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Quick, easy, boxed-mix-type things I could eat?

Jenny in Florida

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Some background, for those who want it. If you want to skip to the actual question, scroll down below the italics.


I'm a long-time vegan (for about 20 years now, I think?) and had to go gluten free several months ago to cope with some gastric issues that weren't resolving any other way. Add to that the fact that I had my thyroid removed a little over a year ago AND I am on metformin to deal with insulin resistance (meaning I often have little to no appetite) AND that I now work full time, including a few evenings a week, and the concept of deciding on, shopping for and preparing anything resembling "real food" on a regular basis is just not happening.


It's just my husband and me here the majority of the time. So, we've kind of fallen into a routine of having me make a large-ish batch of something (or a couple of smaller batches of somethings) on the weekends that we portion out for lunches during the week. I've transitioned to having my main meal of the day at lunch (which ranges from a "normal" lunchtime of 12:00 or 1:00 to as late as 3:00 or 4:00, depending on my work schedule on a given day). I often, then, don't even bother with dinner, because even when I'm off work at 6:00 I'm not home until close to 7:00. And by the time I take the dog outside and change clothes and breathe, it feels too late to think about food. My husband pretty much fends for himself for dinner, eating a serving of whatever I made on the weekend or nuking something frozen or, if he's feeling really ambitious, grabbing a sub from the grocery store on the way home.


It's not a terrible routine. Even our version of "junk food" probably isn't awful compared to the typical American diet. Not worrying about forcing dinner together means he gets to eat earlier in the evening, which he vastly prefers, and that he has the chance to eat whatever he wants without feeling any obligation to figure out how to feed me.


However, after nearly a year of more or less this, I'm getting really bored. I don't have the energy or interest I used to have in researching and trying out new recipes, but I'm also really sick of eating the same things week after week. 


What I would love to find is a few convenience-type foods that I could add to the rotation, things that don't require much of me to prep or cook.


For example, one of our favorite things in recent years has been the lentil rice pilaf mix from Near East. I could cook up two boxes of that, toss in some extra veggies while it was cooking, and end up with a few days' worth of lunches for both of us. Or we would do that same thing, but eat the pilaf as a main dish alongside baked sweet potatoes.


Unfortunately, it appears that mix may have been discontinued. I've tried several recipes I've found online for lentil-rice pilaf dishes that appear to be similar, but every one of them requires a lot more work than opening a box and boiling water, and we haven't liked any of them well enough to make any a second time.


So, I am now on the hunt for frozen or boxed mixes or convenience foods that are vegan and gluten free but do not depend on what we around here loving call "weird vegan food" (which, from our point of view, includes tofu). We much prefer "normal" food that happens to be vegan (assorted variations of rice and beans, for example).


Note: This would be to supplement the actual cooking I usually do on weekends, just to help me through the times when I don't have time and energy to do anything more ambitious.


Things we currently keep around or have liked in the past include:

  • Various ready-to-eat or frozen Indian things. If I take a package of shelf-stable channa masala, dump in an extra can of chickpeas and some additional curry powder and pack it up for lunches alongside a scoop of basmati from the rice cooker, we end up with some tasty, hearty lunches as a very reasonable per-serving cost.
  • Near East lentil rice pilaf with extra veggies. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, this appears to be no longer available.
  • Canned refried beans, which can be tucked into corn tortillas and quickly grilled or simply dumped over rice cooker rice and topped with diced onion, tomato and some defrosted corn niblets, then scooped up with tortilla chips.
  • Hummus
  • Just-add-water falafel mix (Although we have found that falafel doesn't travel or re-heat well. So this makes a decent quick dinner, but doesn't really work for packable lunches.)

What else could I keep in the pantry that is vegan and gluten free and  would fill that same niche without requiring me to plan ahead or spend any significant time or energy on it?


I'm considering a trip to Whole Foods tomorrow, but I've actually tried that a couple of times semi-recently without a lot of success. Where else can I look?


Edited by Jenny in Florida
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Amy's Kitchen has some nice Vegan frozen meals.  Most are single serve size but I've seen a couple of "family" size ones lately.  I really like their gf/ df burritos as well. 


I'll look at those again, thanks.


I've tried a few of their meals previously and been unimpressed, especially given the prices.


But maybe my new sense of desperation will change my outlook?

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Yep, those Tasty Bite meals are already in my pantry. 


I also make semi-regular visits to our favorite Indian grocery store to stock up on similar items and some frozen stuff.


I'll take a look at the PETA list. Thanks!

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Those Tasty Bite curries that prairiewindmomma posted are nice. 

I also like some of the Luvo planted bowls like this one Great Karma curry  http://luvoinc.com/our-food/healthy-frozen-planted-bowls/great-karma-coconut-curry/#X4VIF54v0BWPpARY.97

& the Hawaiian unfried rice http://luvoinc.com/our-food/healthy-frozen-planted-bowls/hawaiian-un-fried-rice/#2Ppe0aHrEgdugYEo.97

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Do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? They have a large selection of frozen and other convenience type of foods. I don’t specifically have vegan/gluten free suggestions but we like some of their stuff and keep it handy for a quick meal. 



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My daughter ate Mexican rice by Vigo, however, it may have meat in it. They have other flavors also that you could look into.


I found this listing of rice dishes while trying to look up the name.



Also, it looks like there is a free ap that will reveal if a gf or vegan when you scan the barcode. It is called vegan gluten free scanner by Deft.


What about baked beans? Bush's vegetarian baked beans may work. https://www.bushbeans.com/en_US/faqs

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Amy's Kitchen has some nice Vegan frozen meals. Most are single serve size but I've seen a couple of "family" size ones lately. I really like their gf/ df burritos as well.

This is what I’d recommend as well.....they’re really quite good for frozen meals

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FWIW, it's not a boxed mix, but I loooooove good soups and most of them freeze like a dream. I'd make large batches of good vegan soups and freeze portions. 


Yesterday, I did leek, asparagus, potato soup and it was divine. There are a million good soup varieties. I think the trick with great veggie soups is great stock, so I always make my own. Including mushrooms and leek tops seems to be the magic for making great vegan stock, IME. Then get some good veggies, blend it all up, and you're golden. In your shoes, I'd make a 8 - 12 quarts at a time and freeze all the extra in pyrex bowls that you can then microwave when desired. (That's what I always do, unless I love it too much and need to eat all the leftovers in a couple days, like last night's soup, lol)

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Microwave, or cook for a few minutes on the stove, a can of black beans and corn and put in a corn tortilla with salsa.


If there is an Ethiopian restautant or deli near you, their flatbreads called injera are gluten free and freeze well and taste good with a variety of things in them.


You could also make ahead large batches of cornbread and dump similar things on top of them, it should freeze well.

Edited by ElizabethB
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Make large batches of tomato sauce and bean meatballs, made of white or kidney beans.


Use pasta zero as noodles, vegan, supposedly taste good. (my food allergies prevent me from eating them.)


You could also get an insta pot and do a lot of bean soups in it, it has a nice keep warm feature, you dump stuff in, it cooks, it turns to a true warm.

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