Tag Archives: menus

Pantry Cooking Project, Day 7

Long, hard day. Here, have a photo!

This is dinner: macaroni with homemade spaghetti sauce, cooked green beans, and a salad of tomatoes, avocados, red peppers, olive oil, salt, and balsamic vinegar.



It’s day 7 of our project, and we’re nowhere near running out of food. We are still shopping, but only for veggies and coffee. I am still eating out a lot; not sure when I became a person who can’t go a week without buying prepared food. Good to know about myself, though!

Breakfast was an apple and a slice of cheddar. I took a cellphone photo of it, but it didn’t turn out.

Lunch was an avocado sandwich, a cold artichoke dipped in homemade mayo, and a pear. Later, a bought snack: cheese fries and an iced tea.

I forgot to post the week’s menu plan, so I may as well do that:

Monday (pasta): see above

Tuesday (Mexican): If I’m up for it, I’ll make flour tortillas and have soft tacos. Otherwise, it’s Spanish rice again, with beans and veggies (I bought tomatoes and cilantro today).

Wednesday (noodles): Peanut noodles with tofu

Thursday (sandwiches): Veggie burgers with homemade buns

Friday (stir-fry): Stir-fry seitan and rice and veggies

Saturday (chickpea gravy): chickpea gravy and potatoes

Sunday (anything I want to make): fish and chips

Money spent on groceries today: $30.70 (project total $86.56)
Money spent in restaurants: $7 (project total $99.76)
Food gifts received today: $0 (project total $17)
Things we’ve run out of: Mayonnaise, ice cream, hamburger patties, pork chops

Pantry Cooking Project, Day 3

Growing up, our beverage choice at dinner was usually water or water. We drank a lot of water in our house. Sometimes there was juice or milk at breakfast or lunch, and in the summer, Country Time lemonade or instant Nestea iced tea (you do know to boycott Nestlé, right?), but usually, it was water, and it’s still my favorite beverage. Preferably cold with no ice, but I’m pretty flexible. Am I the only one who sees people using a garden hose and wants to go over and get a quick drink? Yeah, probably the only one over the age of seven.


These days, I still mostly drink water, but I’ve gotten in the habit at The Best Job Ever of buying a drink in the afternoon: usually sweet, usually caffeinated, usually cold. Today, it’s jasmine and honey iced tea with lychee jelly. Delicious. But I want to see about moving to homemade drinks for my afternoon treat. One of the main reasons I don’t do that is that I don’t want to deal with washing out a container, but maybe I can find one that’s wide enough that I can just wash it the way I would a drinking glass. I’ll be on the lookout.

Possible afternoon bring-along drinks:

ice water (feels like more of a treat than just water from the tap)
sweet iced tea
chia lemonade or other chia drink
V-8, tomato juice, Clamato (all faves, but in hot weather, they don’t tend to satisfy thirst as well for me)
[your suggestion here]

Food today:

Breakfast was delicious. Frozen O’Brien potatoes fried in oil; eggs over easy; a little sriracha; a cup of V-8; some yellow pepper strips.


Lunch was an embarrassment of food in packets. I had taken some ham out of the freezer to make sandwiches with, but it wasn’t thawed yet when I went to make my lunch in the morning, so I just grabbed some stuff to take.


Dinner was some really amazing cheeseburgers, with those awesome homemade buns. Mom often thinks we’re not eating enough meat, so she sends us boxes of meat from Omaha Steaks. These are their burgers, topped with melted Swiss cheese and caramelized onions. Usually, I eat half my burger and give James the other half, because I’m just not all that into big chunks of meat, but this time, I ate the whooooooole thing, and it was just. so. good.


Money spent on groceries today: $0
Money spent in restaurants today: $2.99 (project total $11.52)
Food gifts received today: $0 (project total $17)
Things we’ve run out of: Mayonnaise, ice cream, milk, hamburger patties

Pantry Cooking Project, Day 1

Want to make me or my mother cry? Talk about that period after her divorce when she could barely afford to feed my brothers, and she herself went hungry a lot of times. She remembers feeding them pancakes because that was all there was, and the pain and humiliation on her face when she talks about that is almost more than I can bear, even these decades later.

Food is central in our lives, mine and mom’s—we talk every day, and those conversations always include questions about what the other is cooking, has cooked, will cook. But even for people who aren’t as food-focused as we are, it can be anxiety-producing not to have enough. I expect some of that anxiety to surface during this experiment, and it’s important for me to remember that it is my privilege that makes this something I can do without worrying that I really won’t have enough food. Any time I feel impoverished, I just have to remember that I’m part of a tiny percentage of the world’s people who have enough to eat every single day of their lives.

Today’s food:

Breakfast: Toasted homemade bread (James made this lovely pullman white); eggs over medium (because I left them too long); an orange.

breakfast photo

This was my packed lunch: A box of little tomatoes; jalapeno-cheddar Cheetos (I love those things!); an apple and a slice of Cheddar; a handful of walnuts

lunch photo

However, my actual lunch was sushi and tempura that my boss bought me to celebrate my graduation. I don’t take photos in restaurants, so you don’t get to see that. I also ate the Cheetos as an afternoon snack.

And speaking of not getting to see something, I had planned to make Mexican food for dinner, but I was too tired to bother when I got home, so James made grilled cheese sandwiches, and for mine, because he loves me, he put sliced tomato and onion, and served it alongside some of those tomatoes I didn’t eat at lunch. As you can see, I forgot to take a picture until I was nearly done with dinner. Ah, well.


