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Lazy Plant-based Meal Prep

Updated: 1 day ago


Lazy Plant-based Meal Prep

Trying to eat more plant-based foods for vitality, weight loss and long-term health? I’ve got just the solution to make your busy life a whole lot easier: lazy, plant-based meal prep with a trusty pressure cooker.


What you'll find in this lazy, plant-based meal prep post is a video on how I do my lazy meal prep, how meal prep can help you stay on track, ideas for ways to use the ingredients you prepped, why I love bulk-ingredient prep vs. full prepared and divided meals, tools I use for meal prep, the exact measurements and times for each prepped ingredient....and so much more!



Why is it so important to be prepared when trying to switch to a plant-based diet?


Making the switch to a plant-based diet can be a game-changer for your health, the environment, and animal welfare. But let’s face it – it’s not always easy, especially if you’re used to relying on animal products for your meals. That’s why being prepared is absolutely crucial when embarking on this journey. Here’s why:


Avoiding pitfalls


Let’s be real – old habits die hard. Without proper preparation, it’s all too easy to fall back into old routines and reach for familiar, non-plant-based foods out of convenience or habit. By planning ahead and stocking your kitchen with plant-based staples, you’ll be less tempted to stray from your new dietary goals.


Ensuring balanced nutrition


One of the biggest concerns people have when transitioning to a plant-based diet is whether they’ll be able to get all the nutrients they need. By being prepared and familiarizing yourself with plant-based sources of protein, iron, calcium, and other essential nutrients, you can ensure that your meals are balanced and nutritious.


Saving time and money


Cooking from scratch takes time and effort. But by planning your meals ahead of time and prepping ingredients in advance, you can save yourself both time and money in the long run. Batch cooking grains, beans, and veggies when you can make time, can set you up for success during the busy workweek ahead.


Exploring new foods and flavors


Transitioning to a plant-based diet opens up a whole world of delicious and nutritious foods that you may not have tried before. By being prepared and willing to experiment with new ingredients and recipes, you’ll discover a whole new palette of flavors and textures that will keep your taste buds excited and engaged.


Staying motivated


Change can be hard, especially when it comes to something as fundamental as what you eat. But by being prepared and setting yourself up for success, you’ll feel more confident and motivated to stick to your plant-based goals, even when faced with challenges or setbacks.



Lazy Plant-based Meal Prep


What is the benefit of meal prepping individual ingredients vs. fully-prepared meals in advance?


Meal prepping individual ingredients versus fully-prepared meals in advance each offer their own unique benefits, depending on your lifestyle, preferences, and dietary needs. For our purposes, let’s break down the advantages of prepping ingredients:


Flexibility


Prepping individual ingredients gives you the flexibility to mix and match components to create a variety of meals throughout the week. You can customize your meals based on what you’re craving or what ingredients you have on hand.


Versatility


By prepping individual ingredients like grains, greens, and proteins (such as tofu or beans), you can incorporate them into a wide range of dishes, from salads and stir-fries to grain bowls and soups. This versatility allows you to get creative with your meals while still sticking to your meal prep routine.


Portion Control


Prepping individual ingredients allows you to control portion sizes more easily, which can be especially beneficial if you’re watching your calorie intake or trying to maintain a balanced diet. You can portion out exactly how much of each ingredient you need for each meal, helping you avoid overeating or wasting food.


Longer Shelf Life


Some individual ingredients, like cooked grains or beans, can be stored in the fridge or freezer for longer periods of time without compromising their quality. This means you can prep ingredients in advance and use them throughout the week or even freeze them for future use, reducing food waste and saving time in the long run.


Trying to prepare full meals and then individually packing them has never worked for me because I don't have the time every Sunday to devote to it, and it was holding me back from meal prepping. This allows me to prep one ingredient when I run out, at any time in the week, and seems so much quicker and easier to me. It offers me so much versatility to try new recipes, new combinations, and saves time at dinner when cooking for a family.



Lazy Plant-based Meal Prep


What are the benefits of cooking ingredients in large batches for enjoying and freezing?


Cooking ingredients in large batches and freezing half of them is a game-changer when it comes to saving time in the kitchen. Let me break it down for you:


Efficiency in Cooking


When you cook in large batches, you maximize the use of your time and energy. Instead of cooking small portions every day, you can dedicate a chunk of time (like a lazy Sunday afternoon) to cook up a storm. This means less time spent chopping, sautéing, and simmering throughout the week.


Streamlined Meal Prep


With pre-cooked ingredients on hand, meal prep becomes a breeze. Picture this: you come home after a long day at work, tired and hungry. Instead of starting from scratch, you simply pull a container of pre-cooked grains, greens, or beans from the freezer and incorporate them into a quick and easy meal. It’s like having your own personal sous chef!


Versatile Meal Options


By cooking ingredients in large batches, you’re setting yourself up for a variety of meal options throughout the week. One day, you might use the pre-cooked grains as a base for a grain bowl or stir-fry. The next day, you could incorporate the pre-cooked beans into a hearty chili or soup. The possibilities are endless, and having pre-cooked ingredients on hand allows you to get creative with your meals without having to start from scratch every time.


