It’s late, you are sooo tired and hungry; out of habit you grab a frozen dinner to quickly reheat along with a whole bag of chips, + cheese and crackers. Then you feel bad because you are trying to eat healthier; after that junky dinner you pig out on ice cream to fill up and calm down. Many of us have the same scenario – we want to eat now and we want it to be easy! So what do we do?
One of the biggest questions I get is “How do I eat more plant based meals?” That’s why I created sessions 6 and 7 of the educational video program, to describe in more depth how to transition to eating more plant based meals. It’s easy really. Just takes a bit or organization and planning.
First, plan to do a big marketing about once a week. Make a list; this is crucial. You must have a list! Do an inventory first, so you know what staples you need: rice, grains, beans, legumes, fresh/frozen vegetables, fruits, nuts seeds and butters, condiments, and spices.
On the resources tab of my website, I have a 2 page PDF shopping list anyone can download and print.
How about that list then? Plan to make 2-3 big things per week so you shop for ingredients and basics. Make a decision what you want to eat, and can cook a lot of, and write it down. Plan to eat at least 2-3 meals from each of the big extravaganzas you prepare. Leftovers can be (a) plain basic ingredients (rice, grains, beans, or legumes) or (b) the actual dish you prepared. Plan for both. That leaves just a few meals to fill in with super simple suppers.
Develop a repertoire of 5-8 easy to make simple suppers. Make a list and post it. Make sure you always have those ingredients on hand. What do you like that you can pull together very quickly? Pizza, veggie burger, soup, what? Simply ensure you have the pizza dough/crust, sauces, and toppings, the burgers and whole grain buns, a box or can of delicious hearty soup.
Cook big and cook loud! Right. Listen to music, cook with a buddy and talk, or watch a movie while you cook up a storm! Then you have prepared meals and basic ingredients all set to go for the next week or to tuck into the freezer. For example, the other night I made tons of tacos filled with a faux meat product (don’t normally do that it was a treat!) plus brown rice, a cooked vegetable mixture, corn salsa, shredded lettuce, and plant based mozzarella cheese. It was delicious!
The next day I had leftovers for lunch, in a bowl, with a big dollop of guacamole, and a few tangerines. 5 minutes prep max.
Time line for taco night: during the 45 minutes it took for the rice to cook in the rice cooker, I washed and sliced the fresh vegetables and added some frozen to cook in microwave. I also washed, sluiced and pre-cooked the cabbage and potatoes for the next casserole. I set the faux meat to reheat in the microwave and lit the oven to heat up the taco shells, chopped lettuce, and set out the salsa. I did as much as I could I that 45 minutes as possible to save time another time.
The next night, I used the rice as a base, put a whole grain wrap on top filled with the spicy leftover faux meat, a bit of salsa, and the leftover cooked vegetables, plus made a big salad. We were stuffed! That took about 15 minutes.
The next day for lunch I put jumbled leftovers in a wrap (love wraps!) with lettuce and salsa, ate a few pieces of fruit, carrots and humus, a handful of unsalted nuts, and was satisfied for hours. Now I still have enough rice leftover for two servings so will do something with it in the next day or so. If I don’t use it, I will freeze it for another quick meal.
Next I plan to cook up a baked cabbage, mushroom, and potato gratin casserole recipe I saw that looked super easy. We will eat that for 2 days and I will simply tweak each meal if I don’t want the exact same eat thing 2 nights in a row. After a few days I will mix the last bits into a blended broth/soft tofu base to make a creamy soup, then add more leeks, and enjoy with chunks of hearty whole grain bread and salad.
Planning to leverage your prepared ingredients (grains, legumes, and vegetables) makes assembling dinners and lunches a snap. When you have things already cooked, washed, chopped, they are ready to be eaten in a myriad of ways! Get organized; you can do it!
Every night I prepare and pack my lunch for the next day if I will be out and about. It takes 5 minutes tops. Fill-up the Tupperware and zip lock bags, and stash them in the frig for easy grab ‘n’ go in the morning. Make a habit of preparing big, filling delicious lunches each day. Stay full and happy. I always add extra snacks too, sliced apple travel well as do whole grain crackers, sliced crisp carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower with a little pot of humus. When I had an office, I would keep emergency cans of baked beans (because I love them so!) and other staples on hand as a backup.
Differentiate “cooking prep time” from “assembling meal time”. I prefer to spend precious time eating more than cooking more! So I want to take shortcuts. I “cook” only several times a week the rest of the time I assemble (e.g. toss together) and reheat. For example: While I’m mixing up a big recipe, soup, or casserole, I cook up a big batch of grains or set beans to soak overnight ready to slow cook in the crock pot. Multi-tasking is AOK in the kitchen! The problem is that without a bit of advance planning we end of tossing stuff together that isn’t satisfying or healthy. Be smart and leverage your sources of time, money, and food.
Transitioning to healthy plant based nutrition isn’t hard. All it takes is the commitment to spend a few minutes each day organizing and planning what to eat to feel happy and full. And you will. The time spent upfront planning is well worth the satisfaction you will receive eating a delicious, healthy filling meal. Try it … take the risk of feeling fabulous!
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