This has been a huge huge struggle for me the past few years having moved into an apartment with a less then ideal kitchen, poor storage space, low counter space, and only being in the province 2 days a week meals groceries (and produce) are a rare sight. When you are in a hotel more often then home eating right or at all becomes a struggled so here is a collection of tips, tricks, recipes and hacks I have collected and will be posting throughout the month on Instagram and here!
Especially when it comes to depression or mental health I find it important to remind myself that A) eating is important and B) healthy eating is important but eating period is better then nothing.
Something that helps me the most is having a stash of emergency food. Simple easy to prep food of various levels of nutrition. Maybe this food is all you have the energy to make, or maybe eating it will give you enough time/energy to make something better. Regardless eating is important some things I find helpful to keep on hand.
- Canned veggie soups/chilli
- Potatoes (mashing, frying, baking they are endlessly usefull filling & last a while. mashed potatoes takes very little effort and you can kinda let the pot boil while you do something else. Make extra mashed potatoes. Leftovers are useful and saves you energy later)
- instant oatmeal (or ground oatmeal which is basically the same) Regular oatmeal isn't too diffcult and overnight oats work as well, but if instant is the difference between you eating and not then buy the instant
- ramen/instant noodles: faster then regular noodles and if you have dried veggies/miso/frozen veggies/tvp you can easily bulk it up & make it healther
- protein powder: Smoothies are easy, vegan milk/ice/banana/fruit/green any combo of those. If you just have vegan milk, mix the protein powder in it's better then nothing.
- Boxed pilafs/flavoured grain or dry grain & powdered veggie broth. They last forever and are super easy/filling as a main or side.
- Fake meats/vegan frozen meals/burritos: When you feel up to it cook, freeze your extras. If you are short on time or energy it is ok to buy these things, even if they are pricey. Be honest and gentle with yourself, will you eat this? will you be able to eat this with an easy side?
- boxed mixes (easy enough to make your own and store for fast pancakes or biscuits or seitan just store the dry ingredients in a jar in your pantry with the wet instructions. Yah this isn't crazy easier then just following a recipe but when your brain is fried having 1/2 the work already done helps)
- Frozen dumplings/samosas/spring rolls: Carb/veggies/sometimes protein done. Check asian grocery stores for better quality but even the North American style frozen options are better then nothing.
- Indian curry pouches: They have loads of accidentally vegan curry pouches, normally they are stored in a metal pouch you can boil or dump into the nuke. If you feel up to it add a grain or eat alone.
- Frozen waffles/pancakes: Either buy some on sale or whenever you make pancakes freeze the extra to pop in the toaster.
- frozen veggies: great for when you haven't been able to hit the grocery store, you can add them to bulk up & healthify almost anything.
- Mixed veggies for ramen/stirfries/sides/soups/top potatoes
- single veggie types: Ideally greens (spinach/kale/chard/broccoli/peas) tend to be more nutritious and easily added to anything from mac-n-cheese (boxed or from scratch), butter noodles, ramen, as a side, added to mashed potatoes, or biscuits
- Steamed veggies are an easy side or way to improve any meal (you got some instant rice, add veggies/baked potato topped with veggies)
- miso: add hot water for warming broth, flavour powerhouse from soups to gravies to roasted veggies or just mix with vegan butter on steamed veggies
- tvp unlike tofu or tempeh or faked meats it can be stored forever in the pantry and added to anything (jarred pasta sauce boiled with tvp is instantly more filling) rehydrate it with soysauce and eat on rice or noodles or tacos I like to keep both the minced and chunk kind available
- lentils : similar to TVP last forever easily cooked into dahl curries, or to bulk up soups, add them to rice/grains in the same pot. chillis, Tacos, Burritos, Spagettie sauce the uses are endless. Red lentils can thicken soups/curries, you can make spreads or dips for cold portable food or filling stews/casseroles/potpies etc
- broth powder: you can toss grain/lentils/tvp/frozen veggies into a pot with some veggie broth for a cheap filling meal that takes very little time
- Nut butter: if you were able to get fruit or bread or crackers it makes an acceptable filling snack or meal. You can toss it into oats, smoothies, with miso to make sauces. Toast is an acceptable meal if that is what you have.
- Jarred sauces: Pasta sauce/tomato sauce is super versitile and useful but taco sauces/bbq sauce/curry sauces or paste are all easy flavour boosts. You can easily marinade veggies or tofu by throwing them together with a jarred sauce then into the oven later.
- jarred lemon juice from tea, to muffins, to sauces, to veggies/noodles, lemon garlic noodles
- minced garlic/frozen pureed garlic/ginger or peeled and frozen garlic/ginger + micro-plane zester makes seasoning super easy flavour
- Curry powder/All seasoning mix: make a mixture you love or buy one. Something you like the taste of makes eating easier. Just nuke a potato or veggie, instantly season soups. You can make your own to make your fav dishes even faster or to change up instant ramen, grains or steam veggies
- Leftovers. Anything you have already made can be saved for later, try to make a habit of freezing extras for later. Even freezing plain cooked grains or beans can make the difference between feeding yourself something good later on with minimal prep.
- Hemp Hearts: not the most frugal thing but these nutritional power houses can be added to anything. Batters, smoothies, pudding, apple with PB, sweet or savory they help me feel better about whatever I am eating. I usually toss them on top of everything for a little bit of texture. Their duality between real food and desserts means you can always add a little boost to your food
But happy Mofo! <3