Ah, Tupperware. Our best friend.
I have written previously about meal planning and grocery shopping here.
This post is a bit different. This post will take the basic building block formula of a healthy meal:
- COMPLEX CARBS + PROTEIN + VEGETABLES
and show you how to achieve this when you’re a busy, on-the-go professional, often living alone or at least making vegetarian/vegan food for just yourself (those of you with meat-eating partners, I’m talking to you!).
Meal planning sounds like such a drag, especially when you’re not an organized person by nature. So the best way to take the fear out of it is to make it really simple. Don’t fuss about coming up with several fancy meals for the week. Just make sure each meal follows the formula above and you’ve got a great dinner. How does that work?
- a couple of ‘carb’ dishes (grains, bread etc) at the weekend
- a couple of protein dishes
- and have veg on hand
Then each day you just throw ’em together and voila!
Here are some examples:
One weekend, I might make:
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups rice pasta (toss it with olive oil so it doesn’t stick together too much in the fridge)
- Fry up some caramelized tofu strips (I LOVE these ones by Kate)
- Hard boil some eggs
- salad greens
- and maybe some steamed peas and carrots
Each day, I can throw into a Tupperware container (to take to work), or to throw together when I get home from work:
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- a few tofu strips
- some salad greens
Another alternative meal with these ingredients?
- A serving of pasta
- tossed with some tomato sauce, peas and carrots and microwaved
- topped with some crumbled feta cheese and a hard boiled egg, chopped
Bingo. Another instant meal.
These might not be the most gourmet meals, but if you choose components that you LIKE (if tofu isn’t your thing, sprinkle nutritional yeast on your pasta instead, or use canned chickpeas or cooked lentils!), then they are tasty and healthy balanced meals that will keep your energy going so that when you DO have time, you can cook up something really special.
Here is my list of possible protein/grain/vegetable options I go for each week. If you have any suggestions for me to add to this, please let me know!
- wholewheat or gluten-free pita breads
- rice or quinoa pasta
- basmati rice
- potatoes (for baked potatoes or mashed)
- hard or soft boiled eggs (or fried, scrambled etc)
- nutritional yeast
- tofu strips (I only like my tofu in strips and crispy! Make however you like)
- veggie burgers
- cooked lentils
- Greek yogurt
- feta cheese, lowfat
- halloumi cheese, grilled in strips
- protein powder
- hemp hearts
- falafel patties
- miso soup with tofu pieces
- healthy deviled eggs (a great lighter deviled egg recipe is here)
- salad greens
- mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, roasted
- roasted veg such as parsnips, squash, mushrooms, asparagus etc (depending on season)
- peas and carrots (my favourite steamed veg)
- Portobello mushroom caps (fantastic grilled)
- tomato sauce, canned
- spinach leaves (great for throwing into smoothies)
Obviously if you’re cooking for one you don’t need to get all of these every week, which is why it’s great to have a long list you can rotate through so you never get bored!
More on meal planning:
- My original grocery list meal planning post
- Angela at Oh She Glows! posted a fabulous vegan pantry post last week to help make sure your kitchen is fully stocked
- Elise at Hungry Hungry Hippie has many posts on meal planning and this post includes more suggestions on forming meals out of your pre-made grains/proteins/veg etc.
- Do you make bulk items at the weekend? It’s recent for me but it has helped tons with saving money on lunches and ensuring I’m getting a good balance of macronutrients.
- Do you find that you intuitively make your meals up of protein + complex carbs + veg? When I first became vegetarian it was carbs, carbs, carbs all the time without my realizing it. Healthy ones, but still! Now I pay much more attention to getting my protein and veg in there too.