Featured Author: Anna Pippus

10 strategies for your busy vegan kitchen

Today for Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform, we are going to provide you with strategies shared from animal rights lawyer and cookbook author, Anna Pippus, that will help you manage your busy vegan kitchen! You can follow Anna on Instagram at @easyanimalfree for more great plant-based tips and recipes. We hope you find these strategies helpful, whether you’re just starting the shift to plant-based or you’re well on your way. 

 If you’re interested in learning more after watching this video, you can find great resources on VHS’s PlantUniversity Platform and subscribe to get involved in VHS’s work to help animals, people and the planet

1. Learn to cook.

Being able to cook for ourselves is liberating! It doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy.

Consider checking out cookbooks from the library and watching YouTube videos—not just the food pros, but “what I ate in a week” videos are also great to get a sense of how ordinary people really feed themselves.

2. Get comfortable with leftovers.

Cook more than you need for dinner and eat the leftovers for lunch.

Some foods, like pasta and stir fries, usually need a splash of water when they’re reheated to keep from being too thick or dry.

Leftovers can be repurposed into new meals. For example, rice and beans for dinner can be tacos for lunch; roasted sweet potatoes keep well for 4 to 5 days and help make lunchtime salads filling; and leftover rice is ideal for fried rice.

3. Plan ahead.

If you’re not great at meal planning, instead consider cooking by theme. For example, Mondays are pasta, Tuesdays are bowls, Wednesdays are one-pot meals, and Thursdays are stir fries and other pan-Asian inspired meals. On Fridays you could do something fun like burgers and air-fries, and over the weekends coast on leftovers, have long lazy brunches, and get together with friends and family for meals. Having themes means you have some direction but also some flexibility.

For more ideas on how to organize meals around themes, check out “The Vegan Family Cookbook” by Anna Pippus.  

4. Have some back pocket meals.

For most of us, being prepared 100% of the time is impossible. The hungries will strike and you’ll need a low-effort meal in a hurry!

For lunch, try chickpea crepes, chickpea salad sandwiches or tacos. Or simple favourites like peanut butter and jam toast, with veggies and fruit. Or a big salad with roasted sweet potato and lentils or beans.

For dinners, some quick go-tos could be cashew cream pasta, red lentil curry or rice noodles with tofu.

5. Learn to cook without recipes.

Recipes are a great way to learn a new recipe, and to replicate an old favourite.

But following recipes every day can be exhausting, because it takes more mental effort to read through instructions, using measuring tools means more dishes, and it can feel like a chore rather than a creative expression.

Don’t be afraid to go off-recipe! Use the vegetables that are going bad and the spices you prefer. Skip the ingredient you don’t have, or look up a substitute.

Many meals don’t even require a recipe at all, like stir fries, bowls, and soups. The Vegan Family Cookbook also includes a section on how to make a bowl and soup without recipes. YouTube and instagram are also great resources for this.

6. Stock the pantry.

It’s useful to have a variety of grains, legumes, and flavour enhancers on hand. A few key pantry staples are brown rice, oats, pasta, rice noodles, red and green lentils, pinto beans, chickpeas, coconut milk, soy sauce, jarred tomatoes, a few kinds of vinegar, and tons of herbs and spices.

7. Buy produce that lasts

Consider buying foods like cabbage, carrots, apples, potatoes, onions, frozen berries, and frozen peas. That way even when the fridge is getting bare, you can come up with a fresh meal.

Cabbage is good raw as slaw, in tacos or on bowls, or as a side for burgers. It is also perfect in soups and stir fries, where it’s barely detectable, even by kids.

Frozen peas can be thrown into pasta water in the last five minutes of cooking. Add some cashew cream sauce, and it’s a nearly-instant dinner.

8. Keep it simple.

Consider ways you can make cooking easier – like cutting out multiple steps when one step will do just fine. For example, instead of boiling and then roasting potatoes –  just roast them. The goal is yummy and nutritious, not gourmet.

Over-complicating things is a fast track to overwhelm and burnout.

9. Cook and clean as you go.

Conventional cooking wisdom is that we should prepare all of our ingredients before we start cooking, but a rolling prep strategy can save you time. For example, chop an onion and get it sautéing before prepping the rest of your soup ingredients, or get rice or noodles boiling before making your sauce.

Dishes are easier to clean when food hasn’t had a chance to get stuck onto them. When you have downtime while cooking, this is a great time to clean any prep tools you’re finished with and wipe the counters.

That way, after dinner when you just want to relax and hang out together, you’re not staring down a giant mess. The prospect of a big kitchen mess can deter us from wanting to cook in the first place, so nip this in the bud with a clean-as-you-go approach!

10. Have fun.

Cooking can become genuinely enjoyable and is an opportunity to get creative.

At dinner time, consider playing some beautiful music and make a simple meal. It’s relaxed and enjoyable.

We love these strategies from Anna Pippus and hope you find them helpful in your own kitchen! We encourage you to check out her cookbook, “The Vegan Family Cookbook”, for more plant-based recipe inspiration!

If you’ve found this helpful, please consider sharing it! Don’t forget to subscribe to Vancouver Humane Society’s PlantUniversity Platform to stay updated on new content and to get involved in VHS’s work.