Ask just about anyone what keeps them from switching to a plant-based/vegan/healthier diet, and one of the most common answers (besides ‘I love my cheese/bacon too much’) is likely going to be, ‘I just don’t have the time to make those elaborate meals’.
Okay, I understand that making a fresh, wholesome plant-based dinner every night sounds like too much work, especially if your schedule runs crazy, you work long hours, you’ve got kids, etc.
So today I’ve made a list of 10 meal ideas that will show you how to have a quick and healthy homemade meal even when you’re pressed for time. Nothing fancy or complicated, just 10 meals that’ll keep you from making a bad decision even when all else fails.
Staying on track with your plant-based diet has never been easier – after all, where there is a will, there is a way, right?
10 Easy Plant-Based Meals to Save the Day
1. Chickpeas + [BBQ sauce/teriyaki/salsa] + rice. A quick and easy meal that’s full of flavor, and provides a complete protein: toss some home-cooked or canned chickpeas with some flavorful vegan sauce (make sure to read the label to avoid junk), and serve it on a bed of rice (use quick-cooking microwaveable rice if pressed for time).
Got 30 minutes? Make it a little fancier by baking the chickpeas like I do in my BBQ Chickpeas and Rice recipe.
2. Green salad on a bed of cooked grains. Use any fresh salad veggies you have on hand, and serve them over a cooked grain of choice – barley, rice, quinoa, millet, etc. You can either use the quick-cooking varieties (stock up in advance), or make a large pot of grains once a week and use it as you go.
Don’t do grains? Mix in some quick-roasted potatoes, like I do in my Warm Potato Salad recipe.
3. Hummus and veggies in a wrap. This is my go-to combo for lunch and sometimes dinner: spread a tortilla with hummus, throw in any available vegetables (I love kale, red onions, carrots, tomatoes and olives), squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the mix, and wrap up burrito-style. Healthy, tasty, never fails.
4. Quick stir-fry. Microwave a bag of mixed frozen vegetables, toss in teriyaki sauce or a combo of equal parts of soy sauce and brown sugar, and serve over a grain of choice.
Want more protein? Add some edamame or other beans to the veggie mix.
5. Loaded baked potato. Rinse a medium-sized potato, microwave it for 3 minutes, cut it open with a fork along the top (be careful not to burn yourself with the escaping steam!). Top with any veggies/beans/sauces that you have on hand – I like the Southwestern combo of black beans, salsa, and some sliced avocado.
If you have more time, you can wrap the raw potato in tin foil and bake it in the oven for 45 min to an hour instead of microwaving.
6. Quick pita pizza. Spread marinara sauce/hummus on a pita, top with any vegetables available (onions, peppers, spinach, olives, sundried tomatoes work great), add some tofu/tempeh/seitan/vegan sausage if you have them. Got some vegan cheese? Throw it on too! Bake at 350°F for 5-10 min.
7. Veggie tacos. Warm up a few small tortillas in the microwave between two sheets of moist paper towels. Rinse and drain any canned beans of choice, season with cumin and chili powder. Assemble the tacos by putting some beans onto the tortilla and topping with salsa/sliced avocado/lettuce, etc.
8. No-cheese quesadillas. Spread some mashed sweet potato on a large tortilla (you can microwave the sweet potato for 3 min to cook it quickly), add peppers/onions/any kind of beans, etc. to one half of the tortilla and cover with the other half. Grill on a large dry skillet for 2-3 min per side, cut into wedges, and serve.
Alternatively, see my recipe for Veggie-Loaded Quesadillas where I use refried beans and hummus instead of sweet potato.
9. Peanut butter and banana/jelly sandwich. I love the classic Elvis (PB&B) sandwich every now and again that I usually make with my homemade peanut butter. A peanut butter sandwich with jelly or bananas is always a better choice than greasy fast food.
10. Green smoothie. Ain’t nothing wrong with a smoothie for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! The smoothie doesn’t have to be green in color – ‘green’ stands for ‘made with vegetables and fruits’. Most green veggies work fine in smoothies (except lettuce – some people find it weird-tasting when blended).
To make the smoothie more filling, add rolled oats, nut butter, seeds, nuts, etc. – see my Swamp Monster Smoothie recipe for more tips.
I hope that this list will make it easier for you to stay on track with eating healthy! The naysayers now have one less reason to say ‘no’ to going vegan…
By the way, if you have any quick plant-based meal ideas that I didn’t bring up here, please let us all know in the comments!