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Quick and Easy Vegan and Vegetarian Meals

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me for ideas on very quick and easy vegetarian/vegan meals, so I decided to make a list of my go-to’s that only take about 10-20 mins to prepare.

Even though I love to cook and love trying new recipes, I totally understand that not everyone has the time, energy, or desire to do that every day, including myself. More often than not, I am throwing together something very simple and easy for dinner. Most of the time, that means digging through my fridge and pantry and using what I happen to find there. I try to keep certain staples stocked, like pasta, frozen veggies, canned veggies, (and fresh veggies), canned beans, rice, bread, tortillas. You can come up with all kinds of things with just a few basics like this. (Do I have pasta and some veggies? That’s a meal. Do I have tortillas and some beans? That’s a meal. Do I have rice or bread and some veggies? That’s a meal.)

A quick note on carbs: Yes, some of these meal ideas contain carbs (GASP!). It’s my opinion that the anti-carb-craze has gotten out of control. The problem is not carbs, it is too many calories. By cutting out carbs, you cut out calories. You can also cut out calories (and fat, and saturated fat, and cholesterol) by eliminating meat. In fact, the average American BMI is 28.8 (18-25 is considered normal/healthy), the average vegetarian BMI is 25.7, and the average vegan BMI is 23.6. Clearly, carbs are not the problem. Meat causes clogged arteries, heart disease, stroke, and cancer (not to mention an unimaginable amount of animal suffering). Pasta and bread do not. If you’re going to eliminate something from your diet in the name of your health, for goodness sake, ditch the meat!

Alright, let’s get started…

Quick and easy vegetarian and vegan meals

1. Tacos
Tacos are probably my favorite quick, easy, throw-together, go-to meal! There are endless veggie taco possibilities! From a variety of beans, to meatless meats (soyrizo, meatless crumbles, etc), to all kinds of vegetables, to taco toppings (guac, sour cream, salsas, pico, cheese, etc) you can get really creative and tasty with tacos. And they’re always super fast to make. Here’s some ideas, but pretty much anything tastes great in a taco – just look through your fridge and pantry for some beans and veggies. I try to keep a 10-pack of tortillas (the smallest I can find) in the fridge, some canned beans in the pantry, and a few fresh veggies around. Variations on this could be chalupas, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, or taco salad – they’re all very close to the same thing, plus or minus a few ingredients.

Mushrooms and bell peppers, side of guac and black beans
Refried beans, lettuce, tomato, guac
Lentils, mushrooms, cabbage, carrot, avocado, lime
Black-eyed peas, corn, bell pepper, tomato, onion, tabasco
Black beans, quinoa, guac, onion, cilantro, lime
Pintos, tomato, onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, avocado
Soyrizo, tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, guac
Sweet potato, chickpeas, onion, cabbage
Scrambled eggs, kale, cheese, salsa

2. Pasta
There are endless ways to vary pasta meals, from the pasta itself (pasta, ravioli, tortellini, etc.), to the sauce (marinara, olive oil, pesto, alfredo, etc), to what else you put in the bowl (any variety of veggies, meatless meatballs, Field Roast veggie sausage, etc). And boiling pasta is just about one of the quickest meals you can make. If you’re adding veggies, you can just toss them in the boiling water with the pasta (you can use frozen or fresh veggies). You can create flavor variations like Asian pasta bowls with soy sauce, or mac and cheese bowls. Just keep a box/bag of pasta stocked in the pantry, and some frozen or fresh veggies on hand, and a jar of sauce or some olive oil. Note that most of my pasta creations are as simple as: pasta, 2 veggies, and a sauce (or olive oil). Here’s a few ideas to get you started, and of course you can come up with endless other possibilities!

