Meal prep at our house is somewhat scattered. Cooking vegan for myself as well as non-vegan options for my husband can make it challenging to navigate. In addition to following a different dietary direction, Bryce tends to travel during the week; I'm often left meal planning and cooking for one (and a half if you include Dexter). To cut down on food waste + time spent in the store or kitchen, I have developed a few cooking shortcuts. Whether you are cooking for one, two or ten, I want to share a few of my favorite meal prep tips + tricks. Take a skim below!
I. Buy frozen foods
Frozen produce is not only more cost + time-friendly, its sometimes more nutrient-dense. Fresh foods transported long distances, stored for extended periods of time before making it to market or simply sitting in your fridge for a long time, lose vitamins. If produce undergoes a quick-freeze process immediately after being picked, it may retain more vitamins than it's fresh counterparts. Bonus: no washing or chopping required; that bag of frozen spinach is good to go!
II. Assemble basics in batches
Carbohydrates, protein + fat. Break down these three macronutrients by cooking 1-2 food options per category. Add in non-starchy vegetables whenever possible + go from there. One of my go-to basics is firm tofu or tempeh (protein) sautéed with a bag of frozen vegetables (non-starchy vegetables). I then cook a big batch of quinoa with black beans (carbohydrates) or my new favorite is this lentil pasta. I then rotate my toppings (fats) between diced avocado, Trader Joe's almond butter dressing + vegan cheese. Keeping these options on hand gives me the flexibility to create something quickly, such as a spinach salad by adding the tofu mix on top.
III. Shop, Chop + Store
Let's face it; when confronted with a slice of leftover pie or a stalk of celery, it's easy to choose the less time-consuming, + more flavorful, option. Make healthy options easy, attractive choices by prepping the food soon after you bring it home. Cut carrots into smaller pieces; wash cherries before placing into a bowl. Keeping these items in a clear container on a shelf at eye-level will encourage you to reach for them when snack-time strikes. Wrap less healthy items, such as leftover pizza, in aluminum foil before storing toward the back of the fridge on a lower shelf. Out of sight, out of mind.