I get so many questions regarding how I maintain a plant based diet. It seems a lot of people get deterred because they think it’s too time consuming or expensive but I’m here to tell you that it’s surprisingly not, which is great news
All you need to do is just set out some time once or twice a week to do some basic food prep and then you’re done. This probably isn’t as essential in the summer months when it’s nice and warm and eating fresh salads is something most of our bodies crave anyway and you know how easy it is to whip up a delicious salad right? It only takes a few minutes if your fridge is stocked with natural plant foods and if you have some pantry staples to whip up a great and tasty dressing.
So, here are my top 2 tips for staying on top of your food game whilst maximising your time and still pumping out delicious, healthy food.
Tip 1: USUAL SUSPECTS
Keep things in your fridge and pantry that you know you like and could eat every day. Here are the vegetables that I buy every week:
- mixed baby greens
- red onion
- brown onion
- sweet potato
- baby spinach
These veggies make the bulk of my meals, and I may buy some extra ones that are in season.
My other staples are:
- vegan cheeze
- vegan sausages
- wholegrain wraps
- sourdough bread
- nut butter
- vegan ice cream
- curry powder
- olive oil
- himalayan pink salt and celtic sea salt
TIP 2: FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL
If anything, planning some of your meals ahead saves you time! The best advice I was ever given by a nutritionist was to imagine my perfect day food wise and replicate that day in day out when you know you’re going to be under the pump with work/family/life.
So set out a couple of days a week and just prep your favourite things and store them in containers so that you can organise a meal in minutes.
Now I’m going to share with you what I do, this is not to say that you have to do it this way obviously, but just to give you an idea.
So because my week starts on a Sunday, I do my meal prep on the Saturday. This meal prep usually lasts me 3-4 days.
Here’s a typical menu:
Breakfast: Apple and cinnamon oats with pumpkin butter
Morning snack: Decaf almond flat white or matcha soy latte (I buy these and only on work days)
Lunch: Wholegrain wrap with hummus, baby spinach, grilled tofu slices, vegan cheeze, tomato. I normally put this under the sandwich press because it’s cold at the moment and I’m craving warm foods.
Afternoon snack: 2 TBS nut butter, 1 cup of celery sticks, 10 strawberries.
Dinner: 1 cup of grilled vegetables, 100 g of grilled tofu cubes, 1 1/2 cups of mixed baby greens with cucumber, capsicum and red onion, 2 tbs of hummus as a dressing, 1/2 cup of grains (I go between quinoa and brown rice)
Snack: 2 scoops of vegan ice cream (sometimes it’s home made, sometimes I buy the So Good brand, what can I say, I have a sweet tooth!)
This is how the prep for this goes down:
First I cook 5 days worth of oats in the slow cooker. Each serving is 1/3 cup of oats, 2/3 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1/3 cup of water, 1/2 grated apple, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. So I add all of this into the slow cooker, enough for 5 servings. Once it’s cooked to my liking (not too runny, not super thick), I portion out 5 days worth of oats, put 2 in the freezer, and keep the other 3 in the fridge. The pumpkin butter I make once a week so I just scoop that into the oats just before I eat it.
Whilst that’s cooking, I turn on the oven, chop up all of my veggies (mushrooms, capsicum, carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potato, eggplant), drizzle them with some olive oil, salt, pepper and some dried oregano, mix it all up and then bake them for about 40-45 or until the root veggies are done.
Now that the veggies and breakfast are cooking, I get the grains on. I like to use the boil method because when I cook grains for myself I don’t like to season them so the boil method is fine for this. Once they’re cooked, I just drain them in a colander and rinse under cold water to get rid of the starch. I leave in the colander to drain again until every part of the prep is done and then I store. I only make enough for 3 days because grains tend to go off pretty quickly.
Then I prepare the tofu. I cut 60g serves lengthways and pan fry those on a non-stick pan without any oil until they are nice and golden. These get stored when done and will be used in the wraps. I normally make enough for 5 days.
I chop the rest of the tofu into cubes and repeat the above process. These will be used to accompany dinner and normally last for 3-4 days, at 100 g serves for each meal.
That is all and it probably takes about 1 hour, including chopping and cooking time, but you’re probably in the kitchen for about 1 1/2-2 hours if you factor in washing and cleaning up afterwards. I clean as I go so this cuts down the time too.
The night before work, I just have to put everything for dinner in containers, 1 for the hot food to be reheated, and 1 tub for the salad. I make the wrap, and I pop the strawberries, celery and nut butter into a little container and off I go.
Here’s what lunch normally looks like:
I only ever food prep for my working days or if I know my days off are going to be busy. If I have nothing pressing to do on my off days, I don’t prep anything as I do love catching up with friends over a meal, or visiting our favourite cafe with my daughters.
I do like to change things up to prevent getting bored so for breakfast I like to alternate between cooked oats and overnight oats which can also be made ahead of time, I normally make up to 4 and just keep them in the fridge. My daughter loves them too so they don’t last long.
For dinner instead of tofu, sometimes I’ll have a vegan sausage instead or legumes, and a peanut butter and banana smoothie instead of the veggie sticks, nut butter and fruit for snack. Here’s what my work meals usually look like (lunch, afternoon snack and dinner):
The great thing with making the veggies in bulk is that you can use them for anything, you just need a little bit of imagination. Here are some other ways I use them:
- stirred through tomato sauce and on top of pasta
- stuffed into a wholemeal roll with avocado and pesto
- made into a vegan quiche using tofu as a binder
- on top of pizzas
- with chickpeas, cous cous and pine nuts
- mixed with brown rice and black beans and stuffed into a burrito
There you have it, hope you got some ideas out of this post and that it makes your life easier and gives you more time to do the fun stuff!
Peas, love and mungbeans