In the past, there weren’t many options for vegan convenience foods such as frozen goods, or ready-made meals. Things have changed a lot though in recent years and now it is very easy to go to your local supermarket and find a vegan version of nearly any item.
As their name suggests, convenience foods are simple and take a lot less time to prepare, but at the end of the day, you can’t beat a home-cooked meal.
After a busy day at work, the last thing we want to do is cook. A common misconception about vegan cooking is that it is inherently more complex than preparing traditional dishes. Not only do you need to research alternative ingredients, but some people can struggle to make plant-based meals that are simple yet flavorful.
Going vegan isn’t a walk in the park. It can take a lot of effort and dedication to stick with it, but there are ways to make it easier. Meat and dairy-free meals certainly don’t have to be bland, and they really don’t need to be complicated.
Even if you’re exhausted and not in the mood to cook, there are plenty of ways to whip up a quick, easy and delicious plant-based meal. These lazy vegan recipes will give you some helpful suggestions on how to make healthy meat-free dishes in just a few minutes.
Many of them use ingredients that are probably already in your cupboards and we’ve included options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So with that said, let’s tuck in.
Most dry pasta you can buy in the supermarket is suitable for vegans. So if you have any spaghetti or penne in your pantry, here’s how to make a delicious tomato sauce in just a few minutes.
This particular recipe uses no oil making it a tasty low-fat dish that is also very filling. You won’t need anything except your preferred shape of dry pasta, cherry tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a few herbs and spices for flavor.
You may be wondering how you can saute the vegetables without oil. Well for this pasta sauce you will want to place your onions in a non-stick skillet and let them soak in their own juices. The onions should be frying down while the water for your pasta is boiling.
If you find you do need a little bit of liquid to stop things from sticking, then simply add a little pasta water from your pot.
The cherry tomatoes are added whole and once they are slightly soft you can lightly press them with a potato masher so they split and release their natural juices. With just a splash of more pasta water, you can make a delicious sauce to go with your pasta in just 20 minutes.
The best part of this recipe is you can do most of your prep while the pasta water is boiling to save on time.
- Prep only involves chopping an onion and a few cloves of garlic.
- Delicious tomato sauce with whole cherry tomatoes for extra flavor.
- You can add a balsamic glaze for a stylish Italian dish.
- Using pasta water in the sauce saves on ingredients and time.
- Vegetables may be easy to burn if you don’t watch them closely
If you are feeling Indian cuisine instead of Italian, then this simple vegan curry only requires 6 ingredients. Just like the last recipe, you don’t need any oil to make this spicy and nutritious meal. This dish uses tofu, but if you are allergic to soy then it can be easily supplemented with canned lentils or chickpeas.
Curry is a great choice for those short on time, and this recipe only takes 20 minutes to prepare including prep. The longest step is pressing your tofu unless you have the extra firm variety. You can do this by wrapping the block of tofu in a clean kitchen towel and placing a heavy object on top of the block for a few minutes.
Another thing to consider is what kind of rice you have. If it takes longer than 15 minutes to cook, then you should put it on before you start frying your tofu, otherwise, start boiling it after you have begun frying.
To make this recipe extra fast you can use frozen vegetables instead of fresh, although you are free to chop your own if you have a little more time on your hands.
- A versatile dish where the tofu can be easily substituted if needed.
- Involves a great way to press and fry tofu which can be used for other recipes
- Uses only 6 ingredients
- Can work with any curry powder, or your own blend of spices if you prefer.
- To keep this recipe under 20 minutes, you will need to use frozen veg and extra firm tofu.
If you have never tried quinoa before then you are about to discover why the Incans named it the ‘mother grain’. This incredible superfood has all 8 of the essential amino acids as well as numerous other health benefits. Normally for perfectly cooked quinoa you should bake it in the oven and use 1 cup of quinoa to 1 ¼ cup of water.
Since this recipe calls for cooking your grain on the hob, and you are going to be frying it at the end, they recommend a 1:2 ratio instead. When doing this it is vital to remove the lid from your pan for the last few minutes of cooking and turn off the heat.
This lets the quinoa soak up the leftover water and cook in its own residual heat for a while.
Mixed with delicious fried vegetables and seasoned with coriander, cumin, and curry powder, this is an easy-to-make and delicious vegan meal.
You only need two pans and 25 minutes to make this dish so it is perfect for those days when you are too tired to cook. It is also incredibly healthy and will give you all of your five a day in one skillet.
- Simple recipe with minimal prep and cooking time.
- Seasoned with coriander, cumin, curry powder, and black pepper for a dish bursting with flavor.
- A great way to experience the superfood quinoa for the first time
- Very healthy
- Cooking quinoa can be difficult to get right.
