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In the Cart (vegan foods of the month) January 28, 2010

I’m often asked how to feed a family on vegan food that won’t break the bank or take all day to prepare. Many of us are in this boat, so I’m sharing my list of groceries and meals for a family of four, including two wee ones who love to chow.

* Dairy replacements:

Soy and almond milk. (includes supplements of Calcium, B12, D2–vegan D, and more).

Daiya cheese. A new kind of vegan cheese, based on tapioca starch, with a great cheesy taste and easy to melt. I order this from veganstore.com in large refrigerator bags, then I pack the preshredded cheese into small zip packs and freeze them, keeping one at a time in the refrigerator.You can use this cheese for anything–grilled cheese, quesadillas, pizza, pasta. If you prefer to buy your cheese in the store, Vegan Gourmet is a great choice. You must broil the shredded cheese though to get it to melt.

Vegan cheese slices. Tasty and great for kids’ sandwiches.

Vegan yogurt–soy or coconut milk based, plain and fruit flavored. Make sure you are getting the probiotics in yogurt to keep your digestive tract healthy.

* Meat replacements:

This month I am all about GARDEIN. It’s a brand new kind of vegan meat, found both in the freezer section and refrigerator sections, near the produce. It’s made of soy, wheat gluten, and ancient grains, and tastes like the real thing. My kids would eat the chicken tenders every day if I let them. There are many varieties that can be used alone or prepared in other dishes.

Ground “meat” crumbles. (In the supermarket refrigerator section.) Smart Ground is what I’m using, ever since Morningstar decided to rudely un-veganify their crumbles. I make stroganoff and lasagna with the crumbles.

SmartBacon. (In the supermarket refrigerator section.) For an occasional BLT. You must spray it with oil before baking, grilling or broiling so it browns nicely. I don’t fry it.

* Produce: We eat lots of produce, either straight, in salads or prepared with other foods. I love the organic herb salads, red peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, carrots, kale, zucchini, broccoli, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, avocados, herbs if it’s off season for my garden, garlic and onions, all organic when possible. I always keep frozen spinach and berries available. I will throw it into any kind of recipe for extra nutrition. Plenty of fruit, like citrus, tropical fruits, and apples.

* Other: I always have whole grain flours on hand, many types of pasta, including whole grain, buckwheat soba noodles, brown rice, quinoa, silken and regular tofu, plenty of beans, nut and seed butters, tahini and fresh whole wheat Italian bread and whole multi-grain and seed sandwich bread. I also use dulse (seaweed) flakes, flax meal and nutritional yeast as food nutrition enhancers. And who can live without Olive Oil? I also keep vegan mac n cheese boxes around for the kids, and frozen vegan dumplings. They love these with sesame-based Goddess dressing. We also have bagels and vegan granola and oats for breakfasts. I use Vegenaise or other vegan mayonaise replacement, tofu cream cheese and Earth Balance vegan butter. Oh, and this is the most important ingredient: dark chocolate!

These groceries are enough to get us through weeks of last-minute food making and some special meals. It’s really nothing so exotic that anyone can’t get. The vegan meats and cheeses we could easily do without if necessary.

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