- I’ve been vegan for over two years, so I’ve learned a few cooking tips and tricks along the way.
- Making vegetable stock yourself saves money and is a convenient way to use up kitchen scraps.
- Simple and easy to make recipes like vegetable salad with herbs and vinaigrette are must-haves for me.
As a vegan since January 2020, I’ve learned a few cooking tips and tricks along the way to make this diet easy, delicious, and super accessible.
Prior to becoming fully vegan, I was a vegetarian for most of my life. So for me, the transition from lifelong vegetarian to full-fledged vegan was not that difficult because there was very little I was giving up.
But I know that’s not the case for everyone, so whether you follow this diet or are just curious, here are some vegan cooking tips that can be incorporated into any lifestyle:
Save money by making your own vegetable broth at home
One of my staples in the kitchen is homemade vegetable broth, which is my favorite way to minimize kitchen waste and give leftovers a second life. It also saves me money since I don’t have to buy broth at the store.
The most commonly recommended vegetables for making broth are pretty basic: onions, carrots, peppers, and celery. Some loose rules also advise against certain vegetables – for example some people don’t recommend potatoes as they can make the broth starchy, but I already added skins and that was fine.
I like to amp it up a bit by adding all the vegetables I use in my everyday cooking to my broth. My typical broth has garlic, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peppers, onions, carrots, parsley stalks, cabbage, mushrooms, cayenne, jalapeños, and whatever else I use to that time.
Instead of simmering my broth on the stove like most recipes suggest, I found I could get a lot more flavor using a slow cooker. I usually leave my leftovers in the slow cooker for four to six hours, then let the broth sit overnight in the fridge with the veggie bits still in it to make sure I get the most flavor.
In the morning, I drain the leftovers and store the broth in airtight jars. This leaves me with a lovely, dark, amber-colored vegetable broth that’s full of flavor and can keep good in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Prepare Your Garlic Ahead for Weeknight Cooking
The best thing I’ve ever done for my future self is making sure my garlic is prepped for the week, a simple but life-changing trick if you’re someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen.
I love to cook and use garlic in just about everything, but one of my cooking nightmares is peeling the ingredient as it is a tedious task that can be time consuming.
So I started preparing my garlic in bulk before the week and it saved me so much time while cooking.
I like to use a small food processor to chop peeled garlic cloves into small pieces in seconds, which is definitely the most convenient. You can also do this with a kitchen knife.
Don’t sleep on simple, easy-to-prepare meals
One of the main things that deters people from trying a
is to believe that food has to be super complex, but some of the most delicious things I make are the least complicated.
One of my favorite dishes is an incredibly simple tomato and cucumber salad that is really tasty and inexpensive to make.
I combine diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives and a can of rinsed chickpeas in a bowl. I add the juice of a lemon or two and stir in my desired seasonings – I like salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, sage, dried basil and Tajin – which combine with the juice from the vegetables to make a nice and tasty vinaigrette.
You can also season to your personal preference or what you have available. This recipe will even work with simple salt and pepper.
You can also amp up this recipe by replacing the black olives with kalamata, adding avocado and sprinkling with vegan feta – I like that kind of Follow your heart.
Remember that a balanced diet includes carbohydrates
I like to include carbs as part of a healthy, balanced diet that practices moderation as a way to regulate eating.
Since many vegan diets are extremely high in plants, I think it’s okay to add vegetables to a carb-containing dish. This can help you stay full longer and will also provide carbohydrate fueled energy.
If you’re not sure what to pair your veggies with, choose a type of rice, noodles, or pasta for a hearty plant-based dish.
Ingredients like brown rice and noodles can be relatively inexpensive, so depending on where you live and buy them, this option can be used for an easy-to-use dish for people who want to incorporate more meals from plants in their diet on a budget.
Tofu is a culinary chameleon far from boring
I think there’s an unreasonable number of people who think tofu is bland just because they don’t know how to cook it properly.
Tofu is a blank canvas, just like many other proteins. If you wouldn’t cook chicken, eggs, or steak with no seasoning or prep, why would you do that with tofu?
Tofu is nearly limitless, and with just a few different seasoning, marinating, and cooking techniques, it can be turned into a scrambled egg, mashed tuna, chicken nuggets, or simply tasty, texture-rich bites.