1. Morningstar Maple-Flavored Sausage Patties
We both know you've glanced at their trademark green boxes when stacking dozens of Totino's Party Pizzas in your cart. They're in the frozen section, usually accompanied by a small smattering of Morningstar's other products. Give them a try next time, pal. Unlike most other soy-based wannabes, these are respectable in both texture and flavor and give you a fighting chance to do Meatless Monday right from the beginning.
2. Amy's Organic ... anything
I'm no expert on the politics governing vegan or vegetarian fare, but I am convinced the Amy's headquarters looks like a scene from Wanderlust ... and ... I want to go to there. Good news for your shopping list: I have yet to run into a product from Amy's Organic that isn't downright craveable. Pesto Tortellini: yes. Mushroom Risotto: hell to the yes. Paneer Tikka: there's three in my freezer. OK, five. Although it's hard to embrace a bowl of heavy pasta in the summer, these are perfectly portioned and not dripping with grease, making the post-pasta coma much shorter. Confession: I've developed a sort of penchant for the Amy's line, you should too.
3. Smart Dogs by Lightlife
I must invoke the spirit of Debbie Downer here: Smart Dogs are the opposite of good. Lightlife gets 10 points for a valiant effort but -500 point for making tubes of squishy weirdness. I saw these during my 10-minute (unsuccessful) search for alfalfa sprouts recently and couldn't resist trying them out. Bad idea. They carry a well-intentioned goal of quelling your carnal need for a hot dog without plaguing your conscience with guilt and your colon with animal flesh, but taste like links-o-meh. Good news: The rest of the package mocking you from your fridge are excellent vehicles for giving the dog his pills. He doesn't even know. Poor bastard.
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It's midnight and you're approaching drunktown. You're stumbling through whatever godforsaken wasteland is still open and selling foodstuffs. You see a tubular casing of reddish-brown meat-like stuff and grab it, along with a carton of eggs and a pack of tortillas. You've agreed to let all your drunk friends come over and someone shouted "FOOD" so here you are, at the damn grocery store. But when you get home, you realize through your stupor that you grabbed (gasp!) SoyRizo instead of good ol' chorizo. Fret not, it's not horrible. Actually, it's quite enjoyable because it lacks pork chorizo's trademark guilty trail of grease that cuts a tasty path through your beard. Try it. Drunkenness not required. Even our cohorts in Houston approve.
5. Boca Original Chik'n
These are cheap and do well in an oven and then placed in front of a child's face. The brand is reliable, as Boca is known for their line of mad decent veggie burgers, and the black bean variety a favorite of mine. I guaran-damn-tee your chicken-loving, super picky offspring won't know the difference, especially because they also are available in nugget form. From what I understand, if it's a nugget, it's kid-friendly. Unless of course your child only eats nuggets ... in which case, you're fired.