Whether you’re trying to go vegan, hoping to cut down a little on meat here and there, or just don’t want to spend $10 on a pound of ground beef for your meals, finding realistic vegan meals can be kind of a pain. When you search for vegan recipes, the overwhelming majority of them are complicated, contain difficult-to-find ingredients, take way too long to prepare, or are way too expensive for the average twenty-something on a budget. Look, I have a job, class, and Game of Thrones to keep up with, and I just can’t spend 3 hours buying ingredients and preparing artisan tempeh sandwiches–and anyway, that’s the kind of wacky shit that got vegans a weird reputation to start with. So hey, wanna eat vegan, impress your carnivorous friends, and feel like a normal human? Look no further.
In the interest of keeping this consistent, this blog will just include vegan recipes, not frozen dinners, snacks, or packable lunches–look for that blog later.
Disclaimer: I can’t cook for shit so if I can make these taste good, anyone can. Also, recipes is putting it a little loosely, but don’t worry, you’ll know how to make this stuff.
5. Salads–but the fun kind, I swear
Everyone’s first impression of vegans is that “oh you must only eat salads” and that’s just not true, but I like a good salad once in a while, and lucky for those of you who can’t cook, salads are really basic to prepare as well as easy to customize. If you’re totally clueless about salads, here’s a decent graphic to help you find good pairings.
The fact of the matter is, salads don’t have to suck, they don’t have to be boring, and yeah, you can’t have ranch. Get over it. There is an entire world of dressing options available to you.
An example of a good salad I enjoy:
Color: Shredded Carrots
No crunch or extras–you do what you want, though.
Protein: Tofu (marinate and cook this in teriyaki sauce) If you don’t have the time for tofu, skip it. The salad will be fine on it’s own.
Dressing: Soy sauce and a bit of olive oil
There. A salad that doesn’t suck. You have no excuse.
4. Baked Potatoes
Now you’re probably really confused: Don’t baked potatoes usually have cheese and sour cream? No need. Now, I haven’t found a sour cream substitute and I’m sorry. I just go without. I’ll get back to you if I find it.
What’s cool about potatoes is they’re really easy to make, and also really cheap. Now, you’re probably thinking I’m going to tell you to put your potatoes in the oven and wait for two hours but again, I’m in college. NO. We’re using the microwave. By all means, use your ovens if you love wasting time. To microwave a potato, you can do one of two things. You can buy a microwave specific potato (these come with a plastic film that you microwave the potato in) or you can buy a regular potato and poke holes in it with a fork. Whatever works for you.
But first, you cook your potato one of the ways we’ve already talked about. Then, cut it open, and spread some Earth Balance all over it. Then, you add the vegan toppings of your choice. I like to include GoVeggie Vegan Shredded Cheese (be warned that GoVeggie cheese is typically not vegan but rather lactose free, the purple labeling indicates that it’s vegan) and McCormick Bac’n Pieces, plus a few spices because flavor is a good thing.
3. Grilled “cheese”
Okay now you’re probably really confused. Look. GoVeggie cheese slices once again step in to save the day.
Just make a grilled cheese the way you normally would except replace butter with Earth Balance or a substitute of your choice, and use GoVeggie slices. Find an animal-free tomato soup to go with it, and you’ve got the ultimate comfort food.
2. Stuffed Peppers
This is the most complicated one of the bunch, as well as the longest, which is why it’s number 2 instead of number 1 on my list because this is fantastic. This list of ingredients is also totally customizable, so I’ll just kind of tell you what I used.
- Bell Peppers (however many you’ll be able to feasibly eat)
- Rice (substitutes, quinoa, couscous, etc.)
- Beans (I used Dark Red Kidney Beans–use whatever type of beans you like, I would’ve put vegan refried beans if I’d had room in the peppers)
- Corn (substitute any other type of veggie, who cares)
- Enchilada Sauce (some people use tomato sauce, just whatever soup-type liquid excites you)
How to do it:
Cook the rice, beans, corn, and a little bit of the enchilada sauce in an appropriate sized pot for the ingredients you have.
While that’s cooking, cut the tops off the peppers and gut them. Then, set the peppers in a casserole dish (or another baking dish that will hold them), fill the peppers with the ingredients you’ve already cooked, and pour the remaining enchilada sauce in the dish/all over the peppers.
Bake at 375 for an hour. Plan this in such a way that you can get some stuff done while you wait for the baking.
1. Stir Fry
Veggie Stir Fry is my favorite vegan meal and maybe even my favorite meal ever.
Grab some vegetables (broccoli, snow peas, sprouts, carrots, peppers, etc.), throw them in a pan on medium-high heat with olive oil and your choice of sauce. I love Kikkoman’s Stir Fry Sauce. Then, spice with some garlic, cayenne pepper, and stir the veggies around (don’t try anything fancy, you’ll regret it, just cook the vegetables) until they soften, but not until they’re soggy.
If you like, add tofu.
There you have it! Note that I didn’t buy any of these products from a natural foods store or anywhere special, I buy them all regularly at my local Publix, and many of these things can be found at Walmart, Target, etc. If you want to know if your local grocery store stocks these items, or other substitutes, calling to ask is your best bet, and sometimes they’ll start stocking an item because multiple people have called to ask about it, so check back if they don’t currently stock it.