- I’ve been vegan for over two years, so I’ve learned a few cooking tips and tricks along the way.
- Making vegetable broth on my own saves money and is a handy way to use up leftover kitchen scraps.
- Simple, easy-to-make recipes like a vegetable salad with herbs and dressing are staples for me.
As someone who’s been vegan since January 2020, I’ve picked up a few kitchen tips and tricks along the way to make this diet easy, delicious, and super accessible.
Before I went fully vegan, I was a vegetarian for almost my entire life. So for me, the transition from longtime vegetarian to full-blown vegan wasn’t all that hard since there was very little that I was actually giving up.
But I know this isn’t the case for everyone, so, whether you follow this diet or are just curious, here are some vegan-cooking tricks 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 keep kitchen waste to a minimum and give a second life to scraps. It also saves me money since I don’t have to buy broth at the store.
The most commonly recommended vegetables to make 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 because they can make the broth starchy, but I’ve added skins before and it was fine.
I like to amp it up a little bit by adding whatever vegetables I use in my everyday cooking to my broth. My typical broth contains garlic, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, carrots, parsley stems, cabbage, mushrooms, cayennes, jalapeños, and whatever else I may be using at the time.
Instead of letting my broth simmer on the stovetop like most recipes instruct, I’ve found that I can get a lot more flavor by using a slow cooker. I usually leave my scraps in the slow cooker for four to six hours, and then let the broth sit overnight in the fridge with the pieces of vegetables still in it to ensure I get the most flavor.
In the morning, I drain the scraps and store the broth in airtight mason jars. This leaves me with a dark, beautiful, amber-colored vegetable broth that’s jam-packed with flavor and can stay good in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Prepare your garlic in advance for weeknight cooking
The best thing I’ve ever done for my future self is to make sure that 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 cooking and use garlic in pretty much everything, but one of my kitchen nightmares is peeling the ingredient since it’s such a tedious task that can take up a lot of time.
So I started preparing my garlic in bulk before the week and it has saved me so much time while cooking.
I like to use a small food processor to chop peeled garlic cloves into fine 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-make meals
One of the biggest things that deters people from trying a
is believing that the food has to be super complex, but some of the most delicious things I make are the least complicated.
One of my go-to meals is a tomato-cucumber salad that is incredibly simple, really flavorful, and cheap to make.
I combine diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, olives, and a can of rinsed chickpeas in a bowl. I add the juice of one or two lemons and incorporate my desired seasonings — I like salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, sage, dried basil, and Tajin — which combine with the juices of the vegetables to make a beautiful and flavorful dressing.
You can also season according to your personal preference or what you have available. This recipe will work even with simple salt and pepper.
You can also amp this recipe up by swapping the black olives for kalamata, adding avocado, and sprinkling on vegan feta — I like the kind from Follow Your Heart.
Remember that a balanced diet includes some carbohydrates
I like to embrace carbohydrates as part of a healthy and balanced diet that practices moderation as a means to regulate nourishment.
Since many vegan diets are extremely plant-heavy, I think it’s OK to add vegetables to a dish with some carbs. This can help to keep you fuller for longer and will also provide some carbohydrate-fueled energy.
If you don’t know what to pair your vegetables with, pick a type of rice, noodle, or pasta to have a filling plant-based dish.
Ingredients like brown rice and noodles can be relatively cheap, so depending on where you live and buy them, this option can be used for an easy go-to dish for people who want to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet on a budget.
Tofu is a culinary chameleon that’s far from boring
I think there’s an unreasonable amount of people who believe tofu is bland simply because they don’t know how to properly cook it.
Tofu is a blank canvas just as many other proteins are. If you wouldn’t cook chicken, eggs, or steak without any seasoning or preparation, why would you do that to tofu?
Tofu is almost limitlessly versatile, and with just a few different seasoning, marinating, and cooking techniques, it can be transformed into egg-like scrambles, tuna-like mashes, chicken-like nuggets, or simply flavorful, texture-rich bites.