Now that you know the idea behind batch cooking and meal prep, keep reading to see how you can put it all together and what exactly you can put together. After this post, you will have the sweet skills to create your weekly meals with less time and more finesse!
If you want to check out part 1 of this series, click here. It explains batch cooking and why you want this in your life!
What To Use & How To Use It
Whole grains can be quinoa, millet, wheat berries, brown and wild rice, sorghum, buckwheat, barley, bulgur. If you are unsure how long to cook any grains, I like to boil them in enough water to cover them plus a bit more, and just pay attention to how they are cooking. When they are soft, I simply dump out the excess water. This way there is no need for charts!
Cooked grains are great sprinkled over salads and cooked veggies, and they are a great addition to a recipe you have prepared to help stretch it out over the week. These are a great way to create sustained energy.
Beans & Legumes
My best tip for using dried beans is using a slow cooker. Soak them overnight, drain and rinse, and then add to slow cooker with enough water to cover with lots extra. They are usually ready in a few hours. Let them cool, divvy them up in containers that are a suitable size, and then freeze the excess. This way you do not have to deal with beans each week.
Lentils can be cooked beforehand as well, but because they are quick to cook, there is no need for the slow cooker.
Beans and lentils can be added to any dish for added protein and carbohydrates, plus they are a great texture and keep you feeling full longer.
Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, Veggie Burgers
Grill up, roast, or boil any of these veggie protein sources. You can create a yummy marinade for the tofu, tempeh, and seitan and then cook. Cut up into edible pieces and store in the fridge to easily add in meals.
These are great in any dish to add protein, texture, and nutrients and will help add bulk to your meals so you stay full longer.
It is great to have some cooked veggies in the fridge for making lunches, suppers, and even snacks. You can roast them in the oven with a little oil and spices, grill on the stove, BBQ, or steam them.
Cooked veggies will give you valuable nutrients and carbohydrates to add to your dishes. I like to really load up on veggies when I am preparing a meal.
You can also try parboiling veggies to have them almost finished when you add them to a dish later. This is when you briefly boil veggies in water to soften them. They can then be cooked with another method later in the week. It decreases their cooking time, so you can bake, grill, saute them quicker during the week.
- fill pot with enough water for your veggie of choice,
- place on element and heat,
- chop veggies into equal sized pieces,
- create an ice bath for the veggies – half water and half ice,
- add cut veggies to boiling water,
- test for doneness as food is cooking. They are done when they are almost al dente – they offer some resistance, but can be mashed with a fork,
- when at this stage, strain, and toss into ice bath,
- when totally cooled, strain, let dry, and store in the fridge until you are ready for them.
Parboiling is great for root vegetables because of their high starch content. You can also use this method for broccoli, bell peppers before you stuff them, and cauliflower.
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Chopping up veggies to keep in the fridge is great for meals but also for those times you are searching for a snack and would otherwise eat something that won’t make you feel as good.
Cut up carrots, broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms… any veggies that will last for the week in the fridge. Some get soggy fast and are better cutting up fresh like tomatoes and cucumber.
You can also prepare greens for the week by washing them and storing them for later use. Storing them in a container with something to soak up excess moisture, like a tea towel, keeps them fresher longer.
These are also a good source of great plant nutrients and a necessary part of the diet every day.
Sauces, Dips, & Dressings
Having something to pour over your prepped food makes the week so much better! Making a dressing or two for all the mix-and-match meals you are going to be creating is a good way to add flavour and ease to your week.
Salad dressing, hummus, bean dip, pate, peanut sauce are just some examples to get you going. These add much needed flavour to meals and snacks.
Making your own dressings, sauces, and dips may seem like a pain, but once you have the basic ingredients, you can really put anything together and make it delicious. A mini blender is great for this purpose!
A Recipe Or Two
You may be in a do-it kind of mood on your prep day. In this case, you may want to get out the recipe book and make one or two meals. During the week you can add all of the separate ingredients above to really stretch the recipe to last longer.
Soup, stew, sandwich filling like a ‘tuna’ salad, bean dish…the list is never ending. Having a prepared meal in the fridge or freezer means that you don’t have to add anything to it. You can leave it as is, or you can add different ingredients each time you eat it.
Stocking your fridge and pantry with items that are ready to go for any creation is an art. Some things you may want to consider adding that would be great are:
- nuts – raw or home roasted almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.
- seeds – sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, etc.
- gomashio – a delicious mixture of sesame seeds and salt used in Japanese cooking
- hearts of palm
- nutritional yeast
- herbs and spices
- coconut bacon
These are just some ideas. Pick and choose different items each week so you always have varied meals and never get bored. Well that’s the idea anyway!
Putting It All Together
You have all this food ready to go, now what?! Just mix-and-match all of the separate ingredients into lunches and/or suppers and see what greatness you can create. Some of my best meals have been made this way, never to be recreated quite the same again.
I usually have the same formula that I follow-ish:
- Start with a bed of greens – lettuce; steamed, raw, or massaged kale; steamed collards or Swiss chard, etc.
- Add a carb like a whole grain or starchy veg like potato
- Load on the veggies
- Add the protein – beans, tofu, tempeh, crumbled veggie burger
- Throw on some fun toppings – seeds, nuts, nutritional yeast
- Drizzle on the sauce
That is basically the idea. Each day can be a little different, and every day will be delicious.
When you have a recipe or two prepared for the week (main meal or entrée), you can also add items to stretch it out. Here is a similar formula, but for recipes:
- Start with a bed of greens
- Add a carb if there is none in the recipe
- Sprinkle on some veggies – bell pepper, tomato, cucumber
- Add protein if there is none in the recipe
- Throw on fun toppings
- Drizzle on the sauce if the recipe doesn’t have much flavour
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This is how all of your hard work on your prep day pays off for the rest of the week. Once you start getting the hang of putting things together, this will all come naturally and quickly for you.
Eating fresh, whole foods is the best thing we can do for our bodies and our health, but it isn’t always easy. I shared this information because it has helped me so much. I eat way better when I have great food ready and waiting for me.
If you missed Batch Cooking – part 1, click here to check it out.
Are you feeling like sharing your experience? Then you need to join my Facebook group – Vivacious Vegan Women – and tell me all about it! I would love to have you as a part of our growing tribe of compassionate women. Click the link to be swept away!
Yours in plant love,