Adventures of the lazy cook
August 19, 2012 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Vegetarian cooking on the quick, in advance

So with the new semester starting soon (and with early morning lessons everyday) I'm in need of recipes that I can make in advance during the weekend and freeze/reheat as needed.

1) Vegetarian (I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian, so eggs and dairy products are fine)
2) Easy to make (I'm a fairly ok cook, I think, but nothing that requires fancy-schmancy skills)
3) Easy to reheat (think throw-into-a-microwave kind of easy)
4) Transportation (I'm thinking maybe no liquids, although if there is some kick-ass soup I may just consider getting a thermos)
5) Can be eaten cold (this is mainly for lunch, and in between getting out of the house in the morning and lunch I won't have a chance to heat it up)
6) No strong smells (I might be eating this in class, so nothing that smells strongly, e.g. strong smelling cheese)
7) Filling, yet protein-rich and healthy (it has to last me till dinner!)

Your assistance is much appreciated!
posted by titantoppler to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I make this kale salad every week. It keeps for 3-4 days, and I just add nuts, tofu, fruit, etc. at the last minute. Because it's kale, it doesn't get wilted as quickly, and the added days just let it absorb more flavors.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:50 AM on August 19, 2012

Meatless chili is borderline in terms of the smell and your tolerance of eating it cold.

Hummus and/or bean spreads? Buy a stack of pita that can be frozen and gently defrosted, bag up some salad greens, grated carrots, crudites, etc. You can also make pepper/aubergine spreads and herby pestos to accompany.
posted by holgate at 9:54 AM on August 19, 2012

I love couscous/quinoa + roasted vegetables for this. Make big batches of couscous and quinoa, mix with lime juice, chopped up dried apricots, spring onions, and fresh mint. Slice up red onion, eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini, brush with good olive oil and salt to taste, roast in the oven until they reach your desired softness. Every day, portion out some of the couscous/quinoa with the veggies. It doesn't even need to be reheated.
posted by neushoorn at 9:59 AM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Burritos! I tend to do a mix of black beans, salsa, some kind of fake meat (veggie sausage or crumbles), maybe some roasted potatoes (you could use bagged tater tots or whatever if you're lazy), and then you could add cheese and/or scrambled egg. Make a big bowl of that mixture, roll into tortillas & freeze in individual containers (freezer bags/whatever) and you have lunch for a week (heat for a couple of minutes in the microwave). There are infinite variations you can do here & requires little actual cooking.

Variations on Lebanese salad may also work for you & should last about a week in the fridge. You can also mix that with cold pasta if you'd like for something a little heartier.

I've also made sushi rice into more of a salad -- instead of using it in rolls, I jut mix in my favorite veggie sushi fixings (cucumber, carrot, etc.) and eat. It may not make it entirely a week, though.

I tend to cart around a container of hummus and dip whatever I had around (carrots, crackers, whatever) but that may be less portable than what you're going for (and distracting in class).
posted by darksong at 10:11 AM on August 19, 2012

I keep recommending The Indian Slow Cooker. Virtually every recipe meets your requirements. Cook on Saturday or Sunday and you are set for the week.
posted by bearwife at 11:20 AM on August 19, 2012

Also, consider lunch bots and/or this soup container for transportation.
posted by bearwife at 11:24 AM on August 19, 2012

Spinach wrap; smear of cream cheese; sprinkled with chopped onion, bell pepper, cucumber, and craisens; rolled up burrito style and cut in half. Store it in a lunch container with a cold pack. Same principle works with other favorite spreads and toppings.
posted by kbar1 at 2:40 PM on August 19, 2012

I have just started roasting large batches of vegetables once a week to have available all week long. My sister-in-law works for a caterer, and she gave me their marinade recipe. unfortunately it makes about a quart and a half, but i got the recipe down to about two thirds of a cup, which is enough for a gallon of raw veggies. (It goes down to about 8 cups once cooked.)

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Penzey's Mural of Flavor seasoning (this is a specialty blend of herbs, onions, and shallots; if you don't want to deal with this specifically, you can go with 1/2 tsp dried shallot or onion and 1/2 tsp of basil or thyme or rosemary or whatever herb you desire)

Whizz all that up, then toss it with various vegetables. This week I used one Enormous Zucchini, two baby eggplant, two bell peppers, an onion, and three large beets; last week I used two medium zucchini, three tomatoes, three yellow beets, two fennel bulbs, and a pound of green beans. Marinate overnight, I do it in a Ziploc bag, and then roast them in a 425-450 degree oven for 20-45 minutes (depending on whether you have a convection oven or not) or until everything is at a level of softness you're good with. I find it works best if you chop stuff that cooks fast fairly large and stuff that cooks slowly pretty small.

If you toss those with some cooked couscous or quinoa, and some canned chickpeas, you should have a delicious vegetarian lunch that will be pretty low-odor and should be fabulous even cold.
posted by KathrynT at 2:41 PM on August 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

This is what sandwiches were invented for. Seriously, I've been vegetarian forever and have gone through this.

You can add protein with with cheese (I like gouda) and make them extra tasty with just a bit of seasonal stuff — pesto, mozzarella, tomato, lettuce, avocado; you can use stuff like hummus to mix it up, or a bit of oil and vinegar. Peanut butter and jelly can be more fun with potato or corn chips in it and the peanuts are filling. It doesn't take very much time, so buying unsalted peanut butter and sprinkling salt across it can be a way to make it tastier and not as junk-foody, especially with the chips.

If you're up for it, I can give you a recipe for the inelegantly-named "veggie nut loaf," which makes excellent sandwiches but takes some odd ingredients (wheat germ, etc.).
posted by klangklangston at 7:31 PM on August 19, 2012

Really you should just buy Tamar Adler's AN EVERYLASTING MEAL. The book's only about 75% vegetarian, but it's enough information to last a lifetime.
posted by halfguard at 6:38 PM on August 20, 2012

That should be EVERLASTING. Sorry.
posted by halfguard at 6:38 PM on August 20, 2012

I do a variation on neushoorn's suggestion most days of the week:

quinoa, couscous or rice
sauteed veg (whatever I have around, usually includes at least onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms) in olive oil
protein (chickpeas, cashews, lentils, eggs, whatever sounds good)
seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice at the end is my standard but it works well with saucier/spicier things)
occasional dairy (goat cheese goes really well with couscous!)

sometimes I just saute the veg/protein/seasoning and serve on top of the starch; sometimes i fry the starch in with the veg like it's fried rice; sometimes if I'm feeling fancy i'll mix everything together after it's cooked in an oven-safe dish, make a few depressions in it, fill them with goat cheese, and then pop under the broiler for ten minutes to get a good crisp on top.

I usually make 4 servings for dinner, eat one, and pack the other three in bags to store in the freezer. If I do the starch separately, I store them as well - I end up accumulating 1cup servings of quinoa/rice/couscous pretty rapidly. Then in the morning before work I just grab a bag of starch and a bag of veggies (the ratio is usually 1:3 or so), toss them in my bag, and they're usually mostly defrosted by the time I'm hungry. As long as I have access to a plate, fork and microwave, I'm good, but you could also pack it in containers instead of bags.
posted by par court at 4:20 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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