From fitness models showing off their perfectly portioned containers to professional athletes measuring out macros, vegan meal prep has become a pretty big trend in healthy eating.

When people think of meal prepping, they may feel overwhelmed, believing you need to have tons of free time, lots of money or fancy kitchen equipment.

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But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone is capable of meal prepping, no matter where they’re at on their food journey or what resources they have.

And whether you’re a newbie vegan or have been vegan for years, meal prepping is a great way to stick to a healthy plant-based lifestyle.

Though the concept might sound daunting, preparing meals in advance can be easy and fun. It’s also a great feeling, knowing that your meals are all taken care of for the week and you can spend more time doing the things you love.

Let’s see if this could be something for you!

Vegan meal prep is perfect for...

  • Full-time workers who need their daily lunches to-go
  • Parents who want to send their kids to school with healthy meals
  • Singles who don’t want to cook just one portion for themselves all the time
  • Students who need something in between classes or don’t have access to a proper kitchen
  • Health foodies who want their meals more readily available
  • Plant-based beginners who aren’t used to preparing their own food all of the time
  • People who aren’t into following full-on recipes each day
  • Anyone who’s on a budget or looking to reduce their food waste
  • Those who fall off the wagon easily because of inconvenience or lack of motivation

Of course, meal prep is not for everyone. Some people like to decide each day what they want to eat, whilst others simply enjoy cooking or want their food to be freshly cooked each time.

If that’s you, It’s better to just have your favorite staple foods at home and buy additional fresh ingredients depending on what you feel like. Go all the way into intuitive eating if that works best!

However, you might be intrigued by some of the ideas you’ll find in this article.

Sprinkling Sprouts on Layered Mason Jar Salad

The Benefits of Vegan Meal Prep

By taking just a couple of hours to prepare all of your dishes for the week, you can be sure that delicious, healthy meals will never be more than ten minutes away.

This frees up a lot of ‘brain space’. You won’t have to deliberate about what to eat after a busy day at work or spend large amounts of time cooking. It can, therefore, help you stick to a healthy lifestyle when you’re tired and willpower would normally go out of the window.

Meal prep also helps keep grocery costs down and reduces personal food waste. You only buy exactly what you’re going to eat, meaning you’ll throw away less food and help your budget go further.

Here’s how you can do it: simply take advantage of some free time during the weekend - usually two hours will be enough. Some people even like to meal prep twice a week (Saturday and Wednesday, for example) so that they can increase their variety and freshness of foods.

Put on your favorite show, podcast or music and get washing, chopping and cooking in the kitchen. Before you know it, you’ll be relishing this time you get to kick back and relax in the kitchen.

Hopefully, it’s sounding a little more appealing by now? Let’s move on to some things you should consider before starting.

Our Tips for Meal Prepping

Every endeavor comes with a learning curve and we wanted to equip you with some basic guidelines. Below are some tips on starting your vegan meal prep - because it helps to know what foods can be cooked in advance, and how to keep food fresh for as long as possible.

We’ve also included some equipment suggestions which will make your meal prep a whole lot easier.

Health, Safety & Storage Tips

1. Fridge vs. Freezer

Foods stored in the fridge should be eaten within 2-3 days. If you don’t think you’ll eat something within this time, it’s best to freeze it and then take it out of the freezer the day before you want to eat it.

2. Be Careful with High-Protein Foods

Plant foods generally have a lower risk of food poisoning than animal foods. This is because bacteria thrives more on protein-rich foods, rather than starches and sugars.
The exceptions to this are rice and
quinoa, as they are high in protein, so take extra care when storing and reheating these.

3. Use Your Senses

When checking if food is safe to eat, go by how it looks and how it smells. Resist tasting food to see if it is safe to eat!

4. Reheat Properly

Be sure to always thoroughly reheat foods you want to eat hot. The rule is to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot - never eat something that is ‘just about’ warm! According to the USDA, the ‘danger zone’ temperature at which bacteria can thrive is between 4 and 60 degrees Celsius. Reheated food should be piping hot in the middle.

5. No Warm Food in the Fridge

Leave food to cool almost completely before placing it in the fridge. Placing warm food in the fridge risks increasing the overall temperature of the fridge and puts other foods at risk of spoiling.

