Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Adapting to a new mindset around your way of eating can be tough for many. Learning a whole new way of cooking and thinking about food preparation can freeze you in your tracks, or worse yet, cause you to abandon the whole plan! These five practical tips for plant-based meal preparation are meant to encourage and make your life easier.
1. Nail down breakfast
You have to make so many decisions every single day. Why not take one of those decisions off your plate and have the same breakfast each morning? Find something that you love, that you look forward to, that will start your day off energized and healthy! Try a smoothie with almond milk, oats, spinach, frozen berries and a banana. Or make overnight oats with almond milk, cinnamon, apple chunks and walnuts. What about avocado toast with arugula, sprouts and seeds? When breakfast becomes a no-brainer, your entire day is off to a smoother start.
2. Keep grab-n-go snacks on hand (to avoid making last-minute decisions while hungry!)
If you have ever fallen into the trap of starting your day out perfectly only to get derailed a few hours later because you’re suddenly starving and not prepared, you know how important this tip can be. Having a healthy snack in your bag for in between lunch and dinner can be the difference between a successful day and a disastrous one. Fresh fruit is always a great choice as well as small bags of nuts. Larabars are another favorite to keep on hand and are very satisfying. Or try making your own granola bar like this one from Minimalist Baker. Individual packets of nut butters are also convenient to carry. These portable powerhouses will keep you in control of your appetite until you can find a healthy option at lunch or dinner time.
3. Cook once, eat all week!
Having cooked grains and roasted vegetables in your fridge is a wonderful asset come mealtime. If you're cooking brown rice or quinoa, double the recipe and you’ll have it for the entire week with no extra time or effort required. The same holds true for sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, beets, and onions—find an hour on the weekend and prep them for the week. For beans, buy a large bag of dried beans, soak overnight, pour off the water, cover with fresh water the next morning and boil. You will have plenty of beans for soups, salads, and bowls all week long. You can also store some in your freezer to use in weeks ahead — which brings us to the next tip….
4. The freezer is your friend
Allow me to introduce you to your new best friend…your freezer! It’s just sitting there waiting for you to fill it with delicious and nutritious food that you can pull out for another meal on another day. If you find yourself with some downtime on the weekend, make a huge pot of soup and freeze some of it in pint-size glass mason jars. That’s a perfect single-serving amount! Or make vegetable lasagna and portion out individual servings of the leftovers to be frozen. The grocery stores now have fantastic frozen food options that are whole-foods plant based. Some items to look for on your next trip down the frozen foods aisle include bags of vegetables, veggie rices, veggie burgers and burritos and grain medleys. These can all be easily warmed in the microwave to help you sit down to a great meal in minutes.
5. Leftovers are a lifesaver
This final tip sort of ties up the previous tips in a beautiful little package. By batch cooking and freezer stocking, you can discover the glory that is leftovers! I hope the idea of leftovers doesn’t send you into a tailspin, because they are truly a lifesaver. Leftovers save you time, money, and precious brainpower for decision making (refer to Tip #1!). The feeling of knowing that after a long day at work, you will be coming home to a delicious meal that you don’t have to cook is transformational! Think of it as paying yourself in advance. ☺
There you have it. I hope these five quick tips will be simple but actionable items that you can employ to make your time preparing meals less stressful and more beneficial. Good luck!
Hey y’all! My name is LuAnn Parker and I am a graduate student in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics, Department of Nutrition at Georgia State University, on my way to becoming a Registered Dietitian. I am super excited about this opportunity to learn more about helping and educating others on improving their health through nutrition. I am especially interested in working with those affected by cancer, as I have experienced this in my own family. Jesus follower, wife to Greg, mama to 3 beautiful girls, plant-based lover of food! “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin