Comfort me with comfort food
September 29, 2016 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Starting new job on Monday with new (to me) solid 9-5 schedule. What are some vegan-friendly make-ahead meals for Friday nights to avoid spending money on takeout?

We already meal plan breakfast/lunch/dinner Mon-Thurs. I am looking for low-stress "yay, it's Friday night!" comfort meals that will take very little time to make once we get home after 5 pm. Like, all I have to do is reheat (if possible). I wish I could take the Frugalwoods tack of buying a stack of Costco frozen pizzas for those nights, but ain't nobody making vegan frozen pizzas cheap and accessible commercially yet. Takeout is not an option as we are saving for FI.

Yes, we do have a slow cooker (two, actually) and we are very kitchen savvy. Please, no chili or curries. We eat that on the regular. I want comforting food for Friday nights to have with a bit of wine and our weekly dose of TV. I am happy to dedicate a weekend day to doing prep for freezing/making meals. I am not willing to do it after a full work day on top of our usual cooking.
posted by Kitteh to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How about Friday night tacos/taco salad? I often double this recipe and freeze portions. It defrosts/reheats easily.

Lentil Tacos

1 cup chopped onion (or about 6 oz frozen chopped onion)
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp canola oil
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup salsa
taco shells or chips
your favorite taco toppings (lettuce/salad greens, chopped fresh tomato, avocado, etc.)

In a large nonstick skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the lentils, chili powder and cumin; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

Uncover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Mash lentils slightly. Stir in the salsa.
posted by msbubbaclees at 8:43 AM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lasagna! We make a double batch of lasagna twice a month, then freeze pre-cut serving portions (we have three teens and two adults, so making things in huge, freezable portions is our lifestyle for now). There are so many recipes floating around out there. The minimalist baker eggplant roll-ups are really easy to partition.

I also make huge batches of split pea soup in the pressure cooker. Again, loads of recipes out there, but I don't follow a specific one. I like my pea soup thinner than most porridge-like recipes aim for, heavy on celery and easy on carrots, a couple cups of chopped greens (turnip greens are poppin' right now!) with loads of herbs as they're available. It hits my comfort food craving better than almost anything in cool weather, without bringing along the usual comfort food doses of oil, butter, sugar, and so on.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:44 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do you know you can throw whole potatoes (or sweet potatoes) in the slow cooker and turn it on low overnight or while you're at work and they turn out perfectly? This changed my life.

I love these enchiladas. They can be assembled and frozen, so all you have to do is take it out to thaw Friday morning and then throw it in the oven when you get home:
Butternut Squash and/or Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas
1 T olive oil
1 roasted butternut squash (or, let's be honest, the kind you buy pre-diced) or a couple of sweet potatoes, cooked via above crock pot method)
1 can of black beans, rinsed & drained
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained & diced, plus 1 T sauce
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
3 green onions, chopped
enchilada sauce (I use Trader Joe's because, again, lazy)
8 whole wheat or corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar (obvs you leave out or use Daiya if you're into that)

Heat oil in saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until soft. Add chipotle, adobo sauce, and garlic. Cook 1 minute.

Stir in mashed squash, black beans, and cumin. Cook 3 minutes more, or until heated through. Remove from heat and fold in green onions.

Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce over bottom of 13x9 baking dish. Warm tortillas to soften if necessary. Divide filling among tortillas and roll loosely and place into baking dish. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheddar cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until top begins to brown and sauce is bubbly.
posted by something something at 8:47 AM on September 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

Not reheatable but very quick - what about Daiya grilled cheese? Nice bread, Daiya, tomato slices, mustard? Or grilled avocado tomato sandwiches if Daiya isn't your thing? Keep the tasty bread sliced in a bag in the freezer, lightly defrost in the microwave and then you can make one loaf last.

I also make garlic/nutritional yeast/citrus pasta sauce and gnocchi sometimes - saute lots of garlic in significant olive oil, add black pepper, salt, nutritional yeast and citrus juice to taste, thin with additional water if needed. I like both lime and lemon with this.

I also make cabbage or cauliflower pancakes inspired by latkes - coarsely grate about 1 cup of vegetables (I usually use some onion and carrot as well) and mix with 1/2 C flour plus one flaxseed "egg" (or other "egg"); add salt and pepper and any spices you like; add water until it's thin enough to spoon onto the griddle and easily flatten with a spoon; cook 2-3 minutes a side, depending on thickness of pancake. You can top these with a pasta sauce, vegan sour cream, guac, pretty much anything that sounds good to you.
posted by Frowner at 8:50 AM on September 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

You've mentioned Costco, so I'm going to suggest the Tasty Bite brand lentils--Costco sells them in a 6 pack for (iirc) $9.99. (They're vegetarian, but you said vegan-friendly, not strict vegan, so maybe the ingredients list will work for you.)

I was blown away by how good these are. Considering they're shelf stable and come in a packet that you microwave, the ease-to-taste ratio is incredible. Sometimes I eat it just by itself, sometimes I put it over rice. Once I burrito'd it up in a tortilla with cheese. All applications have been great.

I can't think of a single better thing I've ever eaten that was ready in 60 seconds.
posted by phunniemee at 8:50 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oops, 1/4 C can adjust it but I usually go with 1/4 C to one "egg".
posted by Frowner at 8:51 AM on September 29, 2016

(Sorry - I somehow misread "make-ahead" to be "make ahead or very quick")
posted by Frowner at 8:56 AM on September 29, 2016

Vegan slow-cooker butternut squash soup (I cannot even be bothered to make coconut bacon, but I sometimes shallow fry some garlic or shallots so I have a crunchy topping). Pick up a baguette, split down the middle, make garlic bread under the broiler while you get the soup ready. (I *cannot wait* for it to cool off so I can eat this by the vat.)

