3 Simple Plant-based Meals for Busy Weeknights

Working late? Off to your workout? Errands? There are many reasons for feeling the time crunch between dinner and bedtime, with sometimes just a couple hours to unwind at home for a meal. To help, we've put together our favorite weeknight meals that couldn't be easier to whip together. With a few simple ingredients, these quick dinners will help you to eat satisfying, nutrient-rich meals and go on your healthy way. (Clean up is a breeze too!)

Power Plate

The stats: 20 mins, 3 ingredients, 3 steps, 3 dirty dishes

Our power plate includes potato, avocado, and spinach. These foods are some of the simplest to have on hand at home. Potatoes have a pretty long shelf life, avocados, if bought green, can hang around for a week or so too," and buying pre-washed bagged organic spinach makes eating greens a breeze. Spinach may only last about a week, but transferring over to BPA-free produce keeper (we like this one) will increase that life by another week at least.

This meal is pretty starchy, and you wouldn't want to overdo it, but the benefit is that it is super satisfying. Perfect fuel for after a workout, and you could even add 1/2 cup of quinoa if you are really hungry. All of these foods are well known for being rich in vitamins and fiber. They are all heart-healthy.

*Pro tip: Purchase a mix of buoyant, dark, nearly ripe avocados and tough, light green, not ready avocados at the same time. Throughout the week, you'll have avocados Monday-Friday!

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups organic spinach
  • 4-5 baby or creamer potatoes (mini versions of any type)
  • 1/4 of an organic avocado

Instructions:

1. Cut potatoes into thirds by slicing them twice either horizontally or vertically. Place them on a baking sheet and bake on 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

2. Cut avocado into long slices or chunks. Plate 1/2 cup of the cooked quinoa and the potatoes with spinach, or any greens that you might have, for a starter salad. Add on the avocado. Option to mix it all together in a bowl.

3. Spinach can be placed on the plate first, under the potatoes and avocado, or as a side. If a side, you'd probably want to add dressing. I love the Sesame Ginger and Garlic Tahini dressings at Whole Foods by Cindy's Kitchen for Whole Foods. Those dressings are free of oil, sugar and are plant-based. Hummus makes a nice dressing, or you could use apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, or Bragg's amino acids.

Beans in a Blanket

The Stats: 10 mins, 4 ingredients, 4 steps, 2 dirty dishes

Save a piggy. Legumes can snuggle nicely into a blanket too. Bean wraps are filling, fun, and fast.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can (or even better box) of black beans
  • 1/4 cup of organic salsa
  • 1-2 handfuls of raw spinach
  • 1 brown rice wrap

Instructions:

1. Place the brown rice wrap in the over on 250 degrees for 10 mins, while you are prepping the rest of the meal.

2. Pour out the beans along with some of the water in the container to a pan or skillet on medium-high heat.

3. Add in the spinach and add some more fresh, filtered water if needed to help it cook down.

4. Plate it all up:  wrap first, cooked beans and spinach next, top with the salsa.

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Cauliflower Tower Salad

The Stats: 20 mins, 4 ingredients, 4 steps, 3 dirty dishes

Dinner salads are really energizing and great for evening digestion. This light meal is especially great if you are sitting down a little later for dinner and a little closer to bedtime. It's best to eat at least 2 hours before you fall asleep.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a cauliflower depending on size
  • 2-3 cups of your favorite green: kale, romaine, spinach, chard
  • 1 lemon
  • A seasoning mix

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take your cauliflower and cut it in half and then in half again. Lay out the two halves on a baking sheet with the flat side down. One piece will be easier to work with, cut like a steak, but the other end will be bumpier.

2. Squeeze the juice of half of the lemon directly on the cauliflower pieces. Season the pieces with a season mix such as Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning mix, or any seasonings in your cabinet. My favorite are paprika, basil, and onion powder.

3. Rinse and chop the lettuce. Squeeze the juice from the other lemon half on the greens.

4. Cook the cauliflower for 20 mins.** Once soft, put them over top of greens, and you'll find that it all melts together quite nicely.

**Pro tip: Whenever you find yourself waiting for items to cook up, take this time to go through the mail, run to the restroom, take the trash out, put on sweats, or wash up the few dishes that you maybe used already to get dinner started. Eliminate the wait by getting things done! Once dinner is ready, you can really kick back and enjoy. 

These simple recipes make it all too easy to eat more plant-based meals during the week. Did it inspire you? What are your quick, go-to meals? Let us know in the comments below and @forkfuloflove on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.