Quick and Easy Plant-Based Meal Plans When You Don’t Want to Cook

Nature’s version of convenience foods.

Writing about planning for hiking got me to thinking about how we get through the day. If you are new to this diet, you may worry about being hungry between meals. Convenience food typically is a processed, microwave thing designed for such emergencies in the Standard American Diet. Hot Pockets, Stouffer’s, microwave pizza, bags of potato chips all exist to stave off the munchies. When you are changing your diet you need to rethink what will help you between meals, or for the times when you just do not have time to cook. You can only plan ahead so much until life happens and the next thing you know you have not eaten anything since breakfast and you want something NOW. The following are some of my favorite things to have on hand, and none of these items will pack on any kind of pounds for you.


Three-Minute Popcorn: We have this microwave popping bowl that is fantastic for quick food.  I relied on this a lot as we adjusted to not hitting the potato chips and slices of cheese before dinner. Just 2 teaspoons of kernels in the bottom — no need for oil or butter —  cover with the lid and put in the microwave on high. Usually within three minutes the bowl is filled to the brim with fresh popcorn. I eat mine plain but nutritional yeast is good to sprinkle over it, or spray Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Other ideas: Mrs. Dash’s blends, chipotle flakes or cinnamon. You can typically find these microwave popcorn bowls at stores that sell housewares and they are usually less than $20. We got ours at Target years ago, and they may still sell them.

Bean hummus: Chickpea based or any other bean made with the same ingredients works well and can come together in about five minutes in your blender. There are millions of different recipes online, so take and adapt with whatever canned beans you have. Make ahead and store in fridge. Eat with …

Plain Triscuits: A go-to snack in an emergency, or any crispbread cracker that’s low sodium.

Fresh fruit with steamed rice and maple syrup and vanilla extract: Apples, bananas, even a can of sliced pineapple can work wonders with a bowl of steamed rice and keep you satisfied for quite some time. This is a good way to use up leftover dinner rice the next morning for breakfast.

Baked potato: I typically buy a five-pound bag of potatoes each week, and my baked potatoes are my daily salute to Dr. McDougall. You can use soups, nutritional yeast, bean hummus, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or plain mustard for a topping, or whatever sounds good to you — just no butter! Be creative. You can bake several ahead of time on Sunday afternoon in the oven and keep refrigerated, or microwave 6-8 minutes on high for an impromptu serving each day.

Smoothie: Takes less than five minutes to blend. The general rule of thumb for a recipe: 1/4 cup liquid (water or nondairy milk such as rice, almond, etc) 2 cups or less of fresh or frozen fruit, some greens, some sweetener (maple syrup, date paste) and whatever flavorings you prefer (vanilla, cinnamon, ginger).

Raisins: They will see you through a traffic jam after work when you are running late. Yes, they will.

Carrots and sugar snap peas: Your local grocer probably bundles these together in the produce section. I’ve been buying this combo bagged for years. Throw in a bowl, top with some sliced mushrooms and raw broccoli and you have an instant salad without having to rinse or deal with a head of lettuce. Your grocer also may carry other chopped bundles of vegetables that you might buy during a weekend grocery run. Trust me, by midweek you will be turning to these for quick salads to throw in a bowl and go. Here’s a really fast dressing you can make, and it can store in your fridge for awhile. I’m not taking credit for it; it came from a newspaper recipe list:

Tahini Dressing

1/3 cup tahini

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 garlic cloves minced

3/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash table blend

Whisk together or make in blender until smooth.

This dressing is great on salads where the leaves might run bitter, such as some types of romaine or kale.

Five-Minute Soup: Quick, easy and homemade.

Honorable mention (because it can take longer if you want a lot): Microwave potato chips. You can just use thinly sliced potatoes spread out on a paper towel. We make ours using this (not a paid endorsement, just an impromptu purchase the day we got our new cookware):


Those are my ideas, and there are plenty more. Share some of yours to help all of us save time!

5 thoughts on “Quick and Easy Plant-Based Meal Plans When You Don’t Want to Cook

  1. I’ve become addicted to pistachio nuts. Edamame/soybeans are good, too. I’ve been thinking of experimenting with adding various spices to the water as I’m boiling them to see what that does, flavor-wise. Do you season the potato chips with anything?


    1. Hey! We haven’t really gotten into seasoning the chips. You can spray them with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (for the salt kick) and I bet Mrs. Dash spicy seasonings would be good, or chipotle flakes. I got a wheel of spices from World Market (all different types of chili pepper flakes) that I’ve been wanting to try on the potato chips.


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