Food

5 Easy Vegan Meals to Make on a Weeknight

Save time and money with these five-ingredient, ultra-convenient meals.

Because of work obligations and personal responsibilities, the idea of preparing a fresh, healthy meal on a weeknight can seem daunting. But before you dial for delivery, check out these five-ingredient, veggie-centric entrées for quick, nutritious, and satisfying meals that will serve as the perfect end to your hectic post-work evening.
 
1. LOADED SWEET POTATO
If you were banished to a deserted island and could only bring one food, this loaded sweet potato would be it.
 
What You Need:
 
1 sweet potato (or yam)
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
½ cup vegetarian beans (pinto, black, or refried)
2 tablespoons storebought salsa
¼ teaspoon salt
Cayenne to taste (optional) 
½ tablespoon lemon juice
 
What You Do:
1. Roast sweet potato in the oven at 400 degrees until fork tender (45 to 60 minutes). Cut in half lengthwise and plate.
 
2. Using a microwave steamer, steam broccoli and transfer to a plate. Heat beans in the microwave for one minute. Top sweet potato with beans and salsa.
 
3. Sprinkle salt, cayenne, and lemon juice on broccoli, and place on top of beans-and-salsa-topped sweet potato.
 
2. WAFFLE SANDWICH
The best part about being an adult is having breakfast for dinner.
 
What You Need:
 
1 cup spinach (or kale)
2 frozen vegan waffles
1 vegan breakfast patty
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup raspberries (or fresh fruit of your choice)
 
What You Do:
1. Steam greens while toasting waffles and heating breakfast patty.
 
2. Top one waffle with half of steamed greens, and then the patty and the other half of greens.
 
3. Drizzle with half the syrup, top with the other waffle and add another drizzle of syrup. Serve fruit on the side.
 
3. VOLUPTUOUS VEGGIE STIR-FRY
The dish is perfect for when you want to eat your weight in vegetables but also save room for dessert.
 
What You Need:

½ cup cauliflower (or 1 cup rice)
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
3 cups pre-cut stir-fry vegetables (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
Kimchi (to taste)
 
What You Do:
1. Prepare rice, or make cauliflower rice by pulsing florets in a food processor until finely riced. Sauté riced cauliflower over medium-high heat with approximately 1 tablespoon water for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent burning.
 
2. Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes. Add salt, and transfer to bowl.
 
3. Add vegetables to the same sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Add teriyaki sauce during the last 30 seconds to warm.
 
4. Top cauliflower rice with vegetables and kimchi.
 
4. PORTABELLO PIZZAS
Portabello mushrooms come in handy when you want pizza but have run out of dough.
 
What You Need:
 
2 portabello mushroom caps
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 cup kale (or spinach)
½ cup storebought marinara sauce, divided
14 stalks broccolini
 
What You Do:
1. Pre-roast mushrooms in oven at 400 degrees for approximately 5 minutes.
 
2. Caramelize onions by sautéeing with 1 tablespoon water on low-medium heat for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir every few minutes to prevent burning. Add kale to the onions during the final 3 minutes to wilt kale. Salt as desired.
 
3. Top each mushroom with ¼ cup sauce and half of the sautéed kale and onion. Bake at 400 degrees oven for 10 minutes, or until mushrooms have cooked through.
 
4. While the mushrooms are baking, steam broccolini in microwave steamer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender. Serve alongside pizzas as a side dish.
 
5. SPAGHETTI SQUASH PASTA
You won’t regret having a second serving of this giant bowl of spaghetti squash.
 
What You Need:

1 small spaghetti squash
½ cup sliced cremini or white mushrooms
1½ cups kale (or spinach)
½ cup marinara sauce
2 tablespoons vegan parmesan (storebought or homemade)
 
What You Do:
1. Cut squash in half, remove and discard seeds and strings, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cut sides down. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender.

2. Sauté mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Add kale during the final minute to wilt slightly.
 
3. Warm sauce in the microwave or stovetop. Take a fork to the squash and rake lengthwise to produce long strands.
 
4. Transfer strands to bowl, mix in mushrooms and greens, and top with sauce and vegan parmesan.
 
Tanya Flink is a vegan, foodie, and certified Master Personal Trainer based in Orange County, CA.

Photo courtesy of Kathy Patalskly

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