Batch Cooking and Meal Prep Ideas for Your Plant Based Kitchen

By Susan Neyhard Styer

In my last blog post we talked about adopting a plant based diet. Here are a few tips to make your transition successful! The easiest way to begin is to choose some of your favorite recipes and substitute or eliminate the meat , dairy and eggs. Tofu, tempeh, beans or seitan are good substitutes for the meat component. Flax or chia seeds make terrific egg substitutes and there are a plethora of plant milks available . Be willing to give them a try if you haven’t already!

Batch Cooking and Meal Prep Ideas for Your Plant Based Kitchen

None of us have a lot of time for cooking! Between getting the kids to school and sports practices and music lessons, working full time, and spending quality time with family, there is little time left for food prep. Our inclination is to reach for junky food that is quick and easy . We may have good intentions but they all fall by the wayside. By prepping recipes and key ingredients ahead of time you put healthy food at your fingertips .

Plan ahead

Make a menu for the week. Check your pantry and fridge to review what you are running low on. Hint: You can keep a permanent list of what you want to keep in the kitchen then just check off what you need to shop for. There are a number of apps to help you do this, try Paprika Recipe Manager, which allows you to store recipes, make weekly menus, and compile shopping lists.

Shop Weekly

Weekly shopping ensures that your produce stays fresh, and minimizes waste. It is also much easier to plan meals for seven days than for an extended period of time. Choose a day that you can do grocery shopping with some time for menu planning before.

Find a system that works for you

Here are some popular ways to plan your meals: Choose a theme for each night: Monday may be Mexican night, Tuesday Asian night, Wednesday Italian, Thursday burger night, Friday pizza night and so on.

Foods to prep

Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, and mango are all great examples of fruits that can be cut up ahead of time and placed in sealed containers. Freeze some of your ripe bananas. They are a key ingredient for smoothies , “ice cream,” pancakes and more. Strawberries , apples , pears, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, and grapes are best to wash right before use. One exception may be if you are freezing grapes you can wash then freeze.

Create a “salad bar” in your fridge

Slice veggies, store them in containers. Carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, scallions and celery are great toppings for your salad or power bowls. Stock up on baby greens that are already prewashed and ready to go.

Make a big pot of soup or chili

Soup is easy to prepare as everything goes in one pot. It can be reheated for quick lunches. Switch it up and cook a different soup every week. Chili can be eaten in so many ways: alone, over grains, on top of potatoes, over tortilla chips, in a power bowl etc.

Make a “burger of the week”

Double or triple the recipe for your chosen burger of the week. Save some to be eaten that week, and freeze others to be saved for a later time. It is better to freeze them after they’ve been cooked so they don’t fall apart in the freezer.

Cook a large batch of grains

Brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and wild rice can be used to make soups, casseroles, bowls and veggie burgers , or they can be enjoyed with beans and veggies. A rice cooker or Instant Pot makes this task super easy.

Cook a large batch of beans

Dried beans such as pinto, black, chickpeas, or lentils can be quickly cooked in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker.

Bake a bunch of potatoes

Scrub some potatoes , sweet potatoes and put them in the oven at 400* to bake for about 30-40 minutes or until you can pierce with a fork. You can serve them with steamed veggies, leftover chili or as a side dish.

Store your food in : glass containers that are oven safe, mason jars, BPA-free freezer bags or green bags!

This is one of our favorite recipes!

Chickpea Noodle Soup

½ lg onion diced 2 carrots diced

1 celery stalk diced

2 large potatoes cubed

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp thyme

4 c veggie broth

1 ½ water

¼ c poultry seasoning

6 oz noodles (we use soba or ramen but whatever wholegrain noodle is your favorite)

2 c cooked chickpeas

Cilantro to taste.

Saute onions in water. Add carrots & celery , sauté until veggies just soften Add the potatoes, garlic and thyme. Saute another minute. Add the water, veggie broth and poultry seasoning and bring to a low simmer. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 min. Stir in chickpeas & pasta. Cook about 5-10 min more depending on type of pasta used. Stir in cilantro , season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Meal prepping list credit to : T . Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies