FOOD

How to Become a Weeknight Vegan (Or Just Eat More Plant-Based Meals)

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At the start of this year, I polled our community about their cooking resolutions for 2024. The number one goal they shared? To eat more vegetarian or vegan meals. As an omnivorous cook who would like to eat a little lower on the food chain, I can relate.

So, to learn how to make plant-based eating easier to achieve each week, I asked Kat Marris, senior recipe developer for Green Chef, for her secrets. As a carnivore-turned-vegetarian herself, she identifies with people making the switch. “When I was first starting to transition to a vegetarian diet, and away from that meat-and-potatoes mindset…I definitely felt this pressure that because I was vegetarian, I had to be making superfood kale bowls and complex tofu recipes. And in reality, it’s all about finding what you enjoy eating…and then finding easy ways to make it fit into your schedule,” she says. “Don’t get too hung up on feeling like you have to make meals fancy.”

Of course, a foolproof way to fit vegan and vegetarian meals into your weekly routine is to let Green Chef do all of the hard work for you. The clean-eating meal kit service handles all the farm-fresh sourcing, menu planning and prep work. All you need to do is pick the vegan and vegetarian dinners that speak to you, and they’ll deliver the pre-portioned ingredients and recipes to your door.

No matter which path you choose on the way to more plant-based eating, here are Kat’s tips to reinforce your healthy habits.

Prep on Sundays & Thank Yourself All Week

On Sundays, Kat cooks up two different types of grains to get ahead of the game, simmering them in vegetable broth to boost their flavor. She often makes a lot of brown rice, which can take too much time on a weeknight, and lately she’s been loving farro. “It’s really nutty and I find it extremely satiating.”

Along with grains, she also likes to roast a bunch of seasoned vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and potatoes. Green Chef subscribers get to escape this weekly chore—their dinners and lunches are packed with ready-to-cook fresh vegetables and whole grains.

Roast Your Vegetables

Kat prefers roasting vegetables over steaming or blanching them to “bring out all of the subtle notes of that vegetable.” (You can see her love of roasting in Green Chef recipes like this one, where even the tofu gets a turn in the oven for a richer, deeper flavor.) Her ideal temp is 425°F. “It sounds weirdly specific, but I just find that it gets a really nice caramelization on my vegetables. If you go too low, you don’t get quite the same flavor. Go too high, you risk burning the vegetables.”

Before you wash, dry and put your vegetables in the oven, make sure they’re well-oiled. “Use enough oil to make sure your vegetables have a nice sheen—otherwise they’ll be as dry as they look. Make sure you oil your pan, too, so the vegetables don’t stick. There’s nothing worse than a beautiful pan of cauliflower, and you didn’t oil your pan well enough and you’re scraping them off with a spatula,” says Kat.

Photo by James Ransom

Spice Blends Are Your Friends

Kat uses a few favorite spice blends to season vegetables before they go in the oven—she calls these her “flavor drivers,” and her go-to blend is easy to make. “Not to sound incredibly basic, but I do love a good ranch spice blend because it just brings out so many wonderful notes across the board on those vegetables.” She uses garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, or dried dill (or both) in equal parts, and will mix them together on the fly. “Sometimes I don’t even pre-mix it. I just take a pinch of each and sprinkle it over my vegetables in my bowl before I put it on my sheet.”

One to two pinches of seasoning is what she uses before roasting. “You’re just looking for a nice light coating.”

For Green Chef subscribers, her pre-mixed seasonings, like the fennel-orange and smoky applewood spice blends, skew toward complex combos you thankfully don’t have to whip up yourself.

‘Put It On Everything’ Dressings Come In Handy, Too

Kat keeps a big batch of homemade vinaigrette that she uses for an instant flavor boost to salads, vegetables, and proteins. “It’s like the ultimate drizzle on everything,” she says.

She also likes to take two tablespoons of store-bought hummus in a bowl and add a drizzle of olive oil, a little lemon juice, dijon, and water, then pour it over roasted vegetables with some greens or lettuce.

Green Chef, of course, gets saucy for you, delivering ready-batched ingredients for dressings like the vegan chipotle-lime aïoli that gives their Baja California Bowls a tangy-smoky kick.

Above all, says Kat, when planning out your meals, “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to feel like just because you’re eating plant-based, that means you need to be ‘extra’—it’s not needed.”



Do you have any tricks for adding more vegan or vegetarian meals to your weekly routine? Tell us in the comments!

Green Chef offer only valid for new Green Chef customers with qualifying auto-renewing subscription purchase. Take 60% off your first box and 20% off your next 8 boxes, including free shipping on the first box. “Free nutrition coaching for life” is based on 1 free nutrition coaching session per month for as long as you order Green Chef at least once every 4 weeks; if your Green Chef subscription is cancelled or you fail to order at least once every 4 weeks, this offer becomes invalid and will not be reinstated upon reactivation. Shipping fee applies on all deliveries after the first box. Not valid on premiums, meal upgrades, add-ons, taxes, or shipping fees. May not be combined with gift cards or any other promotion. No cash value. Void outside the U.S. and where prohibited. Offer cannot be sold or otherwise bartered. Green Chef has the right to end or modify any offer at any time. Additional restrictions may apply. See https://www.greenchef.com/terms for more details.


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