We get it – it’s hard to find time to cook healthy plant-based meals. Utilizing a couple of hours of the weekend can get a big chunk of your meals cooked and portioned for the week. This saves time and energy and increases the likelihood that you will be eating well-balanced meals during the workweek. Here are 5 easy ways to make plant-based meals quickly and easily with batch cooking!
1. Plan ahead
Take some time to jot down ideas for what you will plan to eat for the week. If the idea of meal planning is overwhelming, sometimes it can be helpful to pick a theme for each weekday dinner like Taco Tuesday or Stir-fry Friday. Also keep in mind your personal food likes and dislikes. Does the idea of eating the same lunch every day for a week make you feel a little sad? Do you hate casseroles? Make sure to account for those feelings, because after a day or two you might just chuck your prepped meals in the trash and head to the nearest fast food place.
Pro-tip: Before you jump into batch cooking, make sure you have the space in your refrigerator and freezer to store all the food you cook. It’s also a good idea to invest in some higher quality leak proof storage containers to portion out lunches if you take them to work with you.
2. Go shopping
Check out the sales flyer for your regular grocery store to see what’s on sale and use that to guide your batch cooking for the week. You can use common sale items such as veggies in multiple meals and stock up on long lasting shelf-stable foods such as grains and beans. Most grocery stores sell already prepped veggies, so if you need 8 onions, consider buying a bag of frozen chopped onions to save yourself from an afternoon of tears.
3. Cook now, assemble later
Some meals can come together quickly if the longer-cooking components are ready to go. Things like cooked brown rice and already prepped raw veggies help make stir-fry in a flash. You can make a big batch of roasted veggies to add to quick cooking proteins like canned beans or tofu. Making a big batch of baked tofu or falafel make putting dinner together a snap.
4. Better batch meals
Choose meals that lend themselves well to batch cooking and avoid foods that don’t reheat well (don’t be the person to put broccoli in the office microwave!). Here are some ideas to get you started:
5. Keep it safe
Once you have all your batch cooking done, those meals will only last in the fridge 3-4 days in the fridge before going bad. If you are planning on cooking for the whole week, portion out some of those meals or meal components (such as cooked brown rice) into single servings and stick in the freezer.
Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN
on March 10, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.