Quick and Easy Meals Tips for Busy Parents

healthy vegetarian childrenParents with little time to cook can still serve nutritious, delicious vegan meals for their families, and will enjoy not having to clean messy chicken grease or risking foodborne illness from undercooked animal products. Convenience foods available in grocery and health food stores can make preparing meals a snap. Here are some quick meal solutions:

  • Plan for leftovers. Cooking soups, sauces, or main dishes in batches can save lots of time. Store extras in individual microwavable containers, then label and freeze or refrigerate them for later use. Grains can be cooked in quantity and used over several days. Last night’s rice can be tonight’s rice pudding.

  • There is a huge variety of vegetarian cookbooks available with recipes for quick and easy meals. Pick up one or two at the library or bookstore and find a few easy meals to make.

  • Save time at the store by planning your meals ahead. Pick a few recipes and use the ingredient list as your shopping list.

  • Try low-salt vegetarian soups in cans or cups. Some soups are quite thick and can even be used as sauce over pasta, potatoes, vegetables, or rice. Good brands include Fantastic Foods Hearty Soup Cups or Couscous Cups, and Nile Spice Cups of Soup.

  • Canned vegetarian chili or refried beans can be heated and served over leftover rice. Add refried beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa to a flour tortilla. Roll and serve.

  • Add sliced vegetarian hot dogs to vegetarian baked beans.

  • Tempeh and tofu can be purchased premarinated and need only be baked or sautéed.

  • Spread bean dip on bread or serve with raw vegetables.

  • No time to chop vegetables? Try buying baby carrots; prewashed lettuce, spinach, or other mixed greens; frozen chopped vegetables; or buy precut, cleaned vegetables from the salad bar.

  • Most fruit need only be washed or peeled and is ready to eat. Try fresh apples, oranges, peaches, pears, or grapes. Fresh fruit that takes a little more work, such as fresh pineapple, mango, papaya, guava, cantaloupe, or honeydew, can be purchased pre-peeled and chopped. Another easy solution is to buy frozen fruit—then mix it in a blender by itself or with a little soy or rice milk for a delicious fruit smoothie: a healthy alternative to ice cream! Dried fruits are another option requiring no more work than opening the bag.

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