6. Eat Up and Defrost Timely

According to the NHS, refrigerated food should be consumed within two days, and frozen leftovers should be fully defrosted in the fridge or at room temperature before being eaten. It is good to bear this in mind as you plan your week of meals - at best allow 24 hours for something to fully defrost.

Storage Equipment

The following are great for storing pre-cooked or prepared foods:

Plastic Food Containers or Tupperware

Your basic storage containers. Choose BPA-free, microwave and dishwasher-safe.

Glass Jars or Boxes

If you prefer glass over plastic, this is your option for basic storage.

‘Bento’-Style Boxes or Lunch-Boxes

These are awesome for packing meals where you’d like to keep different foods separate.

Ziploc-Style Food Bags

These can be used in the fridge or freezer, reusing them multiple times.

Optional Equipment

The following equipment isn’t essential, but very helpful if you’re going to be doing regular vegan meal prep.

Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are a fantastic time-saving and economical appliance for cooking large batches of a dish, such as a stew, hotpot, curry, chili, or even oatmeal and sweet dishes.

Though they cook food very slowly (a 30-minute dish, for example, will be cooked for 4-6 hours on high) you can throw in all the ingredients and have it cook for you whilst you’re at work, or even overnight. The energy consumption of a slow cooker is very low - just a little more than a lightbulb!

We recommend: Crock-Pot Slow Cooker

Rice Cooker

Rice cookers are great for cooking rice and other grains perfectly. Rice will be fluffy and separated, with no sticking or undercooking.

As the cooker can be left to do its thing, you can be getting on with other things in the meantime. As well as cooking rice, pasta, polenta, quinoa and oatmeal, some models also have the ability to steam veggies or cook soups and stews.

You won't need it if you're using an Instant Pot, though (see below).

We recommend: Aroma Housewares Digital Rice Cooker

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is a relatively new kitchen appliance that has an impressive seven different functions. As well as performing as a slow cooker, the instant pot can also take the place of a pressure cooker, a saute/browning pan, a yogurt-maker, a warming pot, a rice cooker and a steamer.

While you may not need all of these, it can definitely be helpful for cooking grains, beans, pulses, and veggies very fast, saving you lots of time in the kitchen!

We recommend: Instant Pot Duo

What Recipes Work Well?

The great thing about meal prepping is that there are a whole myriad of dishes that lend themselves well to the practice.

Soups, stews, chilis, mason jar salads, grain salads, oats, falafel, veggie balls, bean burger patties, all types of buddha bowls, energy balls/bites and baked treats can all be enjoyed within ten minutes, by taking just a bit of time to prep at the beginning of the week.

Below are some tips on how to get the most out of your meal prep. It may take a few weeks to get the hang of things, but eventually, you’ll know what you enjoy most and how much you like to eat at each meal time.

Plan Out Your Recipes

Think about what you're going to prepare before you go shopping and check which foods you need to buy - don’t wing it at the grocery store. This will ensure you don’t waste money on food that won’t be eaten.

Start With Foods You Like

Pick recipes that require foods you already know you like, to begin with. If you do want to try a new recipe or food combo, make sure new ingredients are paired with things you already like.

Know How To Combine

A good simple meal prep combo is:

  • Legumes (tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils)
  • Starches (brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grain bread)
  • Vegetables/Greens (broccoli, kale, spinach, zucchini, collards, peas, green beans, bell peppers, eggplant, carrots, mushrooms)
  • Condiments (seasonings, herbs, dressings, sauces, nuts or seeds, avocados, dried fruit; look for recipes, use your own favorite combos or use store-bought products, for convenience)
Make Your Own Condiments

If salads are your thing, dressings and sauces can be made ahead of time and be kept in the fridge, usually for up to a week. Then simply add the raw salad veggies to your choice of grain or legume, add your pre-made dressing and voila!

Use Frozen Produce

Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great buy, as they are often very cheap, fresh and pack a lot of nutrients. They’ll also keep a long time in the freezer and are quick to prepare - no trimming or chopping required! Good things to buy frozen include berries, cherries, mangoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and root veg (like butternut squash).

Your Vegan Meal Prep for One Week

Now, let’s put all of this into action already!

We’ve included an exclusive example of what one week’s meal prep might look like. Feel free to try it for yourself, or use it for inspiration.

Many of the ingredients in these recipes can be subbed for other things; for example, tofu can be switched out for beans or sweet potato. You’ll also notice we’ve subbed an ingredient or two in a couple of the recipes (like kale for broccolini), so you won’t need to buy too many varied ingredients and can keep your grocery list down.

For each day we’ve included breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. You don’t need to follow our snack ideas - these are just examples. Other snack ideas might include granola, whole grain crackers, trail mix or fruit with nut butter.

5 Day Vegan Meal Prep Downloadable Shopping List

Download the Printable Shopping List & Meal Plan

All the groceries you need for these 5 days of vegan meal prep along with all the meal prep and planning steps are broken down for you on these handy printable sheets.

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Fresh Produce
  • 2 avocados (1 ripe, 1 unripe)
  • 8 bananas
  • 2 bell peppers (red or yellow)
  • 1 small purple cabbage
  • 3 carrots (medium-sized)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger
  • 2 stalks green onion
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 1 bunch/bag other leafy greens of choice
  • 3 lemons
  • Fresh fruits of choice (5 cups - e.g. berries, apples, pears, oranges, peaches, apricots, nectarines, mangoes, grapefruit)
  • 4 cups mix of salad veggies of choice (e.g. bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumber)
  • 2 red onion (medium-sized)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 ​small zucchini
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Fridge
  • 14 oz / 400 g block firm tofu
  • 1 pack hummus
  • 2 cups soy milk (or other plant milk of choice)
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Pantry
  • 5 tbsp almond butter
  • 13 oz / 370 g brown rice
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cans (15 oz / 425 g each) chickpeas
  • ¼ cup / 20 g coconut flakes
  • 5 dates (preferably Medjool)
  • 1 can (15 oz / 425 g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz / 425 g) kidney beans
  • 3.5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 oz / 50 g raw shaved almonds (for sprinkling)
  • 11 oz / 300 g rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g smooth natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup / 2 oz / 60 g tahini
  • 1/3 cup / 1.5 oz /  40 g walnuts
  • 10 slices whole grain bread
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Freezer
  • 19 oz / 540 g frozen blueberries
  • 16 oz / 450 g frozen broccoli
  • 4 oz / 110 g frozen corn kernels
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Condiments
  • 2 tbsp / 1 oz / 30 ml chili garlic sauce
  • 3 tbsp / 2 oz / 50 ml soy sauce
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Spices / Kitchen Staples
  • baking powder
  • cayenne
  • chili powder
  • cinnamon
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • oregano
  • paprika
  • pepper
  • salt
  • turmeric
  • vegetable broth or stock

How/What to prep:

The Recipes

Easy Oat Bars
Easy Oat Bars by Nutriciously
Chili Sin Carne
Chili Sin Carne by Nutriciously
Chili Garlic Tofu Bowls
Chili Garlic Tofu Bowl 
by Budget Bytes
Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats
Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats
by Rachl Mansfield
Sweet Potato and Chickpea Buddha Bowl
Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl by Minimalist Baker
Asian-inspired Buddha Bowl with Peanut Sauce
Asian Buddha Bowl with Peanut Sauce by Sweet Simple Vegan
Chickpea & avocado sandwich
Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich 
by Simple Veganista

Note: Be aware that our instructions below might differ a bit from what's written in the individual recipes. We tweaked a few things, so that you don't have to buy that many groceries. The daily calories average at around 2000 - make sure to eat more or fewer snacks according to your hunger. 

