If you’ve followed one of my Vegan Reset meal plans or have read my book, you’ll know that the way I usually structure my meal plans is with 2 weekly meal prep sessions and then quick and easy recipes using the foods you prepped throughout the week. When I cook for myself, I do something very similar. The only difference is that I don’t plan every single meal ahead, but instead use my prepped ingredients the way you would a salad bar and pick and choose whatever I’m in the mood for at every meal. This allows me to cook a lot more intuitively (hence “intuitive meal prepping”) and sometimes experiment in the kitchen while I’m at it. That way I can also be a lot more spontaneous. If a friend is coming over for lunch or dinner, I simply cook a larger meal using the prepped ingredients. And if I happen to have too much food or decide to eat out last minute, I freeze anything I know I won’t be able to finish. Here’s an example of an “intuitive” vegan meal prep:
Below, you’ll find:
- A few practical notes/tips
- Meal prep recipes by cooking method
- A detailed recipe for a meal cooked using one of the dishes from the meal prep
- Ideas for other meals you could make
A few practical notes/tips:
- Start with what you already have: It’s easy to forget those boxes of pasta in the back of your pantry or open jars at the bottom of your fridge and while it’s a good idea to always have healthy food at hand, frequently doing inventory is the best way to avoid unnecessary food waste and missing ‘best by’ dates. Sunday is usually my meal prep day, so I start by checking my fridge for everything that needs to be eaten within the next few days and then my pantry for the items with the soonest ‘best by’ date. Based on that, I go to the market and/or supermarket and stock up on what I feel like that week (prioritizing local produce, whole foods and nutrient-dense ingredients whenever possible and affordable).
- Combine cooking methods: depending on how much time I have that to meal prep that week, I’ll choose my preferred cooking methods. Most starchy vegetables take about 45-50 minutes to roast in the oven at 400F/200C, so I usually start by preheating the oven, then cutting and seasoning anything that can be roasted, putting it in the oven and then cooking the remainder on the stove top during those 45 minutes (when I’m extra short on time, I try to keep the pots on the stove to a maximum of 1-2).
- Prep the ingredients that take longest to cook: I usually prep anything that takes 25 to 60 minutes to cook and whatever takes less time, I cook throughout the week and mix with my prepped ingredients.
COOKING METHOD: OVEN
Directions for all: Preheat the oven to 400F. Then line 2 large or 4 small baking trays with parchment paper. Prepare and season the ingredients as indicated below, then place them in the trays (or season them directly in the trays) and bake for 40-45 minutes. (note: the smaller you cut root vegetables, the less time you need to bake them).
Crispy Baked Parsnip Paprika Fries
Ingredients: 2 large Parsnips, approx. 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp sea salt.
Directions: Peel and cut the parsnips into fries or wedges, then coat them with the olive oil and add the seasonings (you can do all of this directly in the baking tray to avoid extra dishes).
Roasted Maple Glazed Rainbow Carrots
Ingredients: 4 medium to large rainbow (or regular) carrots, 2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1-2 tsp maple syrup.
Directions: Remove the ends (no need to peel, but you can!) of carrots and cut them in half and then again length-wise. Drizzle the olive oil and sea salt and then the maple syrup on top.
Roasted Squash Wedges
Ingredients: 1 small mini pumpkin or squash (acorn, kabocha…), optional: olive oil drizzle, a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
Directions: Remove then ends (no need to peel), then cut the squash into wedges, remove the seeds and add the seasonings (optional).
Butternut Cashew Cheese Sauce (1/2)
Ingredients: 1 medium-sized butternut squash, ends removed, peeled and de-seeded, 1 large or 2 small Japanese sweet potatoes or any other type of potato, peeled (or, if your butternut is large, you can omit the potato(es)).
Directions: cube the peeled butternut and potato(es) and place in the baking trays (no need to season).
COOKING METHOD: BLENDER
Butternut Cashew Cheese Sauce (2/2)
Ingredients (this makes about 8 cups of sauce): 2 1/2 cups cashews (no need to soak if you’re using a high-speed blender, otherwise quick soak in boiling water for 5-10 minutes), 2 tbsp cornstarch (optional, just makes it thicker), 4 cups water (or slightly less if you want an extra thick sauce), juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp sea salt (or more to taste), 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, the baked butternut and potato(es) from the previous step.
Directions: Blend all ingredients on high until smooth.
COOKING METHOD: STOVETOP
Red Lentils with Red & Yellow Bell Peppers, Garlic and Red Onion (22 min)
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of dry red lentils, 4 cups of water or vegetable broth (slightly more if needed), sea salt and pepper to taste, 2 tsp olive oil, 1 chopped red onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1 chopped yellow bell pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika (or any seasonings of your choice!).
Directions: 1. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. 2. Rinse the lentils and add them to the pot with the water. 3. Add the bell peppers and let everything cook for 15 minutes. 4. Reduce heat to low-medium and add seasonings. Stir well and add more water if needed. 5. Let simmer for 5 more minutes. The lentils should be tender.
Quinoa with Bok Choy, Green Onions, Yellow Onion, Garlic and Collard Greens
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of dry quinoa, 3-4 cups of water or vegetable broth, 2 chopped stalks of celery, 1 chopped yellow onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 4 chopped collard green leaves, 1 chopped large bok choy, 1/2-1 tsp sea salt (or to taste), 1 pinch ground pepper, 1/2 tsp cardamom or ground coriander (or any spice you desire!).
Directions: 1. Rinse the quinoa and add it to a pot with 3 cups of water, the onion, celery, garlic and sea salt. 2. Cook for 15 minutes (bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium). 3. Lower heat to low-medium and add more water if needed (most package instructions advise to add twice the volume of water, so 3 cups for 1 1/2 cups of quinoa, but I often find that I need slightly more, so I like to have an extra cup at hand) and add the bok choy and collard greens. Let simmer for 5 more minutes.
HOW TO STORE (all of the recipes): to store, let the dishes cool and then store them in air tight containers or jars in the fridge.
Detailed Recipe example (using the butternut cashew sauce):
Other meal ideas using this week’s meal prep:
- Bok Choy Quinoa with a can of kidney beans, sautéed greens (or mixed greens or lettuce) + dressing of choice
- Chopped up roasted maple carrots with spaghetti and butternut cashew sauce
- Red lentils with squash wedges, greens and a little butternut cashew sauce
- Parsnip fries and squash wedges with black beans, sliced and sautéed zucchini, avocado and dressing of choice.