Would you like to eat healthy and delicious meals on a regular basis but cannot find the time or energy to spend hours in the kitchen daily? If so, you might want to look into vegan meal prep.
It’s a really helpful habit to get into and has become a pretty big diet and food trend! From those who are looking to get fitter or slimmer to busy moms on a budget trying to save some time and money — meal prep is a wonderful and versatile hack we can all make use of.
No need for lots of fancy kitchen equipment, extra money or tons of time! Meal prep can work for everyone.
No matter if you’re batch cooking individual ingredients or crafting whole meals, there are countless ways to make mealtimes less stressful and time-consuming.
Prepping meals in advance can be easy and fun, and knowing that all of your meals for the week are taken care of is a great feeling!
Especially for vegan newbies, a laid-out meal plan with easy prep sessions is a fantastic way to learn what plant-based eating looks like.
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This article is meant to give you a quick but thorough overview of what meal prep is, who it’s perfect for and what you need to streamline the whole process.
We’ll also share with you what components can be used to create healthy and delicious vegan meals, our top starter tips and ways of customizing meal plans to make them work for you personally.
Finally, you can find a 7-day vegan meal prep session and plan for lunch and dinner featuring colorful and easy to make vegan bowls!
Getting excited? Great, then let’s get into things and see if vegan meal prep is for you.
Jump to the Meal Prep + Plan →
What Is Meal Prep?
According to The Kitchn, meal prep (short for meal preparation) is basically dedicating a block of time to batch-cook ingredients or meals for the week ahead. This step can make mealtimes much easier for the coming days!
From weighing and measuring your portions to chopping or peeling veggies and blending a quick sauce, your preparation can include either individual components or even involve cooking large batches of meals to eat over a few days.
However, meal prep isn’t a one size fits all. Everyone has different nutritional needs and taste preferences. Down below, we’ll share with you how you can adjust any meal plan or prep to make it work best for you!
Meal prepping goes hand in hand with meal planning because you should at least have a rough vision of what you want to eat for the upcoming days. Don’t just try to wing it at the grocery store.
Another option is to choose either breakfast, lunch or dinner to prep for the following week. That way, you can tackle your personal mealtime pain points and needs!
If you want to avoid grabbing lunch outside, make some plant-based bowls to take with you in the morning. If cooking dinner after a long day seems downright impossible to you, heat up a serving of your prepped chili.
A little bit of planning goes a long way to making a hectic work week a little less stressful! And spending some time once or twice per week to prepare a batch of food for the coming days that can be turned into delicious meals with little extra effort is just super convenient.
Who It’s Really 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
- 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 what they want to eat on a day-to-day basis, 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.
However, we get a ton of requests for easy ways to eat more healthy plant-based meals — so if you’re one of those people, we’re sure we can inspire you to at least get into prepping individual meal components.
Home-cooked food each day and even healthy packed lunches for the week with no need to stand in the kitchen for hours on end — doesn’t that sound really appealing?
Especially for those who are just starting out on a vegan diet or who are veg-curious, following an approachable meal plan can make this transition so much easier!
For extra tips around the different ways to go plant-based, including a printable checklist, check our resource below.
Vegan Transition Guide + Downloads →
Benefits of Meal Prepping
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 and helps prevent decision fatigue. 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 your 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 stretch further.
Top Benefits in a Nutshell
We love that even tiny meal preps help create healthy habits, which in turn make following a nutritious and enjoyable diet much easier. Here’s what else we love about it!
Vegan Food & Nutrition 101
If you’re a vegan beginner, let’s go over the food and nutrition basics first. As established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it’s not hard to meet all of your nutrient needs on a vegan diet if you know what to include on a regular basis.
This means eating from all five main vegan food groups — veggies, fruit, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds — on a daily basis and choosing whole over processed foods when possible.
Here’s a quick overview of potentially critical nutrients on a plant-based diet and common food sources:
- Calcium: green vegetables, oranges, tahini, calcium-fortified soy milk and tofu
- Iron: oats, spinach, dried figs, lentils, tahini, chickpeas
- Zinc: oats, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, pumpkin seeds, almonds
- Iodine: nori or dulse seaweed, iodized salt
- Omega-3: flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts
- Vitamin D: sun exposure, some UV-light grown mushrooms, supplement
- Vitamin B12: fortified food, supplements
Read more about supplementation with vitamin B12 here and feel free to check our in-depth guide on vegan nutrition.
Top Vegan Staple Foods →
Creating Plant-Based Meals
One key to easy, nutritious and tasty vegan meals is to know which components to use.
Choosing from the main food groups for most of your meals is a great way to create both healthy and satisfying dishes. Here’s what this can look like!
Vegan Meal Components
- Starches — rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, whole grain bread
- Vegetables — broccoli, kale, spinach, zucchini, collards, green beans, bell peppers, eggplant, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, leafy greens
- Legumes — tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, peas
- Healthy Fats — nuts, seeds, avocado, nut or seed butter
- Condiments — seasonings, herbs, dressings, sauces, dried or fresh fruit
Building off these simple yet delicious and wholesome foods enables you to load up on essential nutrients while keeping your grocery bills low.
Our 1-week meal plan, which you can find below, is completely whole food plant-based yet super yummy. Best of all, all of the meals are relatively easy and quick to make.
It’s a good example of how you can make most of your main meals as wholesome as possible while leaving some wiggle room for delicious vegan fun foods!
Now, let’s go over 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 mealtime.
Meal Prep Tips For Beginners
You can also meal prep twice a week (Saturday and Wednesday, for example) to increase the variety and freshness of foods.
Put on your favorite show, podcast or music and get washing, chopping and cooking. Before you know it, you’ll be relishing this time you get to kick back and relax in the kitchen.
Every endeavor comes with a learning curve, so here are our most important insights and tips to help you succeed quickly!
Easy Sweet Potato Smoothie Bowl →
Planning Is Key
Think about a few meals you want to make over the next days and jot down the parts you can prep — from washing or chopping veggies to roasting chickpeas or nuts, making a batch of rice or whipping up a quick dressing.
Start with 2-3 recipes per week if you don’t have a plan to follow like the one we’ll share with you below. Don’t just wing it at the store!
Get Comfortable With Multitasking
Following a meal prep plan can take half an hour or two hours — the key is to be smart about your steps.
We like to start by cooking our grains or legumes while preheating the oven, then baking our sweet potatoes and veggies while chopping salad greens and whisking together an easy sauce. Doing everything in that order means that you’ll be done in an hour tops!
Ingredient Prep or Meal Prep?
You can either make larger batches of rice, potatoes, hummus and roasted veggies (which would be prepping your ingredients), or you can prep whole meals!
This can take the form of bean chilis, veggie curries, overnight oats or energy bars. Find great recipe examples that work well for meal prepping below.
Not only can prepping too much food be overwhelming when you’re doing it, but you may also end up with spoilt food if you don’t manage to eat all of it quickly enough!
Think about freezing some of the food so it lasts longer and can be defrosted the night before you plan on eating it.
Having too much prepped food in your fridge could also lead to overeating, and it takes away some of the flexibility during the week.
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).
Don’t make the mistake of adding salad dressing over your fresh greens just to end up with a soggy mess when you’re ready to dig in the next day!
Some components need to be stored separately, like freshly prepared salads, chopped fruit or cooked grains. If you end up with several containers, jars or bags of prepped food, think about labeling them so you remember what’s inside.
Room for Variety & Flexibility
If you get bored by eating the same meals a couple of times in a row, only prep the basic components and add different fresh veggies, chopped nuts or fresh herbs to your dishes once you put them together!
Some people like to just meal prep for weeknights and make or eat whatever they want during the weekend.
If you want more flexibility, that’s a great idea! However, if you want to stay on a budget and follow a healthy diet, it can be better to stick to a clear plan.
Food Safety Guidelines
According to the FDA Food Code, all perishable foods that are opened or prepared should be thrown out after 7 days, maximum.
Some of it doesn’t last that long (looking at you, high protein foods!) and you should definitely do a good old smell test or look for visible signs that food is spoiled before tasting it.
Reheat your food thoroughly before eating it and let it cool completely before placing it in the fridge. If you want to store it for more than a week, definitely freeze your food — and let it defrost at room temperature for a couple of hours before consuming it.
Good Meal Prep Equipment
Honestly, you can make meal prepping work with just basic kitchen equipment, most of which you probably already have at home.
But to give you an idea of how to streamline your meal prep session, we want to provide a quick overview of the best tools.
