If eating vegan seems like a lot of work, don't worry! These vegan shortcut recipes shave time off of meal prep from entrees to desserts!
Guys, I am so excited to tell you that my mom and her husband went plant-based! They've been stocking up on vegan cookbooks, following vegan blogs, and they even got an air fryer, so they can make my vegan air fryer recipes! I could not be more proud of them. This list of vegan shortcut recipes is for you, mama.
This summer, I spent a long weekend at mom's house with Darrol Henry. She had stocked the fridge with our favorite foods, because she knows I'm the nerd who likes to cook, even when I'm on vacation. One night, while we were making supper together, mom confessed that she loves the vegan food she's been making and how she feels since making the leap, but cooking vegan meals just feels so time-consuming.
And it can be, can't it?
Vegan recipes - any recipe, really - can be complicated and time-consuming. The trick is sifting through the complicated dishes to find a few easy, weeknight meals. Save those other recipes for when you have the time - they're often worth the effort, but that doesn't mean you have to make them on a Tuesday evening after a long day at work!
The thing about going vegan is that you probably spent most of your life learning tricks for making quick work of an omnivore meal. Now, you're starting over. The fridge & pantry tips and the vegan shortcut recipes below are a good jumping-off point for getting your sea legs in a vegan kitchen.
Stocking Your Pantry & Fridge
Before we get to the vegan shortcut recipes, I think it's important to stock your vegan pantry and fridge, so you'll be able to throw a quick meal together. Take a look at this Vegan Pantry Checklist (It's printable!), and make sure you have some staple items around, so you can put quick meals together when you need to.
Of course, you don't have to get every single item on that list. Choose the things that appeal to you. Things you're familiar with. You can add in new items as you get the hang of cooking vegan or when you have time to go out on a limb with a less-simple recipe.
For me, putting quick meals is all about shortcut recipes like the ones below and about having the right things on hand to start with. These are some staple foods I like to keep in our house to save time on meal prep:
- Pre-cut veggies (or ones that don't need to be cut): I buy the bagged shredded carrots or "carrot chips" and pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower. Sugar snap peas, prewashed salad greens, and cherry tomatoes are also handy, zero-prep veggies.
- Canned beans: Yes, making beans from scratch is cheaper, but sometimes you just need a meal on the table. Throw some canned beans (drained), rice, water, and spices into the pressure cooker, and supper is ready in a flash. Make a salad from those pre-prepped veggies, and you're in business.
- Rice & quinoa: Whole grains are a great base for a Buddha bowl, which is a super easy meal. Grains on the bottom; raw and/or cooked veggies in the middle; baked, air fryer, or sauteed tofu on top (or beans, I guess, but who are we kidding? We are a tofu-loving family!); sliced avocado, chopped green onions, and nuts and seeds on the tippy top. I love Buddha bowls so much that I wrote a whole book about them!
- Kale: We eat a ton of kale salads, and not just because they're healthy. Kale salad is the. easiest. side dish. EVER. Massage your kale with some lemon juice, oil and salt, then top with whatever veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds you like. Pour on that bottled dressing! I won't judge you!
- Nuts & seeds: Great for snacking or to top pretty much anything, from soups and salads to Buddha bowls and stir fries.
- Nutritional yeast (aka: nooch): For sprinkling on ALL OF THE FOOD! If you want to know more about the magic of nooch, my pal Cadry wrote a great article about it.
- Avocado: Because avocado is the best!
- Pasta: Dave and Darrol LOVE pasta. Use a jarred sauce or make your own - you do you! Throw some beans or tofu on there and add some veggies to the pot or serve with a salad made from those prepped veggies you totally keep in the crisper now.
- Frozen convenience foods: We keep frozen foods like Gardein Fishless Filets (not a sponsor, just a favorite!) on hand for very busy evenings. We use the Fishless Filets to make tacos a lot, for example. Quick and easy! Check out the meat alternatives, and see what speaks to you. If you don't do processed meat analogues, keeping frozen veggie burgers around is another great option for quick meals.
- Hot sauce: I guess hot sauce is optional, but not in my house!
Once your kitchen is stocked, it's so much easier to throw together a quick meal. Try these vegan shortcut recipes to get you started.
Vegan Shortcut Recipes
Zoodles and other veggie "noodles" are all the rage, but you don't need a spiralizer. Get yourself a bag of broccoli slaw, and call is broccoli noodles. Here, I top it with sauteed broccoli and tofu, plus Ginger-Almond Sauce that you make in the blender. If you use a bottled peanut dressing instead, no one ever needs to know.
Who needs to stand over a hot stove to make gravy? Not you, my friend! You make this quick, easy, freaking delicious miso gravy right in the blender. It's one of my favorite ways to make holiday cooking easier on myself.
There are lots of ways to make this red pepper sauce, but Dianne's is the fastest I've seen. Why roast red peppers yourself, when you can buy roasted red peppers in a jar? She also uses canned tomatoes and almond butter, instead of fresh tomatoes and whole almonds, to save even more time. Serve it over pasta or roasted veggies for a super easy meal!
Mary Ellen's shortcut risotto recipe is pure genius. She uses leftover brown rice and hummus to make this rich, creamy rich dish in a fraction of the time. You can even plan ahead for this meal. Leftover rice will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, so just make extra early in the week, and have risotto a day or two later.
Normally, ratatouille is a stovetop dish that requires a lot of stirring and standing there, but not Amy's version! Roast up those ratatouille veggies in the oven, and you are ready to roll. Serve these up as a veggie side or use them as the sauce for rice, quinoa, or pasta.
Cinnamon rolls normally have to bake for 30-40 minutes in the oven, but Mel's recipe takes around one minute in the microwave! Even the dough is quick and easy - it all comes together in just a few minutes. Easy for breakfast or dessert!
Not only are Sarah's cookies quicker to make than a regular from-scratch cookie recipe, they're healthier! You could totally eat these cookies for breakfast. If you can't do peanut butter, you can use other nut or seed butters instead. Sun butter, cashew butter, or almond butter would all be super tasty in this recipe.
Oh, nothing! Cadry just veganized my favorite takeout treat from before going vegan, and she made it super easy! Remember above, when I mentioned convenience items? Cadry shows you how to put together a few convenience foods to make a fancy dish that doesn't take a lot of time.
Another risotto? YES! This one is very different from Mary Ellen's recipe. Alisa's baked version uses canned beans, frozen veggies, and boxed veggie broth to make a creamy, filling, one-pot meal with a touch of spice.
Sarah uses frozen, pre-cut hash browns instead of mashed potatoes in her shepherd's pie recipe, and I have GOT to make it this fall! Go with pre-made seitan to save cooking time. Can't find seitan? Just replace it with tofu! Obviously, the result will be different, but I do tofu shepherd's pies all the time, and they're delicious!