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Vegan Meal Prep are three words that I never thought I’d be saying together! I have always been an avid meat eat and cheese lover. However, after Whole30 my relationship with dairy has changed and opened me up to testing new diets to reach my optimal health.
Whole30 Meat Overload
I started 2019 off completing my first round of Whole30. Hoping to find a dietary cause for my sluggishness and brain fog. During Whole30, I had a brief period of time (about 3 days) where I woke up feeling refreshed and energetic. I was even able to cut my caffeine consumption in half. By the end of the 30 days I was feeling the same way that I did at the beginning.
I will admit that I didn’t comply with the reintroduction period as well as I could because we had a weekend getaway trip planned to Disneyland. However, even after reintroducing sugar, alcohol, dairy, and legumes – I did not notice a drastic change in how I felt.
During Whole30, I also felt the burden of the amount of meat we were consuming! Breakfast on Whole30 usually consists of eggs and I was so sick of them by the end of the month that I was ready to swear them off forever. We also were purchasing high quality meats and our grocery budget was out of control as I purchased grass-fed beef, heritage pork, and natural chicken to keep our bellies full during the month.
Another goal for this year was to try and reduce waste and our carbon footprint. I am fully aware of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by meat consumption and wanted to reduce our intake following Whole30.
We resumed our usual meat consumption, but continued to stay mostly dairy free (with the exception of my toddler who eats yogurt and cheese).
Searching for Answers
Shortly after I completed Whole30, my husband began having intense stomach cramps and pain almost every morning. He began drinking different teas for cramping and bloating, eliminated gluten (which he had done previously for minor stomach issues and had success), and began taking a dietary supplement to help his gut health.
For the most part, we eat pretty healthy so after a few weeks of not being able to identify the source we sought out help. His primary care doctor ordered blood tests that all came back normal and referred him to a doctor who specializes in gastroenterology.
We searched for a provider that practiced functional medicine (we were avoiding unnecessary medications and wanted a more natural approach) and found one that was highly reviewed online and personally recommended online. He booked an appointment immediately and continued his diagnostic work.
My husband’s new doctor recommend that he cut out dairy to see if that is causing any issues. At this point she did not suggest a vegan diet, but after following her on social media, we quickly learned that she was vegan. We began researching more and learning from her posts and videos about a plant-based diet. My husband was ready to try anything to heal his gut and start feeling normal again so thus began my first Vegan Meal Prep adventure!
So here we are at the beginning of this plant-based journey. Searching for gut health and healing, as well as some answers. As someone who loves to cook and meal prep, I was up to the task to prepare a plant-based diet for my husband. However, I will admit that I am not fully committed to the diet so will incorporate some meat and dairy into mine and my daughter’s meals.
I want to share my strategies for creating simple, plant-based meals that won’t break your budget, cause stress from meal prep, or turn your taste buds off! Read on below to see how I completed my first Vegan Meal Prep in under 2 hours.
Food Prep vs. Meal Prep
Whole30 required a ton of planning and meal prep. Constantly obsessing over new recipes, what to prep, and how to build my meal plan. I knew I couldn’t keep up with that as we took on this new dietary change, so I decided switching to a food prep approach would be more realistic for us.
I call it food prep because you are prepping individual food items (grains, legumes, vegetables) that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of different bowls, salads, or wraps. This weekend I completed my first plant-based food prep and I am excited to kick off the week with a fridge jam-packed with nutritious, vegan ingredients!
Vegan Meal Prep Work
First I decided on a variety of grains, vegetables, and vegan protein sources. I went to Costco and opted for some prepackaged items to help us ease into this transition. We enjoy eating veggies, but there will definitely be more of them being cooked up in our kitchen now!
I also found that (unfortunately) I can save a lot more money purchasing produce in bulk or frozen. We are on a tight budget this month so I had to make the conscious decision to prioritize our family’s health (dietary needs) and budget restrictions over reducing plastic waste. (I plan to discuss the struggle of finding a balance between budget, convenience, eating healthy, and being eco-conscious in a future post).
