Meal prep – It’s worth it (Part I)

Hola … !

If I think of myself 5 years back, I wouldn’t even know what meal prep is or may be I would have laughed on the idea if I knew.

Let’s not talk about the basic advantages of meal prep. You already know about it and that is the reason you are reading this blog. What I am going to tell you is what I have discovered from following this weekly ritual of meal prep.

As exciting it may sound but in reality, many fail to be consistent to meal prep every week. However if you know two important benefits of meal prep, it can motivate you enough to be more committed towards it.

1.From Habit to a Healthy Lifestyle – Once you’re into a practice of doing meal prep every week, you get into a habit of preparing your meals during weekdays quickly and with minimum efforts . And who doesn’t like that? At least now you don’t have an excuse of not eating healthy. As they say – “It takes 30 days to build a good habit and 90 days to build a lifestyle”. I will say get into a habit of enjoying your meals with more ease throughout the week and one day it will become your lifestyle. You will not have to force yourself to meal prep, rather it will become a part of your life.

2.Eat wisely -Here I am not talking about the size of your plate. Which is also very important but here I want to share the idea of a “Perfect Plate/Healthy Eating Plate”

Healthy Eating Plate

Eating healthy is eating enough protein, carbs/starch and fresh fruits/vegetables in required portion. I could never eat wisely until I started planning it in advance. For vegetarians/vegans, it is so important to prepare plant based protein in advance so that you can consume it throughout the week. Meal prep gives you the opportunity to plan better and eat wisely when you are on the go.

I will try and share most part of my meal prep in this blog, You don’t have to follow the exact meal prep but more or less your meal prep should have three main components as described above in the picture.

Let’s get started, step by step 🙂

Shop it right : You will need to do right grocery shopping for desired meal prep outcome. Decide what veggies, plan based protein, grains, beans, bread etc you want to eat for that week. I like to eat seasonal veggies and fruits. However, I have few items on my list every single week

Fresh Veggies and fruits

My must haves in grocery shopping list – (please note, I am vegetarian. So, I rely on lots of vegetables and plant based protein.)

  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Coriander or Cilantro or Celery
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini or Cucumber
  • COS lettuce/baby spinach
  • Mixed Berries (Strawberries, Blue berries, Black berries)
  • Banana
  • Tofu/Tempeh (Protein)
  • Soy milk (Protein)
  • Nuts or nut spread (Protein and good fat)
  • Seeds – chia,sunflower,pumpkin (Protein)
  • Avocado
  • 2 more Seasonal fruits
  • Quinoa/quinoa flakes (gluten free grain and protein )
  • Light Cheese (Protein)
  • Tahini (for salad dressing, source of protein)
  • Dijon Mustard (salad dressing)

Soak overnight(optional) : That’s right. I like to soak quinoa, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas or any other beans I’m using for that week. Soaking beans and legumes make it easy to digest and quick to cook. Always use 1:2 ratio for beans to water proportion.

Soaking mixed lentils

Prepare Tofu: You need to prepare tofu so that it is ready to absorb spices and tastes good to your taste buds. Simply place your tofu between two plates and put some weight (2-3 kg) on top. Leave it overnight and next morning your tofu is out of water. Please note, place tofu in the fridge if it’s summer. I leave it just outside covered in the towel if the weather is not so hot.

Squeezing the excess water out of tofu – My elephant weighs 2.5 kg

Wash veggies/fruits: Ensure to wash and dry all your vegetables and fruits before you start preparing them.

Half of your task is done when you have followed above steps and now you are ready to rock your meal prep day . Let me share with you what I did last week.

Steel cut oats

I am a breakfast person and I love to have my smoothie in my breakfast every morning. Steel cut oats not just make my smoothie more creamy but also it is filled with lot of benefits as it is less processed than regular rolled oats. How amazing it sounds that your oats are already cooked and ready for you to enjoy it every single day of the week.

Raw Steel Cut Oats v/s Yeild

Simply cook 1 cup of oats with 3 cups of water (1:3) on a high flame. You can also use soy or almond milk instead of water. Once the mixture starts thickening, reduce the flame and simmer it for another 10-15 mins. We require thick yet creamy consistency. Leave it to cool down and refrigerate in air tight container. Yield quantity will be enough for two people to enjoy it throughout the week.

Quinoa –

To make fluffy quinoa, add 1 cup of soaked quinoa to 3 cups of boiling water. Add a pinch of salt and cook on a high flame for 5 minutes and then let it simmer for next 15 mins without lid. Once the quinoa is cooked and there is no water left in the pan, switch off the flame and close the lid. Let the steam work it’s magic. You can then open the pan and fluff the quinoa with fork. Refrigerate once it is completely cooled down and enjoy with beans, greens and Tahini-Dijon mustard dressing anytime within a week.

Kidney beans/chickpeas/mung beans/legumes –

Overnight soaked beans are really easy to cook plus this process adds up more nutrient benefits to it. Boil it for 20-25 minutes in water or use pressure cooker and hear 3 whistles. I like to combine my prepared kidney beans/chickpeas with tomatoes, corn and coriander with some salt and pepper and store in the refrigerator. Add onion and avocado fresh when you are using this beans mix. I can use this Mexican style beans with rice, quinoa or as a stuffing on baked sweet potatoes.

Raw Kidney Beans v/s yield

Tofu –

I use firm tofu and love to cut it in cubes. These cubes can be added literally in anything. Enjoy these cubes in your salad, curry, rice, noodles or can be consumed as a side dish itself. Add a spoon of coconut oil/olive oil in a heated pan. Add 1 chopped red onion, 2 cloves of garlic. Cook it for 3-4 minutes. Add green veggies (optional) cook until veggies are nice and tender. Add cubes of a brick tofu into a pan followed by salt as per your taste, curry masala and a spoon of apple cider vinegar. You can also squeeze a lime. Cook for another 10 minutes and then add corn starch to make tofu cubes crunchy (optional) and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Switch off the flame and let it rest until it’s completely cool. Store in an air tight glass container and enjoy this plant based protein for the rest of your week.

Great thing about all four meal prep recipes above, is that they all take almost same amount of time to cook. You can cook all of them together, If you have four burners cook-top.

Mean while your oats and protein stuff are getting prepared, start cutting your veggies. You can simply cut them and store in the fridge if that’s how you prefer to eat. Personally I prepare them separately so that it becomes so easy to create different veggie salads and/or tacos during the week.

Broccoli

Eating raw broccoli can be yummy and I am not even kidding. Take 2 medium heads of broccoli. Add broccoli florets to boiling water and let it cook for 2 minutes. Immediately take broccoli florets out of boiling water and transfer into the ice cold water. This process will make broccoli look green and tender to eat. This is the least processed broccoli that can be enjoyed as it is or massage it with olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Store in the air tight container and refrigerate it. Broccoli is high in fibre hence it is greatly beneficial to gut health.

Processing Broccoli (above) prepared broccoli (below)

Carrots and Red bell pepper –

Cut 2 medium size of bell peppers and 4 medium size of carrots. Chop them in your desired size and shape. If you want to store carrots as it is, please add water in the container to ensure carrots remain fresh. I like to saute carrots and bell pepper in a heated pan with some salt and curry masala for 10 minutes. I so love this mixture and it tastes delicious in itself. I enjoy it not just in salad but also with quinoa, rice and avocado toasties. Yummy 🙂

Zucchini/Cucumber –

I don’t prepare cucumbers in advance but these days I am so much into zucchini noodles (zoodles). If you own a spiralizer then it is such a good idea to make zoodles. I love zoodles esp. when they are already prepared. All I have to do during the week is to add cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, almonds (to make zoodles crunchy), tofu cubes and Dijon mustard dressing to my zoodles. You can also add Parmesan cheese on top.

Zoodles

COS lettuce/Kale –

COS lettuce are so crunchy and my favourite too. I add them in my smoothie , salads and curries. Kale requires lot of massage before your consume it. Take all leaves out of kale bunch, cut them well and start giving it a nice hand massage to soften kale leaves. It will not just brighten up the colour but also make it soft enough to eat raw. Drizzle some olive oil, salt and pepper before you store them for your long week.

Berries –

My grocery shopping is not complete until I have bought enough berries. They are such a blessing. You can throw them on your smoothie bowl, veggie salad, wholewheat toast or it can be your arvo snack. Berries are so good for your skin, loaded with antioxidants, fibre and so many nutrients. It also helps to maintain your blood sugar level.

Tahini Dijon Mustard dressing –

You can not make this dressing in advance but it is so easy to make it and really convenient to use it fresh. Take 3 tbsp tahini, add 2 spoon of maple syrup and dijon mustard with some salt to taste. Whip until you get smooth creamy consistency. you can also use a blender to mix it well.

Few recipe inspiration from my meal prep. Right meal prep can help you prepare any meal in less than 15-20 minutes during the week. Healthy food is absolutely easy to make 🙂

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Hope you enjoyed this blog, As I said before, try different meal prep recipes that work best for you during the week. Eat variety of veggies and fruits but having seasonal and local products are very important to our health.

My second part of meal prep blog will be on the website soon.

Till then, like a lime 🙂

Krish

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