I’m sure I speak for most when I say that lockdown is starting to get to me. It’s the unease of not knowing what the future holds, the struggle to focus in a period of crisis, and the Groundhog Day relentlessness of it all. At least I can get some sense of normalcy by planning our weeknight meals in lockdown!
I’m in the fortunate position that I’m still working, though remotely, and my daily tasks are somewhat consistent with what they would usually be during Trinity Term (exam season) at Oxford. This means that, although I do have more down-time to spend in the garden etc., I don’t have all day to prepare elaborate meals and even if I did, I’m not inspired to cook time-consuming, complicated dishes. Moreover, I’m finding weekly meal planning more difficult as I can’t go do the grocery shopping with Lucy (one adult per family is permitted in the supermarkets), and I’m never quite sure what they will have in stock.
Despite the pandemic, our weeknight meals have remained similar the past couple of months: these are go-to recipes we eat most weeks, and ingredients that are usually available. If you’re looking for easy vegan/vegetarian meal options for weeknights in quarantine, then I hope you find this post helpful!
For more weeknight meal ideas see: Easy Homemade Weeknight Meals
Monday: Sheet Pan Fajitas
We have “Mexican” food once a week, be it fajitas, chili, burritos, or nachos. My go-to fajitas recipe is one done on a cookie sheet. It’s fast, minimal dishes, and extremely delicious.
- 1 block of halloumi cheese. I use lactose-free , but you could go for regular, or a vegan alternative
- chopped bell peppers
- BBQ sauce
- olive oil
- Optional extras: courgette, corn, mushroom, avocado for garnish, sour cream/yogurt for garnish
- Wholemeal tortilla wraps
Simply bake at 180ºC fan for 10 minutes, toss, and bake for a further 10 minutes, then roll into wraps. DONE!
Tuesday: General Tso’s Chickpea Stir Fry
We have chickpeas about once a week, and I tried a new recipe which includes a sticky-sweet-and-sour stir fry with peppers, broccoli, and chickpeas. The recipe is from Healthy Gluten Free Family.
Wednesday: Lebanese Salad Mezze
We have Lebanese-style food about once a month, usually falafels and tabbouleh. This week I made, mix-and-bake packaged falafels, a tomato-based bulgur salad called Kisir, and a delicious spinach salad.
Spinach Salad Ingredients:
- Spinach Leaves
- Chopped beetroot
- Crumbled lactose-free feta
- Balsamic Dressing (1/4 cup olive oil, 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar, 1tbsp. maple syrup – shake and store leftovers in fridge)
Thursday: Nadiya’s Egg Rolls
I like to try a new recipe each week. Nadiya Hussain won Bake Off a few years ago and now has her own cooking show (on Netflix) called Nadiya’s Time to Eat. I made these omelette style wraps following her recipe except that I used feta to stick the wrap to the eggs (instead of tomato paste), omitted the olives since I had salty feta, and made one standard size wrap for each of us. They are DELICIOUS!
Friday: Lentil Rosemary Stew with Polenta
I created this dish last winter when we had just moved into our new house and had very little in the cupboard apart from red lentils and polenta, and a huge rosemary bush in the garden. It’s warming, savory, creamy, and oh-so-satisfying. Plus, its ready in under half an hour.
- Clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 shallot
- 1 cup pasata (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
- 1/3 cup red lentils
- 1 carrot, chopped
- water as needed
- 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- Optional: spring greens, kale, spinach, courgette
In a frying pan, fry your onion, shallot, and garlic and then add the carrot, courgette, lentils, pasata, and seasonings. Cook on medium-low heat adding water as necessary until the lentils and carrots are cooked. It should be a rich, stew consistency. Add any greens towards the end.
I make polenta by adding a 1:4 ratio of polenta to boiling water, whisking well (1/2 cup polenta serves 2). Reduce to minimum and cover so it doesn’t splatter. Once thick (a few minutes) add a knob of butter or spread to make it creamy.
There you have it, five easy weeknight vegetarian (or easily made plant-based) meals that you can make in under 30 minutes!