EDIT 8/22/08: If you like these, try my vegetarian recipes for another month!
A friend of mine is pregnant (with twins!) and is confined to bed rest due to some worrisome high blood pressure. She’s the main cook in the family, so in an attempt to help, I’m taking them a few complete meals ready to eat or freeze.
For me, cooking gets to be a chore when I’m tired and just don’t want to think about it. I remember when my mom used to say “I’ll cook anything you want, so long as I don’t have to figure out what to have!” Now that I’m working and cooking, I know exactly what she means. My friend’s wife is a fine cook, but she works full (read: “over”) time and it’s not her favorite activity, so it occurred to me that planning meals might also be the worst part of it for her, too.
So I made up a monthly menu, complete with recipes and grocery lists. As I wrote, I thought some of you might like them, too. All the recipes are vegetarian – many are or could be vegan – and feature a lot of vegetables and whole grains. They can be adapted to be a little more homemade if you use garden produce and dry beans or a little quicker if you use frozen vegetables and canned beans.
This menu reflects how we really eat at our house. I’ve often looked at “monthly menus” online and in magazines, and it seems like all of them start with more meat than we eat in a week, enough cheese to kill me, and/or cans of prepared foods. The canned and prepared foods in the list below are things like plain beans and frozen vegetables, with an occasional sauce or pilaf. If you’ve considered trying to eat less or no meat, you might pick one or two of these a week. If the family riots, you could always add some chicken to the stir-fry or some ground beef to the Salsa Fry-Up.
- Recipes assume you know how to cook (e.g., stir-fry some vegetables; cook rice).
- Recipes feed 2 adults dinner, plus 2 child dinners or one adult lunch.
- Five meals per week assumes some meals will be repeated, plus dining out or with friends/family. Weeks, as written, aim for a variety of starches, proteins, and flavor families.
- When beans are called for, use one 14.5-oz can (the standard small size, drained and rinsed) or cook about ¾ c. dry beans
- Each week has one or two “dead easy” meals that require little prep and are ready in under 30 minutes (unless you cook brown rice; then you’ll be done in 45 mins) .
- Each week has two “average” meals that will take 45 mins-1 hour for all prep and cooking.
- Each week has one more “involved” meal that might be best done on a weekend.
- All meals can be made omnivorous, if desired
The menu and a printable PDF of the recipes and shopping lists is available after the cut.
Update 2/19/11 – I am hoping to plant an orchard in my yard! If you have found these recipes useful, would you considering donating a few dollars toward that end? I will send five new recipes to all who donate! You can donate securely through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button.
Vegetarian Menu for a Month (download in PDF format; includes recipes and shopping lists)
Items marked with an * are “dead easy”
- *Salsa Fry-Up
- *Rice, Greens, And Egg
- General’s Tofu
- Pad Thai
- Lentil Herder’s Pie
- *Coconut Chickpea Curry
- *Rice Pilaf With Tofu/Tempeh And Veg
- Lentil Stew Over Rice Or Quinoa, Veg
- Cabbage And Noodles (Or Potatoes)
- Tortilla Casserole
- *Sag Daal
- *Veggie Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries, Veg
- Tofu, Mushrooms, And Broccoli Over Polenta
- Ginger Garlic Stir Fry
- Beans, Greens, And Cornbread
- Big Crazy Salad
- Creamy Veggie Pasta
- Dilled Beets, Apples, And Potatoes