If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that my food philosophy has always been pretty intuitive. I naturally gravitate toward healthy, homemade meals but would never restrict myself from enjoying the joy-inducing flavors of dessert either (if you haven’t tried my salted caramel pots, you really haven’t lived, IMO!) But over the past year, I’ve noticed a shift in my diet towards incorporating more plant-based centered meals. It wasn’t exactly a conscious decision, but truthfully, the more plant-based meals I ate, the better I felt. And when I read our interview with holistic nutritionist, Kimberly Snyder on the health benefits of a plant-based diet, it was very clear why—and the science backs her up. Research shows that a plant-based diet rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals helps to lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes and help to maintain a healthy weight, which all in turn help to reduce your risk of heart disease. So, I’ve decided to keep the feel-good momentum going and give my body a total reset by eating plant-based meals for the next 30 days. And for that, knowing how to meal prep is key!
I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do on a busy day is cook a time-consuming meal. If it’s not prepped ahead of time, I’ll often reach for something quick just to fill the hole but this typically lacks the nutritional fuel I need both physically and mentally. And before you see meal prep as just another thing on your to-do list, hear me out— this isn’t about cooking meals in advance. Meal prep is exactly that—prepping a few delicious ingredients in advance, storing them for optimal freshness, then assembling into a delicious meal (my preference are grain bowls) that have maximum flavor and nutrition to keep you energized all afternoon.
Speaking of freshness, we teamed up with Zwilling to show you how simple it is to reduce food and plastic waste, save time, and save money with their Fresh & Save vacuum food storage containers and bags. Their convenient 7-piece Starter Set is the perfect way to set yourself up with freezable and microwavable vacuum containers and reusable, heat resistant, and freezable vacuum bags that will keep your food fresh up to five times longer than non-vacuum storage. Prepare your meals days in advance and enjoy them as fresh as the day they were cooked—trust me, Fresh & Save is a meal prep dream!
But if you’re like me, you don’t always know what you’ll be in the mood for. That’s why I developed my “grain bowl formula” with ingredients you can mix, match, and combine to suit your mood—always feel fresh, never repetitive. While the plan below is designed to make a grain bowl, I’d also throw these prepped ingredients on top of a salad or avocado toast—the end results really is up to you!
*Special offer* — Zwilling has kindly offered an exclusive gift with purchase for Camille Styles’ readers. Simply purchase a Fresh & Save 7-piece starter set in glass or plastic, and they will throw in a small lunchbox when you enter the code CAMILLE. Valid until 12/31/2021.
Read on for my tips on how to meal prep for a week of plant-based eating!
This story is in partnership with Zwilling.
Make it a Sunday ritual.
One of the biggest time savers is pre-chopping as many fruits and vegetables as I can when I get home from the grocery store. That way during the week when I’m going to roast some vegetables or throw together a salad or grain bowl, my chopping time is cut to a minimum. I usually set aside about an hour to do this but my biggest tip? Enjoy the process. That means turning on some music (or your favorite podcast), pouring a glass of wine (or whatever your beverage of choice is), and get chopping! Once you’ve chopped your vegetables or fruit, add them to your designated Fresh & Save vacuum food storage container or bag and pop it in the fridge or freezer, ready for when you need it in a pinch.
Memorize this “Grain Bowl Formula.”
As I mentioned above, I meal prep ingredients to make grain bowls for lunch during the week. These are incredibly quick and easy to make, but most importantly, taste delicious.
- Grain: Pick your fave… quinoa, farro, barley, brown rice, or a mix!
- Green: I like to massage kale and keep it in the fridge. Not only is it incredible nutritious, but it’ll hold up for days.
- Bean: For plant-based fiber and protein, beans are key. I like to marinate mine (see below) to dress up canned beans.
- Roast Veggies: I’m using a mix of broccoli, butternut squash, and red onion, but just about any hearty vegetable will do. These hold up nicely and can be served straight from the fridge, or warmed up.
