20 Easy Vegetarian Meals That’ll Make You Excited for Leftovers

Plus, budget-friendly prep tips.

By Edie Horstman
vegan chorizo tacos

At the end of a long day, the last thing I’m thinking about is a multi-step meal with what feels like an endless amount of ingredients. Taking the easy way out by making a freezer meal can leave everyone at your table feeling less than satisfied. But luckily, there are healthier (and still simpler) dining options. If you’re one with a meat-free diet and a jam-packed schedule, these easy vegetarian meals have you covered.

Whether you’re embracing the veggies of the season or enjoying a plant-based diet year-round, these easy vegetarian meals don’t get much better than that. They’re balanced and flavorful while still using an array of healthy and nutritious ingredients. If you’re hungry (and short on time), we’ve got everything you need right here.

sophie monet_easy vegetarian recipes
Image by Teal Thomsen
Edie Horstman
Edie Horstman

Edie is the founder of nutrition coaching business, Wellness with Edie. With her background and expertise, she specializes in women’s health, including fertility, hormone balance, and postpartum wellness.

5 Strategies for Easy Vegetarian Meals

Cooking is an act of self-love. It’s the ultimate form of everyday nourishment, other than a restful night’s sleep. That said, some of the most popular cookbooks lack easy vegetarian meals. Speaking from personal experience, being able to throw together a nutritious and accommodating meal in a pinch is anything but easy. From how you grocery shop—to your food preparation and meal choices—there are strategic ways to whip up easy vegetarian meals in a pinch. Plus, these tips will lessen your leftover load and save you money. Win, win.

Camille Styles sitting in front of fridge.

1. Stock Smart

Keep ingredients on hand that have a long shelf life. This will ensure that there’s always an abundance of ingredients that can be thrown together in a pinch. Shelf-stable options include pasta, rice, beans, lentils, olive oil, maple syrup, nut butter, balsamic vinegar, and non-dairy milks. Most canned goods (soups, diced green chiles, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, etc.) also fall into this category.

As far as refrigerated items go, think eggs, jarred minced garlic, olives, dijon mustard, lemons, limes, apples, etc. For on-the-counter produce, squashes, onions, and potatoes will last for weeks (or months) in a cool, dark place.

2. Meal Plan

This goes without saying, but meal planning is king. If you’re new to planning meals, it’s a game-changer—especially when you’re plant-based. While you may be tempted to buy a variety of produce, snag extra punnets of on-sale blueberries, etc., less is more. Instead, opt for a smaller variety of vegetables that can be used in multiple recipes (so you don’t end up bored with just one or two meals!). For example, plan to buy bell peppers, onions, carrots, and spinach—all of which can be used in a quiche, tacos, pasta, soups, and more.

Vegan Chorizo Tacos

3. Reinvent Plain Protein

Most of us aren’t interested in days and days of the same leftovers, so it’s best to prepare ingredients that can be used in various ways. For example, whip up a simple baked tofu and add it to a protein-packed salad or wrap.

4. Shop Frozen

Frozen produce is the gift that keeps on giving. Boil, steam, sauté, or toss fruits and veggies into smoothies, soups, frittatas, fajitas, or oatmeal. When it comes to easy vegetarian meals, the freezer is your best friend. You can use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer without any worry of waste. Take advantage of freezing your herbs, too! Last but not least, shopping frozen is one of the best ways to save money on organic produce.

bloat beating smoothies

5. End the Week With a Creative Twist

By the end of the week, you’ll probably have a nearly empty fridge. Other than a few carrots, sauces, corn tortillas, and a half-eaten block of tofu, you may be quick to get lunch delivered. Instead, this is your gentle nudge to think outside the box.

If you have a can of garbanzo beans, olive oil, lemon, and garlic on hand, throw together a quick hummus in your blender. Serve that with any fresh veggies you have, along with cheese, crackers, and a handful of nuts. Lunch is served. Frittatas are great for this as well. Turn on your favorite music, flip through your favorite cookbook to get inspo, and set a timer for 20 minutes. See what you can assemble.

20 Easy Vegetarian Meals for Simple Cooking

Without further ado, below are crave-worthy easy vegetarian meals. You can whip these up with minimal ingredients. (And some only take a matter of minutes!) A gourmet grilled cheese never tasted so good.

broccoli cheddar soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Never was there a more delicious veggie-packed soup than this broccoli cheddar. It’s just the right balance of creamy and cheesy while still being packed with plenty of nutritious spices and veggies.

sheet pan harvest hash_easy vegetarian meals

Sheet Pan Harvest Hash

What’s not to love about this simple sheet-pan dinner packed with vegetables and tasty toppings? With a good amount of protein and carbs, you’ll feel full and happy while keeping things meat-free.

mediterranean kale salad_easy vegetarian meals

Mediterranean Kale Salad

This Mediterranean-inspired salad with tomato, cucumber, chickpea, and avocado keeps things light (but still filling). This recipe is the perfect way to add a bit of plant-based protein to a simple salad.

