Easy Vegan Meal Planning
A Vegan Diet Naturally Lends Itself to Ease and Creativity
One of the many benefits of vegan eating is its adaptability to varying tastes, schedules and cooking skills. A little planning can go a long way toward facilitating easy, nutritious and tasty vegan meals.
Whenever possible, cook one or two dishes on weekends to eat during the week. Additionally, always have a batch of cooked brown rice, quinoa or other cooked grain in the refrigerator. Having cooked whole grains readily available in the refrigerator and/or freezer simplifies meal preparation when you’re short on time. The same is true for beans – make a pot on the weekend to use for meals during the week. Make legumes/beans in a pressure cooker or slow cooker. ” Vegan Pressure Cooking” (JL Fields) and ” The Vegan Slow Cooker” (Kathy Hester) are two cookbooks that will help simplify vegan meal planning.
Following are a few ideas to help you explore some of the easy meal possibilities a vegan diet affords.
Grain or Pasta Meals
Cook any grain (rice, bulgur, couscous, millet or polenta) or pasta and top it with a vegan cream sauce or a tomato, nut, or vegetable based sauce. Add vegetables and cooked beans or tempeh/tofu as desired to create a filing, delicious and satisfying entrée. Try White Bean & Mushroom Ragout as well as: Pasta e Fagioli, Cajun Seitan Creole; Veggie Patties; and Miso Nut Butter Noodles.
Soup makes a satisfying main course, especially when served with a green salad or whole grain bread. Cold soups are great for summer whereas thick soups and stews are ideal for colder weather. Most soups are better the day after they are made, so make a batch on the weekend for easy meals during the week. A little fresh lemon juice added immediately before serving adds a special touch to many soup varieties, especially lentil and green soups. Some main-meal soups we enjoy are Split Pea & Pasta Soup, Lentil Soup and Tess’ Tempeh Chili. For a refreshing raw soup try Raw Tortilla Soup, and be sure to check out Mark’s Summer Soup Recipes. Two good cookbooks for vegan soups are “The 30-Minute Vegan: Soup’s On!” (Mark Reinfeld) and “Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews For All Seasons” (Nava Atlas)
Salad meals consist of lettuce and other greens and vegetables (raw or cooked) combined with a cooked grain like quinoa. Add beans, tofu/tempeh or seitan as desired and serve warm or chilled with dressing on top or on the side. A few main meal salads we make regularly are Quinoa & Chickpea and Orzo, Spinach & Artichoke Salad. Also try No-To-Tuna Salad piled on a plate of mixed greens or romaine lettuce. A great book for unusual and delicious vegan salad meals is “Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting Edge, Ultra Hearty, Easy to Make Salads You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Love” by Terry Hope Romero.
Almost anything can be put in a pita, rolled in a tortilla, stuffed in a taco or put on a bagel, bun or english muffin. There are endless combinations that may include grilled or raw vegetables, cooked beans (whole or mashed), grains and lentils (try Hummus and Split Pea & Dill and White Bean), vegan pate’s, salad greens, nut butters, fruit, avocado, sprouts, veggie burgers, seasoned tofu, leftover loafs (like Cashew Carrot or Millet Loaf) and meat analogs. Sandwich meals are creative and easy. For sandwich meal ideas, check out the Quick Meal Ideas on VegansEatWhat.com. Also check out the Best Vegan Sandwich Ever from Dreamy Leaf.
Nearly all ethnic cuisines feature a variety of vegan specialties that you can make at home or buy at many grocery stores. Some plant-based/vegan ethnic options include falafels, curries, tacos and pastas. If you are interested in ethnic vegan cooking, there are several excellent specialty cookbooks available including “Teff Love Adventures in Ethiopian Cooking” (Kittee Berns), “Vegan Tacos” (Jason Wyrick), “Vegan Richa’s Indian Cooking” (Richa Hingle) and “Japanese Cooking Contemporary & Traditional” (Miyoko Schinner).
Top your spud your way! Baked and steamed potatoes (both russet and sweet) smothered with healthy toppings like cashew gravy, vegan cheese sauce and sautéed or raw veggies make a fun and filing entrée any time of the year. Cook potatoes in a crockpot, oven or grill. For topping ideas and recipes see Potato Bar.
For this blog VEW gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Sassy and Veg Fest Colorado. If you have a favorite quick vegan meal idea, please share it!
VegansEatWhat? is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing delicious answers to the question, "What do vegans eat? Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyLooXEFFfk&feature=youtu.be for more information