Ok, so let’s admit it…. preparing vegan meals can be a bit time-consuming. But with a little forethought and prepping, you can save a whole lot of time. With go-to items already in the fridge or freezer, you’ll be less likely to eat randomly or veer off course. You’ll feel more organised and your kitchen will stay tidier for longer.
So. Here are my 10 top time-saving vegan food tips:
1. Make a salad bar at the beginning of the week. In other words, cut, slice, chop, grate, spiralise, and marinate ingredients. Blanch vegetables and then submerge in ice cold water for crispness, drain, pat dry and refrigerate. Toast seeds, make a few dressings, roast veggies etc and have all those things stored in airtight containers in the fridge, so you can mix and match a daily salad or add to sandwiches, or rolls.
(Avocados can go a bit brown once they are cut, particularly if you don’t add citrus juice, so leave those to ripen till you need them. Oh, and just for safety, never use the point of the knife to remove the stone. It might slip and go through your palm! Simply squeeze the avo half to remove it, or use a spoon.)
2. Make two or three different soups at the beginning of the week. Store in Kilner jars in the fridge. They are delicious, cheap, filling, varied, colourful, nutritious, easy, economical and… of course, QUICK! There’s oodles of soup inspiration to be had on Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest. Vegan bouillon powder by Marigold or vegan stock cubes make a good base, or you can make your own stock with vegetable off-cuts. And, another safety tip, always cool your soup before putting in a blender!
3. Batch-cook a few dishes like BBQ jackfruit, vegetable curry, bean chilli, hot pot, tagine, or dumpling stew, so you have always got something you can quickly rustle-up in the evenings. Also batch-cook and freeze mashed potato in portion sizes. These can be quickly defrosted and reheated, or used as a topping for shepherdess pies. I use plastic food bags for mash and flatten them like envelopes for easy freezer storage. Add variety to your mash by adding sweet potato, garlic, nutritional yeast, grated vegan cheese, herbs, chilli sauce etc.
4. Baked potatoes are your friend! There are so many variations to try, plus they are fast (especially in the microwave, if you use one) cheap and satisfying.They make a great supper dish. Sweet potatoes can also be used.
5. Jus Rol puff pastry is vegan, (in fact many of their products are, but do check the label). Using pre-prepared pastry is so quick! Use it to make a vegan ‘meat’ plait for example or a mushroom Wellington, which has the wow factor at the dinner table. YouTube has videos on how to do this. Guests will believe you have been slaving in the kitchen for hours! Cold slices make good quick lunch pack additions.
6. Breakfasts should be a feast because they fuel the body for the rest of the day. Porridge, for example, is fast, healthy, inexpensive, easy, versatile and delicious. Or ‘overnight oats’ are the raw version. Don’t forget to add some chia seeds for essential Omega 3!
7. Cook-up and refrigerate a selection of grains and pasta at the beginning of the week – quinoa, pearl barley, orzo, cous cous etc, so you’ve got them instantly on hand to put with your salads or hot dishes. Just be cautious about how you cool, and store, any cooked rice, as it can be dangerous.
8. Make the most of supermarket meal deals with 5-minute stir frys (typically veggies, rice noodles and a sauce). You can bulk-up the protein content of such dishes by adding peas, beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh or a sprinkling of seeds. They make a quick supper dish, and leftovers can be used in salads.
9. Also, at the beginning of the week, press and marinate some fresh firm tofu and refrigerate. You’ll have it handy then, if you decide to cook it later in the week, or just cube it and toss it into a salad. Another thing that can be made ahead are tomorrow’s sandwiches, wrapped and refrigerated, saving you time in the morning.
10. Make a batch of hummus in a blender or food processor. It’s quick, cheap, simple, good for you, addictively tasty, works well in salads, in baked dishes, as a topping, as a spread, in a Buddha bowl, as a glaze to pastry and as a sandwich filling. You can add variety by splitting the batch up and making different flavoured ones, like sun dried tomato, garlic and chives, chilli, lemon and coriander, caramelised onion, Italian herb, Moroccan spiced, roasted red pepper etc. Use tinned chickpeas (or any beans of your choice) for quickness.
And there you have it. If you don’t want to spend an eternity in the kitchen, think about using these tips. Remember where time is concerned, preparation is always key. The work you put in on, say, a Sunday afternoon, will save you heaps of time and endless kitchen clean ups. Having a satisfyingly full fridge and freezer during the week will give you lots of exciting vegan meal choices to keep you motivated. Doing things this way too will stop the temptation of filling up on less healthy (and expensive) quick-fix foods or spending money on takeaways.
Have fun, and start planning what you want to do with all that time you’re going to save!
This amazing guide was written by Qualified Rouxbe Chef, Cherie Catchpole. You can see more of Cherie’s amazing work on her Instagram Page @cheriecatchpole