Vegetarian Breakfast or Meal Ideas for Busy People

A friend messaged me few days back: "I need some creative quick meal/lunch bowl recipes. Basically, what a student with lesser than 20 minutes to eat would cook?"

And when I was chatting with my cousin today, she asked me to suggest some "accha naashta fast and tasty".

"Naashta" in Hindi could mean breakfast, or a snack anytime throughout the day, or an appetizer.  The appetizer, in this case, could be quite light or pretty filling - almost like a meal.  My cousin has her hands full with two kids, goes to work, and has a tight schedule, and wanted quick and easy breakfast ideas.  My friend, busy studying for her MBA, has little time to cook.

I think - for busy people, the key to having a peaceful and wholesome breakfast or lunch is to prepare well the night before.  Although Alok and I mostly have just tea, chocolate milk, or milk and cereals for breakfast, these are some of the things I suggested my cousin for good breakfast ideas.  Some of these, I believe, would be helpful for a student or a bachelor to cook in a jiffy.

Note: Some of the suggestions below need planning and prior preparations, so they definitely do not fall in the "quick" category.  They're more of preparations in stages, one portion a day.  But once you're well-prepared, it would probably be a matter of "Meal in 20 Minutes".  The "quick" and "jiffy" part also depends on your speed and how organized you are!


1. Pancakes from readymade mix: Add berries etc after pouring batter on pan. Can mix flax meal in pancake batter for healthier version.  Add buttermilk to the readymade mix for fluffier pancakes.

2. Waffles: IF one has waffle maker at home, can add chocolate chips etc after pouring batter, good to eat with berries and maple syrup.

3. Fried Rice: Benefit of leftover rice from previous night - making fried rice.  Even better if you keep a few chopped vegetables in ziploc bags in your refrigerator for the week.  You can make mixed vegetable fried rice in numerous ways: cooking vegetables along with green chili, salt, and lemon juice, making it a little Asian by adding chili-garlic paste for spice, soy sauce for salt, and vinegar for tang, or any combinations of spices, vegetables, fruits (pineapple, grapes, etc), herbs, etc.  Endless possibilities.  You can make quick Lemon Rice by heating oil, adding mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, curry leaves, green chilies, turmeric powder, adding rice, mixing salt, and finishing with a good amount of lemon juice.

4. Muffins: There are SO many options for muffins and so many combinations. Try banana walnut muffin or blueberry muffin with oatmeal or almonds.  If you have a little more time on hand to make them fresh, prepare muffin batter within 15 minutes, bake for 15 minutes, let cool for 15 minutes then have with milk. Otherwise, prepare muffins the night before and have for breakfast next day.  Muffins last well for 3 days.

5. Stuffed Paratha - Cook your stuffing, make your dough, fill and roll out.  Half-cook stuffed paratha (there are various stuffing options and combinations) the night before.  Cook further and eat hot paratha with curd and pickle next morning for breakfast or lunch.  It's pretty much like cooking a sabji and roti separately.  But if you are not good at making roti (or don't have time), making a stuffed paratha is one option.  If you have roti or can make roti, then rolling sabji and achaar into your roti is another option.

6. Sabudana Khichdi - Soak sabudana overnight (stays well after soaking for even 2-3 days when refrigerated), keep boiled potatoes, chopped cilantro, roasted peanuts, and other ingredients ready the night before.  Make sabudana khichdi for breakfast, lunch, or snack during the day.

7. Masala/Vegetable Idli - You need to have room temperature or cold idli from the previous day.  Chop idli in pieces and cook with vegetables and spices for quick breakfast, lunch, or snack.  Idli cooked today will stay well in room temperature until tomorrow, or for 3 days if refrigerated.  Good to have some extra idlis on hand for a quick snack.

8. Moong Dal Cheela - Soak moong dal in afternoon, make cheela batter by grinding ingredients together the previous night, cook fresh cheela fast in morning, or make cheela rolls with pickle or chutneys and carry in your lunch box to school/work.

9. Sevai (Vermicelli) - Parboil and cut vegetables like carrot, beans, etc the previous night, make quick mixed vegetable sevai for breakfast the next morning.

10. Bread Upma - Just like the idli in # 7, this bread upma is instant breakfast using bread pieces, it's a popular sanjeev kapoor recipe.

11. Bread, Butter, and Cheese - Lightly toast a bagel (if you like it this way), smear a good amount of yummy cream cheese.  Toast slices of bread in a toaster oven along with cheese, make a sandwich.

12. Paneer Sandwich - Prepare a spicy onion, garlic, mashed boiled potato and paneer stuffing the night before, sandwich layer between two breads and toast for breakfast or quick meal - paneer and potato along with carbs in a bread will make this pretty filing.

13. Breakfast Drinks - Make mixed fruit and vegetable juices (oranges, carrots, ginger, celery, beetroot, etc), breakfast smoothies (a mix of apple, banana, strawberries, etc adding variety on different days), and milk shakes for a heavy breakfast.

14. Spinach Mushroom Crepes - Make batter with aata, maida, salt, pepper, and milk.  Cook spinach, mushroom, goat cheese/paneer, and tomatoes in olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Spread thin batter on pan to make crepe, cook on both sides, put spinach-mushroom mixture in center, fold and eat.

15. Idli, Dosa, Uttapam - Needs prior preparation if you soak the rice and lentils for 4 hours and have a sturdy grinder (perhaps not available with a student) to make smooth paste at home and leave overnight for fermentation.  Otherwise batters are available in Indian stores. Batter and sambar and chutneys should be prepared the night before, so that you can cook idli/dosa/uttapam and heat sambar the next morning...breakfast ready in 20 minutes.  A South Indian friend of mine (who goes to work) makes the batter during the week/weekend and refrigerates to use as idli on day 1 and dosa on day 2.  Make extra batter since it can be frozen well, thaw overnight and use in morning.  I would soak the lentils on day 1, grind on day 2, leave for fermenting overnight and cook on day 3.

16. Chana Chaat - Soak chickpeas (the ones used for chhole, or can use the kala chana) overnight and pressure cook beforehand.  I soak and pressure cook 1-2 cups of chickpeas at a time and use over a period of 1 week in salad, chaat, or main course of chhole, etc and also freeze extra if I don't use within a week.  Can sauté onion and boiled potato with spices and mix pressure cooked chickpeas for a heavy chana chaat breakfast or one-bowl lunch, topped with chopped tomatoes and bhujiya or sev.

17. Upma - Keep roasted sooji ready in pantry.  Keep vegetables parboiled and ready the night before.  Have upma with some lemon pickle and bhujiya for breakfast.

18. Poha - Keep boiled potatoes read the night before, cook onion-potato poha for breakfast.  Keep roasted peanuts ready in pantry for poha and for adding to many other dishes.

19. Eggs - Omelette filled with vegetables, french toast (bread dipped in egg and toasted on both sides) with fruits, scrambled eggs with veggies, egg-bread toast (remove center circle from bread, place on pan, drop egg in center, add salt and pepper and toast), etc - IF you eat eggs at home.



What do you like to make for breakfast that's quick, easy, and tasty?  What dishes would you suggest a student or a bachelor to cook within 20 minutes?

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