Reduced Food Waste


We’ve all been guilty of letting fresh produce go to waste because we didn’t get around to using it in time. By cooking ingredients in large batches and freezing half of them, you can significantly reduce food waste and save money in the process. Plus, you’ll always have a backup plan on hand for those nights when you just can’t be bothered to cook.


Healthy Eating Made Easy


Having pre-cooked ingredients in the freezer means you’re less likely to rely on unhealthy takeout or convenience foods when hunger strikes. Instead, you can whip up a nutritious and satisfying meal in minutes using ingredients that you know and trust. It’s a win-win for both your taste buds and your waistline.



kale


Why is it important (at a minimum) to master the three basics: GGB grains, greens and beans when starting out eating plant-based?


Incorporating grains, greens, and beans into your plant-based diet is like hitting the jackpot of nutrition. These three food groups are the superheroes of the plant-based world, packed with essential nutrients that are vital for your health and well-being. Let me break it down for you:


Grains


Grains are the foundation of many diets worldwide, and for good reason. They’re rich in complex carbohydrates, which provide a steady source of energy to fuel your busy days. From hearty options like brown rice and farro to lighter choices like quinoa and barley, there’s a grain out there to suit every palate. Plus, they’re loaded with fiber, which helps keep your digestive system happy and healthy.


Greens


Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are nutritional powerhouses, boasting an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re low in calories but high in essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate. Incorporating more greens into your diet can help boost your immune system, support healthy digestion, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.


Beans


Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart – and so much more! These humble legumes are an excellent source of plant-based protein, making them a key component of any vegetarian or vegan diet. They’re also loaded with fiber, which helps keep you feeling full and satisfied after meals. Whether you prefer chickpeas, black beans, or lentils, adding more beans to your diet can help improve blood sugar control, promote weight loss, and support overall heart health.



tofu


Why is adding tofu, a starchy vegetable, and oil-free dressings and sauces a great idea too?


Adding tofu, starchy vegetables, and oil-free dressings and sauces to your plant-based meals is like adding the cherry on top of an already delicious sundae – it takes things to a whole new level of yumminess! Here’s why incorporating these additions is a fantastic idea:


Tofu


Tofu is a plant-based protein powerhouse that deserves a spot on your plate for so many reasons. Not only is it rich in protein, but it’s also a good source of essential amino acids, iron, calcium, and other important nutrients. Plus, it’s incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to salads to smoothies. Whether you’re a tofu newbie or a seasoned pro, adding tofu to your meals is a great way to boost their nutritional content and satisfy your hunger.


Starchy Vegetables


Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash are not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious. They’re packed with complex carbohydrates, which provide a steady source of energy to fuel your body throughout the day. They’re also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which help support overall health and well-being. Plus, they add a delightful sweetness and texture to your meals that can’t be beaten. Whether you roast them, mash them, or toss them into a salad, starchy vegetables are a must-have addition to any plant-based diet.


Oil-Free Dressings and Sauces


Traditional dressings and sauces can be loaded with unhealthy fats and calories. But who needs all that grease when you can whip up delicious, oil-free alternatives using simple ingredients like tahini, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard? Not only are oil-free dressings and sauces lighter and more refreshing, but they’re also better for your health. By cutting out the added oils, you’re reducing your intake of saturated fats and calories, which can help lower cholesterol levels, promote weight loss, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Plus, they add a burst of flavor and zest to your meals without any of the guilt.


Incorporating tofu, starchy vegetables, and oil-free dressings and sauces into your plant-based meals is a great idea because it not only enhances their taste and texture but also boosts their nutritional content. So go ahead, get creative in the kitchen and experiment with these delicious additions – your taste buds and your body will thank you!





What are some different meal ideas using the basic ingredients I prepped?


With the basic ingredients you prepped—grains, greens, beans, tofu, starchy vegetables, and oil-free dressings and sauces—you have a plethora of meal possibilities at your fingertips. Here are some delicious and nutritious meal ideas to get you started:


Taiwanese Tofu Lettuce Wraps


Easy, tasty, and a crowd pleaser, Taiwanese Tofu Lettuce Wraps will be a hit with your family! You can crumble the pre-cooked tofu and use whatever grain mix you cooked up as the base.

Kid-Friendly BBQ Lentil Muffins


These super easy BBQ lentil muffins are kid-tested and will make the whole family happy! You can use the lentils you prepped.


Indonesian Gado Gado


This Gado Gado dish is a great way to use the tofu, kale, carrots and sweet potatoes you prepped. All you'd have to make is the sauce!


One-Pot Moroccan Carrots, Lentils and Rice


Use prepped grains, carrots (sweet potatoes) and lentils. Well, I’ve got the recipe for you. One Pot Moroccan Carrots, Lentils and Rice – a “my-family-went-back-for-seconds” recipe.


