5 Templates for Easy Vegan Dinners

by Kelly - Team Budget Bytes
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The older I get the more I love meals where I can just throw whatever I have into one pot, bowl, or skillet. I’ve noticed that these “easy dinners” usually fall into five distinct categories: stir fries, bowl meals, curries, soups and stews, or salads. It doesn’t matter what ingredients you have on hand or what you happened to get at the farmer’s market or in your CSA that week, you can usually toss just about anything into one of these easy vegan dinners.

And guess what? If you have some family members who are vegan and some that aren’t, it’s super easy to cook a meat on the side and add it to individual portions of any of these meals!

Collage of six easy vegan dinners with title box in the center

Stir Fry

Stir fry is the ultimate use-whatever-you-have meal. All you need is a hot pan, a few handfuls of vegetables or proteins, a simple sauce, and some noodles or rice to spoon to soak up all that delciousness. Ultimately, the stir fry is all about the stir fry sauce. Check out these simple vegan stir fry recipes to explore some different simple stir fry sauces: 

Spicy Coconut Vegetable Stir Fry

A bowl of Spicy Coconut Vegetable Stir Fry ready to be eaten.
This rich and spicy coconut vegetable stir fry is adaptable to whatever vegetables are lingering in your fridge, making it a great sweep the kitchen recipe!
4.80 from 62 votes
$5.93 recipe / $1.48 serving Get the Recipe

Spicy Coconut Vegetable Stir Fry

15-Minute Vegetable Lo Mein

Eating a large plate of Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein
When you need dinner to be fast, easy, and satisfying, this Vegetable Lo Mein is your answer. It's as simple and satisfying as it gets!
4.60 from 20 votes
$6.33 recipe / $3.17 serving Get the Recipe

Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein

Simple Mushroom Broccoli Stir Fry Noodles

With just a few ingredients you can make these easy and delicious Mushroom Broccoli Stir Fry Noodles for a fast weeknight dinner. BudgetBytes.com
With just a few ingredients you can make these easy and delicious Mushroom Broccoli Stir Fry Noodles for a fast weeknight dinner.
4.77 from 51 votes
$6.22 recipe / $1.56 serving Get the Recipe

Simple Mushroom Broccoli Stir Fry Noodles

Pan Fried Sesame Tofu with Broccoli

This Pan Fried Sesame Tofu is seriously crispy and drenched in a tangy sesame sauce. Broccoli florets and cooked rice make it a meal.
4.72 from 157 votes
$5.52 recipe / $1.84 serving Get the Recipe

Pan Fried Sesame Tofu with Broccoli

SNAP Challenge: Vegetable Stir Fry with Noodles

Vegetable Stir Fry Noodle Bowls - Budget Bytes
This colorful vegetable stir fry with noodles is packed with vegetables and drenched in a salty sweet sauce. Fast, easy, and customizable.
4.90 from 39 votes
$4.46 recipe / $0.74 serving Get the Recipe

Vegetable Stir Fry with Noodles

 

Bowl Meals

The “bowl meal” formula is easy. Base (grain or greens) + protein + vegetable(s) + sauce. Every bowl is a complete meal, no need to plan side dishes. And an added bonus: bowl meals are great for meal prepping, so tomorrow’s lunch is covered! Here are some of my favorite vegan bowl meals:

Sweet Chili Stir Fried Tofu Bowls

Sweet Chili Tofu Bowls are an easy, fresh, and flavorful vegan weeknight dinner, packed with vibrant colors and flavors. Perfect for meal prep!
4.64 from 25 votes
$7.15 recipe / $1.79 serving Get the Recipe

Sweet Chili Tofu Bowls

Coconut Jerk Peas with Pineapple Salsa

These rich and spicy Coconut Jerk Peas are super simple to make and pair brilliantly with a sweet and vibrant pineapple salsa. BudgetBytes.com
These rich and spicy Coconut Jerk Peas are super simple to make and pair brilliantly with a sweet and vibrant pineapple salsa. 
4.94 from 32 votes
$7.80 recipe / $1.95 serving Get the Recipe

Coconut Jerk Peas with Pineapple Salsa

Sesame Tempeh Bowls

Sesame Tempeh Bowls being eaten with chopsticks
These Sesame Tempeh Bowls are a great vegan alternative to sesame chicken and only take about 20 minutes to make. An easy fast vegan meal prep! 
4.82 from 33 votes
$6.74 recipe / $1.69 serving Get the Recipe

Sesame Tempeh Bowls

Broiled Balsamic Vegetables with Lemon Parsley Rice

Broiled balsamic vegetables top a vibrant and fresh lemon parsley rice to make this light and healthy dish. Works great as a side or a light meal. 
4.89 from 26 votes
$9.12 recipe / $2.28 serving Get the Recipe

Broiled Balsamic Vegetables with Lemon Parsley Rice

Soy Marinated Tofu Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

These vegan Soy Marinated Tofu Bowls are full of rich flavors and plenty of texture to keep your taste buds happy and your belly full. BudgetBytes.com
These vegan Soy Marinated Tofu Bowls are full of rich flavors and plenty of texture to keep your taste buds happy and your belly full. 
4.89 from 43 votes
$7.26 recipe / $1.82 serving Get the Recipe

