How to Meal Prep like You Mean It
Meal prepping can be intimidating. While some might see it as a logistical nightmare, some might see it at some type of meditation. I love the structural aspect of it and how accomplished I feel once it’s done! Start off simple and you’ll master meal prepping in no time.
5 Tips to Get Started with Meal Prep
Reuse and recycle
Equip yourself with helpful kitchen essentials and containers. I recommend getting a set of stackable glass containers. You can use them to freeze, refrigerate, microwave, and transport your food!
Keep ‘em Crunchy!
We’ve all had boiled boring greyish broccoli before. Not the most appetizing thing in the world, right? The secret to crunchy veggies is the right cooking technique. Blanching is all the rage.
Steam or boil them for a short amount of time (typically 1-5 minutes depending on type of vegetable). You want them to still be al dente. In the next step drain your veggies and blanch them in ice cold water (when I say ice cold I mean ice cold, add a bag of ice cubes to a bowl of cold water and create a cryotherapy kind of treatment for your veggies).
This is a very basic technique but super effective to retain color, taste, texture, and nutrients of vegetables. After a few minutes of ice bath, store them in the fridge, freezer, or use them right away.
Soaking legumes, seeds, and grains can help reduce antinutrients and increase the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals! Why is that?
Sprouting kickstarts the germination process, liberating the powerful life force inside. Cool, eh? Another reason why I love this process is that it shortens the cooking time. Soaked chickpeas, brown rice, and other legumes and grains cook faster. Just make sure to rinse after soaking before moving on to the next step!
Make it Grain
Grains are filling, versatile, and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You can use pre-cooked grains for stir fries, grain salads, or even sweet breakfast porridges. Cook a large batch of your favorite grains such as brown rice, millet, or quinoa ahead of time and you have the base of your meals for days. When you need them simply add your favorite dressing, a bunch of veggies, and tofu or tempeh and e voila!
The first step in my meal prep routine is always finding a good jam! Turn it up, move, sing, have fun! Meal prepping doesn’t have to be boring and montane. Another favorite of mine is listening to podcasts while chopping away. You’ll see, time will flyyyyyyyyyyy.
The Step-by-Step Guide for Your Weekly Meal Prep
The first thing is to figure out how many meals you need that week. Are you eating mostly at home or are you eating out? Is it just you or are kids part of your meals?
I’m going to guide you through one week of prepping meals (Monday to Friday) assuming I only cook for myself and that I’m going to eat out once or twice!
Number of meals to prep:
Now that you figured out the number of meals let’s chat about meal types. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks should be included.
Brekky is the favorite part of my day. I’m an all-day breakfast kinda girl so this is clearly where my passion lies. Two of the easiest breakfasts to prepare are ONOs (overnight oats) and smoothies or smoothie bowls.
I need five breakfasts, so three of them will be overnight oats and two will be smoothies!
For smoothies I’ll take two biodegradable bags and add one cup of frozen fruit and half a banana into the bags, label them, and pop them into the freezer.
Let your creative juices flow for ONOs. You can combine any flavors you want.
The trick is to mix oats, liquid, sweetener, chia seeds, and spices together in a jar, pop the lid on, give it a good shake to combine, and store it in the fridge overnight. The next morning simply add fresh fruit, nut butter, or any other toppings of your preference. So good and ready in no time!
Add to shopping list: oatmeal, bananas, plant-based milk, chia seeds, frozen mixed berries, baby spinach, almond butter, maple syrup
Lunch! When 12 O clock finally hits…
Lunch should be filling but not heavy. One option is to finish leftovers from dinner of the day before. I’m a sucker for leftovers but I totally understand if that’s not your jam.
Winner, Winner, Chickpea Dinner
Sushi bowls, burrito bowls, you name it. Bowls are a great way to use leftovers! They look pretty and are real nutrition bombs! Reach for different grains, potatoes, chickpeas, veggies, tempeh, maybe even vegan cheese! Another fave is “pulled pork” with jackfruit!
Add to your shopping list: potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegan cheese, grains (millet, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth…endless options), abundance of veggies (should be on the list already), pasta, jackfruit, tomato sauce
Snacks, Snacks, Snacks
I know it’s easy to cut up some fruit for the week but who’s crazy about a brownish apple in a Tupperware? No one!
Add to shopping list: Fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, trail mix, dates, chickpeas, tahini, lemons
Now you’re all set! Get your notebook, make a list, turn up the music and get preppin’. You’ll see how much time you’ll have during the week nights!
Julie Zeitlhuber, MSc. is a nutritional scientist and certified personal trainer who works at Vega® as an Education Specialist. When Julie is not geeking out over scientific articles, you will most likely find her cruising around on rollerblades or on her bike. Julie’s passion for food and nutrition started at very young age. Ever since she loves whizzing up nutritious and delicious magic in her kitchen and encouraging clients to take ownership of their health
Born from the belief that you shouldn’t have to choose between clean, plant-based nutrition and on-the-go convenience, Vega is a premium brand of convenient, plant-based, real-food alternatives. They strive to give you the knowledge and nutrition to help you be better on your own terms—one small change at a time.