My number one key to success for sticking with a healthy meal plan? Tackling as much advance prep as possible before the craziness of the week begins. Our Plant Based RE:SET Challenge is centered around five days of healthy, homemade meals that will satisfy, delight, and have you feeling your most vibrant. To help you experience this plan to its fullest, I’m sharing the seven meal prep tasks I tackle on Sunday that’ll make the week stress-free. We’re talking 30 minutes or less of dinner prep each evening, and lunch prep is almost nonexistent. I hope you’re as excited as we are for five days of plant-based meals that’ll boost our wellness, together. Now, scroll on for my plant-based meal prep ideas for success!
Know your why.
Before we hit the grocery store, it’s important to know our motivation–why the focus on plant-based meals? Well, research shows that a plant-based diet rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals helps to lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes, help to maintain a healthy weight, and reduce your risk of heart disease. And then there are the environmental benefits—UN experts say switching to a plant-based diet can help fight climate change.
As I’ve shifted my own diet towards incorporating more plant-based meals, I’ve noticed increased energy and better digestion, and I want to keep that momentum going in 2022—for me, meal prep is key. But before you see meal prep as just another thing on your to-do list, hear me out—this isn’t about cooking meals in advance. Meal prep is exactly that—prepping a few delicious ingredients in advance, storing them for optimal freshness, then assembling them into a delicious meal with maximum flavor and nutrition to keep you energized all day.
Make it a ritual.
If I’m going to commit to something over the weekend, I’ve got to make it fun. For me, that means turning on some music (or a favorite podcast), pouring a kombucha, and getting in my zone. The rituals of chopping, washing, and prepping are a therapeutic way to start my week, plus there’s a certain peace of mind that comes from knowing we’ve got plenty of nourishing meals ready to go for the week ahead.
Make your recipes do double duty
I created the Plant Based RE:SET menu to make the most of your time in the kitchen. This means that just about all of the ingredients on your shopping list are used in multiple recipes, and with several of these ingredients, you can prep once and use ‘em twice. Roasting a sweet potato? It’s just as easy to roast two. Why not make a salad dressing and a sauce that adds flavor to multiple meals? And if I’m making a pot of chili for dinner, you can bet I’m going to make enough for a workday leftovers lunch, too.
Here are the exact plant-based meal prep ideas I use to prep for this plan:
Let’s face it: baking is a weekend activity. And the beauty of these muffins is that they’re moist enough to stay fresh in an airtight container for a few days. They’ll form the basis for a couple of breakfasts and a snack throughout the week. If you don’t eat them all, they keep well in the freezer for up to a month. Here’s how I freeze my muffins to keep them super fresh. Grab the morning glory muffin recipe and get baking.
This is a pro move if you want to be extra prepped for the week ahead: go ahead and make your pot of sweet potato and black bean chili so it’s ready to go on Monday night. The flavors of the chili will meld and deepen in the fridge overnight, and I swear there’s nothing better than finishing work and realizing that dinner is already done. The chili only takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, so you can easily get it boiling on the stove while you tackle your other meal-prep tasks. Get the chili recipe here!
Make crispy chickpeas
Crispy roasted chickpeas are one of my favorite plant-based snacks, and they’re infinitely customizable with different spices and flavors. To make them, drain a can of chickpeas, let them completely dry, then toss with olive oil and sea salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet, and roast them at 400 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re super crispy. Then, toss with chili powder, garlic salt, or whatever spices you love. Store them in a mason jar at room temperature for up to a week.
So simple, yet so key: toasted walnuts have 10x the flavor of raw walnuts, and I love the warm nuttiness they add to any dish. All you have to do is spread out your raw walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cook at 400 degrees F for 7 to 10 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when you start to smell a toastiness coming from the oven. (you can do this step while the chickpeas roast!)
Cook lentils according to package directions, then add them to a container and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, a big pinch of salt and pepper. (optional, can also add 1 smashed clove of garlic or 1/2 a shallot.) Store lentils in the fridge until ready to make your lentil salad.
I always like to have some type of homemade sauce in my fridge for drizzling on pasta, toast, or even eggs. This kale pesto is a delicious twist on a classic and it’s full of nutrient-packed greens. You’ll use it two ways this week: on avocado toast and in the rigatoni. Though you might find yourself drizzling it on everything. I like to store mine in a mason jar in the fridge for up to a week. Grab the kale pesto recipe here!
Of course, you can have a store-bought dressing in the fridge, but a homemade version will always taste better. This slightly sweet, very ginger-y dressing is a major crowd-pleaser, and you’ll likely want to have it in your fridge at all times.
To make the citrus-ginger dressing, just add all these ingredients to a blender and blend it up:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice and zest of an orange
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- Pinch of salt