I know when I began my plant based journey 3 years ago, I knew that due to my busy lifestyle I most definitely did not want to be spending hours in the kitchen preparing overly complicated meals. That was a given. I wanted plant based dinner recipes that were not only fast, but EASY too.
So, over the past few years I have come to rely on a few staples that I never seem to get bored of, and best of all they can all be prepared and cooked in under 30 minutes. Having such easy to prepare meals is awesome because it helps you to stay on track with a diet and lifestyle that used to be considered pretty hard to stick to.
All of the below meals can be amended to be whole foods plant based, as you can easily swap out any oils for stock or water. Another reason I keep oils to a bare minimum is if you are trying to maintain or lose weight, as the plant based diet can be heavy on fats, especially if you are swapping out your usual sources of protein for nuts, seeds and avocados.
Tips for making easy dinners:-
- LISTS – Always write a list of your weekly meals in advance, and be sure to buy everything you need for those meals in your weekly shop.
- BATCH COOK – When you make dishes such as chilies, soups, casseroles, vegetable curries, stews etc always make a big old batch then freeze in portions for a super fast dinner on another night.
- SIMPLE INGREDIENTS – Choose dishes with under 10 ingredients if you want to keep things uncomplicated.
- STAPLES – Keep staples such as tamari sauce, vegetable bouillon, mushroom ketchup, frozen homemade burgers, miso paste, frozen peas, sweetcorn, tins of tomatoes, lentils and pulses, pastas and noodles, and packets of rice and quinoa in your cupboard at all times. That way you will always have something to throw together at a moments notice.
Easy Plant Based Dinner Recipes
1. Garlic, Ginger, Broccoli and Chickpea Stir-Fry
I LOVE this amazing and super easy recipe simply because it is so fast, cheap and simple. It’s probably in my Top 10 taste wise to all the plant based dinners I have tried and tested so far, so that’s saying something.
The great thing about this dish is the fact that both broccoli and chickpeas are high in plant proteins (so you have that base well and truly covered), the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar make for a gooey and delicious sauce (which I persoanally love with rice), and the healthful, antioxidant rich garlic and ginger compliment it perfectly. Mmm mmm mmm!
2. Pumpkin Pasta with Spinach
OMG what’s not to love about this recipe? Comforting pasta with a pumpkin puree! I’m salivating just thinking about it.
Pumpkin is one of those amazing flavours that works so well with the sage; and the coconut cream just makes it even more of a delicious and satiating meal that you can use any kind of pasta you like with (You could go for buckwheat, lentil, or chickpeas pasta to keep the protein content high).
Adding plenty of spinach will up the protein and nutrient content even more, making the whole dish a complete nutritious meal that the whole family will love.
3. Nourishing Vegan Black Bean Stew
I actually don’t think a plant based dinner can be any more simple that this easy black bean stew that is ready in under 20 minutes.
Black beans are one of my favorite vegan foods as they make fantastic plant based burgers (see recipe below), buddha bowls, soups and stews. They are also very nourishing, and contain good amounts of iron, calcium, zinc, B vitamins, selenium and much more.
Serve this lovely stew with a nice portion of brown rice and you will be eating a low GI meal that will satiate you for hours.
4. Sesame Garlic Noodles
In my opinion noodles are life. I literally love everything about noodle dishes, as they are just so versatile and you can use up any veggies you have in your fridge, fry them in a hot pan with some spices, throw your noodles in, and voila, you have a quick and easy meal.
Noodles can come in the form of rice, buckwheat, wheat, and all the other new fangled products out there now, so you’re always spoilt for choice. One of my personal favorites will always be the classic buckwheat ramen, as it just adds a big boost of full spectrum protein to a plant based dish.
This meal offers something you may never have tried before, which is tempeh. Made from the soy bean, it uses the whole bean (unlike tofu), therefore giving you a different texture closer to meat. It takes on flavours well, and is very versitile.
5. Black Bean Vegan Burger
Here it is, my favorite plant based burger! You always need to have a great burger recipe in your repertoire for the those times when you just have a craving you need to satisfy.
Black beans work really well in this recipe due to the fact that they also give the colour of a true burger, which is what some people prefer. You can also amend the spices in this to anything you prefer as long as you use the basic ingredients.
These also hold their shape well, especially if you refrigerate them after moulding into shape. Great to throw on the BBQ!
Serve in a roll with some chunky, oven baked chips and a nice crisp side salad.
6. Hearty Chickpea and Vegetable Soup
Doesn’t this soup look like a bowl of pure health? The great thing about soups is they are just so versatile and you can add any veggies you please. It also doubles up as lunches as it can be kept for up to 3 days in your fridge.
Chickpeas (or Garbanzo beans as they’re sometimes called) are a great source of protein and fiber and give a ‘meaty’ quality to a soup or stew.
If you’re going to buy tinned, then the bigger, softer ones are the best; or better still, go for the jarred variety that you get in Asian stores, or the speciality isles in the supermarket. These jarred beans are the kind that they reserve whole isles for in Spain, and are so tasty you can just eat them as they are.
