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If you’re looking to eat more plant-based, meal prep is a strategic (and delicious) way to support your goals. These easy vegan meal prep ideas prove you can still pack in nutritious plant-based ingredients without sacrificing taste. Not to mention, pre-made plant-based recipes are a great defense for when life gets hectic and you’re tempted to revert back to the same basic salads. “Meal prep helps set you up for success by making the healthy choice the easy choice,” says Marissa Meshulam, MS, RD, CDN. “If you prep plant-based foods, you are more likely to reach for them throughout the week.”
Meal prep (or cooking in general) may seem daunting at first, but Wendimere Reilly, RDN, LDN, and member of the Nature’s Sunshine scientific advisory board, says it doesn’t take much to plan vegan recipes for the week. “All you need to be good at meal prep is the right attitude and a good kitchen knife. Everything else is a bonus,” Reilly tells POPSUGAR.
If prepping plant-based recipes days in advance still seems intimidating, Reilly suggests reframing your approach. “For some, just hearing the term ‘meal prep’ may conjure up emotional angst. If this is you, just change the words to ‘batch cooking’ or ‘making enough for leftovers,'” she says. The best vegan meal prep ideas should be simple to make, quick to prepare, and easy to store and re-heat.
When first starting out, Reilly recommends making the transition to meal prep easier with basic ingredient swaps. “Try using coconut cream instead of dairy. It can be used to make creamy vegetable soups or blended and warmed with berries to make a delicious compote that can be added to high protein pancakes,” she says. Other swaps include lentils instead of animal protein, nutritional yeast instead of cheese, and avocado for both sweet and savory dishes.
No matter how far along you are on your plant-based journey, meal prep can be a total game-changer. Read on for more vegan meal prep ideas, expert-approved tips, and plant-based recipes to try yourself.
What Are the Benefits of Vegan Meal Prep?
According to Reema Pillai, plant-based RD at Dietitian Fit, eating more plants can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Even if you’re not fully plant-based, Meshulam says she likes to encourage a more plant-forward diet (meaning at least 50% of the plate comes from plants). “When we do this, we are naturally adding more fiber and antioxidants to our plate,” she explains. “Fiber is key to managing our blood sugar, keeping our cholesterol down, providing fullness from meals and promoting growth of good gut bacteria.”
As the week goes on, think of vegan meal prep as a tool to help you reap these benefits without feeling overwhelmed or running out of plant-based recipe ideas. “When done right, meal prep can save you time and money. It can also help you achieve better health if you incorporate more whole foods into your diet and eat out less frequently,” Reilly says. “Many people eat out for convenience. Good meal prep makes it just as convenient to have a home-cooked meal.”
Tips For Vegan Meal Prep
Our experts agree that the best way to make a sustainable change is to start off slowly. “Add in an extra portion of fruit in the day as a snack or as a topping to your porridge in the morning,” Pillai suggests. “Use fresh, frozen, and tinned veggies to add to sauces, stews, soups, to bulk them out.” Remember that nuts and seeds also count as plant-based foods, she says. Pillai notes you can save time by prepping whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice, a quick protein, and a variety of chopped vegetables.
Another big part of meal prep is proper storage. Reilly recommends using glass storage containers of the same size so you can keep meals organized in the refrigerator or freezer and re-heat as needed. You don’t need much else to become a master of meal prep, but she suggests a cast iron pan for cooking vegetables (although sheet pans also work, depending on the recipe).