Cooking under time constraints is hard. That’s why competitors get so sweaty and frazzled during cooking competition shows. In real life, when you’re a student, or busy working adult, or just not feelin’ up to spending hours in the kitchen, assembling a healthy meal in a short amount of time can be a challenge.
Luckily, shortcuts exist. Like pre-cut, pre-bagged vegetables and squash, quick-cooking grains, and frozen pre-cooked grains (thanks, Trader Joe’s).
Here are 7 healthy, plant-based meals, all of which take less than 15 minutes start to finish, are budget-friendly (less than $30 total), and most importantly, delicious! You can customize these to your liking (such as by picking your favorite vegetables and beans).
Make one trip to the grocery store, and for the price of 2 cocktails in Manhattan, you can have an entire week’s worth of fast, nourishing meals at your fingertips (assuming you have cooking oil and salt and pepper at home already). But if you’re not vegan, you can make a week’s worth of dinners from Trader Joe’s for under $25 like this.
#SpoonTip: All of these meals are gluten free friendly if you use corn tortillas and swap quinoa for farro.
- 1 package cut and cubed butternut squash or sweet potatoes, can substitute 3 large sweet potatoes ($2.29)
- 1 package kale or romaine ($1.99; $2.29 for organic)
- 1 package arugula or spinach ($1.99; $2.29 for organic)
- 1 tomato ($0.29)
- 1 apple ($0.69-$0.79; $0.99 for organic)
- 1 avocado ($0.99)
- 1 lemon ($0.49)
- 1 lime, optional ($0.29)
- 1 bag Vegetable Medley with broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, can substitute broccoli cauliflower blend, Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix, or Stir-Fry Vegetables ($2.29)
- 1 large cucumber ($1.49)
- 1 package firm tofu ($1.69)
- 1 package Organic 3 Grain Tempeh ($1.99)
- 1 box frozen Microwaveable Brown Rice, can substitute frozen quinoa, Rice Blend, jasmine rice, or frozen Organic Cauliflower Rice ($2.99; $3.49 organic)
- 1 can black beans ($0.89; $0.99 for organic)
- 1 can chickpeas ($0.89; $0.99 for organic)
- 1 jar salsa of choice ($1.99-2.29)
- 1 package 10-Minute Farro, barley, or quinoa ($1.79)
- 1 package Taco Seasoning ($0.79)
- 1 package seaweed snacks ($0.99)
- 1 package corn tortillas, can substitute whole wheat or white flour ($0.99)
- 1 bag cilantro, optional ($1.79)
- 1 bag frozen edamame, optional ($1.79)
Total: $30.00 (+ tax), Organic Total: $31.50 (+ tax)
Beans and squash make for a filling, delicious twist on conventional tacos. Find out how to make these plant-based tacos here.
Day 2: DIY Sofrita Bowls (or Tacos)
Skip the lines at Chipotle, and make a sofrita bowl with tofu at home. Learn how here.
Haven’t you heard? #Grainz are the new #gains. Find out how to make this here.
Kale salad with a protein punch. Chickpeas and tempeh give this salad major staying power. Add whatever nuts and dried fruit you have in your pantry for extra yums. Find out how to make it here.
Way tastier, faster, and healthier than take-out? Triple win. Recipe here.
It’s like sushi you can justify eating with a fork. Directions here.
As the week ends, use up all your leftover veggies, beans, and grains and make this delicious soup. Extra tortillas can make tortilla chips for dipping in 3 minutes flat. Make it like this.
For more Trader Joe’s and vegan goodness: