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10 No-Recipe Meals for Nights You Don't Feel Like Cooking

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most nights I look forward to cooking dinner. I listen to music on my iPod, perhaps enjoy a small glass of wine, and relax as I chop, sauté and braise. Other nights, when I come home starving, teach a late yoga class, or go for a long run after work, I want my meals to be no-fuss, no-muss, on the table in 20 minutes or less. (I must confess that I have a pretty sweet arrangement with my boyfriend: I cook, he cleans. I'm really good at making messes in the kitchen!) These are my top 10 go-to vegan meals. You can make them as simple or as fancy as you'd like. Use heat-and-eat rice, canned beans, and pre-chopped or frozen vegetables to save time, or gussy up these recipes (techniques, really) on nights when you're feeling creative. Add some fruit and a cup of calcium-fortified non-dairy milk (we vegans need strong bones!), and dinner is served.
  1. Build your own burrito: Choose whole-grain wraps (I like Ezekiel sprouted grain ones), add beans, a sauce, and a handful of at least two veggies.
    • pinto beans, chipotle salsa, mixed greens, chopped red pepper
    • black beans, hoisin sauce, cabbage kimchi, shredded carrots
    • chickpeas, curry sauce, spinach, steamed broccoli
  2. Beans, greens and grains: Saute up some aromatics if you have them, then add your chopped greens. (Try frozen precut greens--no need to add extra water!) Saute until almost tender, season with salt and pepper, then stir in your precooked beans and grains just to heat. Stir and top with hot sauce, nutritional yeast, or even a fancy mustard.
    • black-eyed peas, collards, and barley. Top with smoked paprika and hot sauce.
    • black beans, kale, and quinoa. Top with salsa and chopped avocado.
    • white beans, broccoli, and farro. Add sun dried tomatoes and capers.
  3. A giant salad: Make it a meal by starting with a base of dark, leafy greens. Don't skimp--at least 3-4 cups. Add a handful (1/2 cup serving) of two or three vegetables, a serving of protein, and something tasty to sauce it up, plus a fun topping. Add a simple whole-grain or serve it on the side.
    • mixed greens with farro, sliced red onion, fennel and shredded carrots, topped with Italian-style tofu, balsamic vinaigrette and chopped olives.
    • Romaine with black beans, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, salsa, and chopped avocado, with baked tortilla chips (Bonus: sprinkle on nutritional yeast and hot sauce)
    • arugula with sliced almonds, grapes, broccoli, with tarragon vinaigrette and a slice of whole-grain baguette
  4. Tofu scramble: Whatever you used to put into omelets you can put into tofu scramble. Find the recipe here (the basic version), then add leftover sautéed vegetables. Serve with toast or roasted potatoes. Vegan cheese (Daiya) on top would be excellent.
    • Spinach, onions and mushrooms
    • Black beans, peppers, and vegan Cheddar
    • Tomatoes, kale and roasted peppers, plus basil
  5. Basic pasta: Most dried pasta is vegan, and it's easy to find quality tomato sauces without cheese or meat.  Add cooked lentils, crumbled tempeh or seitan Italian sausage to your red sauce and pasta, then top with nutritional yeast. And don't forget your veggies!
    • lentils, plus steamed spinach, with capers and olives--use a spicy tomato sauce
    • Italian "sausage" with mushrooms and peppers--great for a veg-heavy sauce
    • tempeh with zucchini and carrots, fine for a basic marinara
  6. Burgers and fries: Veggie burgers have come a long way. Find a brand you like, and keep a box on hand for busy nights. Skip the bun and serve over greens, alongside frozen potatoes, which have also come a long way in terms of quality.
    • Black bean burger with spinach, with sweet potato fries and chipotle salsa (ooh, and avocado!)
    • Basic burger over Romaine with tomatoes, onions, and pickle, plus tater tots (you can find natural, vegan ones!) and ketchup and mustard.
    • Indian-spiced burger over steamed kale, with roast potatoes and curry sauce or chutney
  7. Loaded baked potato: I like to consider my starchy sides to be a blank canvas, a way to showcase my creations. Whether you choose white or sweet, pop your spuds in the microwave, then top with a protein, some veg and a sauce. Super easy and filling.
    • Sweet potato with pinto beans, peppers, and spinach, plus pineapple salsa (and nutritional yeast!)
    • White potato with white beans, arugula, and tomatoes, plus pesto
    • Sweet potato with split peas, broccoli and peppers, plus red curry sauce
  8. Cheesy rice and veggies: You don't have to use rice here; you can use any grain. Add two tablespoons of nutritional yeast per serving, a splash of soy sauce, plenty of pepper, a dab of vegan margarine, and enough unsweetened soy or almond milk to create a sauce. Adjust ingredients as needed. Heat, and serve with your favorite veggies. This is my equivalent of boxed mac-and-cheese. It's not fancy, they cheese "sauce" is not perfect, but it's good and tasty. Put a dab of something tasty on top.
    • Farro with Italian vegetables, with pesto.
    • Rice with broccoli and cauliflower, with sriracha.
    • Quinoa with tomatoes and mushrooms, with smoked paprika.
  1. Stir-fry: Otherwise known as "throw whatever's fresh in the fridge into a pan and call it dinner." Easy, tasty, fast. Protein + veg + grains on the side. Season to please.
    • Tofu, various veggies in assorted colors and soy-ginger sauce, all over rice.
    • Tempeh with carrots, peppers, and broccoli, plus curry sauce and barley.
    • Chickpeas with peppers, onions and cabbage, plus millet, with barbecue sauce

  1. Tasting plate: You know those nights you're too tired to cook? This is what you need. If you stand in front of the fridge or in the pantry eating whatever strikes your fancy, you'll end up eating way more than you planned--with little nutrition.

