A somewhat wait-and-see vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

After a whirlwind two weeks with much fun and no menu planning, I have decided that “too busy to plan a menu” = “just plain old too busy.” Seriously! The amount of money spent on grabbing snacks out in the world and the amount of hunger experienced because of rushing somewhere and not having anything prepared to eat during my rare moments at home make a very conclusive case. If I don’t have time to plan (much less cook) my weekly menu, then I clearly need to take the kitchen scissors to my social calendar.
Fresh amaranth and potato stir-fry, Indian-style

Fresh amaranth and new potato stir-fry from last week’s farmer’s market trip

This week is my no-box week, so I’m only able to plan through Thursday and then I run out of vegetables. I’ll have to conjure up the rest of the week once I see what the Farmer’s Market has to offer on Wednesday. (Will I ever stop being delighted with the magic of having a farmer’s market a few blocks from my house? Well, if I do, it won’t be this week – this week I’m getting my knives sharpened!!)

It wasn’t just busyness that held me back on menu planning, however. I do feel like I’m running out of steam. I need more fast and easy dishes (that don’t involve tofu) – I’m getting tired of the standards from my repertoire, but all the recipes that look tasty online and in cookbooks are complicated and time-consuming. Shelly of Musings from the Fishbowl left a sweet comment on my last menu plan saying my meals were so elaborate and that she should try to carve out some time for elaborate cooking, so this week I thought, Great! I’ll check out her blog for some nice simple meals. Um… Eggplant Parmigiana? Lemon Herb Coconut Tofu with Udon? Chickpea Patties? I think maybe I fooled Shelly by sprinkling parsley all over the food in my pictures, because when I look at her menu plans, her meals sound way more elaborate than mine!

So a general call to all the other menu planners out there: Where do you go (cookbook, blog, standards you improv off of) when you need mellow, relatively fast meal inspiration? One of my challenges is that everything has to be both vegan and gluten-free, so if I’m going to buy a cookbook, for example, it can’t be mostly meat recipes or mostly wheat recipes. (Grr… stupid V’con and Vegan with a Vengeance “sammich” obsession…)

Beet, beet greens, and carrot curry with salad, quinoa, and Indian-spiced yogurtBeet, beet greens, and chickpea curry with salad, quinoa, and Indian-spiced yogurt in my gorgeous new nesting flower bowls, a gift wheedled from my mom when we visited the de Young museum

Let’s hope I managed to keep it simple enough this week! (I know I probably didn’t, though…) For more gluten-free menu planning, check out Celiacs in the House who is hosting the GF Menu Swap with the theme of “book inspired foods.” I’m just barely making it with “refrigerator-contents inspired foods,” so sadly I’ll have to pass on the theme this time! (Although I guess you could say that everything I eat these days is “book inspired.” After 18 years of vegetarianism, and living for two years with my vegan partner but never feeling like I could make the leap myself, it was reading Jonathan Safran-Foer’s Eating Animals last Decemeber that finally facilitated my transition to vegan.)

Your Vegan Mom, Musings from the Fishbowl, Two Vegan Boys, and Homemaking on an Island usually have great vegan meal plan inspiration. And for a giant compendium of menu plans from all over the web, check out the MPM round-up at OrgJunkie.

Monday “Deli Night” (that’s my justification for a bunch of stuff that doesn’t go together flavor-wise, like piling a plate with options from one of those ritzy by-the-pound delis)
Caramelized baby bok choy with cashews and sesame seeds
Carrot, Dill, & White Bean Salad
My new favorite thing: Soft-cooked polenta, warm, mixed thoroughly with mashed avocado, a few squeezes of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday
Best Vegan Mac and Cheese
Braised Celery Hearts (defrost 2 C. stock!)
Steamed broccoli

Wednesday
Leftovers

Thursday
Indian cabbage stir-fry (5 Spices, 50 Dishes)
Creamy chickpea curry
Brown basmati rice

16 comments on “A somewhat wait-and-see vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

  1. Ricki says:

    I always check on other blogs first for inspiration, then turn to my cookbooks for more. Your menu looks great to me–neither too elaborate nor too simple!😉 And polenta mixed with mashed avocado sounds like pure genius!

    • scrumptious says:

      Thanks for sharing Ricki! You are one of my blog heroes, so it’s great to hear where you get your quick-meal inspiration! You also have a gift for improvisation that I don’t have (or at least it’s a muscle I’ve rarely exercised) – I imagine that helps out a lot when confronted with an odd pile of ingredients!

      • Ricki says:

        Had to jump back in to say wow, thanks so much for the incredible compliment (& hope I don’t disappoint–!!) And you know what they say–desperation and starvation are the mother of invention, or something like that😉

  2. cheryl says:

    what did you think of the amaranth? I ate it when I grew it, but I didn’t like the taste–it seemed strange, and I never got accustomed to it.