So no recipes today — all simple foods, nothing too complicated, but delicious nonetheless. Tomorrow’s planned dinner is miso noodle soup. We’ll see how it goes. Plans are great to have, but they have to give way to the realities of what’s happening in the moment.


Money spent on food today: $0
Money spent in restaurants today: $0
Food gifts received today: about $15 (project total $15)
Things we’ve run out of: Mayonnaise, ice cream (evening snack)

Day three and a promise

I promise to post about something else as soon as:

1) This cleanse thing is over; OR

2) I have a day where I forget to take photos; OR

3) I have a day in which I eat all stuff I’ve already posted about.

But in the meanwhile, here’s the food for day 3 of the cleanse.

Breakfast: Fried O’Brien potatoes, homemade ketchup, watermelon, and V-8


Lunch: Big salad with homemade sesame dressing (mixed up sesame oil, rice vinegar, agave nectar, grated fresh ginger, wheat-free tamari, and grated garlic to taste), topped with sesame salt; fresh cherries

Salad and cherries

Snacks: Nuts, seasoned seaweed, and Oh, so much fruit. More than I can show you here, but among the bounty was more watermelon. Also, white peaches so ripe it’s making my mouth water to tell you about them. And more cherries. And so on. Plus a latte made with decaf espresso and homemade soymilk. (The soymilk maker is still in the testing phase. I’m working on it.)

peaches, watermelon, and soy latte

Dinner: Tamale pie. The plan was for chili, but I was waffling on finding a good vegan, gluten-free cornbread, and James suggested I just make some more polenta, add olives to the chili, and make tamale pie. Those of you who’ve been around a while know that James is big on suggesting yummy and time-consuming things for me to make, so I was happy to oblige with this relatively quick and easy dish.

Tamale pie

I also added some olive oil and a fair bit of garlic and nutritional yeast to the polenta before pouring it over the chili (which I dished into the baking dish with a slotted spoon so it wouldn’t be too soupy). The chili is based on the Moosewood recipe that Susan V. adapts here, but I left out the bulgur and used some olive oil in the preparation.

So there it is. There’ll be more Mom Food when this is over. I promise!

21-day “Cleanse” menus

I’m doing a “cleanse” with some friends — really, just a few weeks of vegan (and gluten-free, in this case) eating, which is not unusual for me, but it usually makes me feel better, and I’ve been feeling a little puny lately. Anyway, I thought I’d write down the menus I’m using, for my reference, and others’. On this particular challenge, there are no animal products, gluten, alcohol (which I don’t drink), caffeine (which I rarely drink), or refined ugar. Not too tough for me, but it’ll be fun to be in a group with people new to this way of eating, so here goes:

The menus


Breakfasts will be one of the following, with lots of repeats. I’m boring at breakfast.

  • O’Brien potatoes, fried in olive oil or “fried” in water
  • Oatmeal with raisins, with or without agave syrup (I know not everyone counts honey as an animal product, but I do)
  • Cold cereal with homemade (unsweetened) soymilk or rice milk or nut milk (for rice/nut milk: 1 cup cooked brown rice or raw nuts or soaked nuts, 4 cups water; blend and strain if desired. Vanilla and sweeteners and salt are all optional; I skip them. Mom just gave me a soymilk maker, so I will see how that goes and let you know.)
  • Leftovers from another meal


Lunch will be a huge salad every day. Easiest for me to just plan it that way. I have tons of good salad dressing recipes that I will try to collect if anyone’s interested.


Dinners will come from this list, or from improvisation. I’m unlikely to do them in this order. I’m on furlough for the month of July, so I have all the time in the world to cook and shop for fresh produce. I may shoot from the hip more often than this, but I like being prepared. I also always add some kind of cooked or raw non-starchy vegetable with each meal, but I decide that based on what’s good at the market, so I mostly didn’t specify.

  1. Stir-fried tofu and veggies over brown rice
  2. Polenta with wild mushroom sauce
  3. Red, Gold, Black and Green chili (with TVP instead of bulgur)
  4. Curried chickpeas and kale with brown rice
  5. Thai black pepper and garlic tofu
  6. Vegan taco salad
  7. Split pea soup
  8. Black bean burgers with homemade salsa and guacamole
  9. Falafel, hummus, baba ganouj, and quinoa tabbouli (sub quinoa for bulgur wheat). I confess I always fry my falafel, not bake them.
  10. Stuffed grape leaves (no recipe here; I just stuff them with brown rice, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onions, salt, and whatever else strikes my fancy, then cook them in a pot)
  11. Roasted ratatouille over polenta
  12. Farmer’s pie (vegan shepherd’s pie), using chickpea gravy thickened with cornstarch instead of flour
  13. Thai red curry rice noodles with veggies and either tofu or chickpeas
  14. Red beans and rice
  15. Black bean tostadas
  16. Mashed potatoes and chickpea gravy thickened with cornstarch instead of flour
  17. What we call ‘summer feast’ around here: Good tomatoes with olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh basil, and salt; whatever fruit is in season (watermelon, peaches, whatever), and corn on the cob.
  18. Veggie and/or TVP tacos
  19. Corn and potato chowder (using homemade non-dairy milk)
  20. Barbecued tofu (homemade no-sugar barbecue sauce — tomato paste, a little mustard, onion sweated in a little oil, some water, some smoked paprika, and optional natural sweetener — frozen apple juice concentrate works well); poppyseed cole slaw; corn on the cob and/or baked potatoes
  21. Fried rice