Shortcuts for vegetarian cooking
Preparation & shopping
Convenience foods – Keep on hand some instant food items such as veggie burgers, hot dogs, cans of baked beans, chili and vegetarian soups. These can be used as a basis for a larger meal. Just add extra vegetables or grains.
Buy in bulk - It’s usually cheaper and you buy only what you need and can store.
Seasoning mixes – Using concentrated seasoning mixes can spice up your meals and save several steps when preparing a recipe. Try the following: vegetable bouillon stock cubes, natural soy sauce, Indian
curry paste, Thai green curry paste, hot sauce (harissa, tabasco or chili sauce), miso (as soup base), salsas, chutneys, mustards, etc.
Canned help – Canned beans, chick-peas, tomatoes, and other vegetables will save you cooking these items from scratch.
Glass containers – Put grains, beans, flour, etc. in clear containers, so you can see at a glance what you have on hand.
Don’t forget the leftovers – Check your refrigerator and cupboards for left over fresh vegetables to make into a weekly soup or quick stew.
Be prepared – Bring out all the necessary ingredients for your recipe before you start. This saves timeand steps. Also try to plan ahead when shopping.
Make extra! – Leftovers can be stored in the fridge or frozen in individual servings for quick future meals. Cook a large pot of brown rice at the beginning of the week and reheat portions as needed by steaming, microwaving, or stir-frying.
Be simple – There is no need to always use a dozen different ingredients. Some of the best meals are
combinations of one or two veggies, a grain or rice, and a little seasoning.
Don’t over chop – There is a tendency for enthusiastic beginner cooks to chop everything into tiny pieces. For most recipes it is preferable to have large bite-sized pieces.
Use a garlic press – Inexpensive hand held garlic presses will instantly convert a clove of garlic to a pulp.
Steaming – Any vegetable that you would normally boil, including potatoes and corn-on-the-cob, can be steamed. It is much faster because you don’t have to wait long for a pot of water to come to a boil.
Steaming also saves energy.
Microwaving – Zapping vegetables keeps them nutritious and crisp and you avoid heating up the kitchen on hot days.
Cooling food quickly – Place pot, pan or bowl containing hot food in a larger container or sink full of cold water. The heat quickly conducts out of the food and into the water. Don’t try this with very hot food in a glass container. Cooling hot foods in the refrigerator or freezer wastes energy and actually takes much longer than water cooling.
Fast grains and pasta – Use grains and pasta that cook fast such as couscous (three minutes) and thin noodles (8 minutes), and bulgur and kasha which take about 10–15 minutes. White rice and quinoa take 20 minutes.
Quick rice – Automatic rice cookers with a timer will have hot cooked rice waiting for you after a long
day at work.
Instant ramen noodle soup packages – Whole wheat varieties are sold at health food stores or you can buy the really cheap ‘three for a dollar’ ramen packages imported from Asia – the kind that say simulated beef or shrimp flavour. There is no real meat in most of them but discard the MSG–laced flavouring pack anyway. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add quick cooking vegetables such as diced green onions, carrot slivers and watercress. Add instant noodles. Voila it’s ready in three minutes. Stir in miso at end.
Pizza pita – Instead of using pizza dough, try pita bread for your pizza crust. Put your toppings on the pita bread and heat in oven as usual.
Putting your freezer to good use
• Cook extra beans and rice or other grains and freeze in portions. Always label containers to be frozen
with name of contents and date.
• Don’t freeze cooked red potatoes. Only the white or russet varieties keep their shape once thawed.
• Frozen cooked rice can be microwaved hot in 2-3 minutes.
• Uncooked pastry freezes well, so when making fruit or savoury pies make extra and freeze. Bake in a
hot oven directly from the freezer.
• When you cook lasagna, stews, casseroles and lentil or veggie bakes, make extra portions and freeze
them. Defrost in the microwave for a no-hassle dinner after a hard day’s work.
• Keep supermarket packs of broccoli and carrots in the freezer and microwave ready in eight minutes.
• Freeze fresh or cooked pasta and drop it into boiling water for a quick meal.
• Make sure there’s always an uncooked vegan entrée in the freezer (such as tofu lasagna) for those
This article is from TVA’s Vegetarian Tastes of Toronto
We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled.
The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over
and let the beautiful stuff out. - Ray Bradbury
Posts by members, moderators and admins are not considered medical advice and no guarantee is made against accuracy. Please see your physician before taking advice found on the internet.