8 Awesome Vegan Meal Prep Hacks to Save You Time and Money
Home-cooked meals have a stellar healthy-to-affordability ratio. The secret to eating more home cooked, plant-based meals, lies not in the cooking, but in the planning and prepping. When you have a refrigerator stacked with ready-in-a-jiffy grains, beans, and veggies, cooking plant-based meals at home becomes a breeze.
So, whether you’re a seasoned vegan or a flexitarian trying to add more plants to your daily diet, here are 8 vegan cooking hacks that’ll make plant-based cooking easier, faster, and a lot cheaper!
1. Plan your Meals
To the uninitiated, meal planning might seem boring and tedious but it is a lifesaver! It helps with prepping, batch cooking, efficiently using up leftovers, and most importantly in tackling your daily what-to-cook-for-dinner stressor (p.s. if you’re looking for ways to reduce stress, here are 4 mindful habits to try out).
To make your meal plans sustainable, customize them to your liking and to suit your lifestyle. You can either jot down a quick list of dishes to make throughout the week or curate a detailed plan enlisting each meal of the week – whichever suits you best.
If you’re new to meal planning, here’s are a few tips to take some heat off of meal planning:
- Make a list of all the items in your kitchen and fridge and curate a menu around those
- Plan your meals around seasonal produce, they’re cheaper when they’re in season
- Begin with a few simple recipes that you already love
- Spend time each week looking for recipes. Browse blogs, websites, and cookbooks for inspiring plant-based recipes. Mark and save your favourites!
- Start with one meal at a time - if planning 3 meals for the whole week seems a bit too much, start with just dinner or breakfast and move your way up the meal planning ladder.
- To prevent meal planning and cooking from becoming mundane, get creative and experimental. For example, plan out themes for each night of the week - leftover’s night, breakfast-for-dinner night, soup Saturdays, taco Tuesdays
- Check what’s on sale at your grocery store and plan your menu around it. 10% off on canned chickpeas? Time for falafels!
2. Prep Ahead for the Week
When you choose to eat vegan home-cooked meals, it doesn’t mean you need to eat boring, and prepping ahead for the week is a sure shot way to ensure that. With meal preps, you can either opt for ingredient prep – wherein you prep and stock up your refrigerator with different ingredients and toss them up together for a quick meal – or you can opt for batch cooking in which you can prepare and freeze large batches of your favorite meal and then heat them up throughout the week.
3. Prepare grains, soups, and curry bases in advance
Grains are one of the most time-consuming things to prep and cook. So, for those days, when you are not in the mood to hover over the stovetop for 30 minutes, having a batch of pre-cooked rice, couscous, quinoa, and other whole grains comes in handy.
Likewise, you can also make curry bases and soups ahead of time. They freeze well and after a long day, all you need to do is chop up some veggies, heat up the curry base, and toss them together to whip up a delicious, home-cooked plant-based meal in minutes.
4. Get Creative with Leftovers
If you do invest your time and energy into making a meal, be sure to make extra servings that can be turned into breakfast or dinner the next day. Leftover black beans from taco Tuesday? Turn them into a breakfast burrito or blend them, add a few spices and turn them into vegan burger patties.
5. B(l)end it like Beckham
When cooking at home, you don’t really have to follow a recipe to the T. Customize and adapt the recipe to your convenience. If you’re making soup, chili, curry, or pasta sauce instead of chopping all the ingredients, just blitz them together in a blender. A word to the wise; this tip is only for days when you’re absolutely not in the mood for cutting and dicing. While blending ingredients is a quick fix, on the downside, it can take away from all those different textures.
6. Stack up on Good One Pot Meal Recipes
One-pot meals offer dual benefits – minimal prep AND minimal post-cooking cleanup. If you’re planning on cooking more meals at home, it’s great to have a repertoire of one-pot meal recipes that you can hark back on. Need a place to start? Here are three easy Tex Mex recipes that you can whip up in less than 30 minutes (from scratch!)
7. Stock Up on Frozen Veggies and Canned Beans
Frozen veggies and canned beans are great to have in your kitchen for those too-tired-to-cook days. Beans are an important source of protein in a plant-based diet. But soaking and cooking them from scratch requires hours (we’re talking 3 to 4 hours of hands-on cooking!). And so, if you’re looking for a quick fix, canned beans are a great alternative.
Frozen veggies and fruits retain as many (and in some cases more) nutrients as their fresh counterparts. So, So, for days when washing, peeling and chopping is too big a task, pull out a bag from the freezer and cook away.
8. Ready to Eat Vegan Meals
Then there are those days, where everything from the traffic to your boss has been the worst and you don’t want to face the heat anymore – be it at the office or in the kitchen. For those days, we’ve got you covered. From spicy piri piri jambalaya to creamy butternut Mac, we’ve got something for all your vegan food cravings.
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