- Sauce: A flavor-packed sauce with a little healthy fat is the key to making the bowl feel satisfying. My go-to Garlic-Lime Tahini Sauce is below.
- Crunch: Toasted nuts, seeds, or even savory granola will add much-needed crunch. It’s all about that texture!
And that’s it! A delicious plant-based grain bowl is in the bag for lunch (or dinner) all week long.
Start with your longest-cooking item first.
While your veggies are roasting, put your grains on to boil. Then you can marinate your beans, massage your greens, and shake up your sauce by the time they’re ready. What grains you cook is really up to you and you could always prepare more than one variety so you have options during the week. I personally love brown rice and quinoa for my salad or grain bowl—it really rounds out the meal and keeps me going all day.
Pack it up for optimal freshness.
Once your grains/beans are cooked, let it cool, and store it in your Zwilling Fresh & Save vacuum food storage container in the fridge for quick and easy grain-bowl building during the week. The benefit of these vacuum-sealed containers over non is how much longer you can store them. In fact, their vacuum-sealed containers and bags will keep your food fresh up to five times longer!
Here’s how it works: Dock the vacuum pump onto the container or bag valve and at the push of a button it extracts the air in mere seconds. It stops automatically once a sufficient vacuum has been obtained, locking in flavor, aromas, and vitamins.
- Starter set includes: 1 medium and 1 large vacuum container, 2 small and 2 medium vacuum bags, 1 rechargeable vacuum pump
- Containers are freezer safe, microwave safe (without vacuum seal), and dishwasher safe
- Containers can be nested for easy storage
- Container lids feature double seal to create a perfect seal
- BPA-free, reusable bags feature easy-zip closures to create a perfect seal and are freezer safe, microwave safe (without vacuum seal), and dishwasher safe
- Quiet and compact pump is rechargeable with included USB and features a long-lasting lithium-ion battery
- Starter sets also available with borosilicate glass containers
- Reuse containers and bags to save money while reducing waste.
Marinate your beans.
The addition of oil, vinegar, spices, and a little heat makes canned beans taste way more festive. And the best part is, these actually get better as they hang out in the fridge (hence the word “marinate.”) To make them, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas (or whatever you like) then douse with equal parts olive oil and rice wine vinegar, add a squeeze of honey, one minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, then store in the fridge for up to a week.
A flavor-packed sauce goes a long way.
Of course you can have a store-bought dressing in the fridge, but a homemade version will always taste better. Plus, it really couldn’t be easier to make dressing, a pesto, or even a dip ahead of time and more often than not, you already have the ingredients in your pantry. Read on to make my personal favorite and trust me, once you taste it, it’ll quickly become part of your weekly meal prep, too.
My Garlic-Lime Tahini Sauce Recipe
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 tablespoon honey
- water, to thin
Shake up everything in a jar, and get drizzling.
Save herbs and crunch for the last-minute.
Now, this isn’t an essential component of your weekly prepping, but if you ask me, when it comes to a good meal, texture is everything. That’s where meal toppers come in. You want them fresh and crispy, so add these when it’s time to eat so they have maximum crunch and don’t get soggy.
The same last-minute rule applies for your herbs, too. They’ll just go limp if you try to prep them ahead of time. Besides, the smell when you cut them fresh is worth the additional 30-seconds it takes to prepare.
Herbs: Parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, chives, or scallions. Any soft fresh herb is perfect for adding freshness and zingy flavor.
Crunch: I like to mix sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped toasted nuts, then keep it in a jar in the freezer so it’s always ready for sprinkling.
And don’t forget about our special offer — Zwilling has kindly offered an exclusive gift with purchase for Camille Styles’ readers. Simply purchase a Fresh & Save 7-piece starter set in glass or plastic, and they will throw in a small lunchbox when you enter the code CAMILLE. Valid until 12/31/2021.