If you enjoyed What Can I Eat For Breakfast then you’ll love this! I’m totally aware that for some box-fresh brand-new vegans, people trying out Veganuary or people with vegan friends, vegan cooking can be a bit bewildering, but I honestly think making a vegan dinner can be cheap, satisfying, easy and nutritious.
In fact there are so many vegan dinners you can cook at home, with non-weird equipment, simple affordable ingredients, not too much time, and without requiring Michelin-chef skills that this list is just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are practically endless. Below are meals I cook on a rainy work-night. Meals I cook with Betty and Chester – my beloved one-eyed rescue cats – skulking about in my kitchen squawking and demanding their dinner. Meals with the Simpsons on the TV or with Johnny Cash on Spotify. Meals with varying amounts of food in the cupboards and fridge depending on how close or far it is to payday.
If you’re feeling fancy, having a swanky dinner party or if you’ve been vegan for yonks and want to learn amazing new techniques then this article may be a bit basic-bitch but I hope it shows everyone that being vegan doesn’t mean on missing out. It’s easy to get into a cooking-rut and being vegan has meant I’ve cooked with ingredients I’d never even heard of before! So here are a range of dinners you can make or eat at home that are all good, all vegan:
Pie and Mash
One of my favourite winter-dinners, I’m so pleased being vegan doesn’t mean I can’t still have this. You can make or buy vegan-friendly pies, serve with a veggie-friendly gravy and your favourite veg and plenty of mash. For mashed potatoes I use dairy-free milk or cream, dairy free butter or margarine, a spoon of mustard, and a few pinches of “nooch” (nutritional yeast). There are also vegan cheeses in the supermarket if you fancy a cheesy-mash.
Textbook example: Clive’s Pie Mushroom & Leek, mash, sweetcorn and onion gravy.
Udon noodles, rice noodles, wheat noodles. Noodles in soup, with mock-meat or mountains of veg. Noodles are so comforting, quick and delicious that I can scarcely imagine a week without eating them at least once. Noodles 4 lyfe.
Textbook example: Peanut udon noodles with whatever veg you have to hand. Recipe here.
Whether it’s a Dhal curry with rice, chutneys and Indian bread or a fragrant, smooth Thai curry loaded with beautiful veg, curries are good at every single damn time of the year.
Textbook example: I just love a Thai Green Curry with or without tofu and crispsy onions on top. Blue Dragon make little pots of paste which are vegan-friendly or you can whizz up your own paste in a food processer and cook with coconut milk. Skip the fish sauce and you’re A-ok.
One of my fave meals when I was little was my Dad’s fried rice – back then it had chunks of bacon and chopped omlette stirred throughout it– and now that I’m vegan I am so happy I get to make it afresh. I fry rice in sesame oil and add a shit-load of soy sauce and hot sauce. It’s great with Fry’s Family chicken chunks or their ‘beef” thick cut chunky strips.
Textbook example: Fried rice with ALL THA VEG, toasted cashews, loads of coriander, hot sauce and chopped “chicken” chunks.
Things I love on top of a burger: pickles, cheese, fried onions, mushrooms, avocado, more cheese, mustard, ketchup, mac & cheese, facon. Things I don’t like on top of a burger: lettuce and tomato. There I said it. Whether it’s a home-made or shop-bought burger, bean or mock-meat, sometimes the only thing that hits the spot is a bloody good burger.
Textbook example: I love the Linda McCartney Quarter Pounders. They are *very* meat-like so might be off-putting to some people but they are hefty and juicy. Just like me, arf arf!
I’m including this amongst all the other meals I make regularly make at home even though I’ve never (GASP!) made my own vegan pizza from scratch because.. well, because pizza. It’s amazing. Even bad pizza is still pizza. Whether you order a cheese-free Papa Johns or buy a base in your supermarket and pimp it up with cheese, veggies and mock meats pizza is (pretty much) ALWAYS a good idea.
Textbook example: I love getting Zizzi vegan pizzas delivered so I can eat cheesy pizza amongst my cats, wearing my indecently naff house-leggings. Don’t judge.
Ahhh the humble but deeply comforting jacket potato. I love to cook my Jackie-P’s rubbed in oil with an over-generous sprinkle of Maldon Sea Salt and ground black pepper.
Textbook example: vegan butter, a tonne of Baked Beans, BBQ sauce, nooch and dairy-free cheese.
Chilli Sin Carne
Chilli is a classic Sunday-afternoon big-cook meal for me. I can make a load of it at the weekend and then eat it in different ways (with rice and guac, on nachos, on a Jackie-p, on toast) throughout the week.
Textbook example: I make my Chilli Sin Carne with black beans, a small chopped courgette, sweetcorn, pepper, and then loads of cumin, chilli, smoked paprika and, if I have it to hand, a generous squirt or two of liquid smoke.
I saw a tweet recently that said “body type: not terrible but definitely enjoys pasta” and I was like YESSSSSS, EXACTLY! How good is pasta? Cheap, filling, versatile. Mmmm. From spaghetti Bolognese with faux mince, pasta with vegan pesto to a lovely home-made sauce of fresh tomatoes, courgettes and aubergines with lashings of olive oil and Italian herbs. The world would suck without pasta.
Textbook example: Mushroom Bolognese with salad and home-made garlic bread. So so good, even meat-eaters (as long as they don’t hate mushrooms) will dig this I swear.
I love the sense of wellbeing that you get from sleeping well, having a brisk walk and eating loads of wholesome, nutritious meals but I also love curly fries. And hashbrowns and any other frozen potato product I can heat in the oven in minutes and devour in seconds.
Textbook example: Fry’s Family chicken nuggets, fries, sweetcorn, lashings of vegan mayo.
If you’ve been eating a few too many beige dinners then a salad might be a welcome, refreshing change! Again the possibilities are pretty much endless, there are vegan cheese available in Sainsbury’s in case you want to make it more indulgent, or home-made croutons are insanely easy AND tasty. A simple dressing can be whipped up using a few tablespoons of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of maple syrup and mustard and then vegan mayo if you want it to be creamy.
Textbook example: Salad leaves with lots of tomatoes, beetroot, sweet corn and chunks of Taifun tofu olive.
There is something so relaxing about making risotto. I love pouring the veggie stock in, seeing the rice slowly absorb it and then pouring more stock in once more. The calming repetition, seeing the rice grains swell and grow is just so soothing. The fact risotto is tasty as well as fun to make is the icing on the cake.
Textbook examples: Mushroom and Leek, Pumpkin and sage, Mint and Green Pea, Butternut Squash. Whatever’s in season, cheap or delivers just the thing you fancy.
As I said at the top of this blog, I will have left out so many amazing vegan dinners here that I’ve cooked and loved and there are 1000s of meals I’m yet to try – that thought actually makes me really giddy – but I hope this helps demystify what vegans can and do actually eat. Now, I don’t know about you but I’m suddenly really hungry!