Ah, meal prep. It’s a topic that strikes dread into the heart of any new vegans as well as long-timers, but fear not, help is at hand!
Here, I’m going to give you my top vegan meal prep tips, followed by a recipe for my favourite Warming Bean Chili – by far the ultimate meal to make a huge batch of (secret – batch cooking is KEY when it comes to vegan meal prep!). We make this weekly at home and it’s become a firm favourite.
Image: Warming Bean Chili by Elizabeth Emery
First and foremost however, if you’ve decided to try going vegan and are new to the lifestyle – hello! I’m so glad you’ve joined. Welcome to a world of cooking that’s full of flavour and beauty, and welcome to feeling good about knowing that what you’re eating is helping make the world a kinder place. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sudden change in diet, I absolutely understand. I’ve been there. When I first turned vegan I remember thinking I’d never be full or nourished again, but I’m happy to report that those feelings of fear soon went away with a little exploration of new recipes and foods. I actually look back at my old habits and realise my way of eating was a quite limited!
We’re lucky that nowadays we live in a world where there are a lot of plant-based options (it seems like almost every day a different company/shop/restaurant is launching new vegan products), making vegan meal prep a whole lot more accessible. Still, it can be daunting at first, and I totally understand that, so read on to find my top vegan meal prep tips. I’ll have you prepping like a pro in no time!
Vegan Meal Prep Tips
Without a doubt the most important tip of all, batch cooking is THE way to take the stress out of meal prepping. Find a few simple dishes you love (meals like soups, curries and salads work best – or my Warming Bean Chili) and make large batches once a week. This way you’ll have plenty of food for the week ahead and won’t be worrying about what to cook. You can even make large batches of your favourite breakfasts and store them in the fridge overnight, then grab and go in the morning!
Plan your food
I know writing a meal plan sounds boring, but it saves so much time in the long run. If you plan out what you’ll be eating in advance for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at the beginning of the week, it takes a lot of stress out of cooking and means you’ll never be hungry! You’ll also never get home and be faced with empty cupboards, as you’ll have shopped according to your plan.
Stick to your shopping list
Tempting as it is to shop without a list and think you’ll remember everything you need for the week, trust me – you won’t. After making your meal plan, write a shopping list and only buy those ingredients! You’ll avoid buying unnecessary items and cut down on food waste (I’m looking at you, pointless bunch of radishes). I also heartily recommend shopping on a full stomach. You’re way less likely to buy snacks and treats (usually more expensive than basic ingredients anyway) if your blood sugar isn’t crashing.
Stock your fridge with basics
Make a few simple items at the beginning of the week to ensure you’ve always got food on-hand. I always like to have a jar of my favourite homemade dressing in the fridge (Jamie Oliver has some great recipes for simple jam jar dressings which I use all the time). I also like making a big batch of a whole grain on Monday night (rice, millet, quinoa etc.) which I can then eat with salads or stews over the course of the week.
This tip is especially for anyone new to veganism (although we could all do with a reminder!). Keep things simple by making easy, quick-to-prepare dishes, and save the more complicated meals for when you’re a bit more experienced or have more time. Try making delicious one-pot dishes that yield lots of portions, like hearty stews or curries. As you get more familiar with eating plant-based, you’ll naturally want to branch out and try more challenging recipes, but to start with make it as easy as possible for yourself!
It's all in the tools
It sounds really obvious I know, but tools make all the difference. Having a sharp knife will make slicing vegetables so much easier! Likewise, using something like a food processor or a mandolin (I know – I wasn’t convinced either, then I bought one and now use it literally every day) to shred vegetables will save huge amounts of time.
Elizabeth Emery is a food blogger, recipe developer and writer. Her blog Vancouver with Love focuses on all things vegan, from recipes to travel and lifestyle tips. She is based in Vancouver, BC.
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.