zucchini pasta

Zucchini Pasta

The use of summer squash in this pasta brings the flavor to another level. Pair the seasonal veggie with nutty parmesan, zesty lemon, and aromatic herbs for an elevated and low-effort dining experience.

cauliflower tikka masala

Cauliflower Tikka Masala

This meat-free tikka masala makes it simple to enjoy Indian-inspired cuisine in a pinch. Marinating your cauliflower like you would traditional tikka masala is the key step here—and a step that can be prepped the night before to save time.

nourish bowls

Nourish Bowls

Made with hearty produce and pantry staples, say hello to your new favorite lunch. These bowls are perfect when you have a random assortment of leftovers to polish off and can easily be kept plant-based.

sunday night avocado toast_easy vegetarian meals

Sunday Night Avocado Toast

This takes less than 10 minutes to complete. If you don’t eat eggs, substitute seared tofu or a thick smear of your favorite non-dairy cheese.

tomato, avocado, and cucumber salad

Tomato, Avocado, and Cucumber Salad

You can easily cut this refreshing recipe in half if you’d rather not deal with leftovers. Fresh herbs and feta dress up the simplicity of sweet tomatoes, ripe avocado, and hydrating cucumber. This is the epitome of a (non-) sad desk lunch.

masala corn bhutta salad_easy vegetarian meals

Masala Corn Bhutta Salad

Complex in flavor, this recipe is deceivingly simple to throw together. Keep as is, or use fewer ears of corn. This salad makes for delicious leftovers with a fried egg or baked tempeh.

kale sourdough panzanella

Kale Sourdough Panzanella

When it comes to easy vegetarian meals, this panzanella is the crème de la crème. Overall, this dish is refreshing and full of veggies, but with the added satiation of bread and cheese. It’s the perfect way to use a loaf of bread that’s headed south.

hummus and greens bowl_easy vegetarian meals

Hummus and Greens Bowl

With or without the boiled egg, this hummus and greens bowl is loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and of course, flavor. You can use any veggies you have on hand. Make hummus from scratch or buy it pre-made—and don’t forget your seeds!

crispy roasted sweet potatoes

Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

The ultimate comfort food (that requires very few ingredients). Sweet and savory, these always hit the spot. You can top them with non-dairy cheese, hummus, tahini, avocado, etc.—the sky’s the limit. Roasting a batch of sweet potatoes will provide a variety of satiating meals throughout the week.

cumin chickpea salad

Cumin Chickpea Salad with Mint Chutney

Contrary to its ingredient list, this chickpea salad comes together quickly. It’s included in our roundup of easy vegetarian meals for one because not only is it delicious and protein-packed, but you can make the mint chutney ahead of time. Speaking of, you can use the chutney in a variety of other recipes: mixed with rice, spooned over lentils, a dip for potatoes, etc.

amaranth porridge with figs and papaya

Amaranth Porridge with Figs and Papaya

We love a breakfast-for-lunch (or dinner!) moment. Sweet or savory, let your cravings do the talking. Porridge recipes are a wonder for the solo cook, as you can make as much—or as little—as you need. While most recipes call for oats—a wonderful, nourishing choice—this take uses millet and amaranth for a delicious, toothsome spin.

roasted vegetable pasta_easy vegetarian meals

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

While this recipe is even more delicious the following day, you can cut it in half or gobble it in one serving. Inspired by ratatouille, the veggies cook together on one sheet pan and get tossed with rigatoni for a simple, satisfying meal.

vegetarian quiche_easy vegetarian meals

Vegetarian Quiche

This is the perfect recipe when you have minimal ingredients on hand—use your pastry and veggies of choice. Think: a handful of eggs and wilty produce. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

spring rice salad

Spring Rice Salad

Rice salad is the upgrade you didn’t know you needed. And it’s so addicting, you’ll want to eat it all week long! Using a combination of pantry staples, frozen peas, and a few fresh ingredients, this is one of the best easy vegetarian meals that everyone will love.

pesto pasta primavera

Pesto Pasta Primavera

This pesto pasta is the ultimate one-pot pasta recipe. It’s quick and easy, so delicious, and brimming with fresh summer vegetables. Cut this recipe in half or share with hungry neighbors!

vegan chorizo tacos_easy vegetarian meals

Vegan Chorizo Tacos

Prepare your tastebuds for these mouth-watering chorizo tacos. Plus, the filling can be spooned over rice, in a salad, or atop a grain bowl. The chorizo oil is the star of the show, and you can easily make it ahead of time.

creamy polenta bowls

Creamy Polenta Bowls

Look for more ways to use your food processor? Make these creamy polenta bowls. While this recipe might look a little fancy for a weeknight dinner, it all finishes at the same time. To make it more solo-cook-friendly, cut the recipe in half. You can also store polenta in the freezer for up to three months!