Balsamic Walnut & Apple Bowl


This might be my favorite no-recipe, recipe. I use 2 cups of kale, 1/4 cup quinoa or grain mix, 1/4 cup lentils, 1 serving super-firm tofu, 1 apple, chopped, and .5 oz walnuts. Top with drizzle of balsamic reduction. Heaven.


Buddha Bowl


Create a colorful Buddha bowl by layering cooked grains (farro, brown rice), sautéed greens (kale, spinach), roasted starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots), and protein-packed beans (lentils, chickpeas). Drizzle with your favorite oil-free dressing or sauce for added flavor.


Stir-Fry


Whip up a quick and easy stir-fry by tossing cubed tofu with a medley of stir-fry veggies (bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas) and cooked grains (quinoa, rice). Add a splash of soy sauce or a homemade teriyaki sauce for a burst of flavor.


Taco Tuesday


Who says tacos have to be meat-centric? Fill soft or hard taco shells with seasoned black beans, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and avocado slices. Top with a dollop of salsa and a squeeze of lime for a fiesta in your mouth.


Grain Salad


Combine cooked grains (farro, barley) with chopped fresh veggies (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes), herbs (parsley, cilantro), and crumbled tofu or beans for added protein. Toss with a zesty lemon-tahini dressing for a refreshing and satisfying salad.


Stuffed Sweet Potatoes


Bake sweet potatoes until tender, then stuff them with a mixture of cooked grains (quinoa, bulgur), sautéed greens (kale, Swiss chard), and seasoned black beans or lentils. Top with a creamy avocado-tahini sauce for a hearty and nourishing meal.


Tofu Scramble


Crumble tofu and sauté with diced veggies (onions, bell peppers, mushrooms) and leafy greens (spinach, kale) for a plant-based twist on scrambled eggs. Serve with whole-grain toast or a side of roasted potatoes for a hearty breakfast or brunch.


Bean Chili


Simmer cooked beans (black beans, kidney beans) with diced tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and spices (chili powder, cumin, paprika) for a comforting and satisfying chili. Serve topped with sliced avocado and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for added flavor.


Grain Bowl


Create a customizable grain bowl by layering cooked grains (brown rice, quinoa) with your choice of roasted or sautéed veggies (zucchini, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts), protein (tofu, beans), and a drizzle of your favorite oil-free dressing or sauce.

 

Tools I use for meal prep


This EasySprout sprouter has been a game changer for rinsing small grains and beans (like quinoa!), as well as sprouting

EasySprout Sprouter Jar

I got the Ninja Foodi 10-in-one pressure cooker, air fryer for Mother's Day one year and love it. I probably use this on a daily basis. I have the 5-qt which they may not sell any more so check the manufacturer's directions for amount of liquid and cook times for larger pressure cookers.

Ninja Foodi 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker Air Fryer

These glass Pyrex storage containers can go in the fridge, oven, freezer and dish washer. I absolutely love them - the rectangle is my favorite because it reduces wasted space in the fridge and freezer and can fit more. I suggest getting a few extra of the largest size.


Pyrex Glass Storage Containers

Stasher bags are my all-time favorite silicone storage bag. Yes, they are an investment, but they hold up in the freezer, dish washer, oven, and my daughter's lunch bags. The money I've saved on baggies, and plastic waste I've saved from the environment by making this investment is priceless! I give these as Christmas and birthday gifts and always am met with such gratitude!

Stasher Silicone Bags

Silicone baking mats are a must-have for oil-free baking of tofu and other food items. Any of the ones on Amazon will work but I recommend getting different sizes.


Silicone Baking Mat

 

Lazy Meal Plant-based Meal Prep: Measurements and Times

sweet potatoes

Lazy plant-based meal prep using pressure cooker & oven


Here's how to use the pressure cooker to make what I demonstrated in the video. Reminder that I used the 5-qt Ninja Foodi 10-in-one pressure cooker, air fryer so check the manufacturer's directions for amount of liquid and cook times for larger pressure cookers.


Grains

1 cup each farro, black lentils & brown rice, rinsed & drained

6 cups water

High 15 min / 10 min natural release


Greens

bunch of curly kale & Tuscan kale

1 cup water

Low 1 min / quick release


Beans

1-pound brown lentils, rinsed and drained

6 cups water

Low 5 min / 10 min natural release


Starchy Veg

1 2-lb bag sweet potatoes & a few carrots, washed & chopped

1 cup water

High 1 min / quick release / rinse with cold water or ice bath to stop cooking


Tofu

2 packages organic, super-firm

Preheat oven to 400F

Cut into slabs (or desired shape)

Season, if desired (salt, pepper & garlic powder is great)

Place on parchment paper or silicone mat

Bake 400F for 25 minutes, or browned


Apple-Dijon Oil-Free Dressing

In a small mason jar mix:

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (you can sub balsamic vinegar for different flavor)

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp maple syrup

2-3 cloves minced garlic


Tahini Dressing

In a small mason jar mix:

1/3 cup runny tahini (I love the Mighty Sesame Co brand)

1-2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 medium lemon, juiced

1 pinch sea salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

Water to thin





Lazy Plant-based Meal Prep Infographic



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