By Katie Doyle, Food Editor
After spending hours in the kitchen this break whipping up elaborate vegan dinners, I think I’m about cooked-out, so to speak. While I certainly can’t beat a week’s worth of homemade meals, it can be an exhaustive routine to maintain in college, especially when shopping on a budget and cooking in a cramped apartment.
Of course, as finals approach, I’ll be short on time, too. This makes nightly cooking even more of a hassle. For vegetarians, and vegans especially, putting together a quick-and-easy meal isn’t as mindless as it might be for an omnivore.
While boxed meals aren’t always the ideal option, frozen veggie burgers can be a reliable alternative. As the most obvious alternative to the ominvores’s hamburger, veggie burgers tend to be the first meat-free burgers that new vegetarians turn to when looking for an easy meal.
But veggie burgers can get boring after a while. However, herbivores who are pressed on resources can hold out hope. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to find a great veggie burger that will take just a few minutes to heat up, but taste like you spent all evening cooking it.
A trip to Trader Joe’s or Shaw’s will reveal all sorts of delectable meat-free burger ideas that might have previously escaped your eye. Here are some types of burgers to look out for next time you hit up the grocery store:
Black Bean Burgers
Black bean burgers are top on my list of favorite meat-free burgers, and have been for a while. They are zesty, with a flavorful Southwestern flair that beats any other meat substitute. Add a dollop of guacamole for a dinner that is absolutely delicious and surprisingly very healthy.
Although multiple brands make black bean burgers, I’m a fan of MorningStar, which you can find at almost any grocery store.
These go by many names in the grocery store—Chik’n patties, soy chicken cutlets, vegetarian chicken patties—but flavor tends to be pretty consistent, quite in line with the cliché, “It tastes like chicken.” Although I’m sure you’ve heard that line before, albeit in a different context, these imitation burgers actually do taste just like chicken. There’s a lot you can do with them, from the complex (vegetarian chicken parmesan) to the simple (just add a wheat bun and ketchup), and because of that, they will always have a place in my freezer.
Amy’s Kitchen, a company that sells natural and organic meat-free products, makes a great barbecue-style Texas burger. It has rich flavor, with a pinch of Southwestern spice. The texture is spot-on, too: not too “meaty,” but definitely heartier than the average veggie burger. I would recommend this to anyone willing to experiment with different types of meatless burgers!
MorningStar sells what they call Grillers. Let me warn you, though: if you aren’t down for an authentic hamburger taste, stay away. Although I’ve only tried the MorningStar variety, I found the burger to taste, well, very meaty. It wasn’t my thing. But if you’re looking for an imitation hamburger sans the meat, you’ll find yourself very pleased.
Same thing goes for vegetarian turkey burgers: they taste like turkey. Personally, I don’t like the turkey flavor, but beyond that, the texture of the burger didn’t seem quite right to me—a bit too chewy. Then again, I’ve only had real turkey once or twice in my life, years ago, so maybe I just don’t know what to expect. However, just like with the vegetarian hamburger, if you like the taste of the real meat, you’ll probably like the imitation turkey burger, too.
California Veggie Burgers
Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers have a following that sometimes strikes me as cult-like. People tend to love them, or they totaly hate them. I’m somewhere in the middle. The burgers are super-packed with veggies, but, I thought all the flavors must have got lost in translation somehow because I wasn’t a big fan of the taste.
Although those are the staples, I’ve recently even seen falafel burgers, mushroom burgers and Asian-style burgers in the frozen food aisles. MorningStar even makes a pizza burger with tomato and basil. As companies get more creative, though, more and more types of meat-free burgers keep popping up, so keep your eye open for all of them.