The Preparation

1. Bake your Tofu & Sweet Potato
  • Preheat your oven to 430°F / 220°C. Make half the recipe for the chili garlic marinade by mixing together 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce, ½ tbsp soy sauce, and ½ tbsp maple syrup (which replaces the brown sugar).
  • Cut the block of tofu into cubes and coat half of it in the marinade, then lay on a baking tray. The other half needs to be sprinkled with some salt and pepper before placing next to the marinated tofu on the baking tray.
  • Now, cut the two sweet potatoes in half and place them skin-side down on a different baking tray.
  • Bake everything for 20 minutes, flipping the tofu over halfway through. Make sure the sweet potato is soft after baking and if not, give it a few more minutes. Then, remove everything from the oven and let cool completely.
  • Place the 2 types of baked tofu as well as the sweet potato in different air-tight containers in your fridge. Keep any leftover marinade in the fridge to be used as a sauce later.
2. Prepare Raw Veggies
  • Whilst the tofu is baking, cut up the 4 cups of snacking veggies - carrot, bell pepper, celery, whatever you fancy. These can be stored in a Tupperware in water for maximum freshness (cucumber is best freshly cut on the day you will use it to save it from going soggy).
  • Cut up the veggies for the Asian Buddha bowl - thinly slice 1 cup carrot, 1 cup bell pepper, and 1 cup purple cabbage.
3. Cook your Rice
  • You’re going to need about 4 cups of cooked brown rice, which is about 2 cups dry. This can either be done in a large saucepan on the stove or using a rice cooker if you have one.
  • Once cooked (usually after 30 mins), allow to cool completely before storing in the fridge in a sealed container.
4. Make the Chili Sin Carne
  • Make half of the chili recipe (2 servings) but use a whole 15-oz can diced tomatoes instead of the tomato paste. The entire small zucchini you bought goes in here.
  • Tip: If you have a slow cooker or Instant Pot, this would be a great chance to put it to use, so you can focus on the rest of the prep! Simply throw in all of the ingredients and cook on high for 4-6 hours in your slow cooker or set manually to around 10 minutes in your Instant Pot.
5. Make your Sauces & Dressings
  • Whisk together the ingredients for the tahini-maple sauce.
  • Make the spicy peanut sauce by combining the ingredients, replacing tamari with soy sauce.
  • Store each dressing in a jar or container in the fridge.
6. Mix the Chickpea & Avocado Sandwich Filling
  • Drain and rinse one can of chickpeas, mash them up in a bowl and add all the rest of the ingredients for the filling like so.
  • Store in the fridge in an air-tight container.
7. Make the Easy Oat Bars
  • Follow the instructions of the recipe.
  • Once the oat bars are cooled, cut into 12 pieces and store in an air-tight container.
8. Prepare your Smoothie Packs
  • Make 3 smoothie packs by placing two handfuls of kale, 2 bananas, a handful frozen blueberries and 1 cup of fresh fruits of your choice into one Ziploc food bag each.
  • When it comes to blending your smoothie in the morning, simply empty each pack into your blender and add 1 tbsp almond butter along with as much water as you need to get your desired consistency (start with 1 cup).
9. Prep your Overnight Oats
  • Make 2 servings of overnight oats by placing the following into one jar or container each: ½ cup oats, ¾ cup non-dairy milk, 1 tbsp chia seeds, ⅓ cup frozen blueberries, a sprinkle of raw shaved almonds and a pinch of cinnamon.
  • In the morning, drizzle over a tablespoon of almond butter before eating.

Meal Plan

Now that all of the prepping is done, here is your full 5-day meal plan!

Monday

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Breakfast: Power Smoothie

Blend one smoothie pack with water and 1 tbsp almond butter.

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Snack: Oat Bars

Have 3 pieces of the oat bars.

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Lunch: Chickpea & Avocado Sandwiches

Fill 3 slices of bread with half of the chickpea avocado mash (cutting one slice in half to get 1.5 sandwiches). Slice up ¼ of the red onion and half a tomato, then add to the sandwich along with some leafy greens.

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Snack: Fruit of Choice

Have about 1 cup of your favorite fruit.

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Dinner: Chili-Garlic Tofu Bowl

Sauté half a bunch of kale along with minced garlic in some water or veggie broth for five minutes (skipping the sesame oil - we'll make 2 servings of the recipe here). Once the water is dissolved, add some soy sauce and the sesame seeds to the pan. Turn off heat and set aside. Heat up one cup of the pre-cooked brown rice and half of the pre-baked marinated tofu, then top with half the sautéed kale, a squeeze of lemon (instead of lime), and scattering of cilantro. Add the rest of your tofu marinade if you happen to have any.
(Store the leftover sautéed kale in the fridge for tomorrow's bowl.)

Tuesday

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Breakfast: Overnight Oats

Take one of your prepared jars out of the fridge, drizzle with 1 tbsp almond butter and enjoy.

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Snack: Veggies with Hummus

Take 1 cup of pre-cut salad veggies out of the fridge and dip in hummus for your snack.

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Lunch: Chili-garlic Tofu Bowl

Half of the leftover sautéed kale from last night and the rest of the pre-baked marinated tofu with one cup of pre-cooked rice.

