The Daily Beet

07 Nov Saving Time with Char

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Saving Time with Char

I’m not Martha Stewart or Katie Brown (two of my kitchen idols), but I do have some tricks up my sleeves.  And although I am the Queen of Shortcuts, I do have some other scaffolding in place that helps me save time on my plant-strong journey.  This organizational skill makes me feel like Martha or Katie, but the reality is that on most days, I cannot even tell you where I last left my car keys.  But, I can tell you exactly what I am going to be eating for a month, based on my “Plant-Strong Action Plan.”

Make a grid on your computer—seven days—four weeks.  Fill in each grid with your dinner for a given day.  Your grid rotates by Week A, Week B, etc.  Week A is first, Week D is last.  Simple.

At the bottom of each sheet, there’s a place for you to enter your shopping list for the week.  You can easily stroll, walk, or run through your grocery store and get what you need without being tantalized by things NOT on your list or on your “Plant-Strong Spectrum,” as I like to call it.


Veggie Burgers, Brown Rice, Braised Kale, bean/cilantro salad


Minestrone Soup, WW Bread, SaladCauliflower Steaks, Brown Rice, SaladVeggie Burgers, Ezekiel Rolls, oven fries, saladGrilled Portobello steaks, baked broccoli, saladRaise the Roof Lasagne, salad, side of broccoliMinestrone Soup, Mashed cauliflower and white beans, salad

Make a dozen veggie burgers for the week.




Mire poix


Salad items

Ezekiel Rolls


Ezekiel Roll



Pomi Toms

Ditallini WW


Frozen Kale







Brown Rice

Salad items




Salad items



Four Portobello Mushrooms, broccoli, salad items



Frozen Italian Veggies (2 bags)

Lasagna Noodles (WW), ½ cashews, nutritional yeast, Roma tomatoes

2 jars FF Tomato sauce




Cannelini Beans


Salad stuff

Preplanning like this gives you the opportunity to peruse cookbooks, websites, etc. for new and different recipes.  Because let’s face it, you can easily set yourself up if  you create the same, boring, anticipated meals.  While I often make big vats of things, I never, ever eat it night, after night.  But, I freeze it and use it for lunch, take it to a friend, etc.

If you are in a time jam and have nothing planned, there’s always a salad bar that can be the basis for your dinner, soup, or sauté.

Some Final Quick Time Savers…

  • I shop everyday…shorter lines to check out AND less to carry into the house.  You are in and out of the store in minutes.
  • Keep spices in alphabetical order…this will save you SO much time while cooking.
  • Frozen is fine for soups, casserole, etc.  HUGE time saver.  We’re talking veggies here.
  • Bake a whole bag of potatoes and store in fridge—great for salads, grilling, snacking, etc.
  • Soak your pots and pans while you are eating dinner…this way, clean up will be a breeze.

More than anything, keep it simple.  Beautiful, clean, healthy food doesn’t require complicated recipes to taste delicious.

Time is on your side.

Grocery Fact:  Did you know that 12% of all grocery sales occur at the Point of Sale (POS, checkout)…that’s where you are tantalized by candy, magazines, and sodas.  Try using the self-checkout, you will avoid all last minute visual persuaders that might be in the express lane.  You will save time, money, and temptation.

Time is still on your side.

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Char Nolan for Engine 2
Char Nolan

Char Nolan is a blog contributor and Engine 2 Extra Coach. She's been plant-strong for almost five years. From Philadelphia, she works in the plant-based whole foods arena, and is also the "vegan features writer," for the "Town Dish." She's lost a great deal of weight from being plant-strong, practices yoga, and is always dabbling in her kitchen to create new, plant-strong recipes. Armed with a degree in public health, Char also holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from e-Cornell.

  • Dennis
    Posted at 14:27h, 07 November

    Unfortunately, the self-checkout at my store is limited to 20 items. By design, I presume!

    • Char Nolan
      Posted at 19:10h, 07 November

      That’s crazy. But, I run in and out of the store to grab whatbI need. Where do ou shop, Dennis?

  • lkjuhl
    Posted at 18:48h, 07 November

    I am trying to imagine why I would want to bake a whole bag of potatoes and snack on them. Can anyone advise me?

    • Char Nolan
      Posted at 19:06h, 07 November

      You cook them ahead for grilling, adding to salads, etc, and yes, snacking on them! Have to think ” outside of the skin.”

      • Engine2Team
        Posted at 15:14h, 08 November

        We do the same thing! Have them ready to go, base for a simple meals and for snacks, Rip’s favorite snack is a few small potatoes!

  • Halee
    Posted at 00:18h, 08 November

    Hello! I am 4 months pregnant and vegan and no oil…avoiding nuts….I eat lots of flax meal and Chia seeds. Wondering if anyone has advice for pregnancy! Thanks Halee 😉

    • Engine2Team
      Posted at 15:13h, 08 November

      It’s really the same plan, slightly more caloric intake.

  • Annie
    Posted at 12:46h, 09 November

    Would you share weeks “B”, “C”, and “D” please? I’m trying to switch to plant strong and posts like this are very inspirational. THANKS!

    • Char
      Posted at 21:32h, 09 November

      I will get them up…thanks. Glad this helped.

      • GC
        Posted at 18:31h, 21 January

        Did you share these? Where? When?

  • Eliza Ahad
    Posted at 08:54h, 13 November

    1. Is coffee a no-no and if so what hot beverage is there to warm me up?

    2. Is an occasional glass of red wine acceptable?

    3. (This may sound funny, but) is there any way to “cook” nuts to soften them?

    Just recently I watched “Forks Over Knives”, then “Vegecated” and now I watched the “Engine 2 Diet” video and I’m soooo glad I did. I must say, it all brought a tear to my eyes—not just from the happiness that I found the truth of this, but from the sadness that I had been lied to all of my life by the media and the medical profession. I’m going to give all I’ve got to follow the only healthy way to live, thanks to all of you.

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