Cooking ahead of time not only provides meals throughout the week so that when your busy you don’t have grab the first thing in sight but also allows you to take a moment to check in with where you are on your health journey, what your body is craving and creates space for you to get excited to making something in the kitchen.
One topic I like to discuss on the blog is the principle of the EATING WELL and FEELING WHOLE.
With so much going on and running around, my favorite secret weapon for eating well and feeling whole is healthy meal prep.
When first starting to meal prep for the entire week, I know it can be really overwhelming, but have no fear for I’m here to help YOU out. I’m sharing my top 10 tips to plant-based healthy meal prep like a boss that you can try out this weekend.
WHY Vegan Meal Prep Works!
I started meal prepping a few years ago when I first became vegan, the days where I could make a quick quesadilla for me and the kids for lunch were gone and making sure we got a variety of nutrients was my top priority. Sound familiar?
After starting my business I was much busier than I had anticipated and managing work and family life became such a struggle. An amazing mom friend (mother of 6 children I might add) shared with me how she meal preps a lot of their food for the week just so she doesn’t end up spending all day in the kitchen.
So I decided to start with meal prepping our lunch on Sundays so that throughout the week I could just grab a healthy, whole food meal and get back to the flow of working and homeschool.
These days I’ve gotten meal prep down to a science and can grocery shop, prep, and cook in under 4 hours most Sundays for our whole family and that’s lunch and dinner meals. Having meals prepped in the fridge gives me more time and energy for the work I do with Live Simply Natural, homeschooling my kids and for things I love like yoga with the fam and park days with our community.
Meal prep also helps keep grocery costs down and reduces food waste since everything is already ready to eat. And if planned properly you only buy exactly what you’re going to eat, meaning you’ll throw away less food and help your budget go further. Learn more about buying produce on a budget here!
**FYI, you probably won’t be this timely your first few times. It takes practice to be able to meal prep this quickly, but give it a few tries and you will see yourself getting more familiar with your own flow! Below are my top ten tips to saving time and energy during your weekly meal prep.**
Plant-based meal prep is great for those…
WHAT DO VEGANS EAT?
Vegans eat a lot! I know if you’re starting out it might seem like there’s nothing to eat but once you get the hang of it, plant-based eating is fun, delicious and feels so good. I never feel like I’m missing out on anything and I can find an alternative to all my favorites, like this Raw Vegan Snickers Bar Recipe!
If you didn’t already know, a vegan diet consists of only plant foods but vegans eat many of the same foods that non-vegans would: pasta, stir-fry, salad, sandwiches, burgers, pancakes, tacos and even pizza. Basically, anything animal-based can be made vegan.
Once you get the hang of some tips and tricks, you’ll be creating plant-based versions of all your favorite dishes and have them ready to pull out of the fridge in no time.
Here is a list of my Top 10 Tips to Plan-based Meal Prep Like A Boss!
No. 1 Have a meal plan and recipe list planned out
Without a meal plan, you’re often left with a ton of food and ingredients but no focus or recipes to make, which means food inevitably goes bad OR you waste time daily thinking about what to cook and #noonehastimeforthat.
I suggesting following me on Pinterest as I’m always pinning new recipes that are prefect for meal prepping. You can also check out other boards specific to vegan meal prep and start pinning the recipes you like to try.
No. 2 Start slow!
When first starting out pick just one meal to start with. Of course you can jump right in and do breakfast, lunch, and dinner all at once for the whole week but if your like me and burn out quickly I suggest starting with the hardest meal first will help to keep you motivated in the weeks to come. I started with lunch as that was my biggest challenge. Slowly I added dinner, snacks, breakfast and dessert.
Now when I meal prep I have such a good flow that I can do it all and not feel overwhelmed.
No. 3 Shop with the season
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important you prioritize your trip to the store or farmers market based on the season your in! This is just another way of being efficient with your time and money. I like this because they always have better deals and its a lot easier to find what your looking for. Check out my Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter Shopping Guides!
I also like going to the store when it’s not so busy, so I go either during the week or early in the morning when it’s much easier to get my shopping done quickly.
No. 4 Multi-task
I’m all for being efficient with my time and that carries over into cooking as well. A fundamental component to meal prepping is saving you time! I like to start with he things that take the longest to cook. For example on the stove top like quinoa, soups, etc. while at the same time you’re roasting veggies, sweet potatoes, granola, etc. in the oven and making hummus, homemade almond milk, or salad dressings in the blender.
Use your time wisely!
No. 5 Have fun!
Grab your significant other, a friend or coworker, your family and have fun in the kitchen cooking together while listening connecting or my favorite, listen to music, your favorite podcast or audible. Make it fun, it’s not all work!
No. 6 Find your staples
I have a list of staple items I prep almost every week and rotate them out here and there. One of the best things you can do is decrease decision fatigue as much as possible. Making your food ahead of time is just one of the many ways I like to decrease decision fatigue in my life. That way I can keep important energy focused on making big decisions versus “what should I cook for dinner?” or “what should to eat today?”
No. 7 Meals in jars
These are great to have in the fridge for when you need a quick breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner to go. Check out this post with my Top 10 Plant-based Meals In A Jar. And if you want to invite others to join you, consider hosting a Salad In A Jar Party!
No. 8 Build a buddha bowl
A good simple buddha bowl combo is:
- Legumes (tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils)
- Starches (brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grain bread)
- Vegetables/Greens (broccoli, kale, spinach, zucchini, collards, peas, green beans, bell peppers, eggplant, carrots, mushrooms)
- Condiments (seasonings, herbs, dressings, sauces, nuts or seeds, avocados, dried fruit; look for recipes, use your own favorite combos or use store-bought products, for convenience)
No. 9 Frozen over fresh
Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great buy, as they are often very cheap, fresh and pack a lot of nutrients. They’ll also keep a long time in the freezer and are quick to prepare – no trimming or chopping required! Good things to buy frozen include:
*Make your own beans and keep them in the freezer to use for meal prep, this saves money on buying canned beans.
No. 10 Dips, dressings, and sauces
Of course, you can pick up your favorite brands at the store to save time, but there’s something so delicious and super simple about making your own salad dressings on the fly, hummus for the week ahead, and sauces. Some of my favorites I prep are: Beet Hummus, 3 Simple Mayo Salad Dressing, Oil-free Vegan Mayo, Mango Salsa and Cilantro Lime Sauce.
There you have it, friends, I hope this list helps you start your plant-based meal prep today. If you need any more help, join us in our Mini Course Plant-based Meal Prep! Or post your questions below and I’ll be happy to help. And if you do try our meal prep guide tag us @livesimplynatural on Instagram so our LSN fam gets inspired too :)