Lindsay Nixon's Everyday Happy Herbivore has been such a lifesaver in my hectic little life.
This is partly because I'm known for my (extremely rigid and unwavering) weekly meal plans and this book gives me a little bit of wiggle room, relying on pantry staples rather than exotic ingredients.
I'm such a staunch proponent of the weekly meal plan because it not only ensures that a wide variety of taste and nutrient requirements are met each week, it is also a great way to make and stick to a reasonable grocery budget in a time where grocery prices are rising quite quickly. The grocery store is a jungle of temptation and it will eat you alive if you don't approach it with a proper game plan.
My personal game plan is a list that is very carefully prepared with open cookbooks and open cupboards. Every Wednesday night I pick out seven dinners corresponding to the seven nights in a week (five "super quick-to-the-table" weeknight meals and a couple slightly more laborious weekend meals). Whatever ingredients I don't have on hand I write on the list, along with other weekly staples (bread, almond milk, fresh veggies, etc.) and items that I always have on hand but that might be running low that particular week (nuts, frozen fruit, spices/herbs, breakfast oats, etc.) and then I go to the store/market on Thursday mornings and stick to the list. I don't return to the store until the following Thursday morning, unless we've run out of an imperative staple or there's something I need to buy fresh on the day I'm planning to use it. Pretty simple and extremely effective in making sure I don't come home with nothing but hummus and a $300.00 receipt.
Since Everyday Happy Herbivore is built upon kitchen staples - things that a well-stocked vegan kitchen pretty much always has on hand - it can be used in an unplanned pinch. So when Wednesday hits and there's nothing left to snack on between meals, I can almost always use Everyday Happy Herbivore to piece something together using the aftermath of the previous week's groceries. EHH is also the provider of delicious sweets that are low (or completely void of) sugars and oils for quick mid-week desserts - this is probably our favourite use for the book.
The Red Red Stew (EHH, page 104) is the latest Everyday Happy Herbivore dinner recipe to be sampled in our house. Gluten-free, soy-free and inexpensive to make, this is a perfect mid-week recipe. I think the grand total for this super filling two person meal was $8.00. Take that, "veganism is too expensive" grumps!
One of my favourite vegan stereotypes is the one where all vegans eat is rice and beans. It's my favourite because I freaking love rice and beans and would be perfectly content even if that was all we ate. This stew features black eyed peas cooked up in tomatoes and spices, served with a side of brown rice and - wait for it - fried bananas!
Don't worry, they're not really fried. Not even a little bit. In fact no oil is used at all.
You will want to make sure you have a little bit of each of the three components on your spoon for every single bite.
The recipe for the Red Red Stew is made available with author permission on Google Books. You can find it here. You won't find the bananas though - they are an Everyday Happy Herbivore exclusive, so you'll have to buy the book! You can make the stew without them and it will still be delicious, but trust me, you want the bananas.