Four cheap, healthy, easy, fast, sustainable meal ideas

Hello dear friends.

Whether you are a zero-waste/vegan adept, or simply starting out on your journey, you’ll know that we live in a society that makes it difficult to incorporate sustainable choices into daily life easily. Economies are linear, not circular, people will forever tell you that you’re not getting enough protein, etcetera, etcetera.

But fear not! I have prepared five meal ideas tailored to the busy student/professional trying to be just a little bit more sustainable in their daily life. You’ve probably got a lot on your plate (pun intended), like staying healthy, keeping your grades up, and maintaining a tight budget, and I’m hoping that these meal ideas can help you to keep you, your GPA, and the planet healthy.

All of these meals are vegan and are available low or zero-waste.

Some of these ingredients seem pretty whacky to get low-waste, but are actually much easier to obtain than you may think. Earth’s General Store is an amazing resource for UofA students (and communities nearby campus) and they are conveniently located a short bus ride away on Whyte Avenue. I highly encourage the campus community to go check them out! You can access their bulk item list here.

So, without further ado…

 

Apple Cinnamon Stovetop Oats:

Serves 1

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As unflattering my photo is (I tried, guys), this is a simple, delightful, and heart-warming meal. Also, it is one of the most sustaining breakfasts I’ve ever had. Its really filling, made with dirt cheap ingredients, and if you’re a breakfast person, is a great start to a busy day. If not, go ahead and eat it when you feel like it. Oats rock around the clock.

Ingredients:

  • Half a green apple, diced
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • ½ cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ – 1 tbsp of maple syrup (start smaller, THEN add more)
  • A pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. On medium-high heat, place diced apple, cinnamon, and a splash of water into a small saucepan and sautee for 2 mins
  2. Add oats, the cup of water, maple syrup, and salt and bring to a boil
  3. Turn the heat way down and simmer until the consistency is thick and somewhat sticky looking
  4. Serve. Optional: sprinkle some pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, dried cranberries, or coconut on top for an extra burst of vitality.

 

Chickpea Tabbouleh:

Serves 1-2

A twist on the traditional and very fabulous tabbouleh salad, this meal is refreshing, filling, and is a great source of protein. I love this as a last-minute lunch because I often have these ingredients hanging around the house and it takes a very small amount of time to prepare.

Also, canned goods are a great low-waste option for prepared foods because aluminum is super recyclable. In fact, nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today because it can be indefinitely recycled.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • ½ tomato
  • 1/4 field cucumber, diced (low waste alternative to a plastic-wrapped long English cucumber)
  • ¼ red onion, chopped
  • parsley (bunches are so variable in size but I’d say you want a similar amount of parsley and red onion)
  • Optional: mint (same proportion as parsley)
  • ½-1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Rinse chickpeas in a colander or sieve and shake off excess water
  2. Combine chickpeas, tomato, cucumber, red onion, parsley, mint, lemon, and salt in a large bowl and stir until combined.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

 

Loaded Miso Soup

Serves 2-3

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Be it a hangover, a nasty cold, or a polar vortex, miso soup is pretty much always going to make things better for you. It’s unique flavour and comforting warmth ease the soul and body, and thaw even the most frigid of hearts. What’s also great about miso is that it’s super versatile and a great fridge cleaner! Those shriveled old mushrooms? That head of chard you told yourself you were going to juice this week? Those wilty carrots hidden in the deepest, darkest depths of your produce drawer? Toss em’ all in! Miso accepts and loves all. For my version that I cooked, I kept it pretty simple, but I encourage you to spice things up!

Here’s some other ideas for ingredients that would be delicious in your miso (and don’t be afraid to get creative!):

  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Garbanzo beans
  • White beans
  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  • Chili pepper
  • Red pepper
  • Sriracha
  • Chili oil
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Scallions
  • Seaweed

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 chunk of ginger (about the size of your last knuckle to the tip of your thumb), chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp of shiro miso paste
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ tsp of chili powder
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2-3 stems of kale, in bite-sized pieces

Instructions:

  1. Warm olive oil in a medium to large saucepan on medium-high heat, then add onion, ginger, and garlic. Sautee for 2 mins.
  2. Add sliced mushrooms and chili powder and a splash of water. Put the lid on the pan and sautee a further 2 mins.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine miso paste with ¼ of water. This allows the miso paste to better dissolve into the soup and makes your life a lot easier.
  4. Add 4 cups of water and miso mixture to the pan, then the kale as well. Bring to a boil and serve.

 

Veggie Satay:

Serves 1-2

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This Thai-inspired dish is packed with flavour, and you’ll love that you don’t need to buy packaged rice noodles to feel like it’s a complete meal! This is a great supper when you don’t have a lot of time, but still want something filling, nutritious, and delicious.

And yes, the rice vinegar, peanut butter, maple syrup, and soy sauce all were refilled into old bottles/jars of mine! If you enjoy Asian cooking, these are great staples to have lying around because they are so versatile in sauces.

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 8 mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced longitudinally
  • Optional: 1 red chili pepper, chopped finely
  • Optional: ½ lime
  • Optional: topping of chopped cilantro
  • Optional: topping of chopped peanuts

Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ water

Instructions:

  1. Warm olive oil in a medium to large frying pan on medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Then, add carrots, onion, and garlic, and sautee for 2 mins.
  2. Add mushrooms, red bell pepper, and chili, and a splash of water, and place lid on the pan. Cook another 2 mins.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir sauce ingredients together with a fork until fully combined.
  4. Add sauce to vegetable mixture in the pan and heat for another minute, and serve.
  5. Optional: top with cilantro, peanuts, and lime for extra yumminess.

 

 

I hope these help you get inspired to eat sustainably! Stay tuned for more C.H.E.F.S. (Cheap, Healthy, Easy, Fast, and Sustainable) meals!

 

Kate McMorran

2019/02/14

Blog Team Member

 

 

 

 

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