You may be looking for some healthy quick recipes to cook when life gets busy. Here are some quick and easy ideas for healthy plant-based and vegan lunches and dinners that you can easily make even on a weeknight.
FAQs About Quick Recipes
Q: Which appliances are the best for cooking quick meals?
A: Try an Instant Pot, sheet pan meal in the oven, or slow cooker (if you plan ahead).
Look for meals made all in one pan for the stovetop.
Another appliance I really like is an indoor grill. I use the flat top side of it several times a week.
Q: How can you keep quick meals healthy?
A: First, just the fact that you are making it at home is usually a better option than take-out, eating out, or having a prepared meal. This study of over 11,000 adults in the United Kingdom found that eating home-cooked meals more than 5 times per week was associated with having more vegetables, fruits, and were 24% less likely to have too much body fat.
Here are some tips for cooking methods:
-Bake foods instead of frying – brush with a little oil or spray with non-stick spray first.
-Add whole grains by using whole wheat pasta or flour
-Include vegetables in dishes like pasta and casseroles
-Use frozen or low sodium canned beans if you don’t have time to coak and cook them….or cook them in an Instant Pot.
Q: What can I cook in only 15 minutes?
A: You can absolutely make a quick and healthy vegetarian or vegan meal in 15 minutes! Here are some ideas:
-a panini with grilled tempeh and vegetables
-black bean burritos
-a salad with nuts and seeds
-tacos with cooked lentils, mushrooms, and walnuts (OK, you have to have cooked the lentils first)
-felafel from a mix: saute or bake in the oven: and stuff in whole wheat pitas with tomato slices, lettuce, cucumber, and plant-based yogurt.
-Microwaved potato topped with leftover chili
Also, check out these 15-minute recipes from EatingWell.com (most are vegetarian – a few are vegan and a few contain seafood).
Healthy Quick Recipes for Lunches and Dinners
Whole grain pasta is a great start for healthy quick recipes. Fresh pasta especially cooks quickly. You may want to cook some extra to save for up to 3 days in the refrigerator (or for a few months in the freezer) and use it in the next recipe. To make pizza, I use rapid rise yeast for pizza dough, or you could buy pre-made dough.
Try this Mediterranean-style eggplant pasta – an Easy Instant Pot recipe for a ratatouille-like comforting pasta entree that you can cook fast.
Use a pre-made pizza dough to make vegan pizza or flatbread quickly. Or, prepare the dough ahead of time using rapid-rise yeast.
Mexican and Tex-Mex Recipes
Add some spice to your life with these tasty recipes inspired from south of the border.
Time-saving cooking tip: chop and cook extra onions and peppers to use in burritos, tacos, or enchiladas.
Asian Style Recipes
Breakfast for Dinner
How Can Meal Planning Help with Healthy Quick Meals?
There are many ways that a little planning can help. if you choose what you want ahead of time, you can check to see what ingredients you need, then make a shopping list and pick things up ahead of time.
Or, you can work in the opposite direction. See what you have in the house or what looks good at the store. maybe you find some fresh seasonal produce at the Farmers’ market (check out my Farmers’ Market Tips for the Best Produce), produce store, or grocery store? Or maybe catch a good sale on something.
Sometimes I have planned meals around a delicious vegetable gifted from a neighbor or friend, or the contents of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. Then try quick recipes for meals like pasta with vegetables and lentils, tacos, salads, chili, etc.
Can you cook extra? Then you can save the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Or cook even more and freeze to pull out and enjoy in the future. Extra ingredients like beans, lentils, and whole-grain pasta can also easily be saved to use in quick recipes.
Tired of Chopping Vegetables?
You can try a food processor, mini food processor, or push chopper depending on the vegetable and what you’re making. For soups or sauces, some recipes call for cooking the vegetables first, and then blending them.
Keeping a Well-Stocked Food Pantry
If you have the space, cooking healthy meals at home is easier when you have plenty of ingredients on hand. Check out my tips for How to Stock a Plant-Based Pantry with Thrive Market and list of good foods to keep on hand. When you’re shopping, look for sales on items you use frequently and stock up.
Mills, S., Brown, H., Wrieden, W. et al. Frequency of eating home-cooked meals and potential benefits for diet and health: cross-sectional analysis of a population-based cohort study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 14, 109 (2017)
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Please let me know which recipes you have tried and how you liked them in the comments below: