Choosing Veggies Over Meat
No more meat?! To some, this might sound like a foreign idea or one that doesn’t appeal to you, but incorporating just one or two more plant-based meals into your menu for the week can have a big impact. And incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet doesn’t just have health benefits; it’s better for the environment and good for your wallet too. And we’re not just saying that because we love veggies so much!
So if you’re considering prioritizing your health by bringing more plant-based meals into your life (or maybe even going all-in to make it a lifestyle!), here’s some information from the Center for Nutrition Studies and a great plant-based lifestyle resource called ForksOverKnives.com that will help make your plant-based meal prep and cooking experiences easier.
Below are also a few handy shortcuts that will help your produce stay fresher longer and save you time in the kitchen.
3 Steps to Constructing Plant-based Meals
The Center for Nutrition Studies says that creating a plant-based dish is like constructing a building—start with a solid foundation. For plant-based dishes, the foundation consists of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates provide much-needed fuel, energy, and fiber. Next, add vegetables and fruits to your foundation. Then, choose spices, sauces, and condiments to give your dish the desired flavor. For each step, select from a wide variety of food.
- whole grains (ex: rice, quinoa, couscous)
- starchy vegetables (ex: potatoes, corn, squash)
- legumes (ex: chickpeas, beans, lentils)
Step 2. Add non-starchy vegetables and/or fruits, ex:
- pineapple chunks
Step 3. Add spices, sauces, and condiments.
- Plan ahead and prep on the weekends. The time you take to prepare food on the weekends will significantly reduce time spent in the kitchen on weeknights when you want quick and easy meals.
- Always read the recipe all the way through before you start cooking. This will help ensure that you won’t miss steps and understand which parts of the recipe you may have already prepared during Weekend Prep.
- You’ll find that it’s even easier to prepare the meal if you use a “mise en place” technique. This means having your ingredients organized before you start, so that the meal comes together quickly and effortlessly. To do this, assemble all of the bowls, utensils, ingredients, and spices you’ll need. Then chop and prepare each of the vegetables, so that when it’s time to cook, you can simply throw everything together.
- Every ingredient includes the accompanying prep beneath it, so simply work down the list, chopping and dicing each ingredient in turn. It’s a great way to get your “mise en place” all set up, and means you won’t have to scroll back-and-forth in the recipe if you’re cooking from your mobile device.
- Leave refrigerated produce unwashed in its original packaging or wrapped loosely in a plastic bag. (There are some exceptions, such as mushrooms and herbs.)
- While you can keep produce in the crisper drawer of the fridge, Forks Over Knives highly recommends using Rubbermaid Freshworks Containers, Bluapples, or Vejibags. While they are an investment, they will help keep your produce crisp and fresh much longer than if they were in plastic bags or on a tray. This will reduce waste and trips to the grocery store.
- Fruits and vegetables stored at room temperature should be removed from any packaging and left loose.
- If your greens are starting to wilt, you can place them in the freezer in resealable freezer bags and add them to smoothies later.
- Save money by keeping knobs of ginger in the freezer. You can grate the ginger into dishes when needed and it retains the fresh flavor!
- Fresh herbs can be expensive, so a great tip is to freeze the ones you are not using. They will retain their potency while frozen. Try this with herbs such as basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cilantro, and parsley. Simply wash the herbs and allow them to dry fully. Then trim the leaves, place in a resealable freezer bag, and freeze.
So PREP YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF! Planning and preparing your meals has so many benefits and can reduce the stress in your oh-so-busy day to day life. I’ve seen what my life looks like when I don’t prep–I’ve lived through the chaos and compromise of falling off my plan! When you focus on making meal prep your habit is when you truly step into living a plant-based and nutritious lifestyle. And our veggies and microgreens can help you do just that. Learn more about what we’re growing this year and please get in touch if you have any questions!
Do you have any meal planning or storage tips you’d like to share? Comment below 🙂
~Dustin & Shannon