what I suggested earlier) and also The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman (definately omni, but you'll get a feel for the methods and flavors used globally).  I hope this helps some.  

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Do you have any vegan cookbooks?  Here is a thread http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=13595.0 w/ everyone's faves.  Half.com and Amazon.com both have really good prices, so you can buy more than one.  I just got the Candle Cafe Cookbook for x-mas and I really like it.  (Still nowhere as good as the Millennium Cookbook, IMO).  You can also check out cookbooks from the library.  Vegetarian Times cookbooks are great for beginning cooks - lots of pantry lists, unusual ingredient explanations, etc.

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I have a family of 8. The absolute only way to keep food around is to have a plan. A shopping list of food - staples and such - just doesn't do it for us. When I take the time to plan meals (not necessarily an "on Mon. we'll have . . ." but just to know what meals we will have at some point in time throughout the week) then, we have what we need for each meal. If you shop according to your plan, and pick up a couple of staples and sale items as you go, you should not only run out less, but also spend less.

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