7. Vegan Bolognese Sauce
This list wouldn’t be complete without a good ole bolognese sauce. Sometimes we just want comfort food, and this sauce certainly fits the bill.
The thing I like most about this dish is the fact it is soy mince free, and the reason I stay clear of soy mince is because it is so processed. I’m not saying you should stay away from all soy products, as things like tofu, whole soya beans and tempeh are very minimally processed, but anything other than that is not going to be a ‘whole’ food.
Serve this dish with your favorite pasta and a crisp green salad for extra nutrition and you’re good to go.
8. Peanut Noodles
Peanut sauce and chunky protein rich soba noodles are just comfort food at its finest. Add a few veggies and you have the perfect dinner meal, so simple, mild in flavour and child friendly, you can make this dish winter or summer.
The taste of peanut in a sauce has always been a firm favorite of mine, and takes me back to my days living near a Vietnamese community in London where peanuts were served with many of their delicious dishes in the amazing restaurants that I frequented often.
9. Kale and Quinoa Winter Salad
If you’re not used to eating salad in winter, then you’ll love this hearty one. Healthy isn’t the word for this antioxidant rich beast.
Kale, quiona, walnuts and pomegranate are four of the most amazing plant based superfoods you can eat. Quinoa is a superior plant protein with a nutritionally complete amino acid profile (meaning that you don’t need to have any other proteins with it), walnuts are full of amazing, healthful fats for the brain and mood, kale is choc full of fiber and vitamins, and pomegranate is a powerful anti aging antioxidant.
So, make up a batch of this beautiful salad and have some for lunch the next day too!
10. The Ultimate Vegan Chili
Nothing beats a good vegan chili. Nothing, nothing, nothing I tell you! It really is that good when you get it right; and right this one is as I’ve tried and tested it myself. It has everything you could possibly want from a chili, and it’s definitely not missing any meat.
The thing that stands out with this recipe is you still have the amazing texture of soy mince for that meatiness, but you have made it yourself from a block of tofu. Therefore, no nasty hidden ingredients or GMO (not if you choose organic anyway), just good, wholesome plant based protein, two different kinds of beans, and also sweetcorn which gives it a wonderful sweet pop.
11. Vegan Pad Thai
This vegan Pad Thai has everything you crave in such a dish with its noodles, herbs and spices it just hits the spot.
Lots of fresh ingredients and super high protein tofu make this a healthy and filling, quick and easy week night dish. You can throw this one together in around 20 minutes from mostly store cupboard ingredients.
12. Lentil Loaf
It’s like meatloaf, but it’s lentils, and lentils are such a power house of plant based protein and nutrition that you really should be getting a good couple of portions into your diet each week.
This loaf contains omega rich walnuts and flax along with brown rice, so you basically have a fully rounded meal here. Just serve with lots of steamed veggies and your favorite vegan gravy and it will be absolutely delicious.
12. Creamy Lentil Curry
This simple one pot curry recipe contains my favorite high protein, brown lentils that I think are the tastiest in this kind of dish.
It’s always good to have a curry night every now and then, as there are so many great plant based sides you can put with it if you feel like adding more, such as poppadoms, onion bhajis, naan bread, pickles and chutneys; even fresh fruits traditionally go with curry. Or, to keep things simple, just serve it with a side of rice.
13. Tofu Scramble
Tofu is one of the highest protein plant based foods out there that is also VERY low in fat and calories, so great if you’re watching your weight.
You can scramble this up with any veggies you wish really, though I always think bell peppers, onion and spinach are a classic combo. This addition of turmeric powder to the dish not only adds an amazing, anti inflammatory spice into the mix, but also gives it that rich yellow egg colour that just seems to make it taste better somehow.
14. Vegan Thai Noodle Salad
Raw veggies in abundance will keep you in the best health possible as they contain lots of raw enzymes, and also have all their nutrients intact due to them not being destabilised by heat.
This amazing Thai salad has it all, and the addition of noodles and peanuts makes it a wholesome and hearty meal that you could easily prepare in advance and throw throw together last minute.
Try to eat lots of raw and nutritious foods as much as possible and you may really notice the difference in you general health and well-being, not to mention your skin will glow. I try to keep my diet around 60-70% raw, and it makes a huge difference.
15. Italian Vegan Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers are a lovely, neat and compact dish that’s full of flavour, veggies and antioxidants from the bright bell peppers.
These peppers are a meal-in-one so no side are necessarily needed. You’ve got vegetables, rice and a great source of delicious protein with the addition of tempeh. Another great family favorite!
Eating and preparing plant based meals needn’t be a bind if you prepare a food plan in advance for your week ahead, and also get all your shopping in ready. You may also want to prepare some easy snacks in advance too, to stop your from buying high fat and sugar store bough products.
I hope this post has shown you some easy recipes that both you and your family can enjoy together. Keep things mixed up and try a new meal at least a couple of times a week so nobody gets bored. It will also help you identify what you do and do not like if you are a newbie to the plant based diet.
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