If you follow me on Instagram (@runningvegannyc), you may have noticed that I started posting weekly meal prep photos. Someone recently commented asking me to do a blog post on how I meal prep and the benefits of it, so here it is. (Shout out to Chloe for the suggestion! @chloeunguyen 😉)
HOW DO I MEAL PREP?
I like to do my meal prep in stages because it makes it less daunting.
THE FOUR STAGES OF MEAL PREP:
- Buy the groceries a day or two ahead
- Chop up vegetables and put them in containers
- Cook the grains & protein
- Cook lunch for the week
I usually do stage one on Friday or Saturday, and put aside meal prepping until Sunday. Then, sometime in the afternoon on Sunday I’ll start stage two. After I’m done chopping, I take a break to eat a snack, watch TV, do yoga, or whatever else I feel like doing.
After the break comes stage three. I cook a cup’s worth of whatever grain/protein I have on hand (this yields around 4 cups cooked), which lasts me about a week. For grains I usually make rice, but some weeks I do quinoa, cous cous, or farro. I add these to my lunches. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll also cook lentils or beans (if I remembered to soak them overnight). Otherwise, I just use canned beans, tofu, and tempeh throughout the week. The protein I prep on Sundays is meant for my dinners, not lunches, since I already have sufficient protein in whatever lunch I decide to prep.
I start stage four while the grain/protein is cooking. I cook a dish that will stay fresh throughout the week; my go-tos are curries, stews, and chili. Salads/pastas don’t work as well cooked in big batches since they get soggy. I make enough to last 4-5 meals.
Sometimes I also prep things that take longer to cook, like potatoes (as shown below). This is simply because there are days that I come home from work really hungry and I hate having to wait for potatoes to bake in the oven, so it makes me happy to have them ready to go.
WHY DO I MEAL PREP?
- It’s somewhat of a Sunday ritual for me, and it gives me comfort. Even on my most lazy, tired, hungover Sundays, I know I will have done something good if I meal prep.
- It makes cooking weeknight dinners SO MUCH EASIER. It is a thousand times easier to make a stir-fry, salad, roasted veggie bowl, or pasta dish when you have the vegetables already chopped. All you need to do is heat up your grains or cook some pasta, mix everything together, and boom you have a meal ready in less than 15 minutes.
- If nothing else, prep your leafy greens on the weekend by rinsing/drying them and zipping them up in a plastic bag. This will make adding them to your meals A LOT easier, and make healthy eating that much more enjoyable!
- It saves me money. Bringing my own lunch everyday means I don’t have to spend $8-$10 on a meal at the cafeteria or out somewhere. Plus, as a vegan, it’s a lot easier to make my own options than stress about getting bored of the options available to me since they’re pretty limited.
- It forces me to be more creative. I used to meal prep every night; I’d cook dinner and make an extra serving to have the next day at lunch. However, ever since I realized that it’s much easier to prep a big batch of lunch on the weekend, and handle dinner day-by-day, I’ve learned a lot about curries/soups (since that’s usually what I prep for lunch). I love experimenting with different flavors (e.g. adding miso paste, different spices, coconut milk, etc.) and seeing what new dish I can come up with every week. I also avoid getting bored by making an effort to add different ingredients every time.
Hope this helped! I love getting suggestions from you all, so if you’d like me to write about a certain topic please let me know.
P.S. Stay tuned for my first podcast episode! I just have to work out some logistical kinks and create the cover art and I’ll be off! It should be out in the next 10 days. :)