How to make plant-based meals in 15 mins or less

I’ve been getting feedback on my blog and on my Instagram account that my meals and recipes “look great, but I don’t have time to make them.” 

One friend of mine asked specifically for a few dishes that she could prepare in 15 minutes or less. It’s an excellent request. 

This is not a list of recipes, but rather my guide to creating your own plant-based meals quickly. Once you have the first few steps and weekly habits in place, it will be much easier to add variety and flavor to your super speedy meal prep routine. 

  1. Batch cook like a boss.

Think about how much time you have on the weekend and be prepared to batch cook. This will save you loads of time during the week when you have very limited time around your working hours.

If you don’t like to repeat dishes, batch cook things that you can use for multiple dishes. For example, brown rice could be used for burritos, stir fries, or grain-based bowls.

If you don’t mind repetition, you could also double or triple one recipe. Then, all you have to do during the week is heat it up. 

2. Embrace the plant-based bowl life. 

The next few steps are going to be about building plant-based bowls. You start with a few basics and then get creative as you get further to the top of the bowl. 

3. Start with a starchy base. 

This could be the brown rice or quinoa that you batch cooked on the weekend or it could be corn pre-prepared and found in the frozen section.

If you are totally not into batch cooking, you can also use microwavable rice. It can be found in most grocery stores and even on Amazon

Your starch could also be a potato in a variety of forms–baked in the microwave, boiled, mashed, or baked into fries

4.  Always add some leafy greens. 

You can buy pre-prepared packaged greens in the produce aisle or spinach and/or broccoli in from the frozen section of all standard grocery stores. 

If you are more of a zero-waste kind of person, you can also batch prepare your loosely sold greens by washing and cutting your greens right when you get home from the grocery store. 

After washing and cutting your greens, pat the greens dry and put them in a zip lock bag or reusable container with a folded piece of paper towel. Refrigerators tend to dry out the greens and wilt them without the airtight container. (you can reuse the zip lock bags to be more sustainable – the container just needs to be airtight.)

You probably already know that Popeye was right and greens are gold, but if you need some more reasons, Dr. Esselstyn will tell you why you should have at least 6 servings of greens a day. 

4.   Remember the beans. 

Michael Greger, M.D. of says that you should eat at least 1/4 cup of beans a day. They are loaded with fiber, the macronutrient that is missing from most people’s diets, and yes, they have protein too. 

They are also super cheap and delicious. Get them in a can, dried, or fozen. You can also find oil-free refried beans in most grocery stores, which is perfect for making burritos or burrito bowls

If you feel bloated after eating beans, eat a just a little bit at the beginning of your plant-based journey and add more as you go along. Your gut will get used to them. Also, chickpeas tend to be a bit milder on sensitive stomachs. 

5.  Experiment with fruits and veggies.

It’s estimated that there are 20,000 species of edible plants in the world. There are no limits for this section. 

Experiment with new fruits and veggies you have never tried before and you will find some new favorites. One of my friends from college had a list of veggies that she wanted to try in college. She wasn’t a veggie person at all, but now she is a veggie lover for life. Make your own list of veggies and fruits that you love. 

There are also lots of ways to save time with this section. Get pre-prepared veggies/fruit from the frozen or produce section, use canned veggies, or batch chop your fruit and veggies on the weekend.

6.  Pull it all together with a flavorful sauce or array of spices. 

The sauces and spice combinations are endless and they can add variety to your plant-based bowls. 

For those pressed for time, use vinegar, pre-made slasa, oil-free hummus, ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, Sriracha, Tamari, and miso. You can also find a lot of cool spice blends at most grocery stores. Experiment until you find the ones that you like. 

There are also tons of recipes our there for sauces and dips. Again, I like to batch cook sauces and dips on the weekend. You can make your own salsa, “cheese” sauce, hummus, and a bunch of others. There is also this super cool  e-book with 55 recipes for oil-free and vegan sauces. 


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