42 days ago I said good bye to animal products and said hello to plant-based living. It’s been an adventure in vegan cooking, attempting to meal plan and balancing going out. You see, I realized that as a family, we LOVE to go out – not just for the food, but for the fun experience. It’s different than staying home… and there’s no dishes!
There was a bit of an adjustment period for me to start cooking almost each and every night. Not being able to “just pick something up”, order pizza, or go to the kid’s favourite hamburger joint. There is NO back up plan. If we get home late, there better be something to make and FAST, just to fill up the rumbling tummies at our table.
It’s been 42 days and here are some tips for going vegan as a family, that I’ve learned this past month.
Always have vegan snacks on hand – in case it takes longer than you thought to make dinner!
I have to admit, sometimes I don’t fully read a recipe. Oops. Sometimes a recipe that I thought would take me 20 minutes to make turns into 45 minutes – and the kids are starving and my husband starts looking for snacks.
To subside their hunger, we’ll put out veggie sticks with hummus, or corn chips with a homemade salsa or dip. Sometimes it will be fruit, which I find weird because it’s something sweet before dinner, but the kids don’t seem to mind. The point is to have something nourishing and simple to snack on in case of emergencies!
Learn to cook vegan.
Sounds simple, right? Spend some time on Pinterest and you’re ready to cook vegan. Well, after a few recipes that didn’t get my approval, I ordered about 6 cookbooks on amazon, and have fallen in love.
I’ve been cooking my way through The Love and Lemons Cookbook, and I can’t sing its’ praises enough. The kids will eat 90% of what I make without whining, the recipes are all super delicious and relatively easy to make. The cookbook isn’t purely vegan, it’s based on eating vegetables so there are recipes with cheese and eggs, but I simply omit the cheese or don’t make those recipes.
But honestly, I’ve cooked about 15 recipes out of the book so far, and keep going back for more. It’s my go-to – and I feel kinda bad because it’s getting wrecked from spills and food crumbs, but the food I make is delicious!
I encourage you to find your favourite cookbook (it will happen!!) and really learn to cook a few recipes so you feel like you can do it with your eyes closed! It will make you feel so much more confident in the kitchen and providing a delicious and filling meal at dinner.
Meal Planning & Prepping
These two go hand in hand…
To meal plan, I flip through my favourite cookbook and put a post-it note on the cover of it. I choose items I will make, write the title on the post-it with the page number beside it. I usually pick up to 5 meals. And then I create a grocery list from the recipes, checking to see what I already have at home.
And then, I prep.
I prep what I can in an hour or so – which essentially means washing, peeling, and chopping things for recipes so that you can just throw a meal together, effortlessly. Now, that doesn’t always work for all food items (hello, avocado!) but it definitely helps bring a meal together faster – and that totally counts.
When choosing vegan recipes, start with meals that you like.
I know this sounds obvious, but I feel that as women, we create these expectations and goals for ourselves that are overwhelming at times.
Like heading over to Pinterest, creating a vegan recipe board, and pinning 100 extraordinary recipes and shouting “This is me now!” And then not cooking 90% on that board because you have no idea where to find bulgur or everyone hate eggplants.
SO… start with what you know and like. Our family loves tacos, pizza, pasta, burgers, and burritos. So that’s where I started – making vegan tacos, vegan pizza, vegan pasta, vegan burgers, and vegan burritos. It made the switch to plant-based eating a lot easier and less stressful.
Somehow, in our minds, we are eating the same foods we’ve always loved, just enjoying them with new flavours, spices, and ingredients. It honestly made going vegan a lot more approachable to us as a family.
Sometimes we cheat, and that’s okay.
Hold on, what? Cheating on veganism? Let me explain.
There are times when our schedules don’t align or meal prep didn’t happen, and we’re left an hour away from home at dinner time. We go out to a restaurant to eat, and we will eat mostly vegan, unfortunately it can be difficult when most menus have veganish food items or one or two options for vegans.
Sometimes we cheat with cheese. But we have noticed that our tummies don’t love it so much, so if we have to go out, we’ll order veggie pizzas with NO cheese or cream-based sauces.
Sometimes we go to sushi restaurants. We love sushi, and have learnt that many dishes, although completely vegetarian, will be made with katsobushi or fish sauce – which is not technically vegetarian or vegan, but presented as so. (Not at all places, but we inquire when we go.)
The thing is, these situations have become rare, because we’ve learnt that a) I can make vegan food at home that tastes amazing and better than at the restaurants, and b) we don’t go out for dinner as often. So when we’re in a situation where we have to go out to eat, and the kids eat cheese or I have miso soup – I’m not giving myself a guilt trip over it!
I would go insane if I worried about every last thing – the kid’s school snacks are not 100% certified vegan, but based on ingredients and googling, they’re vegan, but made in a facility that processes milk products. And that’s OKAY.
At the end of the day, I my diet over the last 42 days has been 90% plant-based, other than some cheese and sushi seasonings. It’s OKAY. Tomorrow’s a new day.
Do you have any tips for going plant-based with your family?
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