Vegan Meal Prep List
- Steel Cut Oatmeal : Oats, brown sugar or other sweetener (optional)
- Brown Rice
- Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Broccoli: Avocado oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, & garlic powder
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Balsamic vinegar, coconut aminos, salt & pepper
- Mushrooms: Balsamic vinegar, avocado oil, salt & pepper
- Cauliflower Fried Rice: Cauliflower, carrots, sesame oil, coconut aminos, (other veggies optional: peas, corn, mushrooms, green onions)
- Carrot sticks
- Cucumber slices
- Diced tomatoes
- Black beans
- Garbanzo beans
Ready-to-go/prep day of:
- Jarred marinara
- Vegetable Yakisoba
My Favorite Storage Containers:
|Brussels Sprouts, 2lbs||$3.99||$2/lb|
|Organic Carrots, 10lbs||$5.49||$0.55/lb|
|English Cucumbers, 3ct|
|Organic Mushrooms, 24oz||$4.99||$0.21/oz|
|Organic Baby Spinach, 1lb||$3.39||$0.21/oz|
|Organic Sweet Potatoes, 6.5lbs||$8.49||$1.31/lb|
CANNED & DRY GOODS
|Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oatmeal|
|Kirkland Organic Quinoa, 4.5lbs||$9.99||$2.22/lb|
|Lundberg Organic Brown Rice, 12lbs||$11.99||$1/lb|
|Chosen Foods Avocado Oil, 33.8oz||$9.69||$0.29/oz|
|Kirkland Organic Creamy Almond Butter, 27oz|
|S&W Organic Black Beans|
|Bertolli Organic Pasta Sauce, 4 x 24oz||$8.89||$2.22/jar|
|Garofalo Organic Spaghetti, 8 ct|
|Organic Blueberries, 3lbs|
|Ajinomoto Vegetable Yakisoba, 6 x 9oz (12 servings)||$11.99||$1/serv.|
|DonLee Farms Organic Vegan Burgers, 12 burgers||$13.99||$1.17/ea|
Snacks & Misc
|Late July Organic Multigrain Chips, 28oz||$6.59||$0.24/oz|
|Wholly Guacamole Cups, 20 cups x 2oz||$13.89||$0.69/cup|
|Dave’s Killer Bread Organic 21 Whole Grain|
2 x 27oz (2 loaves)
Vegan Meal Prep Instructions
Print the recipe below to help streamline your meal prep process!
Easy Vegan Meal Prep
- 2 cups steel cut oatmeal makes 6-8 servings
- 2 cups quinoa makes 6-8 servings
- 2 cups brown rice makes 8-10 servings
- 16 oz pasta of choice makes about 8 servings
- 4 sweet potates
- 3 lbs broccoli florets
- 2 lbs brussels sprouts
- 24 oz mushrooms
- 3 lbs carrots
- 1 large cucumber
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 15 oz can of black beans
- 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
- 1 lb lentils precooked
- 14 oz extra firm tofu
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup diced carrots (use carrots from ingredients listed above) steamed or boiled
- 12 oz riced cauliflower (or medium head of cauliflower riced)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos, soy sauce, or tamari
- Cook all grains according to packages (Rinse quinoa and brown rice prior to cooking).
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (preferably unbleached) or silicone baking mat.
- Wash and rinse all vegetables.
- Broccoli – Chop into equal sized florets.
- Brussels Sprouts – Trim ends and cut in half.
- Carrots – Peel all carrots. Dice 1 cup of carrots for cauliflower rice. Shred 1 cup for salads. Cut the rest into slices or sticks for snacking.
- Mushrooms – Brush dirt off and cut into halves.
- Sweet Potatoes – Pat dry, poke holes with fork.
Vegetable Roasting & Steaming
- For Stir Fry: Steam 1 cup of broccoli florets and 1 cup of diced carrots until just softened. Don’t overcook since these will be cooked in the pan as well.
- Roasted Broccoli – Combine 2 lbs of broccoli florets with 1 tbsp oil, spread on lined baking sheet and season with onion powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper.
- Brussels sprouts – Combine 2 lbs of brussels sprouts with 1 tbsp oil, 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce), salt & pepper. Spread out on 1/2 of baking sheet with mushrooms.