    • scrumptious says:

      It definitely does have an odd taste. I thought it was just so-so the first night I made it, but then over the next few days, after the flavors had had a chance to meld more, I could not get enough of it. I really love bitter food, and the amaranth is bitter in a way I’d never encountered before. I wouldn’t cook it for a dinner party or anything – I definitely wouldn’t count on that taste to be a crowd-pleaser!

  3. Sandra says:

    For inspiration I, too, have enjoyed checking out the other blogs.
    For fast, especially as the weather gets warmer, I have no problems with zapping something in the microwave or making a salad and calling it dinner.
    I also make use of my freezer. If I am doing a batch of pesto or lasagna or anything more time consuming, I make more than I need and freeze the rest to use another time.

    • scrumptious says:

      Ah! A microwave… That is one big time-saver that I don’t have access to. I always optimistically freeze meals and soups, but of course with no microwave I have to defrost them so far in advance that they are absolutely impossible for spontaneous dinners, at least. I’m getting better at defrosting stock in advance through meal planning, so maybe I can start incorporating freezing and then defrosting leftovers. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Great post. Your “refrigerator-contents inspired” menu looks delicious and so does the nesting bowl pic. I may come over here and steal a vegan menu when the teens are out of the house for a week.
    Wendy

  5. Jillian says:

    When I was trying to eat GF (for a whole two weeks or so), I found this website: http://www.elanaspantry.com/ Yes, most of the recipes are desserts. I don’t see why that would be a problem.

    One of my favorite quick meal is avocado, cheese, spinach, and tomato sandwiches. To make it GF, you could omit the sandwich bread and use romaine lettuce leaves as a wrap for the rest of the fixins’.

    I, too, usually check out other blogs when I’m looking for food inspiration. Now that the weather is turning warm (HOT), I’m finding it harder and harder to actually get lunch/dinner made. So, if you come up with any fast and simple ideas, please pass them on to me!

    • scrumptious says:

      Thanks for the link, Jillian! I will definitely check it out. And I’ll be sure to keep you posted if my quest yields any delicious new recipes or ideas!

  6. We look for meals that are essentially “one-pot” or “one-skillet” to keep things simple. Something I can focus on making with maybe a quick green salad on the side or plug in the rice cooker. That’s about as elaborate as I can get…
    I am going to go add some ‘quick’ tags to my blog posts to help with that.
    My Red Beans and Rice that I added in the past week or so is pretty quick too. We also like Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauces but I am not sure they are vegan. Hmmm. But we add some chopped onions, chickpeas, maybe some spinach or other vegetables to them instead of meat. Serve with some rice and cilantro. Yummy and quick.

  7. Christiana says:

    I don’t know much about gluten free – but I had a delightful totally vegan Indian meal with a local Indian cooking teacher on Saturday. A few members of our CSA are trying to organize a class for our members, because Indian cooking is such a brilliant way to work through the share. I’m inspired to try more in this style, because it was so delicious and healthy. The issue for me is that it is not fast, which means making meals ahead after the kids have gone to bed – unlikely to be a regular event, to say the least.

    I adore Jack Bishop’s Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, most especially for the ease of its recipes. Almost everything cooks in 30 mins or less. Also, he’s a Cook’s Illustrated guy, so his recipes actually all work as written, and additionally taste great.

    • scrumptious says:

      Ooh, I don’t know that cookbook. I will definitely have to check it out! I love Cook’s Illustrated but always wish they had more vegetarian stuff for me to drool over.

      I agree that Indian is a terrific way to use up CSA bounty, since there’s a plethora of recipes for pretty much every vegetable, but it does take a fair amount of time, what with toasting the spices and so on…

  8. The Seasonal Magpie says:

    Your menu makes me think of all the things I’ve been trying to add to my menu for the past few weeks but never get there. Stir-fry, curry, baby bok choy is a favorite here. I love soft cooked polenta with just butter, salt & black pepper or my great grandfather’s favorite cornmeal mush with maple syrup. You’ve got my taste buds raging for next week!! As far as how I plan meals, for the most part it’s a mixture. I pick up things here and there from the internet, read through vegetarian/vegan cookbooks & magazines, re-do old family favorites – my problem is a lot of times I find a recipe that sounds perfect and I don’t have something or there is some obscure ingredient someone in the family doesn’t like. So I cook the recipe replacing ingredients and it comes out yummy. I have found that vegetarian cooking is very forgiving. I love it. It has opened a whole new love and creative outlet for being in the kitchen. For example the BBQ Black-eyed Peas were orginally served on the rice. I cooked the rice, mixed it together and ended up with enough for three meals. One day we decided we wanted enchiladas – and boom! I used the extra I had in the freezer and they were wonderful.

    ~Belinda ~

  9. Deb says:

    I’m right there with you, still trying to get back my kitchen mojo. I agree with the others who said to read blogs for inspiration. If nothing else, there’s always taco salad!

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