Posts filed under ‘Menu A’
I really like the Ratatouille – especially the eggplant. I don’t know if I got a really awesome eggplant or what, but it’s fantastic. (Posting pictures of my food on the internet makes me painfully aware of how often I use the same side dishes – but making rice and peas is easy, darn it!)
Also, I’m getting a better feel for what needs to be thawed the night before (anything where more liquid would be unappetizing – i.e., lasagna and the veg curry) and what can be chucked in the microwave for 14 minutes on 30% power at a moment’s notice (so far, everything else.)
My sister even microwaved a bunch of the mac & cheeze straight from the freezer – no problems, and she really liked it, she’s been eating it for lunch all week. I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of having any more of it – I’m just glad there’s a vegan mac & cheeze recipe that she’ll eat!
The semester has started and I’m bringing lunch to school now. I grab a black bean burger/chickpea cutlet from the fridge, put it in the microwave for 2 minutes, and make a sandwich to take with me. When I do my OAMC next month, I’ll be making like a 5x recipe of burger patties, since at this rate I’ll be running out of them next week.
Overall, I’ve been really happy with the change in how much I’ve spent in groceries. So far this month, I’ve spent $130 – but that’s including a skillet, a lasagna pan, and beer (all of which I’ve shoehorned nicely into my “grocery” budget.) I’m not going to get into what I’ve spent in months before this, because man, $130 is a serious improvement – especially considering that my sister is also counted into that, at least partially. I’ll probably buy another box of cereal at some point, but I’m happy with how this is going!
I wrote these out before doing all of the preparation and cooking (I needed some idea of how I was going to approach making 11 recipes in one afternoon), and then revised them once I found out what did and didn’t work.
The basic scheme:
- The Veg Curry is done the night before, along with the chopping for the Mexican Gumbo
- The day of, the non-chopping dishes are done first so that the chopped vegetables aren’t sitting out for too long.
- All of the day-of chopping is done at once, separating the vegetables into bowls based on what recipe they’re for (and when they’ll be added).
The order of cooking is dependent on the temperature the oven must be heated to. The tofu for the Unbeef Stew should be done first thing because it needs to be at only 200*, then the mac & cheeze (350*), and then cutlets and lasagna (both at 375*). Doing the oven dishes in this order makes it more likely the oven will actually be at the right temperature.
The crockpot dishes are ordered as they are because the Mexican Gumbo, which requires the least amount of chopping or preparation, can be started quickest in the morning. The Unbeef Stew is supposed to be a crockpot dish, but here I’m just cooking it on the stove to save time. If you happen to have two crock-pots, you can cook it at the same time as the Gumbo.
A very strong case could be made for switching the order of the Mexican Gumbo with the Veg Curry, letting you do almost no prep the day before cooking. On the other hand, it also makes a lot of sense to chop everything the day before, especially since the Veg Curry requires a fair bit of chopping. I’ve taken the middle ground here and am just doing the Veg Curry the day before, so that’s how I wrote the instructions.
The chickpea cutlets can be baked or fried. I’m baking them because frying requires more attentiveness, and the oven will be at the right temperature for the lasagna anyway. If you’re really set on frying them regardless, the authors of Veganomicon recommend frying the cutlets in a pan with a thin layer of olive oil, cooking on each side for 6-7 minutes until they’re “lightly browned and firm to the touch.”
For the lasagna, I didn’t cook the noodles beforehand, since 1) I’m lazy, and 2)I didn’t want to increase the odds of the lasagna getting soggy when reheated. Also, if you really want to sub frozen spinach instead of fresh, remember to thaw it and wring it out multiple times to make sure you’ve gotten rid of the liquid, and write that into the overall instructions.
If you want to mince your own garlic (!!) make sure you add it to the instructions – either as a general item to do the day before cooking, or the very first thing on the morning of the cooking day. I’ve written the instructions to assume that you can just scoop the required amount out of a jar at a moment’s notice.
So here are the instructions – change them up however you want! If you’re used to having a lot going on in your kitchen, you can probably just grab the chopping directions and the order of the recipes and disregard everything else. I’ve saved it as a Google Docs file.
Link: Menu A Instructions (doc file)
This menu is influenced heavily by what I had in my kitchen already, but I like that I can use tomato juice in two recipes, that most recipes had a good mix of vegetables, and none of these recipes involve scalding soymilk, making crusts, or any other cooking trickery. The 8 oz of vegan cream cheese required for the Cheezy Lasagna isn’t something that screams ‘budget cooking’, but dude, look at the pictures of that lasagna. I have a feeling the cream cheese will be worth it.
The Recipes for Menu A:
- Vegetable Curry (crockpot)
- Mexican Gumbo (crockpot)
- Best Vegan Mac & Cheese Recipe Ever
- Chickpea Cutlets (double batch)
- Raging Ratatouille
- Veganomicon’s Black Bean Burgers* (or [ Black Bean Burgers ]) double batch either way
- Cheezy Lasagna
- Great Gazpacho
- Un-Beef Stew (crockpot)
Only about 3 people will be eating these – and most times only 2 of us will be here, so this is easily enough food for a month. I can’t imagine it’s a month of food for most other families or groups, so if that’s your situation then either this menu will be a good start to your OAM menu, or you can use it for a bout of Once-Every-2-Weeks Cooking. (Which, if google is to believed, isn’t actually a thing.)
* My boyfriend and I love the Black Bean Burger recipe from Veganomicon and can’t be persuaded to go a month without it. If you have Veganomicon, you should use this recipe (p. 97). If you don’t, you should go buy it (it’s the vegan bible!) but barring that, the recipe in brackets has most of the same ingredients.