- Mushrooms – Combine with 1 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. Spread out on half of baking sheet with brussels sprouts.
- Place sweet potatoes on same baking sheet with broccoli (don’t overcrowd the broccoli. if not enough space, roast in two separate batches).
- Place baking sheets in oven. Check all veggies at 20 minutes for desired doneness. If you want them cooked more, continue to check in 5 minute increments so they don’t get overcooked.
- Depending their size, the sweet potatoes may take 30-45 minutes to bake.
- Steam 1lb of broccoli and 1 cup of diced carrots on the stove. Cook until just tender, but don’t overcook.
- Add 1 tbsp sesame oil to skillet. Heat on medium-high heat.
- Add 1 tbsp minced garlic, cauliflower rice, and carrots to the skillet. Saute for about 5 minutes until rice is softened and liquid is almost gone.
- Add 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce) and 1 cup of frozen peas. Stir until well combined. Cook an additional 3 minutes until peas are cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Cook yakisoba according to directions. Add broccoli.
Build-Your-Own Vegan Bowls
Quinoa (Hot or cold)
Pasta (Hot or cold)
Wrap or Pita
Pesto (no cheese)
Vegan Sauces & Dressings
This is where the magic happens! You might think that meals revolving around grains and vegetables would be bland, but dressing them up is half the fun!
- Hummus – Different varieties and flavors! You can also make your own, like my Carrot Cauliflower Hummus.
- Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto
- Lemon Tahini Dressing: Mix tahini with fresh lemon. You can add in a variety of spices or some red wine vinegar for more flavor!
Sample Vegan Meal Plan
Steel Cut Oatmeal with organic blueberries, almond butter, and almond milk
Spinach salad with quinoa, garbanzo beans, roasted broccoli, shredded carrots, tomato, cucumber, avocado. Balsamic vinegar for dressing.
Apple & Almond Butter
Vegetable Yakisoba with broccoli and roasted brussels sprouts. Side salad with carrot ginger dressing, cucumber, and tomato.
Are you willing to give a plant-based diet a try using my simple Vegan Meal Prep? I never thought I’d be able to try a vegan diet, but I’m definitely more intrigued now that I am making it for my husband!
Non-Vegan Meal Plan Modifications
Not fully ready to take the plunge into a vegan meal plan? Here are the additions/changes that I made to this meal plan for my toddler and myself.
Add Meat & Seafood
Since I am not totally onboard with the vegan diet yet, I will be working on cutting back my consumption of meat. I still plan to incorporate some chicken, chicken sausages, ground turkey, and wild-caught fish into my diet. My toddler is practically an accidental vegetarian since she usually spits out most meat we offer her. On occasion she will eat chicken tenders, a grass-fed hot dog, or ground turkey in a pasta dish. I will continue to offer her some meat-based protein.
Dairy & Eggs
As I mentioned earlier, I was worried about giving up dairy during my Whole30, but it made me realize that I don’t need cheese on EVERYTHING to be happy! I have cut back significantly on dairy and plan to keep doing so, however I think that some dairy in my daughter’s diet is important. She stopped drinking milk around 18 months old, but she does enjoy Whole Milk Yogurt and cheese on occasion. I also use Kerrygold for her in recipes and for her organic macaroni and cheese so that is here to stay.
Eggs are something I am willing to give up, except when it comes to baking! I know you can use ground flaxseed as an egg substitute, but I follow some tried and true recipes that I don’t plan to omit eggs from. My daughter doesn’t enjoy eggs either, so these will be fairly easy to ditch minus some baked goods.
(3/28/19) UPDATE: After a week of eating mostly vegetarian, while my husband continued to eat 100% vegan, my daughter and I will be eating vegan as well. After doing more research, I feel comfortable that is the best thing for our whole family. I am also comfortable ensuring that our meals are planned out so she is receiving optimal nutrition and all essential vitamins and minerals.
I will be sharing more about our journey to health through a plant-based vegan diet. Make sure you sign up for my email list so you don’t miss a post!