Basic Kitchen Tools
To follow our meal plan or just to step up your home cooking game,, there are a few tools we recommend you have on hand that will make preparing healthy and delicious meals a breeze.
- Baking sheets
- Parchment paper or silicone mats
- Cutting board
- Non-stick pan
- Food processor
- Instant Pot (for safe hands-off batch cooking; perfect for grains, legumes and stews)
The last three items are more of a “nice-to-have”, and you can still make our meal plan or plant-based eating in general work without them.
Food Storage Equipment
- 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 best 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.
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What Are Good Meal Prep Recipes?
There are so many recipes that work beautifully for meal prepping! Here are some of our favorites.
Some signs that a particular recipe or meal is good for prepping ahead of time are that it includes steps like chopping veggies or boiling rice and that it keeps well in the fridge for a few days.
Generally, recipes that can be scaled and prepared in larger batches can be eaten over the course of a couple of days — which is kind of the ultimate meal prep.
We personally love to create mix-and-match plant-based bowls where we can prepare a few of the compounds ahead of time and just quickly heat up whatever seasonal vegetables we have in the fridge to go along with the rest.
Vegan Breakfast Meal Prep Recipes
We don’t know about you, but we personally eat the same few breakfasts throughout the week.
Upon getting up, we don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen preparing a new recipe or thinking about what we could whip up — hence why we have 2-3 fallback breakfast staples we always turn to.
For some of us, breakfast time can be especially hectic, so having something prepped in the fridge or on the counter is awesome!
This 1-week vegan meal prep is for lunch and dinner only, giving everyone some wiggle room to adjust breakfast and snacks to their personal preferences and needs.
That being said, there are some breakfast recipes that work wonderfully for meal prep — and they can often double as vegan snack ideas:
You can find the full recipes with instructions for how to meal prep them in our free download. Check them out on our blog by clicking the links above!
Make Meal Plans Work for You
To be honest, it would be impossible to create a meal plan that’s perfect for every single person.
Although many of our readers have already shared how much they like these vegan bowls, we want to make our recipes accessible to as many people as possible — people who all have different needs and preferences.
Here’s how you can make some tweaks to our (or really any) meal plan so you’ll definitely love it!
We’re all very individual when it comes to which foods we like and dislike, so if you’re not keen on broccoli, kale or mushrooms, feel free to use another vegetable instead; if the portion sizes seem too large in general, cut back on the amount of vegetables overall so you ensure adequate calorie intake.
Allergies & Food Intolerances
Our meal plan is already fully vegan (no dairy, eggs and fish) and gluten-free, but you might not be able to eat a particular ingredient, such as nuts or tofu. Using some smart food swaps (i.e. chickpeas instead of tofu, seeds instead of nuts), you can totally follow along!
Most of our readers are looking to lose weight, which is why many of our bowls are high in veggies; if you don’t feel full and satiated following these recipes, add more plant-based protein and fat, especially if you want to increase muscle mass or have a hard time meeting calorie requirements.
If any of the ingredients are rather expensive where you shop, go for more affordable and cheaper options; quinoa can be swapped for another grain, seasonal produce can replace more expensive or exotic ingredients, etc.
Similar to adjusting the meal plan to your budget, simply check what’s available at your local grocery store and don’t sweat it if you cannot find some specific ingredients — simply grab similar ones that you already know you like.
Although the meal plan below was created for one person, you can double or triple it to feed your whole family! In this case, take everyone’s likes and dislikes into account and make sure all ingredients work for your family members.
If you decide to go out one day and not eat your prepared meals, store them in the fridge for up to a few days and enjoy later; likewise, if you already know you’ll be eating out, skip the lunch or dinner recipe for that day during your prep.
Vegan 1-Week Meal Plan Overview
So, in order to help you jump on the meal prep train, we’ve laid out a full week of easy vegan bowls for you! It exemplifies what a well-rounded and delicious plant-based diet can look like and requires only minimal time in the kitchen.
You’ll have a meal prep session for a couple of ingredients that’ll take about an hour total on a Sunday afternoon. Then, we will make 7 different vegan bowls, one for each day of the week — preparing two servings at a time, one to eat right away, and the other to take with you to lunch the next day.
