So you're starting a plant-based and ready to dive in, but your time is limited. Can you still succeed with your new healthy lifestyle? Yes indeed...thanks to these nine hacks from busy people, for busy people. It's all about getting organized. Here's how to get started.
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9 Healthy Hacks for Busy People Starting a Plant-Based Diet
1. Meal Prep Weekly
Dedicate a few hours of your weekend to prepare full meals or side dishes for the week ahead. You can make full recipes like casseroles, lasagna, curry, or prepare the ingredients — your steamed or roasted veggies, your grains, and your proteins (beans, lentils, tofu, etc.). Most plant-based meals last up to five days in the refrigerator, making it easy to eat healthy when there's no time to cook.
Very little time to actually meal prep? Here are some meal prep tips and recipes for when you've only got 20 minutes to spare.
2. Have Snacks Ready to Eat
Ever have those super busy days where you've got pretty much no time to eat, leaving you starved by the time you get home? Avoid getting too hungry (and thus increasing your chances of choosing unhealthy foods) and instead, carry your own snacks around! What do healthy plant-based snacks on-the-go look like? Try homemade oat bars, refined sugar–free granola, trail mix, and fruit to stay full until mealtime.
3. Blend It
Smoothies are the perfect way to get all your nutrients in the littlest time possible. Just throw everything in a high-speed blender — greens, berries, nut butter, plant milk, seeds — and enjoy your health in a cup!
Need a little more guidance? Here are 7 components of a healthy plant-based smoothie.
Pro Tip: try adding white beans or silken tofu to your smoothies to bulk them up and increase your vegan protein intake.
4. Overnight Oats For Breakfast
I get it; mornings can be chaotic and you don't really have time to whip up a nutritious breakfast every morning. But what if you could make breakfast the day before? Overnight oats to the rescue! They are a delicious and healthy breakfast, perfect when you're just starting a plant-based diet but strapped for time. Before you go to sleep the night before, mix rolled oats and your favorite plant milk in a small jar then let it rest in the refrigerator. The next morning, add your favorite oatmeal toppings and, if you are really in a hurry, take it with you to work. If you need help, start with this decadent overnight oats recipe, featuring protein and fiber–packed chia seeds too.
5. Buy Frozen and Prepared Produce
Don't have an hour to spare for chopping all those fruits and veggies? You don't have to do it yourself! You can indeed purchase pre-chopped and prepared produce at the store. Granted, these options are more expensive, but this trick could be the difference between eating healthy and relying on junk. A more budget-friendly time saver: frozen produce. Frozen fruits and veggies are equally nutritious as fresh and can cut your meal prep time in half.
7. Invest In a Slow Cooker
Imagine coming home after a long day to find a warm meal waiting for you. A slow cooker does exactly that; you toss everything in the pot, set it to slow cook for seven or eight hours, and there you have it. Electric slow cookers can also pressure cook, which is great for cooking beans in significantly less time, and without the need to pre-soak. It's a worthy investment for any plant-based eater and will save you a lot of valuable time.
Not sure where to start? Here are 10 vegan comfort food recipes to make in your slow cooker!
8. Batch Cooking
It doesn't matter how many people you are cooking for, always make more. Leftovers that can be stored in the refrigerator or even the freezer make excellent meals when you are in a crunch. Start thinking practically and increase your portions. Make it your new habit: always cook extra, eat, and freeze the rest.
9. Don't Worry About Aesthetics
Yes, Instagram-worthy meals are nice...but not always realistic, especially if you're a busy bee. Sometimes, the less-than-beautiful meals are the most comforting, so don't be afraid to throw everything in a large bowl, top with an oil-free dressing, and enjoy. Remember that most posts on social media don't tell the whole story; nourish bowls don't always have to be aesthetically pleasing, the nutrients are there either way!
- Starting a plant-based diet doesn't have to take up all your time!
- Busy people can thrive on a plant-based diet by meal prepping, having snacks on hand, making smoothies in the morning, eating overnight oats for breakfast, relying on prepared and frozen produce to cut down on meal prep, using a slow cooker, batch cooking, and forgetting about aesthetics.
- The easiest way for busy people to eat plant-based? Order MamaSezz ready-made meals and get fresh, healthy, whole food plant-based dishes delivered to your door, ready to heat and eat.
Rafaela Michailidou is a Vegan Lifestyle Coach, and a freelance health and wellness content writer, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.