This week I have decided to create a vegan family meal planner for our dinner times in the evening. I thought I’d better state it’s for the evening as I’ve always called the three meal times breakfast, dinner and tea. When I got with my husband he called them breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course this caused confusion between us as we were calling two different meal times dinner! When we had our first child we decided we’d better settle on one set of names for meal times or our daughter was going to be extra confused. Even though what I said is much more common around here (after all we called the ‘lunch’ ladies at school ‘dinner ladies’ and a roast ‘dinner’ is usually at ‘lunch’ time….), I caved in and we decided to call it breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now it just confuses the rest of my family when I say dinner and mean our evening meal!
I pretty much order the same weekly shop of food and we make a lot of the same meals each week. I never usually plan them though and just cook what I feel like or if anyone requests something. We use fresh vegetables and salad so sometimes our meals are determined by which foods need using up first. That being said, sometimes I don’t know what to cook and can’t decide. Or sometimes the children (and occasionally husband) don’t seem too impressed with what I decided on.
To combat this I’ve created a weekly dinner meal planner so everyone knows what we’re having. To keep it flexible I’ve added two choices to each day so we can pick the choice with the foods we have that are either in abundance or need using first. Or it gives everyone a choice if all ingredients are fresh. It also means I can keep this meal plan for a few weeks as it shouldn’t become too mundane straight away.
Here is our vegan meal planner:
It’s full of all our favourite foods and meals, though Ben isn’t really keen on chilli! I love chilli and the rich tomato flavours mixed with all sorts of beans. Delicious. All the meals are vegan friendly, though Ben and the children may have eggs from our garden chickens with the cooked breakfast. Our planner also takes into consideration gym nights on Tuesday and Thursday. We use a gym with a kids club, but the children are in two different age brackets for the kids’ sessions so we can only book them in between 5pm and 6pm. This is slightly annoying as we usually have dinner at 5pm. These are therefore our ‘easy’ food nights, the nights where we make a meal that is super quick or that can be left to cook whilst we are out (jacket potato).
Friday is also normally our treat night and we have chippy chips! The kids and Ben may have a piece of fish or two as well. I have chippy chips and cook my own beans at home and then cover in apple cider vinegar. I’m drooling just thinking about it! It’s my favourite naughty meal! If we don’t have chippy chips then I still love a takeaway style meal on a Friday night, there’s just something about a Friday that makes me feel like treating myself. If not chips, then a homemade vegetable curry with coconut milk or cream and Free & Easy curry pastes which are free from pretty much everything and vegan friendly (and mild too so great for the kids), served with wholegrain rice. Ben makes a great curry!
The rest of the meals are plant based and filled with vegetables or salad. We only use wholegrain rice, pasta and breads. Our home is also refined sugar free (aside from Ben’s mayonnaise). The flatbreads are brilliant. They contain only five ingredients and are by a brand called Crosta and Mollica. They have been one of my best finds! We either make flatbread pizzas with Violife vegan cheese (made from coconut oil) or we put a generous layer of tomato puree and loads of steamed veg on top. Another favourite is to top with salad, vegan Gosh balls and houmous. A drizzle of apple cider vinegar on all three of these options and you’ve got one of my favourite vegan meals.
I tend to order most of our food from Ocado and top up with Tesco if we need to. We spend around £75-£100 per week, though I’m trying to keep this to £75. Sometimes I can go a little longer and leave up to 10 days between deliveries. We are a family of four. Oh, the sausages we use are by Dees and I’ve only found them at Ocado so far. They are made from pea protein, seaweed and veg in a vegetable casing. They are so delicious. Weird at first, but now we love them and have them every week. They can be chopped up into the soup or pasta, used in pittas like a burger or even as the ‘meat’ for a roast. Though we love to just have stuffing with our roast dinners.
We order a Wholegood large organic vegetable box and just incorporate whatever is in the box for our meals. We also buy everything else organic if there is the option.
Leftovers can be used for lunches or even given to our chickens! Reuben has never eaten a sandwich and refuses to eat bread, though he’d never tried it, so he has pasta nearly every day in his lunchbox.
Sunday is a great day to make a big batch of soup and I sometimes make loads extra so I can eat it for lunch through the week.
Some sauces are made ourselves using chopped tomatoes and spices for example. I buy dairy free pesto. For a creamy pasta sauce I use oat milk, mustard and nutritional yeast to give a kind of cheesy sauce.
The cottage pie is made with green lentils and finely chopped veg in gravy and balsamic vinegar with creamy mashed potato on top or sometimes sweet potato mash.
For baked beans we use Heinz sugar-free or Whole Earth beans. Sometimes we make our own with mixed beans and chopped tomatoes.
One pot pasta is super easy. Pasta such as fusilli and chopped veg in a pan for ten minutes. Then drain and mix in your sauce – we go for pesto, creamy sauce or chopped tomatoes and herbs.
Some people ask me what I eat and think there is nothing good to eat, but there is so much! I don’t really eat anything differently to before, I just make a vegan version of every meal I’ve always loved. I was vegetarian for years and finally gave up dairy this year. I’d already converted to ‘mylks’ a couple of years ago and gave up the cheese and eggs this year. I don’t even miss any of it and I can’t imagine I’ll ever choose to eat any of it again. Eating a meat free diet and dairy free is easy and delicious!