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Guide to Anti-Diet Vegan Meal Prep

Cooking vegetables in a pan on the stove

When you think “meal prep” does something specific come to mind? The truth is meal prep just means preparing food ahead of time. There are no rules about what that needs to look like!

You don’t have to:

  • Prep a week’s worth of food at once
  • Use fancy matching containers
  • Measure your food
  • Stick to a calorie limit
  • Adhere to a specific diet
  • Make complicated recipes
  • Spend half of your weekend in the kitchen

So erase whatever diet-culture-driven vision of meal prep you have because I want you to create your own personalized vision of meal prepping that has nothing to do with dieting and everything to do with self-care!

You might be wondering, do I have to meal prep? And the answer is of course not! However, it can make your life a little easier and reduce overall food-related stress. So if you feel resistant to it or a bit challenged, give these tips and considerations a try and remember that it doesn’t have to be a super intensive experience!

Benefits of Meal Prep

First, let’s address the why. Why meal prep? Here are just some of the benefits of meal prep:

  • Saves time by consolidating tasks (preparing and cooking several things in the same period of time)
  • Less stress about daily food labor (because you already planned + prepped ahead so you don’t have to figure out what to eat in the moment!)
  • Helps prevent feelings of food scarcity (since you have food already prepared you know you have something to grab when you’re hungry)
  • Supports consistent food intake (no more skipping meals because you didn’t have something easy to eat)
  • Saves money (cuts down on spur-of-the-moment takeout & delivery orders and reduces food waste!)
  • Builds confidence in the kitchen (gets you in the groove of planning, prepping and cooking)

What is your why for meal prep? Start here to build your non-diet-culture foundation for meal prepping!

A bowl of tomatoey chickpeas, rice, bread, cucumbers and herbs

Methods of Meal Prep

Now that you have your why, let’s address the how! There is no one right way to approach meal prep. It’s all about whatever works for your lifestyle, preferences, resources, abilities, etc. If you want the beautiful matching food storage containers, go for it! But please know it doesn’t have to look like that.

So, you might like preparing food and then portioning it into single-serving containers so you can just grab one and go. Consider if you like cooking from recipes or if you like to wing it. Do you like one-pot or bowl type meals or do you like distinct food components such as grain, protein, veggie, sauce, for example?

Or, you might like to make a bunch of meal components, store them separately, and then mix and match when it comes meal time. You can use components to make a variety of different types of meals such as bowls, wraps, sandwiches, pasta, tacos, etc.

A list of benefits of meal prepping that have nothing to do with diet culture ✔️Less stress about daily food labor ✔️Helps prevent feelings of food scarcity ✔️Supports consistent food intake ✔️Saves money by decreasing takeout/delivery ✔️Builds confidence in the kitchen

You don’t have to choose just one way to prep! Try different methods and see what works for you. You can do multiple methods at once or maybe one week one method works best and the next week a different method.

For example, I like having single-serving portions ready to grab and eat for a quick lunch. And I also like having staples prepped like rice and baked tofu and chopped veggies that I can use to create various meals when I have a little more time.

You also don’t have to do all this prepping at once. You can spread it out! And you don’t have to make 7 days’ worth of food at one time. You can just think about the next couple days if you want!

However you do it, keep your why in mind and remember to resist any urges to restrict or slip into diet mentality. Try sitting down and spending just 5 minutes considering what kind of meal prep is realistic for your life right now.

Vegan Meal Prep Ideas

You’ve considered your why and your how, now let’s talk about the what! What exactly are you going to make? The sky’s the limit! Whenever clients ask me where to start when it comes to planning meals, I like to ask “What do you like to eat?” Forget all the diet rules; close your eyes, go inside and consider what sounds and feels good to you!

Also consider your time, energy, resources, etc. What is realistic for you to prepare? Remember you don’t have to spend hours on end in the kitchen. Even 30 to 60 minutes in the kitchen can produce several meals’ and snacks’ worth of food! You don’t have to prepare complex recipes, though of course you can if you want.

A tan and orange graphic that says "4 meal planning considerations: What sounds good? What feels good? What do I have time to prepare? What can I access and afford?"

If you like mix and match type of meal prep, it can be helpful to think of the following types of foods to prepare:

For example, some of my favorite protein foods are nooch tofu and chickpea salad. I like having rice, quinoa, and pasta around for grains. Roasted veggies and sauteed greens are my jam and I love cut raw veggies to go with hummus and pita for snacks. As for sauces, I love buffalo sauce and peanut sauce! What are your fave foods in these categories?

You might also consider the season. Do you prefer cool, crunchy foods when it’s hot outside? Do you love lots of soups and stews when weather turns cold? You might also leave a little room for spontaneity depending on what’s at the farmers market that week or on sale at the grocery store.

It’s totally OK to use convenience foods, too! Canned, frozen, prepackaged, bottled, jarred, you name it! Meal prep doesn’t mean everything has to be made from scratch or has to fit into the restrictive definition of “whole food plant-based.”

Remember, we’re doing this for self-care. So make sure your meals are both nourishing and satisfying! That means they provide a balance of nutrients and they taste good in your mouth and feel good in your body! Reminder: nourishing doesn’t equal restrictive.

Need some inspiration? Check out my list of 25 quick and easy vegan meal and snack ideas!

A graphic titled "meal prep problem solving" with a list of challenges down the left side and a list of curiosities down the right side. Line 1: intimidated by cooking / what do you already know how to make? Line 2: Not sure what will taste good / what leftovers do you look forward to eating? Line 3: Not much time or energy / what is quick and simple? Line 4: don't like eating the same thing repeatedly / how can you use core ingredients in different ways?

Want to give meal prepping a go but not sure how to begin? Start slow and perhaps practice doubling what you cook one day so that you have extra leftovers for the next day. Or make one more recipe a week. Or spend just 10 extra minutes in the kitchen throwing snacks together for a few days! Don’t be afraid to experiment and switch it up in order to find what works for you! And remember, you get to decide what meal prep looks like for you.

Want to learn how to build vegan meals that are both nourishing and satisfying? Hop into my Anti-Diet Vegan Nutrition Online Course!

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