Convenience Foods & Easy Recipes

kitchen

We’re here to dispel the myth that eating vegan is inconvenient. If you don’t like cooking or find yourself short of time, don’t worry. The major supermarkets have an ever-increasing array of instant vegan meals now on offer, and we’ve got oodles of recipes for super-speedy convenience dishes. It’s just as easy to throw basic supermarket ingredients together on a vegan diet, as on a non-vegan one. Quick meals and convenience food can also be healthy and nourishing, so there’s no need to miss out just because you’re time-poor or don’t enjoy cooking.

Viva! has lots of resources to help you cut down on your kitchen time! Try our Can’t Cook Won’t Cook programme for quick, easy and healthy recipes and download our free 30 Day Vegan app (or the desktop version) to receive inspiration for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The app also provides hints, tips and codes to unlock gifts from the Viva! shop.

We have a whole section dedicated to convenience meals on the Vegan Recipe Club app and website, along with fast and healthy and quick meals for shed-loads of inspiration!

Equipment

Even though it’s always possible to make meals based on very simple ingredients, there are some useful bits of equipment to have in the kitchen in order to broaden your choices and make life even easier.

Here are some of our equipment essentials:
  • A food processor
  • A good set of knives (this doesn’t have to cost a fortune – check out TK Maxx and Home Sense for some excellent knives at a very reasonable price)
  • A high speed blender (eg Nutribullet)
  • A knife sharpener or wet stone
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Reusable lunchbox
  • Stick blender (for soups and sauces)
  • Vegetable peeler

Shopping List

There are lots of ways to cheat your way to a tasty meal when you don’t have much time and it’s useful to have certain ingredients to hand in the kitchen to make this even easier.

Here’s our list of cheatin’ store cupboard essentials: 
  • A wide selection of herbs and spices for adding diversity and depth of flavour to simple dishes
  • Boxes of breakfast cereal and porridge oats
  • Bread
  • Cider vinegar
  • Coconut milk
  • Condiments: tomato sauce, brown sauce, mustard, salad cream, mayonnaise (check out the free-from sections for egg-free or if you’re buying online search on ‘vegan mayo’), pickle, mango chutney, lime pickle, barbecue sauce, yeast extract, mint sauce)
  • Convenience protein foods/snacks for when you’re out and about – see some of our favourites
  • Curry paste and tagine paste
  • Dried fruit
  • Fresh fruit and veg
  • Frozen fruit for smoothies, cereal/porridge, desserts/ice cream
  • Frozen garlic, ginger and chopped onions
  • Frozen herbs eg parsley and coriander
  • Frozen veg
  • Gravy granules
  • Gnocchi (it cooks in minutes and is delicious with pesto, veg and seeds or mushroom/white sauce – a very satisfying super quick meal)
  • Hummus
  • Instant and straight to wok noodles
  • Instant/pre-cooked brown rice, lentils, quinoa, couscous
  • Iodised salt (eg Cerebos – can be found in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s)
  • Jam/marmalade
  • Jars of antipasti (eg olives, sundried tomatoes, artichokes etc – great for quickly jazzing up a simple meal)
  • Jars of sauces (eg pasta sauce, white sauce, ‘cheese’ sauce, curry sauce, katsu sauce)
  • Lentils (perfect for making a speedy dhal, soup, chilli or spagbol)
  • Lunchtime take-out foods from the high street – see some of our favourites
  • Nut butters
  • Nutritional yeast (for sprinkling on soups, salads, pasta… actually pretty much everything!)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Oils (extra virgin olive oil to have cold and rapeseed for cooking)
  • Packets of stir fry veg (one of the quickest meals to make and healthy too – just add nuts or nut butter and tofu for a protein hit)
  • Pancake mix eg Orgran (makes super-speedy pancakes and you can choose your toppings)
  • Plain flour (great for quick pancakes)
  • Plant milks
  • Popcorn kernels (very fast snack)
  • Potatoes (sweet and regular – pop them in the microwave for a very fast meal)
  • Salad dressings (it’s super quick to make your own but if you don’t have time there are lots of ready-mades for sprucing up a simple salad)
  • Seaweed sprinkles (good for a dose of iodine – and very tasty)
  • Snack bars (lots in the shops for a midday snack eg Nakd, Trek, Pulsin, Bounce)
  • Snack pots and packet lunches (eg Bol, Itsu, Clive’s)
  • Some frozen convenience foods (eg vegan burgers, mince, sausages, bacon, pies, pizza, chips, ice cream, desserts)
  • Soup (try tinned or packet – great for a quick meal. Sprinkle with seeds, nuts and nutritional yeast for extra protein)
  • Soya sauce
  • Super sprouts (eg alfalfa, radish, broccoli – they’re full of nutrients and are very easy to sprout at home, have a try!)
  • Tahini
  • Tempeh (a great source of protein and easy to cook – just fry up with a little oil and salt or soya sauce – maybe add a little sweet chilli sauce if you’re feeling fancy)
  • Tinned food (eg baked beans, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans cannellini beans, lentils, tomatoes)
  • Tofu (the quickest versions are pre-marinated such as Taifun, Cauldron, Clearspot – add them to salads, stir fries, curries, sandwiches). Also try getting frozen tofu puffs from Asian supermarkets – they are pre-cooked and heat up in minutes – to add to stir fries and curries. Firm or firm silken tofu is great for making a speedy scramble. The quickest way to cook firm, plain tofu is to fry is with a little soya sauce and stir through a sprinkling of nutritional yeast at the end)
  • Tomato purée
  • Vegan cheese – great for a quick sandwich, toastie or grated over pasta
  • Vegan cream (buy long life single and double cream or whipping cream from health food shops and supermarkets)
  • Vegan pesto (red and green – look out for Sacla or supermarket free-from varieties. Pasta with pesto is such a quick and easy meal and you can add lots of different toppings)
  • Vegan margarine or butter (Naturli is our favourite ‘butter’ but Pure, Flora and Vitalite marg can be found everywhere)
  • Vegan stock cubes or powder
  • Vegan yogurt
  • Wholemeal bread and wholegrain crackers
  • Wholemeal pasta

Great Supermarket Convenience Options

aldi bbq jackfruit vegan pizza

Aldi Pizza

There are three different flavours (jackfruit, spicy cauliflower and ‘bacon’ and mushroom), they’re affordable, they have a soft doughy base, a really good amount of ‘cheese’ and are nicely flavoured. The ‘bacon’ is delicious too. Watch out because they sell out really fast!

