Something I’ve accepted about myself is that I’m just not a good cook.
That is not to say that I couldn’t become one if I really put my all into it (see this post for how I learn new things), but so far it’s just not a skill that super interests me. I am not someone that finds cooking particularly relaxing or fun, but I know I’ve gotta do it if I want to feel good.
So, today I wanted to share my go-to vegan meals. These are things I’ve made over and over with minimal fussing. Most of these come from well-established food bloggers in the vegan world so I’ll link to their sites and include any of my own tips. A few of these aren’t really recipes, just things I throw together.
Favorite Recipes From Other Bloggers
Lasagna, from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen: If we have guests over or I just want to make something fancy I go straight to this recipe. It’s an easy crowd pleaser, and something I’ve served to non vegans many-a-time with no complaints. I add onion, bell peppers, and zucchini to the filling (the recipe just calls for mushrooms). I’ve never added vegan cheese or olives to the top-an option she suggests-and have still loved it. Serve with a simple green salad and you’re going to look like you really know what you’re doing.
Pumpkin Curry, Minimalist Baker: This is something I meal prep for my work lunches about once a month or so. I use butternut squash instead of pumpkin, and if I’m really pressed for time I buy the pre-cut squash at Trader Joe’s. The recipe calls for cashews which I’ve never added because I usually only have raw ones on hand. I use the Thai Kitchen brand yellow curry sauce and about a can and a half of coconut milk (recipe calls for two cans) because I like the curry to be a little thicker.
Chili, Oh She Glows: I’ve been making this forever. Nothing tricky in this recipe, it also works well in the Instant Pot (saute the onion, garlic jalapenos, add everything else and cook on high for 5 minutes). I use jarred roasted red pepper in place of fresh and blend the diced tomatoes with my immersion blender before adding because I don’t like chunky tomatoes ( I am a picky weirdo). Serve with cornbread. I like to veganize the Trader Joe’s cornbread mix by subbing unsweetened applesauce for the oil and a flax egg for the real deal.
Black Bean Skillet Dinner, 101 Cookbooks: A newer favorite for me, I just meal prepped this the other night for my work lunches. This is such a quick and easy recipe, the only thing I do is add kale along with the beans. If you want to make this dish really stand out don’t skimp on the extras: diced avocado, pepitas, lime wedges, cilantro, pickled onions- I include them all, along with some mango (just defrost the frozen mango from Trader Joe’s). Serve over rice. Here’s the recipe I follow for pickled onions. I also HIGHLY recommend this cilantro crema, it would be great with the chili recipe too!
Things I Throw Together
Tacos: Trader Joe’s refried beans, your favorite store bought salsa, tortillas, avocado, lettuce, and diced potatoes tossed in taco seasoning.
Salad with Potato “croutons”: Dice potatoes into roughly crouton size. Toss in seasonings of your choice ( I do garlic powder, nutritional yeast, and chili lime seasoning from Trader Joe’s). Bake at 425 for about 25 minutes, tossing halfway through. Make a giant salad. When potatoes are done and slightly cooled add them to the salad and toss with your favorite dressing.
Hash brown Mess: Place frozen hash browns into one half of a nonstick pan on medium heat (just eyeball how much you want, I probably do 1-2 cups worth). Season with whatever you’d like and cook for 10 minutes. On the empty half of the pan add whatever frozen veggies you have around, I usually have broccoli, bell peppers, and corn. Let cook for a few minutes and then flip hash browns so the other side can get crispy. Once the veggies are heated through mix them with the hash browns. Serve in a bowl with salsa, avocado, and cilantro.
Bulked Up Tortilla Soup: I used to bring this for dinner when I waited tables. I worked at a restaurant where at the end of the night they served the staff a HUGE meal, and we all got to sit and chat for a bit. Since most of the food wasn’t vegan, I always tried to bring a meal for myself, and this was a standard one for me when I didn’t have time to meal prep ahead of time. All you do is pack some leftover brown rice and some drained and rinsed pinto or black beans-probably half to three quarters of a cup each. Add hot water to one of the Dr. McDougall brand Taco Soups. After a few minutes dump everything into a bowl and you have a hearty taco soup to get you through the rest of your shift.
One of the most helpful things I try to remember when cooking is to keep it simple. It’s 100% okay to rotate through the same handful of favorite recipes every week. Don’t think that you suddenly have to become a superstar chef once you’ve switched to this new way of eating. Add a new recipe into the rotation once a week or month and slowly build up your vegan food repertoire. Focus on what makes you feel good and what’s stress free to make.