this sunday i spent several hours in the kitchen chopping, slicing, soaking, and prepping my produce and proteins for the week. this was probably the longest meal prep that i've ever done! my legs were sore from standing for so long, and to be transparent, there were several times that i wanted to stop short of completing my full prep.
it's tuesday now, and i'm still feeling so darn proud and pleased with myself for seeing my meal prep outline though to completion. although in the moment it was difficult, i can't stop opening my fridge and grinning at the beautiful arrangement of bright colours cut intentionally, and packed in glass.
whatever your meal prep goals are, remember your why. why are you doing this? what are your goals that meal prep will help you achieve? i know for myself, that meal prep allows me to spend the weekdays accomplishing my other tasks, while avoiding wasting money, and ordering food that is lacking nutrition, and therefore not supporting my goals of healthy living. it's also a huge time saver. invest a few hours on sunday, to have the weeknights free from cooking or preparing.
i've been meal prepping for some time now, and here are some of the steps that help me smash out all of my cooking and prep:
- go grocery shopping the night or day before you plan to meal prep, so your groceries are as fresh as possible. avoid grocery shopping on the day of because it adds to the overall sense of exhaustion that meal prep can be.. it's just one more task.
- create an in-depth outline of what you're making. have the recipes ready to go and familiarize yourself with them so you're not constantly checking them on your phone or laptop over and over again.
- find a few recipes that you love and repeat them at least a few times. this will help you improve your recipe making, and it also expedites your meal prep because you're already familiar with it by the second or third time.
- have all of your containers washed, paired with lids, and sitting on the counter ready to go the night before. i detest when the dishes pile up while i'm doing my meal prep, it can be quite defeating, as can taking containers out of the fridge, and washing them when you need a certain one for your meal prep. having all of your supplies and tools ready to go, makes meal prep fun and almost like you're on your own cooking show, haha.
- soak your nuts, lentils and rice the night before! soaking the foods that need to be overnight or for about 6 hours removes the phytic acid which allows you to better absorb the nutrients, improves your digestion, and speeds up the cook time!
- know exactly how your produce needs to be chopped, and do it all at once. for example, if i am using 3 peppers for my buddha bowl, and 1 for my lentil bolognese, do it all at once. have it written down per each item.. 3 peppers cut into thin strips, 1 pepper cubed 1". this speeds up the process!
- bake similar items in the oven at the same time if they require baking at the same temperature. whatever you can do to work in batches will help with your overall efficiency.
i think that is enough for now in terms of meal prep efficiencies. let's talk about beautiful buddha bowls next. these vegan bowls are so yummy, so healthy, and stay good prepped in your fridge all week long. although, i usually end up finishing most of the ingredients by thursday/friday.
buddha bowls are:
- packed with nutrition. most of the elements haven't been cooked. frying, sautéing, and baking kill off a lot of the precious enzymes in your food, so opting for buddha bowls are a better way to keep the minerals intact.
- full of all sorts of beautiful antioxidants. each day i add different veggies being sure to have an array of vibrant colours. eating the rainbow allows your body and gut to feed off of different nutrients. prepping many different veggies on sunday allows me to pick and choose how i create each bowl. each bowl is always different than the day prior.
- super filling. i'm always full in the best way after eating a buddha bowl. i don't feel over stuffed or lethargic, but full of energy and good to go until the next meal. adding quinoa, seeds, tofu, seitan, lentils or chickpeas to your bowls help you stay full, for longer.
- easy to take on the go. i get so many compliments on my lunch wherever i go. pack a fork, put your dressing on before you go, and you're all set. you're sure to make your coworkers envious with your beautiful bowls.
- easy to customize. get creative with your dressing. a different dressing completely changes the experience of your bowls. currently my boyfriend and i make 2 different dressings/week and this allows us to change up our bowls as we please.
here are some inspo-ingredients for your next buddha bowl:
- protein (tofu, seitan, lentils, a variety of nuts)
- grains (brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice)
- vegetables (cucumber, edamame, cabbage, carrots, beets, sweet potato, corn, tri-coloured peppers, green onions, kale (of different variety), asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts)
- beans (chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, cannellini beans)
- healthy fats (avocado, nuts, avocado oil)
- seeds (hemp seeds, ground flax seeds)
- sprouts (packed with nutrients, you can garnish with a variety of different sprouts!)
i tried out a new dressing recipe that my teacher had recommended to us last week, but i made a few tweaks to it to improve the overall nutrition. you will absolutely want to try this out, it was so delicious and took my buddha bowl from great, to amazing!
try out this diy-dressing:
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1.5 tbsp olive or avocado oil
- 1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce (or sub for coconut aminos)
- 2.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1.5 tbsp pure maple syrup, agave nectar or blackstrap molasses
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic, finely minced (or pressed, which is even better)
- 1 tbsp freshly minced ginger (or pureed, which is even better)
- 1 tbsp tahini
- (optional if you want a more nutty taste), hazelnut or cashew butter
- (optional, for a little extra zang), i like adding freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice with some rind!
- add in 1 tbsp of water or more as needed to get the perfect consistency
blend all of these ingredients in a blender and you can store this dressing in your fridge for a week! this dressing will. not. disappoint! you can x2 or x3 this recipe for a bigger batch.
tag me in your buddha bowl or dressing creations @itsnaturallynikki and let me know what you think of it. happy meal-prepping, friends!