Meal Planning Week 4: The Hideous Food Photography version

I was incredibly lazy last week when it came to food.  I didn’t plan a full menu again which of course meant our meals were nowhere near as vegietastic as I’d hoped!

One smoothie I like is made with banana, plant milk, oats, cinnamon and hemp protein.  This fills me up for a while.  I call it my ‘porridge smoothie’:

oat porridge banana smoothie

I made the Cauli-power Alfredo pasta sauce from Oh She Glows.  It was quite tasty, though I should have added more plant milk as it was far too thick (I didn’t follow the recipe thoroughly).  Or perhaps I could have added some vegetable stock.  Anyway, I was thinking that if it was really thick, perhaps it could serve as a kind of bechamel layer on a baked pasta or moussaka.  I’ll have to try that one day:

caulipower alfredo

I found a packet of vegan rendang in the back of the pantry and cooked it up with some peas and coconut rice:

vegan rendang

I made some filo parcels with a filling of chickpeas, walnuts and cooked brown rice.  The kids weren’t crazy about them but the next day Arthur asked for leftovers so I’d say they ended up being a winner for one child at least!

chickpea  walnut rice filo parcels

Quite a bit of fruit:

fruit salad

Husband had gone out to a shopping centre and called to ask if I wanted anything from the food court.  It was a hot day, I wasn’t in the mood to cook so I requested some Indian food.  The Indian food outlets at shopping centres often have a few vegan dishes.  My photo does not do it justice.  My photo does not do the plastic bag justice:

indian takeaway

Arthur and I baked the Sweet Potato Blondies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  As always, I significantly reduce the amount of sugar used:

sweet potato blondies

Sunday was Australia Day.  Originally I had plans to take the family out to some of the free events going on, like the Government House Open Day.  But we had a late change of plans, a really late night and when Husband and I woke up we were way too tired.  We did stop at Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop on the way to visit my parents:

Mister Nice Guy's Bake Shop music

Mister Nice Guy’s made awesome Australia Day themed cupcakes (here are last year’s).  I got the Golden Gaytime, which the Bake Shop described as a “vanilla toffee swirl cake with caramel frosting, topped with chocolate and caramel ganache and sprinkled with honeycomb”.  Golden Gaytime is an icecream that has been around since I was a little girl and it was probably my favourite icecream-on-a-stick before I went vegan. So if something is ‘Golden Gaytime inspired’ I am THERE.  We also got the ANZAC biscuit inspired cupcake and a donut. Arthur got his usual cinnamon bun:

Mr Nice Guy's Bake Shop selection

To finish off the week, Husband and I went out to dinner at Magic Mint Cafe in Moonee Ponds.  I got my usual veggie pakora for entree and the mixed vegetable curry for my main.  YUMZ:

Magic Mint Cafe veg curry

It’s Wednesday here and I haven’t used a meal plan this week either! The weather has been urgh-hot again, though today is lovely so I might get some baking done, or meals that can last a few days.

Fingers crossed I’ll get back to meal planning for next week…

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What We Ate: Meal Planning Week 2

Another week of meal planning. The past week went okay.  There were a few blank spots on my meal plan sheet where I thought “I’ll fill it in closer to the day”.  Big mistake because I found myself back in “what will I make???” mode.

For this past week, I wanted to minimise the amount of time spent preparing food because Husband was away. And I have that teeny tiny kitchen which itself is a hazard, so I like to keep my time in there to a minimum when I’m trying to focus on pots and pans and keeping an eye on DeeW in particular.

Monday
– breakfast for me was a ‘caramel’ smoothie made with banana, oats, date and lucuma powder. I bought lucuma after seeing it in many recipes but this was my first time using it and yes, I can see why people would think it lends a caramel taste:

lucuma smoothie

– for lunch the kids had leftover Linda McCartney sausages in bread rolls. I made myself the Baingan Bharta from Veganissimo! and I microwaved some coconut rice to go with it. This made a few meals:

bainganbharta

Tuesday

– Arthur and DeeW requested porridge.  We actually had quite a bit this week.  I’m going to start reducing the amount of oats and putting in some quinoa and/or amaranth flakes:

porridge

– for dinner I made them some air fryer fries (we call them ‘air fries’), with veg and marinated tofu for Arthur.  DeeW won’t eat tofu so I made her these Fry’s chicken style strips which I cooked in the air fryer with the air fries.  They got overcooked and were on the crispy side:

strips chips veg

 

Wednesday

– the kids requested pasta, so I served up what I now call “B12 Pasta Delight”.  When the pasta is done I toss through a little Nutellex (you can use olive oil instead) and some nutritional yeast (savoury yeast).  For myself, I tossed some sundried tomato with minced garlic and toasted some pine nuts:

sundried tomato pine nuts pasta

– I found this packet of Macro barley and sweet potato bites at the bottom of the chest freezer.  They don’t make them anymore which is a shame as they’re a simple quick meal:

macro barley bites

– I finally tried out the Yonanas soft serve ‘ice cream’ maker I bought last year.  We made banana soft serve.  Look, there’s really no way to make this process look pretty:

yonana banana

Thursday

– my breakfast was a smoothie made with banana, hazelnut, soy milk, pumpkin seeds and hemp protein.

– On my last trip to Global Green Vegetarian Food Mart, I picked up this soy based black pepper steak:

greenfarm vegan black pepper steak

 And yes, I left another space blank on the meal planner so what did Mamma make?  Kantong.  The sizzling Mongolian packet to be precise, which only I eat.  I can’t remember what Arthur and DeeW had.  Probably porridge for dinner at their request.  Anyway, I threw in a heap of veg to try and minimise the fact that these packet mixes contain lots of sugar *cough*:

kantong vegan steak

Friday

– breakfast for me was a smoothie made with blueberries, almonds, banana, dried and soaked figs and dates, orange juice (fresh squeezed) and water.  The recipe is in ‘Eat Raw Eat Well’. It was nice but I could have left the dates out as it was a bit too sweet because I added in the banana:

berry fig smoothie

– I made the Black Bean Lime Salsa from Brendan Brazier’s ‘Thrive’, a recipe I really love.  But I couldn’t help it and threw it in a wheat tortilla with some corn kernels.  Sorry Brendan:

black bean salsa with corn

– during the day I sat down with a nice cup of chai vanilla tea.  I had baked some chia seed muffins a few weeks ago, using a Dreena Burton recipe, then froze them all.  This was delicious and I’d used buckwheat and barley flour instead of spelt.  Later on in the day I went to use my chia seeds and spilled some out on the bench by accident.  Then I noticed tiny bugs.  I emptied more chia out on to some white paper.  More bugs.  So all my chia has been binned along with the muffins in the freezer.  I can’t bring myself to eat something with bugs in it and I don’t just mean that from a vegan perspective!

tea muffin

Saturday

– leftovers day.  I still had salsa and bits and pieces so I mostly ate that.

– Husband returned home from a week interstate so I made the lemon self saucing pudding from Veganissimo! which is fast becoming the family favourite.  I had mine with some soy icecream:

lemon self saucing pudding Veganissimo!

Sunday

– we visited my dad and on the way we stopped in at Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop for brunch.  I got myself the BLT, toasted of course:

Mister Nice Guy Bake Shop vegan BLT

– I also bought the peanut butter and jelly bun, something I hadn’t tried before.  Growing up, I was horrified Americans ate “peanut butter and jelly” sandwiches.  That’s because I didn’t know that what we call jelly is called Jello overseas (and for jelly we say jam).  Anyway, my sister and I shared this and it was yum.  I’m not much of a peanut butter-on-bread fan and prefer peanut butter in biscuits (cookies!) but this was really nice:

Mister Nice Guy's peanut butter jelly bun

mng1

mng2

What I learnt this week:  HAVE A MEAL PLAN IN ADVANCE WITH *ALL THE SPACES FILLED OUT*.  Yep, even a few blanks were enough to send me on a deep sea diving adventure to the land of Fry’s in the chest freezer.  Although I have a little stash of Fry’s for emergency meals, nothing this week was an emergency and I should have planned properly.  Hey, does anyone else have Emergency Biscuits/Cookies?  For when ‘visitors’ come over?  But when genuine visitors come over you have zero emergency biscuits?

Okay so it’s already Monday and week 3 of meal planning and here I sit with nothing filled in.  I really need to do it today or the whole week will most likely be stuffed!  It’s really hot this week so I have to find recipes that don’t use the oven.  And I’m in a really lazy summer kind of mindset where cooking is concerned.  If only the family ate meal style salads!

What We Ate – Meal Planning Week 1: The New Years Day version

Okay so I’m determined to get back in to weekly meal planning.  For this past week, things went pretty much according to meal plan.  I definitely stress less about meals when there’s a plan in place so I hope this continues for a long time yet!

A cornucopia of terrible food photography follows.

Monday

– a special breakfast of pancakes (followed by a green juice), using the Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes recipe from Vegan Brunch.  I kept them warm in a low oven but forgot to cover them so by the time I served them, some were crunchy on the edges.  Whoops:

gf pancakes

– for lunch I made pasta for Arthur and DeeW.  Arthur refuses any kind of pasta sauce and DeeW prefers plain.  After the pasta is cooked, I toss it with a little vegan margarine and a good amount of nutritional/savoury yeast (no, not the stuff you make bread with!).  If my children will be eating blergh pasta then mark my words they’re gonna get some B12 in there:

plain B12 pasta

– for dinner I made sausage rolls from Where’s the Beef? though I change the recipe to use oats instead of breadcrumbs and I plop in some very fine food-processor’d raw cauliflower or broccoli (or both):

sausagerolls with veg

– whenever I use puff pastry, as I did with the sausage rolls here, I get strange ideas.  So I put some nooch-roasted cauliflower in half a square of puff pastry, drowned it in zaatar spice and served it with the last of some eggplant dip.  It was okay taste wise for a ridiculous experiment but maybe it’s because I was hungry:

cauli zaatar parcel

Tuesday

– My breakfast was a cherry coconut cacao smoothie with hemp protein:

cherry cacao smoothie

– the kids had leftover sausage rolls for lunch.  I had some No-Fu Love Loaf from Let Them Eat Vegan! plus one of my favourite quick kale dishes, Fannetastic’s Cheesy Coconut Chickpeas and Kale:

cheesy kale chickpeas

– Scallion Pancakes from Veganissimo!:

scallion pancakes

– I made the Lancashire Hotpot from Veganissimo! for dinner:

hotpot

– special NYE dessert was the Lemon Self Saucing Pudding also from Veganissimo!:

lemon pudding

Wednesday

Happy New Year!

– breakfast was a smoothie for me and I think the rest of the fam had toast, because we were to have a late lunch with my parents.  Here’s the lunch spread:

nyd lunch spread

nydlunchspread2

– my plate:

nyd lunch plate

– we didn’t really eat dinner as lunch was so late and we were hanging around picking at stuff.

Thursday

– a non sweet green juice for me.  I could have made it bearable with a date or two but I’m trying to move away from sweetening my green juices.  Truthfully, when I have the unsweetened green juices they taste blergh and by the bottom of the glass I feel a slight urge to barf:

green juice

– for lunch I had some spelt pasta with tomato and walnut mince:

walnut mince pasta

– for dinner I made the Mini ‘Beef’ Wellingtons from Vegan Lunch Box:

wellingtons with veg

Friday

– we skipped breakfast because we all had a bit of a sleep in and were heading out.  Though I ended up not getting anything and waited to eat at home.

– lunch for me was toasted ‘cheese and bacon’-ish sandwiches for lunch, using Tofutti slices and some tempeh, using the Tempeh Tickle recipe from Let Them Eat Vegan! with a little (vegan of course) mayo inside:

toasted cheeze facon sandwich

– a nice big juice made with leafy greens, watermelon, orange, carrot, apple, tomato, grapes cucumber, nectarine.  In other words, I had lots of fruit and veg that really needed to be eaten fast:

green juice

– dinner was leftover over Mini Wellingtons plus the Potato Scones and Tempeh Sausage Patties from Veganissimo! Husband really likes mashed potatoes turned in to patties and pan fried so he liked these.  I thought the kids would like the patties but unfortunately they didn’t (they have food sensitivities based more on textures and smells). Luckily I only made half the recipe and it’s a good recipe at that:

wellies

tempeh sausage patties

Saturday

– for breakfast I made Arthur and DeeW plain oat porridge with some golden syrup on top (I had the last of my cherries in a choc-cherry-banana-spinach smoothie):

oat porridge

– for lunch I decided to try the Sunflower Mac recipe from Isa Does It, in the hopes the kids would like it.  My hopes were dashed as neither made it past the first spoonful and both requested I stick to ‘regular plain pasta’.  I explained that I like to get them to try new things in case they discover something new that they like.  Arthur diplomatically argued that it would be far faaaaar less work for me if I just stuck to regular plain pasta.  Sometimes it sucks when teaching your children thoughtfulness backfires:

sunflower mac

– for dinner Husband and the kids ate out, I wasn’t hungry and didn’t have anything.

Sunday

This was a special day because it is the birthday of the Brothers Grimm.  In our house, something like that is considered a special occassion and so we had a German themed menu for dinner, as well as hanging out reading the original fairy tales (some were edited as I read!) from a tattered old 1967 Readers Digest book of fairy tales my aunt gave me when I was little.