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Snack: Oat Bars

Have 4 pieces of the oat bars.

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Dinner: Chili Sin Carne

Use half of your prepared chili, heat up if wanted. Serve with 2 slices whole grain bread, and cilantro.

Wednesday

Green Smoothie Thumb
Breakfast: Power Smoothie

Blend one smoothie pack with water and 1 tbsp almond butter.

Easy Oatmeal Bars Thumb
Snack: Oat Bars

Have 2 pieces of the oat bars.

Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich Thumb
Lunch: Chickpea & Avocado Sandwiches

Fill 3 slices of bread with the rest of the chickpea avocado mash (cutting one slice in half to get 1.5 sandwiches). Slice up ¼ of the red onion and half a tomato, then add to the sandwich along with some leafy greens.

Veggie Sticks with Hummus Thumb
Snack: Veggies with Hummus

Take 1 cup of pre-cut salad veggies out of the fridge and dip in hummus for your snack.

Asian Inspired Buddha Bowl Thumb
Dinner: Asian Buddha Bowl with Peanut Sauce

Heat up one cup of cooked brown rice and steam 2 cups of broccoli. Wash and cut 2 handfuls of leafy greens (which we replaced the bok choy in the original recipe with). Take out one bowl and one container to assemble today's dinner and tomorrow's lunch: in your bowl, put the warm brown rice, 1 cup of broccoli, a handful of leafy greens, half your sliced prepared veggies (carrots, bell pepper, purple cabbage) and half the salt'n'pepper baked tofu.

Top with ¼ sliced avocado, 2 tbsp minced green onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds (they don't need to be roasted as suggested in the recipe). Drizzle with half of the pre-made peanut sauce. Your container will be filled with the same ingredients but the 1 cup of pre-cooked rice doesn't need to be heated up and the peanut sauce can be added just before eating.

Thursday

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Breakfast: Overnight Oats

Take one of your prepared jars out of the fridge, drizzle with 1 tbsp almond butter and enjoy.

Veggie Sticks with Hummus Thumb
Snack: Veggies with Hummus

Take 1 cup of pre-cut salad veggies out of the fridge and dip in hummus for your snack.

Asian Inspired Buddha Bowl Thumb
Lunch: Asian Buddha Bowl with Peanut Sauce

Grab your prepared container from last night and the remaining peanut sauce. It can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature.

Easy Oatmeal Bars Thumb
Snack: Oat Bars

Have 2 pieces of the oat bars.

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Dinner: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Buddha Bowl

Sauté 2 cups of frozen broccoli (which replaces broccolini in the original recipe) and half a sliced red onion in a pan or skillet with some veg stock. After 10 minutes, add 2 big handfuls of kale, (larger stems removed), a can of chickpeas (drain & rinse first) and the spices from this recipe to the pan. Add more veg stock if needed to prevent sticking.

Once everything is cooked, set half of it aside for tomorrow's lunch and add the other half to a bowl with one of the pre-roasted sweet potatoes. Drizzle with half of the the tahini-maple sauce.

Friday

Green Smoothie Thumb
Breakfast: Power Smoothie

Blend one smoothie pack with water and 1 tbsp almond butter.

Cut-up Fruit Thumb
Snack: Fruit of Choice + Oat Bar

Have about 1 cup of your favorite fruit + the last piece of the oat bars.

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Buddha Bowl Thumb
Lunch: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Buddha Bowl

Pre-baked sweet potato with leftover broccoli, kale, and chickpeas from last night. Drizzle tahini dressing on top just before eating.

Veggie Sticks with Hummus Thumb
Snack: Veggies with Hummus

Take 1 cup of pre-cut salad veggies out of the fridge and dip in hummus for your snack.

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Dinner: Chili Sin Carne

Leftover chili served with 2 slices whole grain bread, and cilantro.

About the Author

Alena Portrait Small

Alena has been eating a plant-based diet for 6 years and is passionate about sharing her learnings in the fields of nutrition, wellbeing, and vegan ethics. She is the co-creator of nutriciously and loves music, reading, nature, traveling, yoga & good food. Alena received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy, and social work.

Free Vegan Bowls Meal Plan

7 Days of Quick & Easy Plant-Based Meals Planned Out (incl. Meal Prep and Shopping List)

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