    Fill a plate with a handful of each of these: vegetables (preferable 2-3), nuts, fruit, whole-grain crackers, bread or a rice cake. Serve with a little bowl of dip. You're snacking, it takes two minutes to prep if your veggies are already cut, and you won't dive face-first into the kettle chips.
    • Celery, carrots, cucumbers, with white bean hummus, sprouted-grain crackers, grapes and almonds.
    • Peppers, cherry tomatoes and jicama with guacamole, a segmented orange, baked tortilla chips, and pecans.
    • Fennel, broccoli, and endive with mushroom pate and wheat crackers, blueberries, and pistachios
What was your biggest challenge this week? How did you conquer it?
What is your goal for next week?

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Thanks for the ideas! Ignore the negative Nancy’s who are complaining that the food doesn’t “ go together”. Creative ideas is what keeps me going! I’m enjoying trying new food combinations and am finding so new favorites! Report
CECELW 5/12/2020
I like some of these ideas! Report
KOALA_BEAR 4/2/2020
Some of these combos sound like they don't go together flavor wise at all. I'll stick w/ the basics like bean burritos, split pea soup, lentils & rice, baba ganoush, eggplant parmesan, tofu stir fry, PB&J, veggie soups, & the breakfast foods; omelettes, pancakes, farina, french toast, nondairy yogurt & smoothies. Plenty of vegetarian options for an occasional meal or even a couple days a week. Report
Some interesting ideas Report
NIKO27 8/14/2019
Great Ideas Report
DEE107 6/22/2019
thanks for sharing Report
BABY_GIRL69 6/10/2019
This is good thank you for sharing SP!! Report
Excellent Report
Love veggie meals, but not too much here for people with insulin resistance. Report
thanks Report
Sounds good Report
These are good suggestions. I will definitely keep them in mind. Report
i cook extra and put in freezer for nights i don't want to cook...my favorite is lean hamburgers, just reheat in microwave...i also like making a big pot of chilli and filling burrito wraps wit chilli and fat free cheddar cheese, wrap it up and freeze it, pull one out heat in mic. and a salad on the side very good... also can make up some pizzas on burrito wraps and freeze then throw in mic when ready to eat!!! Report
Awesome. Report
Thanks for the ideas Report
A couple of weeks ago there was chef Meg's receipe called 'mini veg.fritata' and they were made with broccoli,eggs goat cheese.Can't remember what else,but she baked in muffin pan and they had 2Points wight watchers diet.Does ANYONE remember seeing that and how can I get it .Thank you very much.Olga Report
Great ideas! I have a hard time cooking without meat - guess that is just the way I grew up. But, last night I fixed yams, frozen corn, and a big salad. And, we enjoyed very much - and felt completely satisfied. So, it was not as hard as i had thought it would be.

Would love to order the recipe book from amazon but it is only for the kindle. Report
I am not a vegan nor do I ever want to be a vegan but I like the Ideas for days when want a meal using beans instead of meat. Report
This is a nice list. I've been a vegetarian for over 15 years and it gets boring sometimes. My husband and I have been wanting to add more vegan meals into our rotation. I like the snacking meal too. Report
The last one sounds right up my alley...I LOVE SNACKING! These are great ideas, most of which I already do. Report
Yum! I love making a casserole ahead of time and just reheating one portion at a time when I don't feel like cooking. Report
I'm not vegan, but really struggle to get enough protein. I'm not really into eating a lot of meat. Your ideas are great! Thanks! Report
Great article. I love all the ideas. Thank you. Report
I love every one of these ideas! Report
Great. Report
how do you keep all those options on hand like the cheeses & veggies especially... without them spoiling before you eat them. Report
That picture is a duplicate of our dinner tonight except our burger is a ground turkey burger and we added a salad inplace of the french fries. Report
Great fast ideas. Report
I was already doing some of these ideas but it's nice to get even more creative. I love Gardenburger's Portabella patties with greens and a whole grain. Report
Yes! Veg power! Delicious ideas. I love nutritional yeast; it is cheesy and delicious. Used in lots of raw food recipes---not raw, but very good source of protein, fiber, and b-vitamins. I also love Bubbie's sauerkraut. Salty goodness, lots of probiotics, and very few calories. Use it to make vegan reubans! Dulse is a great snack, too. And if you're craving a candy bar, toss together a couple tablespoons of dried coconut, Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, and chopped almonds for a Better-Than-Mounds mix; it tastes like Almond Joy. Report
It's comforting to see that I'm on the right path. I already make a few of these. This gave me so many more ideas to help me keep a little variety in my diet. Thank you! Report
Thanks for making me dinner-hungry in the middle of the afternoon, lol! Report
Nootch is a short/slang word for "nutritional yeast".
Red Star brand is great, and has lots of B-vitamins.
It's nice to sprinkle on top of foods to add a vaguely(!) cheesy flavor. :)

It can usually be found in the bulk section of health food stores.

P.S. Keep the articles coming, Stepf, they are GREAT! :D Report
I'm always looking for something new to do with veg and grains. Thanks! Report
Nootch=nutritional yeast

Sorry, I should have edited that out before posting here. (Written with veg'ns in mind!) Report
What the heck is "nootch"??? Report
I love to see spark promoting vegan/vegetarian meals! This is great!! Report
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