Vegetarians eager to eat healthily need to have some tricks up their sleeves if they don’t want to standing in the kitchen for too long every day. We’ve put together our best meal prep ideas to save you loads of time and still eat delicious meals. All vegetarian style of course!
This is not a meticulously structured prepping routine for a single person, but rather a collection of clever ideas that make various processes in your kitchen faster, all geared towards saving YOU time.
Prep Sweet Potatoes in the Oven
Cooking something on the stove? That’s a great moment to prep a couple of sweet potatoes in the oven (just follow the directions here). You can throw them diced up in a salad or as a side for a work lunch.
Or think about making a sweet potato soup for the next dinner (try this recipe). By doing this while cooking something else you’re saving loads of time in advance. How cool is that?
Prep Rice and Lentils at the same time
Of course you could also prep other foods like quinoa or potatoes. Having ready to go carbs and proteins stashed away in the fridge helps in eating healthily. Especially when you work out regularly and you need to up your protein intake in order to “make some gainz”. By having it ready and waiting for you, you’re much likely to make it your ‘go-to meal’ instead of some rubbish sugary snack.
Prep Legumes in a Pressure Cooker
Especially useful for legumes that need eight hours of soaking prior to 60 – 120 minutes cooking time on a regular stove, a pressure cooker is god sent. Even more for vegetarians, because we rely on legumes so much.
I’m sure you’ll get to the point when you’re annoyed about buying cans of chickpeas or beans all the time. They’re heavy, often contain way too much salt and cans might leak some unknown substances into your legumes. A pressure cooker will help you out. Oh, and it’s also much cheaper to buy dried legumes instead of cans.
Dave and I use this Instant Pot and are super happy!
Personally I only use the pressure cooker to prep legumes and rice.
But there is a whole community around pressure cooking that use it for all sorts of recipes, from red lentil chilies to cheese cakes.
Pre Cut Veggies if Necessary
I almost never pre cut veggies or fruit because I think it’s as easy to just do it right before using them. It can make sense if you use a food processor frequently though. Just throw in the entire veg, use what you need right away for your meal and store what you don’t need.
We can recommend Cuisinart Food Processors. This 14 Cup version is awesome and is what I have at home.
As for the containers we’re big fans of glass (for example this set will do). No BPA involved, freezer, oven and microwave safe. Better for the environment too. Just note: not all veggies store equally well. Have a look at this article on storing cut veggies.
Use Frozen Veggies
Most veg is turned so quickly into a dish, it just doesn’t make sense to prep a whole batch of it in advance. I mean how good is that: just throw a couple of broccoli florets in a pan, add some soy sauce, vinegar and sweet chili sauce and 8 – 10 minutes later you have an awesome side dish. Now just grab your already cooked rice and lentils to accompany it – vegetarian meal prep at it’s best! 😉
The only thing you need to do is to prep your freezer with enough frozen veg every week.
The Basic Smoothie Formula
If you want to prep a tasty and nutritious smoothie, use these four ingredients as a base for a serving:
- 1 Banana
- A handful of frozen berries
- A handful of greens (eg. spinach)
- 1 cup milk of your choice (eg. soy milk)
- Add whatever else you like to the blender. This could be nuts or oats. Maybe seeds like chia or flax. Herbs and spices are always fun to try as well.
Banana + berries + spinach + milk will always turn out great as a smoothie. Also, all ingredients last five days or more. And if the banana or spinach is about to go bad, you can easily freeze both.
Make Breakfast Egg Muffins
These egg muffins are super easy to make and great for breakfast or snacking. Lots of protein too! You can refrigerate or freeze them. To reheat those muffins, you can use the microwave, but with an oven you’ll definitely get better results.
To prep them you’ll need a muffin tin, ideally a non stick one like this one here.
Prep Overnight Oats in a Jar
Overnight Oats are a meal prepping classic. Just fill three jars in the evening and you’ll have breakfast for three mornings in a row, awesome! I wouldn’t go for more than three days, just to be sure everything stays fresh. Check out this extensive guide on how to make the best overnight oats!
If you use jars like those to make overnight oats, you can even make your brekkie to-go.
Prep Salads in a Jar
This is another classic in the meal prepping world and well suited to us vegetarians. Also on this topic we created a massive guide that will help you make the tastiest salads in a jar out there. As a rule of thumb I wouldn’t prep for more than three days. Again, that way you make sure everything stays fresh.
These jars should be big enough to make some nice salad in a jar work lunches.
Prep an Awesome Casserole
Casseroles are an excellent way to prep big batches of tasty and hearty food with very little work (if you pick the right recipes). The only thing you need to rock and “(casse) role” is a proper baking dish. Something like this here for example. A great recipe to start with would be this Baked Lentils dish. Easy to prep, high in proteins and healthy. Perfect for families or vegetarians who like to plan ahead.
Homemade Protein Bars and Cookies
It’s pretty tough to find a healthy and not overly pricey snack or protein bar in the supermarket. Either they’re as expensive as a bar of gold or they contain loads of chemicals you’ve never heard of. Prepping your own protein bars can be a great solution. Try out this recipe to start off with.
A Quick Note on those Famous Five Day Prep Pics
You might ask yourself where is the photo of gazillions containers, each filled with a meal properly counted by calories? And the lovely cut apples, granola bars and yogurts to each meal? All nicely prepped for five days?
Let’s be honest: Those five day meal preppings just don’t work for most of us. In reality it’s just too complicated and not even useful.
Spend 3+ hours in the kitchen on a Sunday to prep for the week? Only for people who enjoy eating the same over and over again. And what happens when you go to a restaurant?
Chopped up fruit in a plastic bag for smoothies? Useless time suck, unless they are about to go bad. Just prep it when you make a smoothie. Simple.
Chopping up Veggies for the week? Again, useless time suck, unless you have some extra cut veg left in the food processor. For example a broccoli floret even stays fresh for longer, if you don’t chop it. So why chop it and put it in a container?
Also, who has that much space in the fridge for all those meals anyway? I get that extreme meal prepping makes sense for some people like athletes, but I doubt it’s useful to put most of us under such a strict regimen.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below 🙂
Still looking for more veggie inspiration? Our 30 Day Healthy Veggie Challenge is open again – do you have what it takes?