There are several benefits to advanced meal prepping—from saving time and money to reducing stress and waste each week. Others find it helps them eat healthier food, control their portions, and stay on track with a diet. Meal prep is also useful when entering a new season of life, from starting a different job, to welcoming a new child and even kicking off the school year. If you’re a parent, student or teacher getting ready for the start of another academic calendar, check out our vegan meal prep pro tips to make going back to school easier!
What is meal prepping?
Before we get to vegan meal prep tips, it’s important to understand what meal prepping even is! Simply put, meal prepping is the advanced planning and preparation of food ahead of schedule. Rather than heading to the grocery store after a busy afternoon in hopes of pulling dinner together when your stomach is already growling, you can instead defrost a meal or grab a ready-made dish from your fridge.
If you’ve never done meal prepping before, the act may seem a bit daunting. You see colorful pictures on social media of perfectly organized and packaged meals for families of 5 all ready to go on Sunday night for the week ahead. The thought of trying to plan a week’s worth of meals on the weekend may trigger more stress than heading back to school!
When it comes to meal prepping, one size does not fit all. If you’re feeling intimidated by the process as a whole, here are some tips to get started:
- Start small: aim for 2-3 meals you want to make, i.e. go back through all those mouth-watering Instagram posts and Pinterest pins (we recommend these!) and choose just a few to try
- Make a list: check out the ingredients you’ll need and add items to your online grocery cart or shopping list
- Add it to the calendar: add meal names/recipes to a calendar to plan meals for each day, as well as prevent your eyes from being bigger than your stomach
- Store and portion: as you cook your meals, portion them into right-sized servings and containers for optimal convenience
You don’t need to be Martha Stewart, a homemaker or an influencer to meal prep! Let’s jump back to vegan meal prep and how to get ready for the back-to-school season.
How do you meal prep for a plant-based diet?
A big consideration for meal prep is your dietary preferences. For plant-based diets, vegetables are a big part of what you eat every day! So when it comes to vegan meal prep, you want to have a veggie-first mindset. Here are some pro tips to help you be successful:
- Think seasonally: while salads are certainly a staple in your diet, you will likely find fresher and more affordable greens in the summer! Plan on recipes like these for summer menu plans, and save the butternut squash and sweet potato cravings for cooler seasons!
- Be economical: perhaps you subscribe to a co-op and have a large crop of spinach coming in or there was a sale on the large bag of spinach at the grocery store. Stretch that score across multiple meals for the week ahead – a spinach-themed breakfast, lunch and dinner like Spinach Quiche, Curried Chickpea Salad & P’Jack Pinwheels, and Spinach, Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Lasagne! Perhaps declare each week with a veggie-theme to get your family excited too.
- Prep and freeze: when certain veggies are in season, it’s great to stock up and freeze for later. Obviously, this doesn’t work for everything like cucumbers and tomatoes, but you can certainly freeze peppers, potatoes, carrots, squash, beans, and heartier greens like spinach and kale. To make things extra easy for later use, wash, peel and cut your veggies so they are ready to go for future consumption.
And, as good Vevanites know, another vegan meal prep secret is stocking up on your favorite plant-based cheeses. Especially when you find a good sale, grab a few extra bags of our Shred and Melt products and enjoy the same perfect gooey melt and incredible creamy texture when you’re ready to rock your next round of meal prep.
What are good back-to-school vegan meals?
When it comes to tasty plant-based meals, Vevan has you covered! But, which ones are portable for back to school AND optimal for vegan meal prep? Check out these ideas for each meal of the day, which can be easily prepared in advance for the busy school year:
Vegan meal prep: breakfast
For sandwiches and burritos like our favorites shared here, make entire sandwich or burrito, wrap with foil or parchment paper and freeze in freezer bag, up to 30 days. When you are ready to eat, defrost overnight and reheat in microwave or oven before heading out the door.
Looking to batch sandwiches or burritos? Augment the skillet scramble by baking egg alternative in greased casserole pan or muffin tray, seasoned to taste. Bake at 350°F until firm, approximately 10-15 minutes for muffin tray or up to 40 minutes for casserole. Once cooled, refrigerate up to 3 days. In the morning, reheat egg portion, assemble with bread or tortilla, Vevan P’Jack-Melts or Ched-Melts, and toppings.
Remember that Spinach Quiche we mentioned earlier? Consider making and freezing individual slices for an easy peasy and cheezy school morning!
Vegan meal prep: lunch
We can’t help but love charcuterie for lunch, especially for tiny hands and this cool kid’s bento box! Cut up fresh fruits and veggies, Vevan Melts (try cookie cutters for fun shapes) and a protein like nuts for a colorful, healthy, make-ahead lunch.
For adults, soups are perfect for meal planning. Make a single or double batch of our favorites – Must-Try Cauliflower Soup, Chickpea Soup With Mozza Crisps, or Hearty Chili – batch in microwave-safe freezer ware or small freezer bags. Defrost in container or thaw bag, heat and store in portable thermos!
If lunchtime salads are your jam, follow your favorite Vevan salad recipe and these tips to keep your salads fresh and crunchy all week. Of course, this Make Ahead Couscous Salad was made for meal prepping, inviting you to prepare it in advance to allow the flavors to combine for a delightful, lightly tangy Mediterranean style dish.
Vegan meal prep: dinner
When your school and work day are done, it’s refreshing to come home to a ready-to-heat dinner.
Our Roasted Vegetable and Mozza Pot Pies can be made ahead, adding the puff pastry top right before baking. These are great as they’re individually portioned in ramekins and can also be cooked, cooled, frozen and reheated at a later time.
Another portion-perfect dinner is Spicy Stuffed Pasilla Peppers! These can be made in advance, stored in air-tight containers, and refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
These Fiesta Rice Bombs and Cheezy Butternut Squash & Lentil Veggie Balls are perfect for batching! Prepare as directed, freeze and reheat anytime. Enjoy with your favorite dipping sauces, pasta, salad or your favorite sides for a hearty, convenient dinner.
Ready for vegan meal prep?
Preparing to go back to school can be overwhelming, especially shopping for clothes, tracking down school supplies and figuring out after-school activities and childcare. Don’t let vegan meal prep add to your stress.
Now that you’ve been schooled on how to do it, take a deep breath and just do the thing! Follow these guidelines above and please share your favorite Vevan cheese meal prep tips and recipes and be sure to tag us @vevanfoods!
We wish all our Vevanites a safe, healthy and delicious back-to-school season.