Soy Marinated Tofu Bowls

Chili Garlic Tofu Bowls

Chili Garlic Tofu Bowls are a fiber and flavor filled healthy lunch that you can pre-pack for your week ahead
4.98 from 42 votes
$5.72 recipe / $1.43 serving Get the Recipe

Chili Garlic Tofu Bowls

Sweet Potato Grain Bowls with Green Tahini Sauce

These Sweet Potato Grain Bowls with Green Tahini Sauce are prefect for meal prep and bursting with color, texture, and flavor! BudgetBytes.com
These Sweet Potato Grain Bowls with Green Tahini Sauce are prefect for meal prep and bursting with color, texture, and flavor!
4.63 from 32 votes
$8.65 recipe / $2.16 serving Get the Recipe

Sweet Potato Grain Bowls with Green Tahini Sauce

 

Curry

Curries are another “it’s all about the sauce” meal. As long as you have a delicious curry sauce, you can pour it over any vegetable or protein and your meal is going to be awesome. I like to make my curries with either a tomato based sauce or a creamy coconut based sauce. Both varieties are super easy, flavorful, and versatile! Try these simple vegan curries:

Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils with Spinach

A hand dipping a piece of naan into the Creamy Coconut Curried Lentils with Spinach on a plate with curry roasted carrots
These rich, creamy, and earthy Coconut Curry Lentils are an easy and delicious vegan option for dinner or weekly meal prep!
4.97 from 94 votes
$6.29 recipe / $1.57 serving Get the Recipe

Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils with Spinach

Curried Chickpeas with Spinach

These super fast Curried Chickpeas with spinach are packed with flavor and nutrients, vegan, gluten-free, and filling! Plus they freeze great! BudgetBytes.com
These super fast Curried Chickpeas with spinach are packed with flavor and nutrients, vegan, gluten-free, and filling! Plus they freeze great!
4.74 from 146 votes
$4.68 recipe / $1.17 serving Get the Recipe

Curried Chickpeas with Spinach

Chana Saag Curry

Two bowls of chana saag with rice, next to the skillet and a piece of torn naan
Chana saag is a creamy chickpea and spinach curry that comes together quickly, is full of warm spices, filling, and vegan! Perfect for meal prep!
4.60 from 66 votes
$7.67 recipe / $1.28 serving Get the Recipe

Chana Saag – Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils are an easy, hands-off, fiber filled, freezer friendly vegan dinner. 
4.73 from 123 votes
$9.86 recipe / $0.99 serving Get the Recipe

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils

 

Salad

Salads aren’t just for side dishes! Pile ’em high with lots of vegetables and whatever protein you prefer, and you’ve got a filling meal with more color, flavor, and texture than most people get in one day. Get creative with your salad greens, too. In addition to the traditional mixed greens, spinach, or Romaine, you can also build a great salad on kale, cabbage, or parsley. Beef up your salad by adding a grain or a handful of nuts for extra filling power. Try these meal-worthy vegan salads: 

Roasted Vegetable Salad Meal Prep

Four glass containers with Roasted Vegetable Salad and three dressing containers
These Roasted Vegetable Salad Meal Prep boxes are an easy, no-reheat, plan-ahead lunch option that will help you get your daily vegetables!
4.96 from 21 votes
$11.62 recipe / $2.91 serving Get the Recipe

Roasted Vegetable Salad Meal Prep

Lemony Artichoke and Quinoa Salad

Overhead view of Lemony Artichoke and Quinoa Salad in a bowl with lemon wedges and a fork.
This Lemony Artichoke and Quinoa Salad is a light and refreshing summer salad that holds up well in the refrigerator and is perfect for meal prep!
4.97 from 55 votes
$6.74 recipe / $1.69 serving Get the Recipe

Lemony Artichoke and Quinoa Salad

Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

Peanut Lime Dressing being poured onto a bowl of Cold Peanut Noodle Salad
This Cold Peanut Noodle Salad with homemade peanut lime dressing is the perfect meal prep for summer! No reheating necessary.
4.91 from 85 votes
$5.30 recipe / $1.33 serving Get the Recipe

Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

This Roasted Cauliflower Salad combines sweet roasted red onions, spiced chickpeas, tender cauliflower, and a tangy lemon tahini dressing. BudgetBytes.com
This Roasted Cauliflower Salad combines sweet roasted red onions, spiced chickpeas, tender cauliflower, and a tangy lemon tahini dressing.
4.90 from 163 votes
$6.99 recipe / $1.75 serving Get the Recipe

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Apple Dijon Kale Salad

This Apple Dijon Kale Salad is tangy, sweet, and crunchy with Granny Smith apples, walnuts, raisins, and a homemade Dijon vinaigrette. BudgetBytes.com
This Apple Dijon Kale Salad is tangy, sweet, and crunchy with Granny Smith apples, walnuts, raisins, and a homemade Dijon vinaigrette.
4.89 from 36 votes
$5.53 recipe / $1.38 serving Get the Recipe

