Plant Based Meal Prep
Diets aren’t usually something I can get behind, since they usually lead to restriction and drastic measures. But a plant based diet is less of a “diet” and more of a style of eating, and one that I support. This is why plant based meal prep is an amazing option if you’re looking to incorporate more plant foods on a busy schedule.
Why Eat A More Plant Based Diet?
A plant based diet inherently means you’ll be eating many more plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and legumes. What makes these plant foods so great is that they are high in phytochemicals that work as antioxidants, that have health promoting effects. Specifically, studies have shown that fruits, vegetables and grains have protective effects against chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.1 The phytochemicals from plant foods act as antioxidants. This means they work in our bodies to find and inhibit oxidants from damaging cells, which, if left to run rampant, can play a role in the development of chronic diseases.1 If that doesn’t convince you to eat more plant foods… there’s more!
Think You’ll Be Missing Out on Protein? Think Again
Now you know there are health benefits to these plant based foods, but maybe you’re not willing to sacrifice your protein intake. The good news is you don’t have to! There are many plant based protein options out there for you.
Legumes, which include beans, lentils, soybeans and more, are packed with protein, ensuring that you will not go without sufficient protein. Legumes have lots of benefits—they offer a substantial amount of protein, and fiber, and are affordable and have a long shelf life.2 Let’s look at legume vs. animal protein: one cup of edamame (an immature soybean) contains 19 grams of protein and 3 oz of lean ground beef contains 22 grams of protein—a comparable amount. These protein sources are also great because they are versatile and can easily be made into meal options that meat eaters are accustomed to, like my lentil bolognese or black bean burgers.
How Plant Based Meal Prep Can Save More Than Just Time
Deciding to dive into the world of meal prep can be overwhelming, but there are so many benefits, besides just saving time! Prepping meals can help keep some money in your pocket, since you won’t be buying your meals out. It can also help to lead to healthier eating habits, since you will be the one deciding what ingredients you use and how large your portions are.
Tips for Making Plant Based Meal Prep Easier
If meal prep is a new concept for you, there are few things you can do to make this transition a positive one. To make deciding on weekly meals easier, make a master list of your favorite recipes (don’t forget the ones below!) and dishes that you think will work well for prepping ahead. Get a calendar—write the meals you’ll be having on the days of the week, so you’ll stay on track. And finally, don’t overwhelm yourself! Start small and choose to meal prep for only 2 or 3 days.
Recipes for Plant Based Meal Prep
Instant Pot Bean Soup – Soups are perfect for meal prep because they can be easily portioned out for lunches and reheat quickly for family dinners. Another bonus is that they always taste better after a few days in the fridge!
Vegetarian Pasta Salad—This recipe uses whole wheat pasta, which provides a boost of protein and fiber compared to regular pasta. Customize this dish and add in your favorite veggies or any you happen to have on hand.
Baked Balsamic Tofu—Tofu is so versatile and can take on any taste you want. This version a packed with flavor, with balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and lots of different herbs. While you bake the tofu, throw another pan of vegetables and sweet potatoes into the oven to complete the meal.
Baked Falafel—Chickpeas are the star in falafel, adding lots of plant based protein and beneficial fiber. These freeze well and are perfect served on a bed of greens, or tucked into a whole wheat pita, with sauce for dipping.
- Zhang Y-J, Gan R-Y, Li S, et al. Antioxidant Phytochemicals for the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Diseases. Molecules. 2015;20(12):21138-21156. doi:10.3390/molecules201219753.
- Pallazola VA, Davis DM, Whelton SP, et al. A Clinicians Guide to Healthy Eating for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes. 2019;3(3):251-267. doi:10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2019.05.001.