Aldi Vegan Jackfruit Chilli

Aldi Jackfruit Chilli

We like this one because it isn’t too sweet, good smoky flavour, generous with the jackfruit, good value for money and easy to make.

 

Bol Shepherd'Less Lentil Pie

Bol Ultimate Shepherd’less Lentil Pie

The Bol range is excellent and this Shepherd’less Lentil Pie is one of our favourites. It’s got a mild flavour but is still really tasty. There’s a really great combination of tomato, lentil and veggies with perfect seasoning. An added bonus is that the Bol range use recyclable packaging made from 95% sugarcane.

 

M&S Vegan Thai Curry

M&S Plant Kitchen Green Thai Curry & Jasmine Rice

The whole of the M&S Plant Kitchen range is delicious. It’s got the M&S quality you’d expect and this Thai curry is no exception. It’s got a creamy, coconutty sauce which is full of flavour and also vegetables! Tastes like a homemade meal and definitely not a ready meal so it gets the full thumbs up from us.

 

M&S Vegan Lasagne

M&S Plant Kitchen Vegan Lasagne

Whilst a ready-made lasagne is never going to be the same as a homemade version, this is a very good attempt by M&S. It has the right amount of creaminess and cheesiness and the ‘mince’ has good texture. If you fancy that kind of mid-week comfort food without the fuss then this is a really good, solid option.

 

Sainsbury's Vegan Shroomdogs and Mash

Sainsbury’s Plant Pioneers Shroomdogs and Mash

We love this ready meal because it’s a traditional, hearty dish and very tasty too. This was the only one like it out of all the supermarket offerings – we recommend!

tesco vegan wicked naked burrito

Tesco Wicked Kitchen Naked Burrito

With a mix of refried beans, pulled marinated oyster mushrooms, rice, kale and mixed veg, the flavours are great in this burrito! It’s tasty and got good texture, with a little bit of heat. This is a nice option when you’re short of time and need something on the go.

tesco wicked kitchen enchiladas vegan

Tesco Wicked Kitchen Big Bros Enchiladas

With Mexican style spiced beans, rice, sweet potato, jalapenos, tomato sauce, sweetcorn and pepper salsa, this ready meal is filling and has really good flavour. Serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream or Oatly Oat Fraiche and a handful of nachos for an extra treat.

waitrose vegan rainbow stew product

Waitrose Vegan Rainbow Vegetable Stew

This stew is full of vegetables and it’s also very colourful! The squash and lentils are nicely filling and the other veg includes beetroot, kale, courgette and carrot. The red wine, tomato puree and spices add a nice depth of flavour and richness to the dish – we recommend!

vegan beetroot risotto from waitrose

Waitrose Vegan Beetroot Risotto

This is great when you fancy a risotto but without the hassle. Made with spelt and pearl barley with the addition of beetroot, this is a healthier choice when it comes to convenience food. We like the freshness of the mint in this dish too!

mac and greens from waitrose

Waitrose Vegan Mac and Greens (also available from Ocado)

The classic pasta dish with some healthy, tasty ingredients including kale, broccoli, onion, garlic and plenty of herbs. Fabulous if you’re missing cheese!

Fab almost-instant convenience recipes

tofu scramble breakfast

Super-fast Scrambled Tofu

So fast, easy and delicious! Silken tofu is super healthy, full of protein and other goodies as well as making a very creamy scramble.

Take me to the recipe!

Toast avocado good stuff

Toast with all the Good Stuff

This is such a simple recipe and perfect for when you’re short of time, want something healthy and would like to use everything up in the fridge!

Take me to the recipe!

DIY Pot Noodle

Vegan DIY (healthy) Pot Noodle

These pots are a revelation! Healthy, super easy and really tasty! Perfect for office lunches; just bung everything in the jar, add boiling water and you’re good to go!

Take me to the recipe!

Baked Beans on Toast

Baked Beans on Toast With Options

This old British favourite couldn’t be easier! But we have suggested a few variations that might be new to some of you…

Take me to the recipe!

Jacket potato convenience-style

Baked Potato with assorted fillings

This is for those of you who are too busy to cook – for this meal at least!

Take me to the recipe!

Vegan Antipasti Selection

Antipasti Dinner

This is simple, no-cook and absolutely delicious. It’s open to lots of variations, depending on budget, preferences and availability.

Take me to the recipe!

Vegan Pad Thai

One Pot Pad Thai

One pot, lots of yummy ingredients, ready in 10 minutes… need we say more!?

Take me to the recipe!

Vegan Gnocci Supermarket

Instant Gnocchi (supermarket style)

This is such a quick recipe (5-10 minutes) and can be easily adapted depending on what veg you fancy. Grab a jar of free-from pesto (eg Sacla, Aldi, Meridian, Asda Free-From, Tesco Free-From, Providence Deli) and you’re good to go!

Take me to the recipe!

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