Pasta with spinach, tomato, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Pasta with kale, crispy chickpeas, olive oil and lemon juice
Pasta with plain tomato sauce
Pasta with tempeh, spinach, and cream sauce
Mac and cheese with peas and carrots
Pasta with asparagus, portobello, parsley, and basil pesto
Ravioli with artichoke hearts and tomato pesto

Pasta with mixed frozen veggies, tofu, cashews, soy sauce, and lime juice
Pasta with peas, onions, parmesan, olive oil

3. Soups
What could be easier than throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot and letting it boil? Use veggie broth or water, toss in some veggies (fresh or frozen), and add some spices/flavorings – something as simple as a store-bought spice blend works great, or a little tomato sauce, some basil pesto, lemon juice, or soy sauce. You can add beans, noodles, eggs, tofu, etc! Boil until everything is warmed and cooked to the desired tenderness.

Broccoli, carrot, squash, zucchini, tomato, navy beans, lemon, basil pesto
Black beans, zucchini, avocado, cilantro, green onion, paprika
Tortellini, artichoke hearts, tomato, spinach, basil pesto
Veggie chili
White beans, kale, tomato sauce, carrots, celery, and croutons
Veggie wontons, bok choy, carrot, green onion, cilantro, tofu, shiitake & oyster mushrooms
Soba noodles, shiitake mushrooms, carrot, snow peas, egg, tofu
Mixed veggies and chickpeas in tomato broth
Tortilla soup with chickpeas

4. Sandwiches
I really love veggie sandwiches. They can be something as simple as a few slices of cheese with some lettuce, tomato, and mustard. Or you can get really creative with what goes in a sandwich! Just have some bread on hand and fill it with what you’ve got! A variation on this could be a wrap.

Mushrooms with BBQ sauce and pickles
Artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, mozzarella
Grilled cheese with pesto and avocado
Falafel pita sandwich with hummus, cucumber, tomato, onion, parsley
Avocado, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, onion, sprouts
Asparagus, tomato, olives, cheese
Meatless meatballs, marinara, basil, parmesan
Tofu, cheese, black beans, avocado, lettuce, tomato
Grilled cheese with mushrooms – try adding a fried egg to this!

5. Rice, Farro, Quinoa, or Lentil bowls
Boil some rice (or farro, quinoa, orzo, couscous, lentils, etc), heat up some veggies (boil, or bake, or sautee them – they can be fresh or frozen), and top with some sauce (just something store-bought like teriyaki, or marinara, or vinaigrette, or just use olive oil).

Lentils, farro, asparagus, tomato, artichoke hearts, with honey-mustard vinaigrette
Rice with onion, bell pepper, pineapple, tempeh, and sweet and sour sauce
Lentils, freekeh, kale, portobello, radishes, walnuts, goat cheese, and a poached egg
Stir fry: Rice, mixed frozen veggies, mushrooms, tofu, soy sauce
Rice, collard greens, potatoes, peanuts, peanut sauce
Rice, lentils, lima beans, bell peppers, onion, olive oil
Farro, beets, brussels sprouts, almonds, thyme, lemon juice, olive oil.
Adzuki beans, sweet potato, parsley, poached egg
Rice, chickpeas, brussels sprouts, fennel, marinara sauce

6. Salads
Don’t underestimate the heartiness of a big-ass salad. I try to keep bagged/boxed salad greens stocked (whether that’s lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, or whatever) and I just toss in whatever fresh veggies, canned veggies (artichoke hearts, beans, olives, etc), and “extras” (like quinoa, nuts, cheese, egg, tempeh, tofu, etc) I happen to have on hand. I’ll sometimes buy a bag of already chopped, mixed veggies (they’re typically marketed as stir-fry veggies) and just throw those into the salad. You could even add some fruit (strawberries, grapes, apple, pear, etc). Use any dressing you like!

Kale, tomato, chickpeas, radish
Arugula, carrot, avocado, olives, hemp seeds
Spinach, beet, edamame, carrot, cabbage, chickpea, quinoa
Arugula, cabbage, white beans, tomato
Kale, tomato, quinoa, chickpeas
Avocado, tomato, chickpeas, feta (no leafy greens in this one)
Taco salad with soyrizo, black beans, sour cream, salsa
Kale, craisins, pear, pecans
Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, chickpeas, avocado, egg

Don’t be afraid to experiment! You can get creative with all of these meal ideas and they’re all super quick and easy to make. Enjoy!