So we’ve had a few amazing savory dishes, but what about the desert? Don’t think being vegan means you have to miss out on all your favorite sweet treats. Many cakes and muffins can be easily made vegan with a few special ingredients to substitute the eggs.
Zucchini muffins may not sound appetizing, but not only are they sweet they are also very healthy with no oil or refined sugar. Instead, you use applesauce and maple syrup as natural sweeteners along with dried fruits.
These muffins take 40 minutes to make, but the last ten minutes are just let them cool before serving. Realistically you will only need to spend ten minutes prepping and then occasionally get up to check how they are doing in the oven.
Once they have cooled these muffins slide easily out of the tray and can be accompanied with a nice jam or just enjoyed plain with a cup of tea.
- A healthy vegan dessert with no oil or refined sugar.
- Delicious sweet, egg-free muffins sweetened with applesauce and maple syrup.
- A great use for spare zucchini
- You can adorn them with any dried fruit of your choice.
- They take ten minutes to cool.
There are few things easier to make and more nutritious than a nice salad. It can be enjoyed by itself, with a meal, or in a sandwich. The chickpeas make this dish extra filling and ensure you get your daily protein as well as all the nutrients from the veg.
The beauty of this dish is that it takes less than ten minutes to throw together and is extremely versatile. Once you have chopped your veg, you simply need to add your canned chickpeas and spices. Mix it all together and serve, it really is that easy.
Swapping out ingredients for different vegetables or beans can be done on the fly and will help you to personalize this recipe however you want.
Since it is so quick to make, this salad can be easily chucked together while you are waiting for something else to cook. If you don’t want to have it with another meal, it can be eaten straight from the bowl or as part of a delicious sandwich.
- Extremely quickly takes less than ten minutes to chop the veg.
- Can be used as a side for another dish, thrown in a sandwich, or eaten by itself
- Highly versatile, you can swap out any of the ingredients for your preferred veg or beans.
- Some people may not find this meal very filling by itself.
Lunch and dinner are one thing, but what about a quick vegan breakfast to wake you up for work? Oats are a great choice for starting your day as they are whole grains that are high in both protein and fiber. This means they provide slow-release energy that will help you power through to lunch.
The banana not only works as a sweetener but also brings its own nutritional benefits such as potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. There are three ways you can make this oatmeal, with the options to bake it, cook it on a stovetop, or in an instant pot. Using the fastest method, this oatmeal will be ready to eat in 5 minutes.
However, you choose to make it, once it’s ready you have endless possibilities when it comes to garnishes. Crushed almonds, berries, and even chocolate syrup all make great additions to this breakfast treat. Alternatively, you can just enjoy this creamy breakfast unadorned for a quick, energizing start to your day.
- There are three ways you can prepare this meal depending on how pressed for time you are.
- A delicious breakfast that only takes 5 minutes to prepare.
- Can be garnished with any fresh berries or nuts.
- Provides a lot of slow-release energy for a productive day.
- Not suitable for those who hate bananas
This vegan Mexican fried rice can be made on a stovetop or in an instant pot if you want to save on washing and time. This meal doesn’t have much in the way of protein, but with all the vegetables in it, you’ll be getting more than just your five a day.
The best rice to use for this recipe is long grain basmati as it will take less time to cook. Other types of rice will work just as well, although you may have to cook them a little longer. If you are a fan of Mexican fried rice, then this dish is a perfect vegan replica that uses vegetable broth instead of chicken.
While there are lots of great vegetables in here, you can easily add more of your own favorites. Black beans, bell peppers, and mushrooms are just a few of the things that go well with this recipe. Whether you use an instant pot or cook on your hob, this recipe takes just under 30 minutes to make.
- Delicious vegan version of Mexican fried rice.
- Can be altered or modified easily.
- Rich in nutrients and vitamins
- This dish is a little low on protein.
This is another quick pasta dish that only takes 30 minutes to prepare, although this time you will need a little oil. For the authentic Italian taste, it is recommended to use olive oil, but you can just as easily use whatever type you have in your kitchen. Once again we’ll be using cherry or vine tomatoes as these provide the most sweetness and flavor.
For this fettuccine dish, you need to cut your tomatoes in half, which means they will shrivel up and release more juice. One of the top tips for this recipe is to not rinse your pasta after it is done cooking, as the extra starch will help the sauce stick to it.
If you don’t have fettuccine then you can just substitute in any other shape of pasta and the recipe will still work fine. There isn’t much protein in this dish, but if all you want is a fancy, simple, and filling dinner that shouldn’t be too much of a concern. You can make this pasta sauce extra creamy by adding ¾ of a cup of coconut cream during the final step.
- A great way to make vegan fettuccine that still tastes like the real thing.
- Can be garnished with vegan parmesan cheese for extra flavor.