– we had a light not-very-German breakfast of smoothies (for Arthur and I) and fruit (for Deew):

fruit salad

green smoothie

– we made the German Apple Cake from The Joy Of Vegan Baking, yet another great vegan cookbook I have hardly used.  I think this may actually have been my first time using it.  Anyway, the cake was easy to make but unfortunately it hardly rose.  Did that stop us from eating it?  Ha!:

German apple cake

– for lunch I made some vegan sausages:

sausage in roll

– for dinner we had some Fry’s shnitzel and some Kartoffelpuffer (German potato pancakes) using the recipe over at Seitan Is My Motor.  All to the tunes of German folk music:

German themed meal


People of Germany probably hate me now.

So, that’s week 1 of meal planning out the way.  I have to say things ran so smoothly with a plan in place, though trying new recipes can get tiring.  It’s all in the pursuit of finding things the kids will like, and the upside is that there is often one thing I can make again.

I’ve got week 2 planned, this time taking it easy and making meals for myself that can last a few days.

Meal planning: Week 1 that was

My weekly meal planning plan, which I discussed here, has gone mostly pretty well.  More veggies were consumed by the family (unknowingly in some cases) and I felt so much more organised.  I love not having to stress out about what I’m going to make.

On Monday the kids had sausage rolls.  Husband and I had black pepper sneaky tofu and veg on plain steamed rice.  Arthur’s snack was a smoothie made with non dairy milk, cinnamon, Udo’s Choice Essential Oil Blend, overripe banana, baby spinach and cooked pumpkin.  He didn’t know about the veg.  I made him these smoothies throughout the week.  I also made a banana bread based on the recipe by Joann over at Woman In Real Life.  I had some passionfruit to use up so I had a bit of vegan margarine on my slice of banana bread, topped with passionfruit:

smoothie2

kidssmoothie

blackpepperveg

bananabread1

bananabread2

For Tuesday’s breakfast Arthur had asked for toast and hazelnut milk.  Lunch for Husband was the leftover rice and black pepper veg.  The kids had a sausage roll and the sausage roll filling made in to a burger (baked along with the sausage rolls).  Ultimately I want the kids to move away from the puff pastry and just eat the filling although a once in a while sausage roll is fine by me.  My lunch was packet mix falafel (just add water and cook) on a bed of salad greens and tomato, with homemade hummus to help wash it down.  Those packet mix falafel are really dry.  Dinner plans were leftovers but Husband had stopped at a Lebanese bakery and got me some zaatar bread so I had that instead:

falafelsalad

zaatar

Wednesday’s breakfast was just fruit, it was more a brunch as we all woke up late.  For lunch we made vegan Hawaiian/Tropical pizza.  In Australia this pizza is topped with ham, cheese and pineapple.  I used a vegan bbq ham and the pale Tofutti cheese slices with a tin of sliced pineapple.  They turned out okay but they weren’t great enough to repeat.  Dinner was kritharaki and some veg:

vegantropicalpizza

kritharakiveg

Thursday’s breakfast was supposed to be ‘breakfast crumble’ which is more healthy than your traditional crumble.  The fruit layer was made up of apples, sweet potato, rhubarb (these three finely chopped in the food processor), currants, cranberries and frozen blueberries.  The topping was a mix of oats, ground pecans and walnuts, a flour made from a five-grain porridge mix, a little brown sugar (not much), cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (ground), coconut oil and some vegan margarine.  Dinner for me was supposed to be falafel, hummus and veg sticks but I had an ulcer in my mouth which made it painful to eat foods with a crunch, or falafel.

I had a nice unexpected treat (well, as unexpected as you can get with “Husband, you’ll be driving within a 50 kilometre radius of Mr Nice Guy’s and I see he has the peanut butter brownie cheesecake today, you know what you have to do”).  This is the first time I’ve tried a peanut butter chocolate version of a cheesecake and it was lovely.  The base is chocolate and the filling isn’t, so there was no overpowering chocolatyness for me, yay.  I wanted to photograph it in suitable surroundings, like a glorious field full of lavender with humming bees and fluttering butterflies but all I had were the lavender bushes in my front yard.  And I had to zoom in so you wouldn’t see my rubbish bins.  Anyway I had half the cheesecake and put the other half aside for my mum.  Arthur had his usual cinnamon bun.  Mr Nice Guy’s told Husband to inform Arthur that the recipe had changed.  Arthur’s verdict? “This new cinnamon bun version 2 is even better than version 1, HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?”  Geez he cracks me up:

peanutbutterbrowniecheesecake

For Friday, I hadn’t filled in my meal planner as I wanted to see how I would go with leftovers.  As expected, this was a more disorganised day in the kitchen.  I took note of the things in the fridge that needed to be used up: the mushrooms, coriander, dill and wonton wrappers (or wanton wrappers as we call them in my fam, I went to Costco with my mum once and she was asking the staff for the ‘wanton soup’, I just stood by and let her keep on askin’).  I’d been leafing through ‘Vegan Brunch’ and noted the pierogi.  So  I made two fillings, one with mashed potato, onions and dill.  The other was food processor-chopped mushrooms and coriander.  They were okay but too fiddly and time consuming for me to repeat again, unless I had fifty hands on deck:

pierogi

On Saturday I made up this monkey platter of fruit for the kids which, mercifully, they ate most of.  What didn’t get eaten made it in to a banana bread cake (leftover zucchini and broccoli also disappeared in to the cake, ssshhh.  Yay for blenders). Dinner was again unplanned so I made some packaged chickpea-sunflower seed burgers and packaged curried pumpkin-corn balls, served with veggies.  As expected the kids didn’t like the burgers but Arthur scoffed down the pumpkin corn balls so hallelujah, I now have something else he will eat and I will try to make my own version.    I also made myself some cheezy coconutty chickpeas and kale, one of my favourite quick kale recipes:

fruitmonkeyplatter

bananavegbread

chickpeaburgersandkale

Here’s a closer look at my kitchen cooking area:

kitchenalcove

My house was built in 1930 and this is the original cooking alcove.  Now, I found that people who have never used a little alcove like this often say oh how gorgeous!  People who have experience cooking in an alcove often say “when are you getting rid of it”.  Our last house had an alcove too and when we were buying this house I inwardly groaned.  I love original features of homes but cooking this way is a complete pain.  I can’t see the contents of pots on the rear burners properly.  Husband is really tall and has banged his head too many times.  One time I was sticking my head in the alcove to see what was in the rear pan and oil splattered in my eye.  My instant reaction was jumping back and I banged my head hard.  Not only that, the mortar from inside the chimney keeps falling off in chunks so my pots and pans must always be covered.  And that little window doesn’t let much light in, at least not where I need it.  I love the white tiles though and the new kitchen will have the same. We’re hoping to renovate this year and I am getting a much bigger stove-oven setup, this one is way too small and I can’t fit larger pots and pans together.

Tomorrow (Sunday) will just be leftovers.  Must admit I get sick of leftovers.  For next week I’ll try spaghetti for the kids (I’ll use buckwheat noodles) with some kind of healthy veg-lentil sauce sweetened with roast sweet potato.  I’m also hoping to try a lasagna where the ‘meat’ sauce is made from cauliflower and walnuts.  See you then!

Meal Planning

Do you meal plan?  When I do, we eat really well nutrients-wise.  Everything is organised, I have veggies prepared a day in advance and leftovers are put to good use.  When I don’t meal plan, we don’t eat as well and I’m always running around frazzled wondering what to cook.

My most ambitious meal planning effort saw me plan for the month ahead.  People thought I was nuts but I love organisation systems like this.  In terms of eating and food preparation, that was an excellent month.

So today I’ve started meal planning again.  In the past I printed out my own 7 day meal planning sheet.  Now I have the meal planning pad from Kikki.K.  I thought if I spent money on something I’d be more inclined to use it (image belongs to Kikki.K and is taken from their site, click on the image to get to the product page):

kikkik meal planner pad

As well as taking in to consideration what the family like, I also check out the 7 day weather forecast.  For instance, today will be 35C (95F) so the oven won’t be going on.  I made a batch of sausage rolls yesterday and they will be tonight’s dinner.  Wednesday will be 22C (71.6F) so much better suited to using the oven.

I also take in to account how much effort a meal will require.  Do I have to stand at the stove stirring something often?  Does anything require an overnight soaking?  And so on and so on.  Having a meal plan really does help the “what am I going to cook?” stress levels.  I like to sit down with a cookbook or two and choose a couple of meals or snacks, so I can just keep those books on my recipe stand and be ready to go for the week.

Okay, I better put this week’s meal plan together seeing as it’s Monday morning.  I was supposed to have it done last night but I fell asleep early.  So breakfast for everyone was again slightly frantic.  Even having fruit cut up and prepared, or ingredients ready to go, can help when you are surrounded by “what’s for breakfast I’m hungrryyyyyyyy” voices that kind of go on and on.

Have a great Monday!

"Tsssss!"

“Tsssss!”