As is the case every year a lot of people make new resolutions. Often they evolve something like loosing weight. What I did notice is that more and more people will try to eat less meat and try to eat one vegetarian meal a week. Something I’m pleased with. I believe we can help the world more if we all do a little bit instead of just a few people doing a lot. Yet, a lot of people admit they find it difficult because they don’t know what to cook or they think it’s expensive. Yes, if you replace meat with a meat replacement product it might be expensive, but there are a lot of ways you can eat vegetarian/vegan on a smaller budget.

Basics are important

If you want to start cooking more vegetarian/vegan meals it’s important you start with a proper base. Which I do by making a list of all the stuff I believe I need in my house, stuff like beans, rice and pasta, but also cleaning products. I put this list in my pantry and every time I use something from that list I put a cross on the list. Once I month I order the stuff from this list at the supermarket. Yes, it costs me money, but I don’t have to think about how much oatmeal I have left and that I have to buy it since I know I have another packet or two in the pantry. Most of the time I have them delivered at my house, which costs me extra, but also saves me the trouble to having the walk the stairs two or three times. I might use some ‘stranger’ ingredients every now and then, but most of the times I try to use the stuff you might have in stock already. That’s why I believe spices are important when trying a new style of cooking.

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Invest in the most important spices and take one or two hours during a weekend and mix up some spicemixes yourself. This way, when you’re cooking that awesome dish with tofu or that Mexican nacho dish you don’t have to worry about how much paprika powder you need. Nope, just sprinkle on some of those home-mixed spice mixes.

Plan your food

Some people think it’s a lot of trouble to eat healthy food. But that doesn’t have to be the case if you plan your meals for that week. Same goes for that goal to eat vegetarian once a week. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to spend loads of time in the kitchen. All you need to do is invest in your basic (which can involve frozen veggies) and take a little time once a week to make a ‘plan’ with recipes you want to cook that week. Use the deals from your favourite supermarket (who really has the time to visit 4 supermarkets anyways) to come up with meals. With this list you can limit your time in the supermarket and thus the temptations from the fast food section when you’re shopping after work and with a rumbling stomach.

Have a list of go-to-meals

When you’re trying something new, do research to some easy vegetarian/vegan meals and write them down somewhere. You can use a notebook or just use an Word-document or and app like Evernote. This way, when you’re in need of an easy meal, you just grab your notebook/word-file/Evernote and look up the ingredients. When I was new to vegetarian cooking a few years ago this really helped me getting started with vegetarian cooking since I didn’t have to think about what ingredients I needed.

Relax!

Trying out new foods can be quite the challenge, so please relax. Use the weekend or a less busy day to try out those new recipes. What really helped me was taking the ‘non-vegetarian’-meals I used before and replace the meat with a plant-based protein source. So instead of chicken I would use tofu and when a recipe called for pork or beef I would use tempeh. Of course, you can always use black or kidney beans in a Mexican dish or lentils in a Middle Eastern dish.

Need some inspiration for a quick and easy vegan/vegetarian meal, try these recipes: