Vegan Meal Prep Like a Pro (Week of Eating Planned Out)

by Alena
Jul 28, 2018

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three mason jars with meal prepped vegan salad consisting of quinoa, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn and chopped veggies

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.

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, 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
fridge icon black drop

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

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

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

5. Make Your Sauces & Dressings

6. Mix the Chickpea & Avocado Sandwich Filling

7. Make the Easy Oat Bars

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

Meal Plan

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

Monday

Green Smoothie Thumb

Breakfast: Power Smoothie

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

Oat Bars Thumb

Snack: Oat Bars

Have 3 pieces of the oat bars.

Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich Thumb

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.

Cut-up Fruit Thumb

Snack: Fruit of Choice

Have about 1 cup of your favorite fruit.

Chili Garlic Tofu Bowls Thumb

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

Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats Thumb

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.

Chili Garlic Tofu Bowls Thumb

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.

Snack: Oat Bars

Have 4 pieces of the oat bars.

Chili Sin Carne Thumb

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.

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

Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats Thumb

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.

Snack: Oat Bars

Have 2 pieces of the oat bars.

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Buddha Bowl Thumb

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.

Chili Sin Carne Thumb

Dinner: Chili Sin Carne

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

Did you enjoy the meals in our 5-day vegan meal prep? Which recipe was your favorite and did you discover any new foods? Share with us in the comments below!

woman in grey vegan shirt with her hands on her hips looking to the left and smiling
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.
dark grey spotted bowl with a variety of vegetables next to small bottle of green smoothie isolated on light background

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51 thoughts on “Vegan Meal Prep Like a Pro (Week of Eating Planned Out)”

  1. Wow! All the recipes look very colorful and yummy too. It’s a feast to all the veggies out there. Guys do try these healthy vegan recipes at your home. Thank you very much for sharing with us. Keep posting more delicious recipes.

    Reply
    • 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. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Finally a real shopping list with simple ingredients that are just about in any grocery store. The recipes look amazing as well. I will be trying this out.

    Reply
  3. “the exception of this is rice and quinoa, because they are high in protein”

    I don’t know how you define high in protein, but rice is not by any standard.

    Your meal prep is not nutritionally sound for strength athletes or even recreational body building.

    Reply
    • thanks for pointing this out, we don’t think that rice is very high in protein – just higher than some other starches which is why you need to take more care when reheating and storing them.
      This meal prep works for our average readers and we never claimed that it’s perfect for bodybuilders… some of which don’t focus on protein much, by the way. When you work out a lot, you probably need more calories than this which is why individualized meal plans are necessary. Our article exemplifies what one can eat on a vegan diet and have conveniently prepped large parts of their meals.

      Reply
  4. Wow, everything looks delicious! You’ve taken the guesswork out for the week. Can’t wait to give it a try this week. Thank you!

    Reply
  5. Can you tell me when my downloads will arrive please so that I can print them, I filled in the email address 2 days ago. Looking forward to starting this week.

    Reply
    • Hi Rita, I just tried emailing you and got a failed delivery status notification saying that you don’t have an email account at this provider. Sorry I couldn’t reach you any other way, if you read this please message us via our contact form so we can fix this and send you all the resources you want!
      Best wishes,
      Alena

      Reply
  6. Yes the five day meal prep is going great! The recipes are all so delicious I can’t say which I liked best but that they all are so good and compliments each other so well. I am enjoying these recipes. Thank you for them and these prep sheets really do help a lot and I appreciate your hard work at putting them together most appreciated! Still enjoying the meals. 😊 and looking forward for more prep meals because this prep meals help so so much thank you!

    Reply

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