13 July 2011

TDIV Q&A: What are some quick, easy and inexpensive vegan meal ideas?

What are some quick, easy and inexpensive vegan meal ideas?

Great question and as a working mom with two active kids, one busy husband and a puppy at home I’m always on the hunt for quick, easy, cheap vegan meal ideas.

Of course, there is a whole world of delicious, jaw-droppingly gorgeous vegan gourmet cooking out there. And I would highly suggest heading to your local library or bookstore, checking out a few of the fancier vegan cookbooks out these days and treating yourself to trying one or two of those recipes a month.

That being said you’re likely not going to attempt homemade butternut squash stuffed ravioli with thyme infused cashew cream on Wednesday night between work and little league practice so here are a few quick and easy options to get you through all the regular days:

Bean Burritos

I heat a bit of oil in a medium-sized pot, add some chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes. Then I add a can of drained and rinsed kidney beans, about a tablespoon and a half of chilli powder and some Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning. I heat it all together for a few minutes then turn off the element and mash it all with a potato masher. Voila, something resembling refried beans and tasting delicious.

I spoon some into a soft whole wheat tortilla, add some shredded lettuce and salsa, roll it up and enjoy! The bean mixture also keeps well in the fridge all week so you can keep making burritos whenever you need a quick meal.

If you’re in a rush – or just nervous about cooking – you don’t even need to make your own pizza crust. I take whole wheat pitas, slather them in pizza sauce, add some veggie pepperoni (I use Yves brand) and lots of peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc. (you can also add a shredded vegan cheese like Daiya as well if you like it). Then I bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes. If you have the shredded “cheese” on your pizza you can broil it for a few minutes at the end to really melt the cheese and grill the veggies on top.

Don’t roll your eyes. I’m not talking iceburg lettuce with lemon juice and some sad chickpeas here. A big salad can easily be a delicious and filling meal (plus it helps you clean out your fridge at the end of the week and avoid wasting food).

Take your greens (I use romaine and spinach, but if you’re feeling adventurous you could throw in anything from kale to dandelion greens to swiss chard – you name it) and then add veggies, fresh herbs, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, beans (sprouted if you have them), tofu, dried fruit, whatever you can find.

For a dressing, I just grab a coffee mug and mix together some olive oil and balsamic vinegar (apple cider vinegar is nice too) and then add some Dijon mustard, a little honey or maple syrup and some salt and pepper. I mix that up, drizzle it over the whole salad and toss until coated.

This is another one of those kitchen-sink opportunities. You can take some pasta – whole wheat is good or rice pasta if you’re looking for gluten-free options – and just use your imagination. You can stick with a basic tomato sauce from a jar if you’re looking for quick and easy or, you can get a little more creative if you like with something like a cashew or avocado cream sauce or a peanut sauce along with any number of delicious veggies (zucchini, mushrooms, onions, peas, peppers etc.)

Vegan imitation meats (Yves makes a good sausage) can also be sliced up and added to give it some more oomph.

There are lots of great veggie burger recipes out there. I would suggest visiting some of your favorite vegan websites and blogs and finding one that sounds good to you. Make a bunch on the weekend and freeze them so you always have something quick to pull out in an emergency.

This is another great make-and-freeze option. I often use the weekend to make up a big batch of a hearty lentil and sweet potato soup and then freeze it to take for lunch for the rest of the week. Add a slice of a nice whole grain bread slathered in Earth Balance vegan spread and you’re good to go.

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Sara Best | @shbest
Sara was literally born into the animal welfare movement. While growing up, her father worked with various organizations on campaigns from the Canadian seal hunt to the slaughter of dogs in the Philippines to the ivory trade in Africa. Eventually, Sara became involved in animal protection projects herself. Now she is a writer living near Toronto, a mom to two little omnivores and married to one dedicated carnivore. Visit Sara's blog.

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