Meal prepping is currently having a moment. This is considering that there are several advantages to adopting a meal prep strategy. However, if you are vegan, meal prep for vegans is ahead of its time and can actually help you to stay healthier.
As you are well aware, it is incredibly essential for vegans to eat a well-balanced diet regularly. This is because a single plant source can’t contain all of the nutrients that you require. Thus, you have to consume a wide and varied amount of fruits and vegetables.
Of course, like most vegans, you probably lead an incredibly busy lifestyle. Due to this, it can be challenging to ensure that you are eating the right foods in the proper amounts at every meal.
However, if you employ a few adequate meal prepping techniques, it becomes a great deal easier to manage.
That being said, meal prepping can be a rather tedious task. So, if you are looking to cut down on the amount of work and hassle involved, these are the tips you need to follow:
Figure Out Your Schedule
The first thing that you will need to do is to figure out how many times a week, you have to meal prep. Now, most people will tell you that you need to do so once a week, preferably on a Sunday. However, you can’t really come up with this answer on the fly.
See, each type of food has its own “best buy” date. This is true for fresh foods as well. So, you will only be able to store certain kinds of dishes for a set period of time. This means that you may need to make batches of food more than once a week.
To get an idea of how often you will need to engage in meal prepping, check out for how long some common foods can be stored:
- Fresh Veggies: 3 to 5 days
- Cooked Veggies: 3 to 4 days
- Cooked Rice and Quinoa: up to one week
- Cooked Pasta: 3 to 5 days
- Stews and Soups: 3 to 4 days when refrigerated, 2 to 3 months when frozen
- Broth: 1 to 2 days when refrigerated, a few months when frozen
Of course, it is best to do some research on the specific type of ingredient that you want to use in your meals. This way, you can make sure that each meal will be as safe and as fresh-tasting as possible whenever you cook.
Get the Proper Containers
One part of meal prep that is often ignored is the food storage containers. In the end, these can be just as important as the type of food you are cooking. After all, if the containers can’t keep your food fresh, what is the point?
In most cases, glass containers are your best bet. For one thing, they are excellent for sealing food and remaining airtight. This comes in handy when you are trying to keep your food fresh for as long as possible. However, this feature serves another function as well – it prevents other odors from invading your food, allowing the taste to remain unchanged as well.
Most glass containers are also microwave and oven-friendly. So, if you want to heat up your food without transferring it to another dish, you can do so without any problem. Not to mention, glass is stain-resistant and thus will not be discolored by sauces or certain spices.
In case you prefer a more lightweight option, you can also look for silicone or stainless steel containers. They do a good job too! Now, plastic isn’t a complete no-no either. If you do select this material, however, make sure that it is safe and durable.
Make a List of Foods You Like
With meal prep, you have the daunting task of figuring out what you will be eating for the next few days, often for all three meals. Due to this, it is crucial to select the foods that you like. While it is essential to be healthy, it is just as vital that you enjoy your food.
So, be honest about what you are actually going to eat. Although it may be an excellent idea to eat a salad for lunch, this may not be all that appealing or even filling. So, try making something like wholegrain veggie quesadillas or cauliflower fried rice, which are more hearty options.
Remember, healthy doesn’t necessarily mean boring or tasteless. Look for ways to spice up dishes so that you actually look forward to your prepped meals every day.
Meet All Your Nutrient Requirements
The whole point of meal prep is for you to be a healthier vegan. To determine how to prepare healthy meals, though, you first have to do a few calculations. This will help you to decide on your optimal calorie, protein, carb, and (good) fat consumption.
Here are the formulae you should be aware of:
- Calorie Requirements: 665.1 + 9.6 (x weight in kilos) + 1.9 (x height in cm) – 4.7 (x age in years)
- Protein Requirements: between 0.8 – 1.0 g of protein/kg body weight
- Fat Requirements: 30 percent of your total calorie requirements per day
- Carbohydrate Requirements: 45 to 60 percent of your total calorie requirements per day
Now, there are a few things to take note of here. First, make sure to eat a wider variety of protein sources. This includes vegetables, legumes, nuts, tofu, and other options. This will provide you with all the amino acids that you need.
Secondly, when it comes to fats – avoid saturated and trans fats. Instead, focus on unsaturated fats. This includes avocado, chia seeds, nuts, and extra virgin oil. When you get fats from these sources, you are able to get your required energy, meet nutritional requirements, and stay healthy at the same time.
With carbs, stick to unprocessed options as much as possible. So, get your daily carb content from vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, and oats. This way, you will not have to worry about the unpleasant side effects typically associated with processed carbs.
Buy Groceries for the Week
Now that you know what you should be buying, the next step would be to buy your groceries. To make things easy, make it a point to stock up on the necessary ingredients you will need during the week. Now, this doesn’t just mean fresh produce.
It also includes spices, herbs, oils, vegan milks and butters, and more. This way, you will not have to keep visiting the store over and over again. Instead, you will be able to make your meals for the week ahead in one fell swoop.
Buying groceries in bulk has other benefits as well. For one thing, it allows you to save money. You probably rarely walk out of the store with only what you need. Instead, you might end up buying unnecessary items too. After a while, these can begin to add up. When you limit your visits, however, this doesn’t become a problem.
It is also easier to stick to a healthy diet when you don’t keep walking into a grocery store. You are then not tempted to sneak in a bag of chips or cookies. Instead, you will stick with the meal plan you have set up for yourself.
Make Dishes Separately
There are actually a couple of different ways to try meal prepping. Some people prefer to plan things on a meal by meal basis. As you can imagine, this does require a little more effort. So, if you don’t really have the inclination to do this, simply focus on single dishes instead.
You can then make several dishes and mix and match them as the week goes on. This works exceptionally well if you tend to change your mind about the kind of food you want to eat daily.
It is a good idea to consider what dishes go well together. Make sure that there is some consistency or cohesion. For instance, you may want to stick with a particular cuisine or food type. This way, your dishes will work together more naturally.
Prep Veggies for Mid-Week Meals
Now, there are some people who don’t like the idea of reheating their food regularly. If you belong to this category, don’t worry. You can simply focus on prepping ingredients for your meals.
For example, you can peel, seed, and chop various veggies and other ingredients. Then, when it comes to the actual cooking part, you will be able to whip up hot, delicious meals within a matter of minutes. Not to mention, you will not have to dedicate too much of your weekend to meal prep either.
If you want to be healthier and less stressed out vegan, then meal prepping is definitely something you should consider. At the very least, give it a try and see if it works for you. It may end up being just what you are looking for!
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