- You can make this sauce extra creamy with coconut cream.
- Can be easily stored in Tupperware and placed in the fridge to enjoy later.
- This meal isn’t the most nutritious and lacks protein.
A cabbage steak may sound absurd, but green cabbage is a great choice due to its texture and ability to take on flavor. This is another meal that can be enjoyed alone, or with a whole variety of different side dishes.
A single large cabbage can make 4 steaks and you can store them for up to three days in a Tupperware in the fridge.
These succulent vegetable steaks are seasoned with paprika and salt. Red pepper flakes and black cracked pepper are both great ways to give this dish an extra spicy kick. Make sure the cabbage you choose for this recipe is fresh, heavy, and without too many loose leaves.
To make the steaks you will want to slice the cabbage into rings that are ¾ to 1 inch thick. Then you can place them on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil before adding the seasonings.
Overall this recipe takes 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Green cabbage is the best choice however, the red variety will also work just fine.
- A sumptuous alternative to steak flavored with paprika.
- Makeup to four steaks from a single large cabbage.
- Can be enjoyed alone or as a side with a whole variety of other dishes.
- May not be filling enough by itself.
If you are a fan of pasta soups then this quick and easy vegan Minestrone is for you. For this recipe, you will need a dutch oven which is a special type of thick-walled pot.
So if you do have one of these lying around this is a great, nutritious meal that you can make in it that takes only 30 minutes to cook.
You can also make this soup in an instant pot in case you don’t have a dutch oven. Store-bought vegetable broth mix will save on time but you could make your own if you start it the day before and store it overnight.
This recipe requires a little more prep than the other dishes we’ve covered since there are quite a few vegetables that need to be chopped.
With beans and lots of different vegetables, this is a balanced meal that is very healthy as well as tasty. For the authentic Italian taste, you will need to purchase oregano, thyme, basil, and cilantro leaves, all of which should be available from your local supermarket.
- An easy-to-make pasta soup that tastes like an authentic Italian minestrone.
- You can use nearly any pasta shapes you have in the house.
- Once the prep is done you can leave it to cook and be eating in 20 mins.
- Prep takes a bit longer than the other recipes on this list.
- Requires a dutch oven or instant pot to cook.
When it comes to quick meals, tortillas are a great thing to stay stocked upon. These flat wraps can be used with cooked or raw ingredients to make an instant, tasty meal. Tacos are another easy thing to make as they can be enjoyed soft or bent over the grill in your oven for a few minutes to make hard shells.
Lentils make a great substitute for taco meat because they are high in protein and take on any flavor very well. Using dry lentils will make this recipe take a bit longer they need to be boiled for at least 20 minutes until they have doubled in size.
Don’t worry though, if you are pressed for time, canned lentils can be used for delicious tacos that only take 20 minutes to prepare and cook.
The recommended seasonings for this recipe are paprika, cumin, chili powder, and crushed garlic. If you don’t have any of these or don’t like them you can easily use your own mix of spices instead. The great thing about tacos is that once you have the lentils prepared you can garnish them with anything you wish.
- Quick, takes no more than 20 minutes for prep and cooking time.
- Versatile, you can add any spices you please to the lentils and garnish your tacos however you want.
- Nutritious and very high in protein.
- Dry lentils will take longer to prepare than the canned variety.
Frequently Asked Questions
A common question many people ask when trying to go vegan is how to get enough protein. There are numerous ways that you can get protein in your diet without meat or dairy. The classics include lentils, tofu, nuts, and beans but there are plenty of other options as well.
Tempeh is a vegan bacon substitute made from soya beans that has a meaty texture and contains 19% protein. Quinoa is a superfood that works as an alternative to rice or couscous which has all 8 of the essential amino acids we need in our diet.
If you want to be making quick meals, it helps to have a pantry full of ingredients that don’t take long to cook. Dried grains like rice, quinoa, couscous, or bulgar wheat are all great things to keep in your cupboard. It also helps to have a good supply of canned beans such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and canned lentils.
Frozen veg can be a great way to get your five a day without loads of prep but it also helps to have a good stock of fresh vegetables as well. Onions and garlic are essential for most meals, while bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli are great for adding flavor and texture.
When they first go vegan many people may find their new meals much blander than the food they are used to. Often this just comes down to inexperience with cooking vegan meals and handling the different ingredients.
Tofu and lentils can definitely be bland if cooked by themselves with no seasoning, however, both of these foods take on other flavors very well.
Adding spices and herbs to your water before boiling your lentils will make them much tastier while tofu often just needs to sit in a marinade of soy sauce and spice to take on a whole new dimension.
Another pro tip is to blend tofu with vegan cheeses to create a rich, creamy cheese sauce that goes great with pasta or for making vegan pizzas.