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Vegetarian Easy Recipes: How to create the best meals

shows a bowl of spaghetti squash with vegetables on top

I like to eat healthy, and as I get older I have been trying to stay away from eating too much meat. Needless to say, this has caused me to seek out tasty vegetarian easy recipes. I don’t want anything too complicated. Sometimes I find recipes that I don’t even understand what the ingredients are. I don’t want that. Also, nobody in my family will eat tofu. The texture is comparable to chewing on an old sponge. However, we all like beans and nuts so I try to use those as our protein source.

These vegetarian easy recipes evolved from recipes I have gathered from cook books and magazines. I am really big on preventing food waste, so I changed these recipes based on what I had in the house and my family’s tastes. Because I am not using fancy ingredients, these vegetarian recipes make cheap meals without meat. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Corn, Avocado, and Bean Salad

After the holidays do you find yourself asking, ” With what diet can I lose a lot of weight fast?” A vegetarian or vegan meals are not about a quick fix. However, by eating lots of vegetables and avoiding animal fats, your body will process foods in a more beneficial way. Unlike salads with lettuce, this healthy vegetarian meal prep can be done the night before. There is no lettuce to get soggy from soaking in the dressing.

This salad is great as a lunch and it doesn’t take much time to create. The corn gives it a slight sweet taste. You can also make it a chickpea salad by swapping the white beans for garbanzos. It can be eaten as cheap, easy, vegan meals as well.

corn, avocado and bean salad in a bowl
Corn, Avocado, and Bean Salad

Ingredients for vegetarian easy recipes for corn salad

  • 4 green onions chopped
  • 4 mini bell peppers sliced
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 can white beans rinsed and drained
  • salad greens
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish mustard

Mix first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Then mix last 5 ingredients in a shaker bottle. Toss desired amount with vegetables. Serve on salad greens. I often use leftover corn from corn on the cob, and scrape it off the cob to add to salads or stews. I find it hard to grow cilantro during the hot summer months, so I often substitute basil or another herb that I have on hand.

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Vegetarian Easy Recipes for Asian Style Rice and Beans

You can prep the rice for this ahead of time. This way, it becomes a one pot meal. I have a lot of glass containers that are safe for freezer, oven, and microwave. These make great prep containers because of their versatility. By not using an egg in this meal, it makes for cheap vegan meal prep. If you store the food in single portion size prep bowls with lids, you can just pop your vegetarian meal prep bowl in the microwave at work, and you have an instant lunch.

vegetarian easy recipe for Asian style rice and beans

Ingredients for fried rice vegetarian recipe

This cheap vegetarian meal prep recipe is based on foods I already had. However, if I didn’t already have the pineapple, mandarin oranges or mango could have been substituted.

  • 8 oz. canned pineapple chunks, drained. Save the juice for tropical drinks.
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 an onion chopped
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled brown rice
  • 1 can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice from 1 lime

Directions for fried rice vegetarian recipe

  1. Pour a tbsp of cooking oil in a frying pan or wok and cook pineapple until lightly browned. Then remove from pan.
  2. After that, cook onion in the pan over medium heat until it is translucent. Once onion is soft, add the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes
  3. When carrots have cooked, add ginger.
  4. Then stir in brown rice, garbanzo beans, peas, sauces, and garlic. Stir until everything is heated through for about 4 minutes.
  5. Once food is hot, return the pineapple to pan. Then stir in cilantro and pour lime juice on top.

Here is a selection of sponsored links for woks if you are looking to buy one. If not a frying pan works for most recipes, unless you are making a true stir fry.

Vegetarian Easy Recipes for Spaghetti Squash

vegetarian easy recipe for spaghetti squash topped with parmesan cheese

The biggest meal prep challenge here is cooking the spaghetti squash. The rest can easily be improvised or use and pasta sauce that doesn’t have meat.

Spaghetti squash is sometimes avoided because it seems difficult to cook. Someone we know was given this spaghetti squash, but they couldn’t figure how how to cook it so they gave it to us. Hence, this tasty vegetarian recipe.

The trick is to cook it first before cutting it, as it can be difficult to cut. Instead, stab it with a knife a few times so steam can escape. Then place it in a baking pan with about an inch of water to prevent burning. Then cook it in a 350 degree convection oven for about an hour. Most importantly, don’t over cook it. It will become mushy like regular squash instead of maintaining its firm spaghetti like strands. Once it is done, let it cool before cutting. You can do this part of the meal prep ahead of time.

Once it is cool, cut in half. Then scoop out the seeds and fibrous innards. After that, take a fork and gently scrape the inside of the squash to pull out the “spaghetti”. Set this aside until ready to use. I prep vegetarian meals sometimes during the weekend for parts of vegetarian meal prep that take longer like this spaghetti squash. Then I stick the food in meal prep containers in my refrigerator for use on another day.

For the sauce we used:

  • 10 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 12 oz. fresh spinach
  • olive oil
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 15 oz. can canellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup green olives
  • freshly grated hard Italian cheese such as Asiago

Vegetarian easy recipes can be quick to cook. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Then cook the mushrooms until browned. Once the mushrooms are browned, add the spinach, wine, and garlic until spinach is wilted. After that toss in the beans and the spaghetti squash. Season with salt and pepper. I always like a bit of cayenne pepper. Cook until everything is heated through. When hot, mix in basil and olives. The liquids from the vegetables create a “sauce”. Top with cheese after portioned in serving bowls.

The best thing about this sauce is that it is improvised. We often have spaghetti squash or regular homemade pasta towards the end of the week when I am trying to clean out the refrigerator before going grocery shopping. I usually take whatever vegetables I have on hand to use up in addition to any fresh herbs I have lying around. So if you were wondering, ” What can I do with all these zucchinis?” You can easily substitute them for any of the other vegetables. You can even spiral them to use instead of the spaghetti squash.

We always keep a variety of canned beans in our pantry for a quick protein. You can substitute black bean or kidney instead of the white if you prefer.

You can use this for part of your cheap vegan meal plan by leaving off the cheese.

Vegetarian red beans and rice

Beans and rice is a staple food im many cultures and is simple to make. Here I will give you a basic recipe, but you can adapt it however, you like to fit your tastes.

Ingredients for vegetarian recipe red beans and rice

  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14 1/2 oz. fire roasted tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • salt
  • vegetable oil
  • 5 mini bell peppers chopped
  • green olives
  • 1 sliced jalapeno pepper
  • pepper jack cheese (leave out for vegan meal prep)

Directions for vegetarian recipe red beans and rice

  1. Cook rice according to package directions with about 1 tsp salt added to the water.
  2. Meanwhile, pour a tablespoon of oil in a pot and cook the bell peppers over medium heat until soft.
  3. When peppers are cooked, remove from the pan and place in a bowl. Then add onions to pan and cook until translucent.
  4. While the onions are cooking, cut the olives and mix with the cooked peppers. You can choose to add the jalapeno or keep it on the side in case some people don’t like spice.
  5. Once onions are soft, add beans and tomatoes. Keep stirring until their skins start to split, about 20 minutes. If they get too dry just add a little water. You can either mash some with the back of a spoon or keep them whole. Add salt and pepper to taste and any additional seasoning you like. Sometimes we like to add Mexican chili powder.
  6. When rice is done, scoop portions onto serving plates with beans on the side. If you would like, add some pepper jack cheese on top of the hot beans. Top with pepper olive mixture and jalapenos. We usually like to add chopped cilantro as well.

Vegetarian Easy Recipe for Couscous

Vegetarian easy recipe for couscous topped with slivered almonds.

Ingredients for easy vegetarian couscous recipe

  • 8 oz. dried lentil soaked for several hours, drained and rinsed
  • 4 oz. toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 sliced zucchini
  • 3 chopped plum tomatoes, or 14oz can fire roasted tomatoes, or 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
  • 10 oz. couscous, try to get tricolor or whole wheat for additional health benefits
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • basil leaves to garnish

Directions to make vegetarian easy recipes for couscous

  1. Cook the lentils in boiling water for about 20 minutes, until tender. Then drain.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Then cook the onion and zucchini for about 8 minutes stirring often.
  3. When the onion and zucchini are slightly browned, add the garlic, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile boil the stock. Once it boils pour it over the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Cover, and let it stand for 10 minutes to absorb the stock.
  5. Once the couscous absorbs the stock mix in the lentils and torn basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve, place couscous on individual plates and top with vegetables. Garnish with toasted almonds.

If you are not a true vegetarian, you can use homemade chicken stock in place of the vegetable stock for additional flavor. And if you are wary of veggies and beans being gassy, there are ways to combine foods to avoid the bloat!

We like to travel and watching travel shows on television. We often watch Rick Steves and our tastes in cuisine have been influenced by places he has traveled. However, when cooking various cuisines we have tried to create some vegetarian versions. We would love to hear any variations you come up with.

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Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

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7 thoughts on “Vegetarian Easy Recipes: How to create the best meals”

  1. We are not normally vegetarian. But there are many times when we just want to up the veggie load in our meals. And when the recipes like this are easy it will make it easy for me to add them. And Spaghetti Squash is my favourite substitute for pasta!

  2. I have been vegetarian for more than 30 years. Finding vegetarian food around the world has become easier, but it is still good to know a few easy recipes. And it is always fun to shop at local markets and shops.

  3. Great post, because my sister decided to become a vegetarian and I have a problem with what prepare interesting to eat when she visits me. I don’t like spending too much time in the kitchen, so I really appreciate that your recipes are easy to make! For sure, I try to do Corn, Avocado, and Bean Salad, and Spaghetti Squash.

  4. I have been wanting to try go to become a vegetarian for a few years now, but I always worry I would lack meal variety. All of these recopies look so yummy and relatively easy to make. I think maybe trying to only have a meal with protein once a week would be good for me to start to become vegetarian!

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