Plant-Based Food Prep
Thursday, January 11, 2024 by Doreen Wennberg
Some of the top New Year’s resolutions most people have are getting fit, improving finances, growing in their spiritual walk, and eating healthier.
While I don’t make resolutions, I do aim to reorganize and reprioritize my life and habits. Near the top of that list are meal planning and food prep.
If adopting a healthier lifestyle is among the top things on your list, taking steps to ensure success should include food prep.
Most of us already do food prep. Advanced food prep is helpful if you are new to or experimenting with plant-based eating,
Bulk food preparation
Most people cannot afford to eat out every night. And why would you want to? Home-cooked meals are not only cost-effective but better for our bodies. Cooking our own food helps us to control the amount of fat, sugar, and oils we consume.
When I was a meat eater, I always bought meat in bulk and packaged it for the freezer. Now I do the same with many of the staples I use in my plant-based diet.
Bulk food prep helps us when it comes time to cook on those busy nights. When we’re tired, the trap of convenience foods can lure us away from our healthy intent. But the key to success is if you have prepared in advance. There are several things we can do to ensure successful, healthy eating.
Meal planning matters
I have always been a meal planner. A weekly meal plan helps with knowing what you are making at a glance and what ingredients you need for every meal. If you like to bulk shop for the month, a monthly meal planner or a good idea of meals you will make will help ensure you purchase and stock those ingredients you’ll need. Bulk food buying is always more cost-effective!
Plan set days of preparation.
Set aside time once a week in the beginning to build up stock. Then shorten your prep days to twice a month and finally once a month to keep up.
Food prep can seem like a lot of work in the beginning. But once your stock builds up, and you reach for an already-prepped item on that busy night— your reward pays off!
Start with what you use a lot of.
I no longer buy broth. There was a day when I had my pantry stocked with chicken or veggie broth. I always bought low sodium. There’s nothing more annoying than when a store is out of an item you need—or when the prices start going up.
Now I make my own veggie broth and don’t use any salt! It’s flavorful, and you probably have everything you need to make it on hand.
Making broth is as easy as simmering your selected vegetables, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, and spices in a large stock-pot—full of water. When done, I keep some in the frig in mason jars to use that week, and I freeze the rest in quart-size freezer bags.
If you roast a lot of veggies or make fresh salads—those veggies can be done all at once, and then set aside for the whole week. Keep some in the frig, and freeze others, so they are ready when you are.
Tackle the time consumers
I buy a lot of frozen vegetables, but I also use a lot of fresh vegetables, and it takes time to peel and chop. Somehow, prepping it all at once doesn’t seem like such a chore when you know the prep work is lasting longer.
Did you know that using your food processor can be a time saver and change up the look of a usual vegetable? Instead of chopping by hand, use it to shred carrots and cucumbers, zucchini, or cabbage. Store these in individual baggies or sealed containers. Fixing salads and sandwiches is a snap throughout the week.
Some of these same vegetables get chopped by hand to prep ahead for a variety of recipes. I like to keep red and green peppers, onions, and celery chopped ahead. (I also buy some of these frozen. It’s good to have both on hand). Be sure to date and label everything.
Do you ever make a double amount of rice for the week? Did you know that you can freeze and reheat rice if needed? I still tend to make my rice as needed, but I see many make-ahead recipes and may incorporate that this year too!
Whether meat or plant eater, my family LOVES gravy! One of our favorite gravies is a cashew cream gravy for lentil meatballs. The recipe is much like a stroganoff and so good. I started making this in bulk and freezing individual ½ cups and large family-size portions because it is so good!
I use a lot of Lentils. I love them because they mimic the taste of meat! And lentils are full of fiber and so good for you! Many recipes call for 1-cup of cooked lentils, which takes 15-20 minutes. I like to cook up several cups at a time and store them in 1 cup portions in freezer bags. This way, when I need lentil taco meat or want to make a lentil burger, meatballs, or taquitos, I have them ready to go.
Don’t forget to prep for smoothies and snacks. Keeping fresh fruit is hard sometimes to keep from going bad if not quickly eaten. Flash-freezing fruit, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, and blueberries for smoothies and “nice creams” and you’re all set to go!
Meal planning is much easier when you prep ahead and fill up the freezer!
Advanced food prep ensures success when we stop eating convenient processed food and start cooking from scratch in bulk. With a little time and organization, your pantry and freezer can help you stay on a healthy eating path. Here’s to good health in 2024!
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