Apple Dijon Kale Salad

Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

A bowl of Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad on a teal napkin.
This Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad holds up well in the refrigerator for days, making it perfect for meal prep or brown bagging your lunch. 
4.90 from 38 votes
$8.47 recipe / $1.41 serving Get the Recipe

Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

 

Soup & Stew

Soups and stews are the cold-weather counterpart to my big ol’ summer salads. They’re always very quick and easy to make, they don’t require any difficult cooking skills, and they are so flexible. Plus, because they’re usually large-batch recipes, they’re great for busy people. Soups and stews make great leftovers and often freeze well. So if you’re a busy bee but want to still eat meals full of flavor and texture, check out some of these vegan soups and stews:

Vegetable Barley Soup

Overhead view of a pot full of vegetable barley soup with bread on the side
Loaded with colorful vegetables and filling pearled barley, this Vegetable Barley Soup is a healthy, freezer-friendly staple recipe for winter!
4.79 from 57 votes
$6.67 recipe / $1.11 serving Get the Recipe

Vegetable Barley Soup 

Vegan Peanut Stew

A hand scooping up a spoonful of Vegan West African Peanut Stew with Rice
With a rich peanut and tomato sauce, sweet potatoes, collard greens, and crunchy peanuts, this Vegan Peanut Stew is comfort in a bowl! 
4.87 from 213 votes
$6.38 recipe / $1.06 serving Get the Recipe

Vean Peanut Stew

Secret Ingredient Tomato Soup

Overhead view of secret ingredient tomato soup in a white bowl with black rim, and a black spoon.
This super thick, warm, and comforting tomato soup has two secret ingredients that make it rich and delicious without any dairy. 100% vegan!
Get the Recipe

Secret Ingredient Tomato Soup

Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen

Close up overhead view of a bowl full of vegan creamy mushroom ramen with chopsticks lifting some noodles
This incredibly simple Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen is a rich and flavorful 15 minute meal that only requires a handful of ingredients! 
4.87 from 125 votes
$2.75 per serving Get the Recipe

Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen

Easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup

A bowl of Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup with two pieces of toasted bread and a black spoon in the middle.
This incredibly easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup takes only eight simple ingredients to deliver a bowl full of rich, bold flavor.
4.79 from 123 votes
$2.49 recipe / $0.62 serving Get the Recipe

Easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup

Vegan Winter Lentil Stew

A rich and hearty medley of vegetables, lentils, and herbs makes this freezer-friendly Vegan Winter Lentil Stew the perfect cold-weather comfort food. Budgetbytes.com
A rich and hearty medley of vegetables, lentils, and herbs makes this freezer-friendly Vegan Winter Lentil Stew the perfect cold-weather comfort food. 
4.90 from 178 votes
$5.08 recipe / $0.64 serving Get the Recipe

Vegan Winter Lentil Stew

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili

This Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili makes a huge batch, is packed with flavor and nutrients, and can be made for only about 5 dollars! Budgetbytes.com
This Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili makes a huge batch, is packed with flavor and nutrients, and can be made for only about 5 dollars! 
4.90 from 84 votes
$4.64 recipe / $0.77 serving Get the Recipe

Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetarian Chili

Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup

This Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup is packed with hearty flavor, texture, and good-for-you vegetables! 
4.92 from 147 votes
$5.24 recipe / $0.52 serving Get the Recipe

Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup

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  1. My family has been using your website for a few years now and it’s our favorite! You have listed several of our go to meals in this list. I have to mention that our 8 year old also loves all the recipes we make from your site. Being vegan can be a challenge but your recipes make it fun, affordable, easy to make, and excellent for leftovers! Keep up the great work.

  2. Thank you so much for putting this kind of list together! I deeply appreciate how accommodating you are towards vegans. I’ve been vegan for a while now (4+ years) so I have figured out what works for me, but it’s neat to see how a lot of the “templates” you have here are similar to the types of go-to meals I keep in my back pocket.

  3. Great collection! Many of these delicious recipes have appeared at least several times on my table, and we are neither vegan nor vegetarian. Dedicated carnivores can add various animal proteins to most of these recipes, but my family likes them just as they are. This is a terrific guide–how to eat both cheap and healthy, while never sacrificing taste.

  4. I’m very creative in the kitchen and lately I’ve been eating mostly plant based. I need a few easy go-tos for weeks that are busy and that doesn’t require a lot of planning and food prep. I just loved this post! Each and every dish looks easy and inviting and exactly the kind of variety that is delicious on hand. I find a lot of simple recipes are kind of boring since I like to have fun with my flavors and these combinations are the exact opposite. Thanks so much! I’m glad you showed up in a feed for me and I look forward to exploring the rest of your site. All good wishes ✨

  5. About 90% of my meals fall into one of these categories – I find it so time-consuming to cook multiple dishes and have all those pots to wash, not to mention the stress of getting everything to finish at the same time. The most diverse my meals get are a soup or stirfry with some rice on the side. Plus a lot of these make big batches so I have leftovers for days, perfect for those busy weeknights.

    1. Thank you for this compilation. I have been making most of them except the lentil recipes. Going to try them soon!