What we’re eating this week: easy low waste vegan family dinners


Our shopping is almost back to pre-pandemic days in terms of packaging – yee haw!  We’re still getting a few packaged goods in paper & cans.  We’ve pretty much avoided plastic for plastic-free July this year :)!

We’re using these new tags on the bags too so we can write down the PLU#.  LIFE.CHANGING.  You can get a tag on a bag if you want to order No Trace veggie bags HERE.

These meals are SIMPLE, VEGAN, LOW WASTE, & FAMILY FRIENDLY.  If you’re looking for gourmet vegan, you’ve come to the wrong place ;).


So here’s what we’re eating:

  • Vegan chili with beans & TVP.  First soak black beans in water, and pintos & kidneys in separate water.  You can cook the pinto & kidney beans together, & black beans on their own so they don’t overcook.  In a big soup pot, sauté onions, carrots, celery. Add lots of chili spices.  After a little sauté, add the beans, some canned tomatoes, small TVP granules & veggie broth.  Cook another 20 minutes, then season to taste.  We ate it with avocado chunks & croutons on top – so yummy!


  • Red lentil soup with fresh corn, carrots, onions & rice, toast.  This is an old standby in our house. I’ve written the recipe HERE.  The only difference this time is that I added fresh corn to the soup just before we sat down to eat.  We love to pair it with rice or toast, plus roasted cauliflower.


  • Broccoli stir fry with large TVP chunks & brown rice.  This is perfect for using up whatever veggies are still in your fridge.  Sauté onions, carrots, & celery.  Add broccoli and any other faster cooking veggies.  Add greens like chard or kale at the very end. Cook until all the veggies are just tender.  Cook the TVP separately.  Shred purple cabbage.  Make a simple teriyaki-style sauce with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar (or any sweetener), sesame oil, onion powder, & ginger (fresh or powdered).  Then toss the cooked veggies & cooked TVP in a large bowl with the teriyaki-style sauce.  Top with shredded cabbage & sesame seeds. Delicious and fast.


  • Pasta with ratatouille.  Takes a little more time, but so worth it. Slice thin slices of zucchini & yellow squash, mushrooms, & eggplant.  Toss each type of veggie in a little olive oil, salt, & pepper, keeping all the veggies separate.  Pour a little crushed tomatoes to coat the bottom of the pan.  Then create a ring of veggies, alternating the types of veggies, to get a rainbow look.  Keep going around, towards the center, until you fill the entire bottom of the pan. Bake for about 45 minutes on 375F, until the veggies are cooked all the way through.

  • Easy vegan mac n’ cheese.  Super easy last minute meal.  I like Nora Cooks Vegan recipe here for an easy cashew cheese sauce.  Pour it over cooked pasta & you’re done.  You can dress it up with bread crumbs or chopped parsley on top if you’re feeling fancy.  We usually serve it with roasted veggies on the side.  It’s perfect for next day school lunches too.


Each of these meals comes together with very little packaging. or in paper/cans/glass (NO PLASTIC!).  We get most of these ingredients from the bulk bins & fresh produce aisle.  Staff of Life & New Leaf in Santa Cruz have most of these dry goods in bulk bins.


What are your go-to low waste meals?  Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading!



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Low waste vegan meal plan:

What we’re eating for dinner this week.


The coronavirus has hampered our low waste/zero waste efforts in this week’s shopping trip. We tossed our veggies straight into our shopping cart instead of using plastic bags.


All our bulk goods had to go into paper bags or we had to buy packaged.  


Fruits & veggies for the week (or longer) in bags: tomatoes, brussel sprouts, and mushrooms.  

Bulk goods: coffee beans, dried mangos, walnuts, red lentils, cashews, instant beans, chia chunks/snacks, almonds, nutritional yeast.

Packaged goodies: bread in paper, toothpaste, rice dream, massive bag of brown rice, pasta in paper boxes, bread flour, pickles, veganaise, earth balance, popcorn kernels in plastic, cereal, soy sauce, wine, olive oil, honey, coconut milk, canned tomatoes, veg broth, & olive oil.  

Plus some canned foods for our outside supply.

Here’s our meal plan for week:

  1. Spaghetti with tomato sauce, texturized veggie protein (TVP), and either roasted or sauteed veggies.  We usually use canned tomatoes with a few dried herbs, maybe some sauteed onions, as the pasta sauce. Plus TVP for some protein.  When I roast veggies, I usually toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and spices (whatever suits my fancy) and then cook them at 425F for about 30 minutes, stirring them halfway through.
  2. Tacos with home cooked pintos from the pressure cooker.  We soak the pintos overnight, then drain and rinse them. Toss them in the pressure cooker with chopped onions, cumin, salt, and bay leaves.  Cook for 30 minutes to an hour. Homemade salsa is just cilantro, onions, jalapeño, tomatoes, lemon juice and salt. Shredded cabbage tossed in lemon juice or in veganaise.  Simple guacamole of avocado, salt, and lemon juice. 
  3. Vegan mac n cheese with cashew cheese (check out Nora Cooks Vegan for recipes!), brussel sprout salad (my new fav).  I make a honey mustard dressing and toss shredded brussel sprouts, chopped almonds, and chopped dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, dried cherries, or dried persimmons.
  4. Red lentil soup with toast and a green salad.  We add onions, spices, and a little lemon juice to the soup.  Mmmm yum!
  5. Homemade pizza (I like Bobby Flay’s dough recipe) with cashew cheese (same Nora Cooks Vegan recipe as for mac n cheese) and sauteed veggies (I love mushrooms, onions, and sweet peppers on top) and olives; green salad.


And I’ve got a few food storage tips for you in case you’re buying in bigger quantities right now:


  1. Store your carrots in water to keep them fresher for longer.  Change the water every few days – pour it on your garden :).
  2. Clean your greens when you bring them home.  Then store them in a cloth bag in the fridge.  A little dampness helps keep them fresh.  
  3. Mushrooms last way longer in a cloth or paper bag than plastic.
  4. Clean and dry/spin your fresh herbs and store them in a cloth bag to keep them fresh and breathing.
  5. Nuts keep best in the freezer.  We put ours in jars in the freezer.  
  6. Fresh nut butters keep great in the fridge but if you go through them fast, you can also store them in your cupboards.
  7. If you have extra room in your fridge – keep extra fruit in there instead of on the counter.
  8. Try pickling your veggies with a quick pickle recipe.  If you haven’t seen Portlandia’s “We can pickle that!”, drop what you’re doing and watch it now ;).  We’ve pickled carrots, cabbage, & beets. Other crunchy veggies like cucumbers (duh) and cauliflower would be delish! 


There’s our week of low waste vegan meal planning!  Are you getting into meal planning? Any tips or suggestions for me?


Thanks for reading and for all that you do for the earth.