Since we only planned out lunch and dinner, you can modify the rest of your meals and snacks for the day to meet your personal needs and preferences. Our recipes are really nutrient-dense and ensure you meet your essential nutrients for the day, no matter what your breakfast looks like!
Each day, you’ll just need to prepare either some starches or veggies in under half an hour, take some of your other prepped ingredients and combine everything to create a beautiful bowl!
Vegan Bowls for the Week
Getting hungry? Okay, let’s check out the grocery items you’ll need to make these delicious bowls for the next week.
Grocery List for Our 1-Week Vegan Meal Prep
Veggies & Fruits
Arugula, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, carrots, garlic, green onion, kale, lemon, lime, onion, orange, mushrooms, bell peppers, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, cilantro, parsley.
Rice, chickpeas, quinoa, cannellini beans, sesame seeds, soba noodles, tahini, walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, maple syrup, tofu.
Spices & Condiments
Cayenne, cumin, ginger, miso paste, soy sauce, salt, pepper, turmeric, nutritional yeast.
Feel free to make any swaps necessary to these ingredients — as you can see, most are easy to get and don’t break the bank.
For exact amounts, just download our free eBook containing a shopping list with all of the items needed for one person.
Start Your Vegan Meal Prep
Are you excited for some basic meal prepping? The following steps can be done in about an hour, even if you’re a beginner in the kitchen. Take some time during a lazy Sunday and prep for the week ahead!
1. Cook Your Rice
Our meal prep sessions often start with preparing our satiating starches — we like to use our Instant Pot to cook grains like rice because it enables us to just “set and forget” while moving on to the next steps.
2. Bake the Sweet Potatoes, Tofu & Chickpeas
When we heat up our oven, we want to get as much use out of it as possible. Preparing similar components that all need to be baked in one step is a great way to save some time!
For our vegan bowls, we cover the tofu, chickpeas and some of the cubed sweet potatoes in delicious spices before popping everything into the oven for around 30 minutes.
3. Make the Condiments
In the meantime, we’ll prepare our easy and delicious condiments for the next few days. Some are whisked together in a matter of seconds; others that are bean-based need to be blended.
Here’s what we’ll make for our week of vegan bowls:
- Miso Ginger Sauce
- Tahini Lime Dressing
- Tomato Hummus
- Arugula Pesto
Now, put the components in individual food containers and store in the fridge. We can now move on to your first vegan dinner bowl — which is already partially prepped!
Day 1 Dinner: Bibimbap Bowl
Since you just finished your prep session, your oven is still warm. Wonderful — let’s pop some kale in there for 15 minutes to crisp it up!
Meanwhile, sauté your portobello mushrooms in some soy sauce and slice up your raw veggies to go along with the rest:
- Red bell peppers
- Red cabbage
Now, grab some of the prepped rice and miso ginger dressing. Create a pretty bowl using the baked kale chips and sautéd mushrooms. Top with some fresh cilantro and sesame seeds!
Put the second serving of this vegan bibimbap bowl into a food container and store it in the fridge overnight to take with you for a quick lunch tomorrow.
Day 2 Lunch: Leftover Bibimbap Bowl
Good job preparing everything last night! Just take your food container with you in the morning and reheat the bibimbap bowl come lunchtime in a microwave if you want, or it can also be enjoyed cold.
Day 2 Dinner: Mediterranean Bowl
Tonight’s bowl is high in protein and crunchy veggies! We’ll use the prepared sweet potato cubes, chickpeas and sun-dried tomato hummus, putting them on a bed of greens and fresh tomatoes.
Since you have to use the oven to bake two sliced zucchini, you can reheat the sweet potato cubes and chickpeas if you don’t want to eat them cold.
All that’s left to do after 15-20 minutes of baking is to assemble your beautiful bowl — enjoy one serving tonight and store the other in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch.
Day 3 Lunch: Leftover Mediterranean Bowl
Nothing more to do than take your food container with you and enjoy a quick lunch wherever you are! Feel free to reheat the bowl sans the fresh veggies in the microwave if you’d like.
Day 3 Dinner: Green Protein Bowl
Let’s enjoy some higher plant-based protein goodness tonight! This simple bowl features some of your prepped rice, the baked tofu and half of your prepped tahini lime dressing.
So, what’s left to do? We’ll sautée some delicious green veggies for added fiber, color and micronutrients! Get a non-stick pan, heat it up and add the following foods with a splash of water:
Steam the veggies, stirring frequently until they are cooked but still crunchy.
