We’re all finding ways to get more creative in the kitchen with fewer ingredients as many of us have been minimizing our shopping trips due to the coronavirus pandemic. Less frequent trips to the grocery store means having to make meals with less fresh vegetables on hand, and when you do get out for groceries the produce selection seems to be sorely lacking. So you’re doing the best with what you can find, or what you already have in your cupboards. Maybe you’re even struggling to stay plant-based during this time and just need some super easy options to stay motivated.

I wanted to share three quick meals that you can make when you don’t have fresh vegetables readily available. The great thing about these recipes is that they come together quickly. They’re also satisfying, filling, and taste good too. Not only do all these meals call for minimal ingredients, but most can be cooked in a microwave. So these would also be perfect for people who hate to cook, or don’t have access to a full kitchen.

baked potato with beans and broccoli

So let’s get to it:

Meal #1 – Baked Potato Stuffed with Broccoli and Beans

  • A baked potato (Sweet, Russet, Yukon – your choice!)
  • A bag of frozen broccoli
  • A can of vegetarian baked beans

Meal #1 consists of a baked potato of your choice (I like Yukon Golds because of their naturally creamy flesh – Russets tend to be too dry for me), whatever frozen vegetables you can find in your freezer (I usually keep bags of frozen broccoli in my freezer for when I can’t get any fresh green vegetables), and a can of vegetarian baked beans. All three items (potato, frozen broccoli, and beans) can be cooked either on the stove top or in a microwave. I stuff my potato full of the broccoli and then pour the baked beans on top. This is one of the fastest, tastiest, and filling meals I make when I don’t have fresh vegetables and I’m at a loss for what to cook.


Meal #2 – Rice and Chili with Broccoli

  • A can of your favorite vegan chili (I like Amy’s brand)
  • A bag of frozen rice
  • A bag of frozen broccoli

Meal #2 consists of rice (to make this healthier I’d opt for brown rice, but no food shame here – use what you’ve got and what you like) You can cook the rice from dry, or get those frozen bags of rice and pop one in the microwave. You’ll also need another bag of a frozen vegetable of choice (again, my favorite is broccoli), and a can of your favorite vegan chili. I like to plate this by starting with the rice, then adding the broccoli, and finally pouring my cooked chili on top and mixing it up. Another hearty and filling recipe that I make entirely in the microwave.


Meal #3 – Stir-Fry over Rice

  • A bag of frozen rice
  • A bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • Soy Sauce

Meal #3 consists of rice, a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (in this case I like to choose one of the Asian Stir Fry Blends) and a drizzling of soy sauce on top finishes it off. If you’ve got any toasted sesame seeds kicking around your pantry this really elevates the meal as well.

So there you have it. Three easy and satisfying meals that can all be cooked in a microwave and use ingredients that many already have in their freezers and pantries. These meals are also highly customizable and flexible. Don’t have baked beans? Try using salsa, or an oil-free pasta sauce instead. Or swap the potato or rice out for a different starch like pasta or noodles. If something is too bland for you mix it up by adding spices. Garlic powder, smoked paprika, or your favorite custom spice blends will do the trick.

These quick and simple meals will also be useful once shelter-in-place orders are lifted. Having these quick meals to turn to can save the day when you don’t have the patience to cook after a long day of work. I hope I’ve given you some inspiration to get creative in your kitchen making meals without fresh vegetables and only minimal ingredients while still remaining plant-based.

Now I’d love to hear from you: What are some of your favorite fast and simple go-to meals? Leave a comment below and let me know. And if you think someone would benefit from these quick meal ideas, please share on social media!

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