As many restaurants are temporarily closing their doors due to COVID-19, people are having to cook more at home. For some, this is an exciting challenge. For others, cooking plant-based meals at home is a seemingly impossible feat. The good news is eating plant-based meals at home doesn't have to be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you keep it simple and reduce time in the kitchen.
Keep your breakfasts, lunches and dinner simple and consistent. This does not mean you have to eat the same thing for each meal; just stick to a formula:
Smoothies for breakfast, salads or leftovers for lunch, and grain bowls for dinner.
Swap ingredients and experiment with flavors while sticking to your simple formula.
Smoothies are easy and require little prep. Rotate these 5 smoothie recipes for your plant-based breakfast or experiment with ingredients in your refrigerator.
Blend your smoothie for 15 seconds longer than you think you need toAdd a handful of raw spinach for a nutrient burst
For a little extra plant protein, add a few tablespoons of hemp seeds.
Peel, chop and freeze your bananas in freezer baggies when they are about to go bad
Freeze excess smoothie in ice cube trays. Once they freeze, crack free and keep in freezer baggies to add to future smoothies (waste not!)
1 Tablespoon of cashew butter can add substance to your smoothie without a powerful flavor change
Add rolled raw oats for a little extra bulk
Base: 1 frozen banana
Add fruit: frozen or fresh fruits of your choice
Add Fat: Chia seeds, flaxseed, nut butter, avocado
Add Veggies: Beets, celery, carrots, raw spinach
Add Liquid: Juice, non-dairy milk, water
Salad gets a bad rap. Salads don't have to boring or a "light" lunch. Often times, we're just making them wrong. Here’s the right way to make a filling delicious plant-based salad that will hold you over until dinner.
3+ large handfuls of leafy greens
...arugula, spinach, romaine, baby kale, etc.
...mix in fresh minced herbs
1+ cups of beans or cooked grains (or both)...rice, quinoa, garbanzo beans, black beans, white beans, kidney beans, tofu, lentils, edamame, etc.
1+ cups of mixed chopped or shredded raw (or leftover roasted) veggies
… bell pepper, red onion, tomato, avocado, beets, carrots, cucumber, zucchini, green onions, celery, broccoli, olives, mushrooms, radish, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, snap peas, etc.
A sprinkling of additional toppings for accent flavors
… dried fruit, fresh fruit, roasted or raw nuts, roasted or raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds, hemp seed, chia seed, flaxseed, sauerkraut or kimchi.
Quick and easy dressing alternatives: Tahini, balsamic, lemon juice, amino acids, garlic powder
Try the 4 oil-free dressing recipes below. And pro tip: Make a HUGE batch so you don't have to keep making it!
Lemon Tahini Dressing
Blend together in blender, food processor or with hand blender:
4 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
4 Tablespoons water
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 Tablespoons tahini
2 Tablespoons MamaSezz Sweet and Spicy Mustard
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (vegan option)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Dash of sea salt and black pepper to taste
Whisk with a fork:
2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon of dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of maple syrup
A sprinkle of garlic powder
Creamy Garlic Dressing
Blend together until smooth:
1 teaspoon tahini
1 clove of garlic
1 lemon (juice)
½ teaspoon of maple syrup or agave
½ cup water
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Green Goddess Dressing
Blend together until smooth:
1/4 cup of water
3 TBSP of tahini
2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic
1 small pinch of sea salt
1/2 a lemon, juiced
1/2 cup of fresh parsley
1/2 cup of arugula
Try and stick to: F.A.S.S. (the whole food way)
Fat- avocado, nuts, seeds
Acid- vinegar, citrus
Sweet- fruit, dried fruit, maple syrup
Salt- salt, liquid aminos, tamari or soy sauce, celery
Are your dressing or creations tasting a little bland? Make sure you have 1 of each FASS in your dish! If it’s a savory dish, even adding a blended date, or a drop of maple syrup to the sauce or dressing can help you complete the flavor.
Keep it simple with a grain bowl. Choose 1+ ingredients from each category:
Brown rice, quinoa, brown rice or lentil pasta, zoodles, polenta, baked or mashed potato, baked sweet potato, cauliflower rice or mash
Roasted or steamed- peppers, mushrooms, onion, cherry tomatoes asparagus, peas, carrots, beets, potatoes, broccoli, spinach, kale, white beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, corn, artichokes, Brussel sprouts, etc…
Marinara Sauce, Cashew Cream Sauce, sliced or mashed avocado, Dressing (see recipes above), tahini, garlic powder and lemon juice, hummus, fresh herbs, your favorite plant-based sauce, etc…
Eating healthy is one of those things that is great in theory but tough in practice.
The good news is you don’t have to spend your entire day in the kitchen thanks to batch cooking. It’s just what it sounds like -- cooking in large batches.
Batch cooking means you cook less often.
With batch cooking, you cook a lot of food once so you can have quick and easy healthy meals throughout the week. You can focus on fewer recipes and spend less time in the kitchen (and more time doing the things you actually want to do).
Batch cooking is how restaurants keep up with busy dining rooms. Food is prepped or cooked in advance and then either heated or assembled to order. Restaurant kitchens have huge containers of diced garlic, sliced mushrooms, sliced tomatoes, cooked noodles, and ready-to-eat soup so when you order the cooks can throw it all together fast.
Best for long-term meal planning — and a great alternative to takeout and TV dinners.
Next time you whip up your favorite lemon lentil soup, double or even triple the recipe. Save a few servings to eat throughout the week and freeze the rest in single or double portions for consumption later on.
Pro tip: Don’t freeze the entire batch together! You will end up chipping away the portion you want from a frozen mass or defrosting more food than you can eat.
There are a few different methods you can use to freeze your dish in single portions.
More tips: Keep a roll of masking tape and a sharpie in your kitchen and label your food before you pop it in the freezer. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what that mystery red sauce is. Defrost your meals in the refrigerator for a few days before eating or cook it on low heat in your oven, microwave, or stovetop pot.
2. Batch cook an ingredient
Best for short term weekly meal planning.
This method also gives you room for creativity. Here's how it works:
And by all means, freeze your leftovers! Freezing leftovers will reduce your amount of weekly food waste. Each American household wastes up to $2,200 of food each year. Yikes! (Get more tips for reducing your food waste here.)
That’s a-OK. MamaSezz cooks and delivers ready-made and immunity-boosting plant-based meals to your door. All you gotta do? Heat and eat the prepared dishes and be on your merry way. Order a Be Prepared Bundle today, and use code: PREPARED to get 10% off your first order!
By Caroline DiNicola Fawley
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies