Vegan Meal Prep Tips: Helpful Hacks for a Plant-Based Diet
Whether you follow a vegan diet or simply love incorporating plant-based dishes into your meal prep routine regularly, we can all agree that it takes a little bit of strategic planning to ensure that you are nourishing your body with the correct foods and nutrients necessary to achieve optimal health. A vegan diet is a plant-based diet in which any products derived from animals, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, honey, etc. are excluded. An individual may choose to follow a vegan diet for many reasons, yet overall the importance of adequate nutrition remains universal. The following points are helpful ideas and solutions for some of the most common concerns that may arise when meal prepping for a vegan diet:
Adequate Protein Intake
If you are struggling to hit your protein goal, start your day off with a protein-packed breakfast to get a jumpstart on the rest of the day! A morning smoothie that combines ingredients such as plant-based protein powder, silken tofu, and avocado amongst other delicious foods will be sure to skyrocket your protein intake first thing in the morning so you can avoid playing “catch up” all day!
If milk is one of the staples in your diet, did you know that most plant-based milks contain little to no protein? That’s right – when swapping from cow’s milk to a plant-based milk such as coconut or almond milk, you can lose up to 8g of protein per serving! Instead, aim for a plant-based milk that has been fortified with protein. These varieties are far less common but can be easy to spot with some quick label reading.
Diversify your whole-grains! Although grains such as wheat pasta or brown rice are delicious dinner time favorites, they provide us with a minimal amount of protein to keep us feeling satiated. Take your whole-grains to the next level by trying out some new options such as quinoa or wheat berries! Both whole-grain varieties will be sure to bump up your protein, not only your carbs!
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, one of the most important nutrient concerns for vegans is their intake of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient which carries out vital functions in our body such as those involved with brain function and nervous system communication. Want a quick and easy way to bump up your B12 levels? Try adding nutritional yeast to some of your favorite foods! Nutritional yeast is a flaky yeast powder that can be sprinkled on anything from soups to salads, without compromising taste or texture!
Other nutrients to pay particular attention to when prepping for a vegan diet include calcium, iron, and zinc. Adding in tofu or tempeh as a staple in your diet, will be sure to bump up your calcium intake for the day. Additionally, incorporating a plentiful amount of legumes, nuts, and seeds in your diet regularly will help contribute to your overall iron and zinc intake.
Finding Healthy Vegan Snacks
Prepping and planning out food for the week must also include plenty of healthy snacks to incorporate throughout the day to ensure you are staying full between meals. When searching for healthy snacks, aim for those which are a rich source of both protein and dietary fiber. My top favorite grab-and-go vegan snacks include roasted chickpea snacks, dry roasted edamame, and NuGo Slim protein bars with 16-18g protein, 6-7g fiber, and 3g sugar. The four vegan NuGo Slim flavors are Crunchy Peanut Butter, Chocolate Mint, Toasted Coconut, and Espresso. View a complete list of all of the NuGo Nutrition vegan protein bars and cookies.
Have more time on your hands? Whipping up your own trail mix packed with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit is an excellent option that is high in both protein and dietary fiber!
Overall, next time you are prepping vegan meals and snacks for the week, keep these key points in mind to ensure your foods are not only healthy and delicious, but contain all of the nutrients needed for optimal health!