Welcome to the Better Dinner InstitutePrepare to feed your family really good food.
Weeks 01 and 02 – Early-January
This meal plan wraps up my fourth full year of meal planning for delightful clients such as yourself, and the first full year of the mini meal plans. In 2019 that I decided that 260 recipes should be enough to conquer weeknight dinners for most families. That’s when I started updating and improving the meal plans instead of constantly chasing brand-new dinner ideas. My purpose is for you to master the 10-15 common vegan meals of the Western kitchen (soups, stews, stir-fries, etc.), and become skilled at prepping them with whatever seasonal produce looks best at your local store. I am not trying to wow you with previously-unknown flavor combinations. Instead, I aspire to help you reduce your stress while setting nutritious and delicious meals on the table night after night.
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Some of you lovely subscribers have been around since January 2018 or even before – thank you for your continued support! If you just joined more recently, I am SO glad you are here too. Thanks to you all for making the world better, for yourself and the rest of us, one meal at a time! Your efforts are noticed. I look forward to serving you for another year! Now let’s talk about the FOOD!
This meal plan celebrates the New Year with some traditional dishes (you can’t skip the black-eyed peas and collard greens on January 1st!), some with a twist – such as using spiralized yam in the long-life noodle soup, but also some easy meals you can prepare in less than 15 minutes. If you have lots of leftovers from the Holidays, or lots of leftovers in the freezer, you may want to skip some of the recipes and focus on those instead.
- Long noodles symbolize a long life in many Asian cultures – what better way to prepare for the New Year! Especially with this recipe that includes many other super-good-for-you veggies, too. To send the healthiness meter over the top, and lead to an even longer life, I suggest making noodles out of yam (orange sweet potatoes). If you do not have a spiralizer, nor a julienne peeler, and no interest in eating “ribbon” noodles instead, then you can of course use your favorite type of long noodles here. Whatever you do, make sure not to cut your noodles (not even with your teeth!). They are a symbol of life, after all. Slurping sounds are totally appropriate here!
- Family plan only: I ventured into a dinner idea that are isn’t common for the Vegan Family Meal Plans, not because it’s not delicious, but because it’s a little more labor intensive: pierogi. (Yes, “pierogi” is the plural form. No need to write pierogies.) I am hoping that you are still in the festive mood to make those. I promise not to have you rolling dough to craft cute little individual dumplings again for at least a few months. You can take a major shortcut (the kind your Polish grandma would disown you for) by using egg-free wonton wrappers (check your store’s “frozen” section). But if you have a (little or big) helper, these are fun to make and popping them in your mouth is very rewarding. The recipe also allows for a rare showing of all-purpose (white) flour in my meal plan. You could use whole wheat pastry flour instead, if you feel strongly about having whole grains all the time. I personally made those for a potluck so I only managed to eat 3 anyway! My health wasn’t adversely affected by this exception, as far as I can tell.
- Red rice is a nice change from the brown rice. I usually buy Bhutanese red rice and it cooks in around 15-20 minutes, while being just as nutritious as brown rice. I have picked some light-colored ingredients to go with it in the fried rice for an appealing look. Using brown rice instead would be perfectly fine… or, exceptionally, white rice. Up to you!