Also, if you don't mind the starch and want a little more body to that soup, stir in some precooked rice or pasta or diced pan-fried sweet potato.

Slow-cooker ratatouille. Same garlic bread and starch add-ins if you like.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:04 AM on September 29, 2016

Best answer: If you want pizza, is making yeast-based pizza dough on the weekend and freezing it in pizza-sized portions workable? Then you leave it to defrost in the fridge for 24 hours and when you get home Friday night, you're ready to put on the toppings and cook.
posted by jeather at 9:06 AM on September 29, 2016

Best answer: We make Mexican lasagna pretty often. Layer tortillas with beans, onions, peppers, corn, spices, etc, top with salsa (cheese is optional), bake. Freezes great, reheats great.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 9:08 AM on September 29, 2016

I love mushroom barley soup. It's easy to make ahead and freezes well (or I'm sure you could do a slow cooker version). I believe this recipe would be vegan if you subbed oil for the butter?
posted by Kriesa at 9:26 AM on September 29, 2016

Response by poster: Note: I am in Canada so our Costco offerings are different. I have not seen anything like that product mentioned in-thread. We go to Costco every three months so I definitely scour all the aisles looking for foods like that. Maybe one day they might have them!
posted by Kitteh at 9:27 AM on September 29, 2016

Best answer: This may fall too close to stew/curry that you eat normally, but Serious Eat's Chickpeas with Spinach is very delicious and easy to make (it freezes beautifully) and would be fantastic with some good bread and olive oil.

Pizza dough is also great from the freezer, and if you make some Miyoko's pepperoni (which should freeze - I haven't frozen it but freeze seitan of various sorts all the time) and buy/make whatever vegan cheese you like, that would make a very respectable pizza.

Veganomicon is also a treasure trove of options - pumpkin baked ziti, potato-kale enchiladas, chickpea cutlets, just as a few examples - all are great even after hanging out in the fridge or freezer for a while.
posted by snaw at 9:47 AM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Btw, if you can find the Vicolo cornmeal pizza crust, it's really delicious and even easier than making your own.
posted by snaw at 10:10 AM on September 29, 2016

Best answer: i love making a big batch of these smitten kitchen cold noodles with miso, lime and ginger. if you keep the dressing separate, it'll help them last for a while! oftentimes i don't even follow her dressing recipe and just make my own to taste with a combo of soy sauce, mirin, apple cider vinegar, powdered ginger, lemon juice, and nanami togarashi
posted by burgerrr at 10:30 AM on September 29, 2016

(i know it's not your typical "comfort food" but for some reason i find it really comforting to curl up in front of the tv with some cold noodles and a glass of vinho verde, it makes me feel all sex in the city and Adult)
posted by burgerrr at 10:31 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe a veggie burger with a pile of premade fries/tater tots? We usually do a slab of teriyaki-marinated tofu with sliced tomatoes, avocado, and sprouts or lettuce. Nice burger rolls, salty greasy fries; perfect.

I haven't checked whether non-meat non-dairy pierogies use an egg-based pasta, but if they don't, some potato pierogies with caramelized onion is major squishy comfort food for me. (If they do you could probably make vegan ones in advance but that's a few more orders of magnitude worth of work.)

I also like All The Snacks meals: whatever snacky things we have in the house like dips, chips, dried fruit, crackers, veggies, edamame, nuts, olives and chocolate, in cute little bowls, all laid out on the coffee table to graze on all night.

As mentioned upthread, pizza dough freezes well and takes about a day to thaw in the fridge.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:36 AM on September 29, 2016

Best answer: Gardein breaded chick'n tenders or fish sticks, sweet potato tots (all on the same pan baked in the oven), and then nuke some frozen peas or green beans in the microwave. Easy and fast!

Or baked whole potatoes (in toaster oven for an hour or microwave for a few minutes) and a side of yummy vegetarian baked beans.
posted by jillithd at 11:43 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Caponata and vegetarian chili!
posted by neushoorn at 12:03 PM on September 29, 2016

Best answer: Falafel can be made ahead and freezers brilliantly. Home made stuff is so much better than bought, and it's perfect for knocking back with a beer.
posted by smoke at 2:46 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can make really wonderful risotto in a slow cooker with pearl barley - season with white wine, vegetable stock, nutritional yeast, mushrooms etc. Let me know if you want the recipe I use - it is the one from this book.

Cooks Illustrated had a great recipe for pizza in a cast iron skillet too.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:00 PM on September 29, 2016

I love this creamy vegetable coconut curry served with quinoa.

I often make a double batch of both on Sunday and enjoy it for the rest of the week.
posted by nathaole at 3:18 PM on September 29, 2016

This recipe for Kasha Varnishkas is close to what I grew up with. This big bowl of carbs is my go-to comfort food.

Veganize it by using egg substitute (or just toast the plain Kasha in the pan first) and a neutral oil or vegan margarine instead of the schmaltz. Use water for boiling, don't use veggie broth. (Adding those extra, optional herbs seem really weird to me, I wouldn't use them.) It's totally make aheadable but should be a 20-minute meal from scratch.

WTF with all the recipes using regular pasta? It should be bowtie-shaped egg noodles.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:22 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There is a vegan mac and cheese recipe on Serious Eats that is absolutely amazing. Do it.
posted by bookworm4125 at 6:15 AM on September 30, 2016

This isn't make ahead, but my solution for nights like this boiling soba noodles, adding some spinach in the last 30 seconds of cooking, and then making a sauce of peanut butter, rice vinager, powdered ginger, sesame seeds and sesame oil, soy sauce and Sriracha. Doesn't take any longer than reheating something!
posted by sometamegazelle at 2:51 PM on October 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

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