7 Quick, Easy Vegan Weeknight Meals
We are not vegan but we are mostly dairy free and I am making an effort to buy and cook way less meat. Strangely enough, my default for a quick, easy weeknight meal always seems to involve meat. I also find that delicious vegan food requires a little more seasoning, herbs, and exotic spices which I can never find in my tiny town.
But nevertheless, I have managed to pin down a few basic vegan suppers which work for us. These aren't prescriptive recipes, more just a basic meal plan which you can adapt to your liking and tweak each week to mix things up. All the ingredients should be available in even the smallest town grocery store, and are not too expensive. Most recipes are from my favourite websites, and if you want an awesome, affordable and local cookbook from an inspirational and beautiful human, check out Keri's stunning cookbook, A Guide for Wildflowers
1. Vegetable Dhal
This is an all time favourite in our home, mostly because of the time that my husband has spent trekking in Nepal. It is basically a delicious base of creamy red lentils and butternut, and any veg you want to throw in too. Our weekly recipe is here.
2. Falafel bowl
Ok this one is sightly more work, but so work it. Make the falafel mix ahead of time and leave it in the fridge, and then fry them up just before dinner. Falafels always looked so good and then were so disappointing and fussy to make, until I found this recipe from the Minimalist Baker. A great dipping sauce is also a must. My husband loves this Sun Nut Butter one from the Whole Food Diary. Once your falafels are done, you can add them to a bowl with pretty much anything. Here are some things I usually make:
- Roasted sweetcorn rounds
- Sweet potato wedges
- Roasted whole carrots
- Any roasted veggies - broccoli, cauliflower, brinjal, marrows.
- Finely sliced greens
- Finely sliced purple cabbage
- Baby tomatoes
- Anything else colourful you have sitting in your fridge.
Our go to favourites are a simple green Thai curry, but my kids do find green curry paste a bit hot, so I do this family favourite, a Sweet Potato, Coconut and Lemongrass Curry from Deliciously Ella which is sweet, creamy and delicious and then I add a whole bunch of baby spinach and a large sprinkle of chilli when I serve mine up.
You could really put anything from your fridge into a salad but the trick to a good salad is all about avocados and an amazing salad dressing. You can also spice things up with roasted veggies, toasted seeds, sprouts, peas, and crunchy croutons if you don't mind the carbs.
5. Roast Veggies
This is always a quick and easy win for us, I throw butternut, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli and marrows onto a roasting tray with garlic Himalayan salt and coconut oil and roast them. The trick to good roast veggies is the biggest tray possible and never to pile them up, rather spread them out, even if you have to do two batches. My kids and I will happily eat just that for supper, but I normally fry up a pan of spicy, crunchy chickpeas to add to the mix, and a bowl of couscous for my husband to go with his veggies, or quinoa for me and the kids if I'm low on veggies.
6. Stir fry
This is my all time favourite meal, and is so versatile. Although I like them just like this, if there is rice, or cauli-rice involved, I normally mix in an egg or two to help it all stick together better for my kids. Here are 3 varieties:
- Classic stir fry: Chop up an onion, lots of garlic, and grate in a large chunk of ginger and fry in coconut oil. Then add your veggies, and a splash of sesame oil and soy sauce, and fry to your liking. Serve as is, or with basmati rice.
- Peanut Thai Noodles: This is really just your favourite stirfry but with a peanut butter sauce and noodles of your choice. The sauce needs peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame (or olive) oil, honey, and lemon or vinegar. I honestly just mix and taste until it tastes good. Cook the noodles separately and put aside (we use gluten free noodles). Stir fry the veg, then add the noodles with a bit more oil, and lastly add the sauce and fry it all up. Serve with coriander and cashews and chilli.
- Cauli-rice: Grate up a cauliflower or blitz it in your food processor. Cook your veggies, add the cauli-rice for the last few minutes, and serve with soy sauce. Honestly, when I make this for us, I add an egg to make "egg fried rice".
7. Cottage Pie
This is next on my list to make, I am eyeing out the recipe in A Guide for Wildflowers but there is also a great looking one by the Minimalist Baker. I'll probably a sweet potato/cauli-mash topping though because I try to avoid too many carbs.
Honestly, I have yet to find the perfect, tasty, healthy vegan burger that doesn't crumble and fall apart. If you find one, let me know, and I'll keep looking. Friday nights are traditionally burger nights for us and I would love to good vegan patty to pop on the braai.
Those are the meals that are winning for us at the moment, I hope they give you some inspiration to ditch the meal and enjoy more veggies.