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10 Quick Plant-based Meals for When You’re Short on Time

We’ve all had moments when we were all out of ideas for what to make for lunch or dinner. That’s why today I’m sharing 10 ideas for easy and quick plant based meals perfect for those occasions!

Both plant based diet beginners and veterans will find these easy recipes useful because, the truth is, we don’t always have lots of time or a fridge stocked with fancy ingredients to make elaborate vegan meals – yet we all need to eat, right?

10 quick plant based meals that come together in minutes

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Ask just about anyone what keeps them from switching to a plant-based or vegan diet, and one of the most common answers (besides ‘I love my cheese/bacon too much’) is likely going to be, ‘I just don’t have the time to make those elaborate meals’.

I understand that making a fresh, wholesome plant-based dinner or lunch every day sounds like a lot of work, especially if your schedule runs crazy, you work long hours, you’ve got kids, etc.

This is where my list of 10 quick plant based meals comes in handy –  you can have a quick and healthy homemade meal even when you’re pressed for time. Nothing fancy or complicated, just 10 meals that’ll keep you from making a bad decision even when all else fails.

Staying on track with your plant-based diet has never been easier – after all, where there is a will, there is a way, right?

Looking for more plant based dinner ideas? Check out these 10 tried-and-true plant based recipes that I’ve made many times over to rave reviews from my family.

If you’re in search of recipes made with simple ingredients you have at home right now, see my healthy vegan recipes with easy to find non-perishable pantry staples every vegan owns.

If you’re new to plant-based or vegan diet, or are just thinking about making a switch, see my posts about making first steps on your vegan journey, and how to avoid 5 mistakes most people make when going vegan.

10 Easy and Quick Plant Based Meals to Save the Day

1. Chickpeas + [BBQ sauce/teriyaki/salsa] + rice. A easy and quick meal that’s full of flavor, and provides a complete protein. Toss some home-cooked or canned chickpeas with some flavorful vegan sauce (make sure to read the label to avoid junk), and serve it on a bed of rice (use quick-cooking microwaveable rice if pressed for time).

Got 30 minutes? Make it a little fancier by baking the chickpeas like I do in my BBQ Chickpeas recipe (picture below).

BBQ chickpeas and rice recipe - a recipe for vegan roasted BBQ chickpeas served over rice
BBQ chickpeas and rice

2. Green salad on a bed of cooked grains. Use any fresh salad veggies you have on hand, and serve them over a cooked grain of choice – barley, rice, quinoa, millet, etc. You can either use the quick-cooking varieties (stock up in advance), or make a large pot of grains once a week and use it as you go.

Don’t do grains? Mix in some quick-roasted potatoes, like I do in my Warm Potato Salad recipe.

3. Hummus and veggies in a wrap. This is my go-to combo for easy plant based lunches and sometimes dinners. Spread a tortilla with hummus, throw in any available vegetables (I love kale, red onions, carrots, tomatoes and olives), squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the mix, and wrap up burrito-style. Healthy, tasty, never fails.

I have more detailed instructions for this veggie wrap in my post about easy vegan office lunches.

Easy plant based lunch ideas perfect for work. Eat healthy without ordering takeout!
Easy hummus and veggie wrap

4. Quick stir-fry. Microwave a bag of mixed frozen vegetables, toss in teriyaki sauce or a combo of equal parts of soy sauce and brown sugar, and serve over a grain of choice.

Want more protein? Add some edamame or other beans to the veggie mix.

5. Loaded baked potato. Rinse a medium-sized potato, microwave it for 3 minutes, cut it open with a fork along the top (be careful not to burn yourself with the escaping steam!). Top with any veggies/beans/sauces that you have on hand – I like the Southwestern combo of black beans, salsa, and some sliced avocado.

If you have more time, you can wrap the raw potato in tin foil and bake it in the oven or air fryer for 40-45 min instead of microwaving.

6. Quick pita pizza. Spread marinara sauce/hummus on a pita, top with any vegetables available (onions, peppers, spinach, olives, sundried tomatoes work great), add some tofu/tempeh/seitan/vegan sausage if you have them. Got some vegan cheese? Throw it on too! Bake at 350°F for 5-10 min.

7. Veggie tacos. Warm up a few small tortillas in the microwave between two sheets of moist paper towels. Rinse and drain any canned beans of choice, season with cumin and chili powder. Assemble the tacos by putting some beans onto the tortilla and topping with salsa/sliced avocado/lettuce, etc.

 Quick plant based meals: veggie tacos with chickpeas

Want to go a little fancier? Toss chickpeas with some roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash in barbecue sauce, then add your favorite veggie toppings for a Southwestern-inspired meal.

8. No-cheese quesadillas. Spread some mashed sweet potato on a large tortilla (you can microwave the sweet potato for 3 min to cook it quickly), add peppers/onions/any kind of beans, etc. to one half of the tortilla and cover with the other half. Grill on a large dry skillet for 2-3 min per side, cut into wedges, and serve.

Alternatively, see my recipe for vegan quesadillas where I use refried beans and hummus instead of sweet potato.

9. Peanut butter and banana/jelly sandwich. I love the classic Elvis (PB&B) sandwich every now and again, especially when I use my homemade peanut butter recipe to make the peanut butter. A nut butter sandwich with jelly or bananas is always a better choice than greasy fast food.

10. Green smoothie. Ain’t nothing wrong with a smoothie for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! The smoothie doesn’t have to be green in color – ‘green’ stands for ‘made with vegetables and fruits’. Most green veggies work fine in smoothies (except lettuce – some people find it weird-tasting when blended).

To make the smoothie more filling, add rolled oats, nut butter, seeds, nuts, etc. – see my Swamp Monster Smoothie recipe for more tips.

More quick plant based meals from vegan blogosphere:

20 best plant-based dinner recipes from Minimalist Baker

Easy vegan school lunch ideas from Veggies Don’t Bite

I hope that this list will make it easier for you to stay on track with eating healthy! The naysayers now have one less reason to say ‘no’ to going vegan…

By the way, if you have any quick plant-based meal ideas that I didn’t bring up here, please let us all know in the comments!

Image #4 credit: Chad Montano via Unsplash.

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author avatar
Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats
Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Eventually she embraced veganism as a way to be kinder to fellow living beings and the environment. Alina hopes that this blog helps its readers on their path to becoming vegan and making this world a better place.


Wednesday 15th of July 2020

Thank you for this! I needed some easy ideas to get me moving in the right direction again and I think these will do the trick!

Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Wednesday 15th of July 2020

You're very welcome Patty, hope these recipes help you!

Maria Manuela dos Santos Oliveira

Thursday 16th of April 2020

Alina, great recipes and easy to cook! I will execute some of them! Thanks for sharing...

Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Friday 17th of April 2020

Thank you Maria Manuela!

viola Brooks

Monday 10th of June 2019

I am going to try this..wish me luck!

Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Monday 10th of June 2019

Good luck Viola :)

Grace hennessey

Wednesday 22nd of August 2018

I love quesadillas so I’ll have to try those!

Laura in NJ

Tuesday 14th of August 2018

While not a vegan, a favorite quick vegan meal for me is a sweet potato (roasted or nuked) slathered with a garlicky-lemony hummus. Yummy, filling, and nutrient-packed!