Struggling for what to eat as you enter the last week of Veganuary? It can be really overwhelming going vegan, even for a month, and a little bit of preparation can make a huge difference.
Meal plans don’t have to be super strict, but having a few different meals in mind for 5 out of 7 days each week can really help streamline things without becoming super rigid. Not only does it make meals simpler, but it also leads to more cost effective food shopping and minimal food waste.
There’s no need to try a different breakfast every morning, pick a couple of these to rotate between throughout the week and you’ll find breakfast super easy and filling. The two key ingredient swaps in these meals is swapping your milk and butter to vegan alternatives.
An easy breakfast option, cook some porridge on the hob by combining thick oats with your favourite plant based milk. You can get creative by stirring in extra ingredients – which helps keep this meal interesting each morning. Add:
- chia seeds for extra texture and omega 3,
- syrup, jam or chocolate spread for a bit of sweetness,
- bananas and berries to boost up your fruit intake,
- peanut, almond or cashew butter for extra protein
Similar to porridge, only this option needs a bit of prep the night before but is a super handy, on the go option. All you need to do is stir oats, milk and a tablespoon of chia seeds in a jar and leave overnight in the fridge. You can play about with the oat to milk ratio until you reach your desired thickness, just remember that the chia seeds will absorb most excess milk overnight. Similar to porridge, take the opportunity to add in whichever extra ingredients take your fancy.
Toast can be a fun way to start the day, and there are still lots of vegan-friendly ways to jazz up a humble toast breakfast:
- Avocado – Unless you have a big budget for your weekly shop, it may not be wise to start every morning with avocado on toast. However, it does make a nice treat.
- Scrambled tofu – Made by crumbling silken tofu into a pan and seasoning with turmeric, kala namak salt (aka eggy salt), nutritional yeast and a drop of syrup. Feel free to stir in spinach, tomatoes, chili flakes, garlic, mushrooms… whatever you want really! Then serve on toast. Leftovers can be mixed with vegan mayo for a tasty sandwich filling.
- Baked beans – Most tinned baked beans are suitable for vegans, including classic Heinz. Be sure to double check though.
Whilst there are lots of great, vegan lunch recipes, you’ll keep things a bit simpler by making a little extra food at dinner time so you can have leftovers for lunch the next day. However, if you love a sandwich or salad here are a few ideas…
- Chickpea ‘tuna’ mayo – roughly mash up a can of chickpeas and stir in 4 tbsp of vegan mayonnaise, 1 tsp mustard, ½ tsp of kala namak salt, juice of half a lemon, some chopped spring onion and a pinch of salt. Mix until well combined.
- Roasted vegetables and hummus – this is a super healthy vegan classic. Roast some red peppers, red onions, mushrooms and courgette in the oven. Once cooled serve in a sandwich alongside your favourite hummus (most are vegan, but double check when buying).
- ‘Egg’ sandwich – mix your leftover scrambled tofu mix from breakfast with vegan mayonnaise and watercress for a delicious eggy filling.
You can make a classic Caesar Salad a lot healthier by swapping out chicken for roasted chickpeas. Trust me, it’s tastier than it sounds. Add a tin of chickpeas (rinse first!) to a roasting tin and season with olive oil, garlic and salt. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the chickpeas are a bit crispy. Make the dressing whilst the chickpeas cool, by mixing 1 crushed garlic clove, 4 tbsp of vegan mayonnaise, 1tbsp of nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar.
Then in a big bowl, mix together chopped romaine lettuce, the roasted chickpeas and the Caesar dressing. Voila!
If you want homemade croutons with your Caesar Salad, slice up 1-2 slices of bread (depending on how much you want) into crouton size squares, and season with olive oil, salt and garlic. Roast for 10-15 minutes (at the same time as you roast the chickpeas).
Eating on the go?
If you forget to take lunch into work, you can find really tasty and filling vegan options in most meals deals (local stock varies), as well as in Pret, Leon and most other coffee shops. Fortunately, during Veganuary, vegan options are advertised loud and proud in shop windows and on sandwich boards outside – you’ll be overwhelmed with choice!
For when you’re hungry between meals, here are some simple snack ideas:
- Sliced apple wedges dipped in peanut butter
- Energy bars – Nakd bars are vegan friendly and super healthy. Lots of energy bars are vegan, but many also contain milk or honey so double check the label!
- Crisps – Fortunately plenty of your favourite crisp flavours are vegan friendly, including Walkers Ready Salted, Prawn Cocktail and Salt and Vinegar.
- Hummus – Keep a pot of hummus nearby, perfect for dipping sliced peppers, carrots, cucumber or pitta bread in.
The main event! As mentioned earlier, it’s really helpful to make a little extra so you can have leftovers for lunch the next day. You’d be surprised how many of your favourite meals can be veganised, so do consider trying to recreate your go-to recipes but with vegan substitutes! Otherwise here are some great recipes to follow along to:
- Loaded Sweet Potatoes – this Deliciously Ella recipe is super healthy and easy without compromising on flavour. It requires roasting sweet potatoes and stuffing them with a mix of homemade guacamole, sourcream and black bean chilli.
- Spaghetti Bolognese – whilst every household has a different recipe for Spag Bol, most recipes just need to swap out meat mince for vegan mince (there’s plenty on the market but Vivera’s is a favourite!) to veganise this dish. Other ingredients to watch out for? Swap your parmesan cheese for this vegan alternative, and – if one of your secret ingredients is Worcestershire Sauce – leave it out as this sauce shockingly contains fish.
- Crispy Sticky Cauliflower – this Rachel Ama recipe is a great example of how vegetables can take centre stage on a meal, rather than a faux meat replacement. It’s healthy and easy but still manages to taste like a delicious ‘take away’ dish.
- Vegan Sausage Casserole – You may remember this Tesco recipe from their vegan-friendly advert about a Dad cooking for his daughter that no longer wants to eat animals. It’s super hearty and a total crowd pleaser – great for a dinner party!
- Sicilian Aubergine Stew – Pretty much every celebrity chef has had to give in to the vegan revolution – Jamie Oliver included! He has lots of free vegan recipes on his website, with this Sicilian Aubergine Stew being one of them.
Don’t forget to go out for the odd dinner too! There’s always tonnes of limited edition dishes or amazing restaurant promotions going on to celebrate Veganuary. Definitely something to take advantage of!