To assemble your green protein bowls, get a food container and a dinner bowl, put some baby spinach in each of them and divide all of the other ingredients to get your two servings. Top with green onion and creamy avocado and drizzle your dinner bowl with the tahini dressing!
Store the second serving in the fridge and keep the dressing in a separate little container.
Day 4 Lunch: Leftover Green Protein Bowl
Enjoy last night’s leftover bowl either cold or reheat it in the microwave before you drizzle it with your creamy tahini dressing.
Day 4 Dinner: Pesto Pasta Bowl
Who doesn’t love pasta? Get your soba noodles out (or just use spaghetti if that’s your jam) and cook them as per package instructions.
Meanwhile, water sauté some delicious veggies to go along with your starches:
Feel free to swap any of these for another vegetable of your choice. Keep stirring with a spatula in your pan until they reach your preferred texture (crunchy or soft) — usually, around 10 minutes is perfect.
Divide your cooked noodles and steamed veggies into a dinner bowl and a food container, then get your prepped arugula pesto and drizzle it over the two servings of pesto pasta.
Garnish with sliced avocado and lemon juice! Enjoy one of the servings tonight.
Day 5 Lunch: Leftover Pesto Pasta Bowl
How about a chilled pesto pasta salad for lunch? Great — there’s some in the fridge waiting for you! We love this recipe cold, but it can easily be reheated in a microwave.
Day 5 Dinner: Roasted Buddha Bowl
Tonight, we’ll do a quick mid-week prep. Get some quinoa and cook it as per package instructions — it’ll be used for this recipe and an upcoming one, so be sure to put some aside before creating the roasted buddha bowl.
While the quinoa is cooking on the stove, preheat your oven and prepare some kale leaves to go in there. On a second baking sheet, you can reheat your prepped sweet potatoes and chickpeas! After about 15 minutes, when everything has become warm and crispy — remove and set aside.
The final step is to get your baby spinach, shredded red cabbage, orange and leftover tahini lime dressing to assemble tonight’s dinner! Don’t forget to put half of it in a food container for tomorrow — but this has probably become a habit by now.
Day 6 Lunch: Leftover Roasted Buddha Bowl
Grab your leftover dinner and separately stored tahini dressing and take with you to enjoy for lunch. Feel free to reheat or just eat cold!
Day 6 Dinner: Asian Noodle Bowl
More noodles is always a good idea, right? Tonight, we’ll make a delicious Asian veggie stir-fry mixed with satiating soba noodles. Start by cooking your starches, then prepare your tofu — we’ll marinate it in a delicious sauce for a couple of minutes.
Next, slice your veggies so they can go into your non-stick pan for a quick sauté:
- Bell pepper
Make sure they are still nice and crunchy before transferring them into a bowl. Using the same pan, heat your marinated tofu in the soy sauce mixture until it forms a crust.
To assemble the two servings, get your prepped miso ginger sauce from the fridge and divide all ingredients (noodles, veggies, tofu and sauce) between one dinner bowl and one food container.
Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds and enjoy!
Day 7 Lunch: Leftover Asian Noodle Bowl
Take your prepped food container out of the fridge in the morning and bring it with you. Reheat your lunch in a microwave or enjoy the cold Asian noodles as they are!
Day 7 Dinner: Powerhouse Bowl
Tonight, you’re in for a really quick dinner — no cooking at all required! You simply need to wash, slice and season a couple of veggies, get a can of chickpeas and grab your prepped quinoa.
The main ingredients include:
- Massaged kale
- Spiralized carrots
- Parsley & green onions
Assemble your bowls by dividing all of your ingredients evenly, topping the goodness with some crushed walnuts, salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice!
Find This Recipe Here →
Day 8 Lunch: Leftover Powerhouse Bowl
Your last serving of our easy vegan bowls can be enjoyed for lunch today! It’s like a delicious, crunchy quinoa and chickpea salad that doesn’t even need to be reheated.
Get Preppin’ With Our eBook
Now what? Start your next meal prep, perhaps? If you want to keep this weekly habit going, this could be a great time to redo the same meal plan again or change up a few components for more variety!
Get the complete shopping list and all of the detailed steps as well as a quick “plant-based 101” guide in our 50-page eBook here: