Raising a vegan family is awesome but not without its challenges. I love preparing nutritious meals and healthy snacks for my kids and husband. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to make healthy meals that will please everyone. I have been figuring out what I need to keep my kitchen running efficiently and to make sure my family has enough variety in meal options. I hope a few my tips will help you.
Have a well equipped kitchen.
My kitchen is equipped with the basics: Safe cook and bake ware, good knives, cutting boards, cooking utensils, and plenty of glass containers to store food in. There are a 2 items I find I can’t live without.
- I use a slow cooker for chili, stews, and broths.
- My blender stays on the counter for pureeing creamy soups and making smoothies.
Prepare foods in advance for the week.
I make time on weekends to prepare certain recipes in large batches that I can use for weekly meals or freeze. This is a great time saver during a busy week.
- Brown rice: Make ahead to serve with quick stir fries or to use for fried rice.
- Granola: Bake a batch of nutty, oat, and coconut granola to have for breakfast with fruit and nut milk.
- Tomato sauce: I make enough to have for pasta or a layered vegetable dish.
Purchase fresh foods a couple of times a week.
I always have on hand a variety of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, as these are the basis of our meals. Here are some of our favorites.
- Bok Choy
- Butternut squash
A well stocked pantry makes meal planning easier.
My pantry is stocked with everything I need to compliment fresh food dishes and for baking. This is where you will find our protein packed and fiber rich food options, as well as condiments and snacks.
- Keep a variety of dried beans for soups and chilies.
- Rice, oats, millet, and quinoa will keep well stored in glass jars.
- Whole grain flours, cornmeal, and flax meal are there for baking.
- Olive oil and coconut oil are the fats I cook with.
- Pure maple syrup and stevia are my sweeteners of choice.
- Liquid aminos are perfect for stir fry dishes.
- Canned organic tomatoes are on hand for sauces.
If food allergies or intolerances are an issue when stocking your pantry, you can get some good advice and recipes from Angela at http://ohsheglows.com/.
Keep perishable staples in the refrigerator.
I keep certain products in the refrigerator after opening them. They seem to stay fresh longer.
- Almond and coconut based milks we use in place of dairy milk.
- Naturally fermented vegetables (pickles) are good for digestive health.
- Nut and seed butters we have on toast and in smoothies.
- Raw apple cider vinegar is used in salad dressings.
- I store a variety of raw nuts and seeds in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them mold free.
Always have a selection of dried herbs and spices.
Fresh and dried herbs and spices are great flavor elements in many dishes. I have too many to even pick favorites.
Everyone likes snacks.
This is a tough category when raising children. Kids are exposed to lots of unhealthy food options as soon as they head out the door. We can’t force them to live in a vegan bubble. They will experiment. I keep some go-to snacks on hand to ward off hunger pangs between meals.
- Small boxes of raisins are great for sweet cravings.
- Trail mixes of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are good for energy.
- Naturally sweetened fruit roll-ups come in so many flavors now.
- Popcorn seasoned with a little sea salt and some nutritional yeast tastes cheesy.
With a little planning ahead my week of meal preparation is something I look forward to. A good vegan family recipe data base can be found at http://www.veganfamilyrecipes.com/recipes/.