We all have crazy weeks (or crazy months, or crazy lives). For me these are when my relatively good eating habits seem to fall apart, because I just don’t have time to cook and eat and go to school and do all my homework and–you get the picture!
Since I became vegan, it’s become even more important that I have a plan for these busy times, because otherwise my choices are very limited. Thus, I have collected a lot of tips to share. Some are certainly common sense, but it can be nice to reminded every once in a while.
1) Start with a good breakfast
Oatmeal is my go-to favorite, but if I think I’m going to have a crazy morning (early lesson, early flight, early anything else), I’ll make Overnight Oats. Overnight Oats are great because not only do you make them the night before, but they can also be made in a mason jar or other portable container and eaten on the go!
Don’t know how to make them? There are so many delicious recipes out there, but a good rule of thumb is one part oats, one part vegan milk, and one part water. Be sure you have a slower cooking oat variety, otherwise they’ll get too soggy. Topping ideas include maple syrup, cinnamon, nuts, dried fruit, a little extra vegan milk, peanut butter, chia seeds, or anything else that sounds good to you!
I love making a giant soup over the weekend and taking it with me in a thermos every day. Big salads (especially bean salads) also make great portable lunches, as do sandwiches. Hummus and bread, carrots, and peppers can be either a meal on it’s own (if you pack enough of it!), or a side dish. And there are so many different varieties of hummus that it should be possible to make it frequently without getting bored.
Snacks are a must for getting through long busy days, and in this case, simple is often best. Pieces of fruit, nuts, some kind of trail mix (I usually make my own with a few different nut or seed mixes and some dried fruit), flapjacks, and cookies all end up in my school bag regularly.
I sometimes joke that I picked my school for the cafeteria’s cookies, not the education. While this isn’t actually true (really, I promise!), if anything is going to tempt me out of veganism, it’s those cookies. Thus, I try to have cookies in my bag for breaks between classes so that I can more easily ignore the ones offered in the cafeteria.
4) Have dinner mostly done in advance
If you’re still in a rush when you get home, there are a few things that can make dinner go faster. Anything made in the slow cooker is brilliant, because it’s ready when you get home! Another trick is to make parts of meals that take longer in advance, like pasta sauce (this is another thing I do on the weekend). Pasta is fast, but zucchini noodles made with a spiralizer or julienne peeler are even faster. Another staple in my kitchen is baked potatoes (or, even better, baked sweet potatoes). My two favorite toppings are chili, and roasted garlic and hummus. And the hour the potatoes are in the oven is an hour during which to catch up on things around the house.
There’s nothing worse than not having time to go grocery shopping, yet knowing you’re coming home to an empty fridge. Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid this! When I make my giant soup, I like to freeze a 2 person (or 2 meal) portion of it, to get out if I run out of a soup before the week ends, or just if I need a fast meal. My other other emergency meal is red lentils cooked with a can of tomatoes, an onion, cumin, garam masala, salt, and any vegetables that I might have (sometimes that’s none). Red lentils cook in about ten minutes, and will of course keep in the cupboard for quite a while.
I hope this helped those of you who are having a busy week come up with a few more ideas for staying on top of your cooking! Please share your favorite quick recipes with me in the comments!