My basic meal formula

Posted by:Lindsay S. Nixon

Thank you sooo much for sharing with me what your favorite sauce is!!

I was surprised by the results! If you’re curious like me and want to know which sauces were the most popular, I’ll be posting the results on Facebook later today :0)

QUICK RECAP: I’m sharing with you my “secret ingredient” to my success as a recipe developer. Yesterday I revealed the power of sauces and how the right sauce can transform a can of beans, rice from the freezer, and whatever vegetable(s) you have into a meal that feels pulled together and not a plate of “whatever”. After writing 5 cookbooks, 328 vegan meal plans for Meal Mentor, and over 5,000 recipes (!!) I am certain that the term “secret sauce” is true in more ways than one.

Today I’m going to share with you my BASIC MEAL FORMULA with 10 super easy meal examples using the formula so you can see exactly how to use it.

By the end of this blog post, you will know exactly how I use sauces to make meals easy and delicious, so you can do the same in your kitchen!

This is an awesome opportunity to learn how to cook more “intuitively” without a recipe and make a delicious and satisfying meal out of whatever you have on hand.

You won’t be ordering out tonight!!!

BUUUT first, a confession:

I could eat beans and rice with a side of broccoli or kale, sure. I get that “food is fuel” and that those healthy things are a meal… but anytime I do that, it feels like I’m missing something…

... Before I know it my head is in the fridge or pantry looking for that missing thing.

(aaaaand usually I end up eating chocolate chips or something sugary trying to find that missing satisfaction, blerg.)

WHEN I USE A SAUCE? That doesn’t happen! I am 100% satisfied. The flavor of the sauce, the visual of it, the way it becomes a “glue” that brings everything together into a cohesive dish? That does something for me.

It makes me feel like I actually cooked and cared for myself rather than eat “whatever.”

With a sauce or dressing added on top I magically enjoy the food so much more (vs. feel like I ate unexciting random lame things boo hoo).

For whatever reason, I always end up feeling far more satiated and satisfied if I add a sauce…in other words, I don’t go looking for “more” or that “missing thing.”

I need to science this out a bit more, but so far I have seen research that supports my experiences!

What this means for you:

If you often feel like you need dessert or something sweet to top your meal off, or you eat food but then go looking for something else because you feel like something is missing, adding a sauce or dressing on top will help solve that problem for you.

Bottom Line: I’ve written close to 5,000 recipes at this point in my career and I’m still shocked at how a quick whisk-it-together sauce transforms “random ingredients” into a real, satisfying MEAL. The sauce acts as a “glue” that increases our enjoyment and satisfaction with a meal, plus it excites us with more color, texture, and flavor.

FINALLY, as promised :0)

Here is exactly what I do when creating a meal or recipe:


Protein + satiating starch + non-starchy vegetable + sauce

Here’s the formula in vegan terms:

Beans, lentils or tofu + grain (or potato) + other vegetable + sauce

10 super basic examples of the formula:

  1. Black beans + rice + corn + salsa
  2. White beans + pasta + broccoli + marinara sauce
  3. Tofu + rice + stir-fry vegetables + teriyaki sauce
  4. Peas + potatoes + cauliflower + curry sauce
  5. Pinto beans + pasta + green chilis + vegan queso
  6. Edamame + sweet potato + cabbage + peanut sauce
  7. Hummus + bread + roasted red pepper + Dijon mustard
  8. Refried beans + corn tortillas + spinach + enchilada sauce
  9. Black beans + quinoa + tomatoes + barbecue sauce
  10. Chickpeas + pasta + diced peppers + Italian dressing

Using store-bought salsas, dressings, and other sauces is easy and very helpful when you’re starting out, pressed for time, or don’t want to think.

Plug and play with my formula!

(Big Mac Potatoes, Enchilada Polenta Bowls, Basil Bean Pesto, Sriracha Lime Cauliflower Tacos, Jerk Chickpeas, Korean BBQ Sliders)

Admittedly, I have a list of 122 sauces and 69 oil-free salad dressing recipes that I call upon to bring my meals together.

I told you I was obsessed with sauces ;)

Seriously though, that list is HOW I write recipes and bring meals together in minutes during the week (especially when I haven’t been to the store and don’t feel like going!)

They’re all easy, whisk together and go (okay, so a few of the gravies and “cheese” sauces do need heating but most don’t!).

I’m always (always!) amazed how taking another minute or so to whip up a sauce transforms my ingredients into a real MEAL.

Plus they all use ingredients I always have on hand anyway like herbs, spices, vinegar, almond or soy milk, hot sauce, mustard, etc.

If you’re thinking “I want that list!” don’t worry it is coming :)

Now, you might be thinking:

“Your compilation of sauces and oil-free dressing recipes would be great Lindsay, except I’d don’t know what flavors go with what.”

I completely understand and am going to explain ALLLL of that.

You will know EXACTLY what beans, lentils (or tofu), vegetables, and grains go with every sauce or dressing, making my Basic Meal Formula even easier.

TOMORROW I’m going to share my universal “mmm mmm” sauce with you. When in doubt, this is the sauce I turn to. It works with EVERYTHING and can be tweaked into a million other variations. I can’t wait to share it with you <3

Remember yesterday when you learned that the 100+ sauces in French cooking come from 5 “mother sauces”? Well, this is my MOTHERLOAD sauce.

For now, I have a little contest :0)

Tell me three random ingredients in your fridge, freezer, or pantry.

I’m going to select some of your submissions and put them in the email tomorrow, along with one of my “secret” sauces or dressings that’ll pull them together into a meal.

I love a challenge, so give me whatever you’ve got!

Talk soon,

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