A Guide for Vegan Meal Prep Ideas: Part 1
People often ask me about my weekly meal prep routine, but they generally ask for meat-based ideas. When I tell them that my meal prep is almost entirely plant-based, they are surprised. Some folks just don’t know what to do with fresh veggies in meal prep, other than to cook them to death.
The reality is, that if you have fresh produce prepped ahead, you are more likely to stick to diet plans and healthier eating. You really just need to put aside a few hours a week to do it and it can be a total game changer for your entire life. I mean it. Your wallet and healthier body will thank you for it.
So what does a regular produce eater do with fresh veggies besides make salad? Hmmmm…
Put that amazingly beautiful produce to good use with these quick and easy tips:
- Pickle those babies. Anything you can imagine can be pickled. The list of amazing pickled food is endless, think Kimchi, sauerkraut, mango, sweet and sour lemons, radishes and more. Cabbage is super cheap and it’s often used in various pickled recipes, along with onions and radishes. I’ve been loving this recipe for sweet and spicy pickled radishes, by Rebooted Mom, and this Japanese cucumber salad on a warm summer day is both tangy and refreshing. Depending on your needs or cultural preferences, you can make side dishes or condiments out of your pickled vegetables that are both cheap and tasty. I regularly add kimchi or pickled daikon to my meal prep line up.
- Wash and chop your lettuce the minute you get home from shopping. Otherwise, it will probably wilt or rot before you remember that you left it in the crisper a week later. Trust me, you’ll be more likely to eat salads if prepped by your own hands, and it’s soooo much cheaper than the bagged mix. I love to grab two different lettuce varieties at our local farmers market for contrasting texture and flavor. No worries if salads aren’t your thing, you can use washed and prepped whole lettuce leaves for wraps, sandwiches, or paleo taco bowls. Store the washed leaves in an airtight container with a paper towel.
- Remember, root veggies are your friend. Blanch or par-boil batches of chopped root vegetables, such as sliced carrots, pumpkin, squash and sweet potatoes. Throw blanched carrots into a stir fry or use shredded par-boiled sweet potatoes for making hash browns. Hash browns are an easy-breezy meal prep item you can store in your freezer. A food processor or hand grater will both work, and this will save you a ton of money and time by prepping ahead. Similarly, if you live in a tropical area and can get ulu, or breadfruit, you can prep it in the same ways that you would root vegetables. I use my instant pot to quickly cook the ulu, and I mash it into vegan burger patties and freeze.
- Chop, chop, chop….or even better, get your food processor to do most of it for you. You can put shredded carrots into almost everything and they go great in meal prep lunch wraps. Carrot cake, anyone? Pre-chopped kale can be tossed into soups, salads or a pilaf. Pack crunchy vegetable sticks along with string cheese into your weekly prep lunches. *Pre-chopped veggies also make a lightning-quick appetizer when paired with hummus, ranch dip, or yogurt. Good to have around for when unexpected company stops by.
- You can also save a ton of money by buying fruit when it’s been marked down and chop it up into chunks and freeze it right away. Most stores will offer bananas flecked with brown at a greatly reduced price and farmers market vendors will often do the same. I like to chop up a few different fruits, like bananas, papaya and strawberries that have been reduced, and make up baggies of “smoothie packs” for the freezer. (Approximately a cup and a half of chopped fruit goes into each bag.) Add almond or rice milk to taste, and blend together with protein powder for a quick vegan breakfast.
Don’t forget to save those veggie scraps from all of your hard work meal prepping. If you do, you’ll have the perfect base for making your own vegetable stock. (See my prior post on making a good stock.) Not only will you have stock for the week to add to any dish, you will also never need to buy stock again. Whatever you won’t use, put it in the freezer. Win-win. Saving money is a good thing, yeah?
Speaking of healthy and frugal living, check out my follow-up post, where I’ll be bringing you more vegan meal prep ideas and a list of what a typical weekly prep session would look like for me. Aloha!