As a newlywed graduate student, my days are quite long. Between classes, work, the gym (sometimes) and all those odds and ends chores that everybody deals with, it’s easy to feel a little strained. If I want to spend time with my equally busy friends, we usually have to meet up late at night. As much as I’d like to go out for a drink to see them all, my liver and my wallet can’t support the habit. Throw in the fact that my husband doesn’t get home until 9:30 on the weekdays–and I can’t help but feel rude if he and I are eating dinner in front of guests–most weeknights I’m faced with an apartment full of people that I need to feed and entertain. What’s a girl to do?
The solution is simple: vegan food and board games. It’s a perfect combination.
I’m quite aware that claiming myself as a vegan comes with a lot of heated opinions–and I’ve found trying to extoll the virtues of any lifestyle tends to come off as preachy–so I’ll keep it simple. For me, I’ve found that veganism not only allows me to live my ethics, but it also lets me stay within budget. If you go the plant-based route, vegan food is cheap. With a little meal planning, I can feed myself and my husband a week’s worth of lunches and dinners for about forty dollars. This, in turn, gives us some pocket change to go out once in a while for those much-coveted drinks. Yes, please.
When feeding a crowd, it can be quite easy to feel like there’s a lot of pressure to pull out all the stops. Every once in a while my husband has to talk me down from the ledge as I convince myself that I simply must make three different appetizers for movie night. As with most things in life, simple is best. And what’s more simple than some old-fashioned board games and a one-pot meal? Not much, that’s what.
For this weeknight game fest, I had six people coming over, and nothing satisfies a crowd more than chili. Sweet potato black bean chili, to be more specific. Paired with some great rosemary thyme bread and Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s, it makes a really satisfying meal. Since I was feeling fancy, I also got blondie mix and replaced the eggs and butter with coconut oil and applesauce. Dinner and dessert, all done in less than an hour. Plus, since this shindig is veggie-centric, it only cost about eighteen dollars.
Want a sneaky vegan tip? Don’t tell anyone it’s vegan. I used to be one of those people who excitedly proclaimed my cookies’ distinct lack of butter, only to be crushed when no one would touch them. Most times, people can’t tell the difference. So, keep it on the down low, and I promise there will be no brownies left. I once was able to feed people chocolate pudding made out of avocados with them none the wiser. It was very satisfying.
(Side note: if someone has an allergy, obviously you should tell them what’s in the food. Other than that, I think these white lies are just fine.)
Savvy Planning: Make double of the chili, wrap the leftovers and some avocado in tortillas, and you’ve got yummy burritos for lunch or dinner.
Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
Adapted from Alida’s Kitchen
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound peeled and diced sweet potatoes
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 chopped green bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (not necessary, but it gives a great punch)
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 2 cans drained and rinsed black beans
- 2 cups veggie broth
- Heat oil in medium saucepan, and saute onions, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes for 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and spices and saute for one more minute.
- Add tomatoes, black beans, and broth. Bring to a boil before simmering for 30 minutes.
So get your friends together this week, grab a new game, and have some fun! (But only play a zombie-themed game if you’re comfortable yelling at each other.)
|Photo Credit: Rachael Pace|