It’s been a minute since either one of us has taken the time to sit down and write a Food-for-Thought post, but that doesn’t mean we’re not open to giving advice if you guys need it! A friend recently reached out to the both of us asking for some help in transitioning her diet to a more plant-based one. Her reason for doing so had mostly to do with wanting to FEEL better after eating, as she had noticed eating heavily meat and dairy-based products often results in uncomfortable stomach pains. Her main concern about the transition? “What do I buy at the grocery store?!” and “I don’t have time nor want to make a meal every night.”
We get it, it’s hard to prepare food all week – especially if you’re not a fan of cooking. It’s also hard to know what to prepare for meals so you don’t end up eating the same rice and beans every single day. Don’t be fooled though, L and I eat a lot of beans (they’re a huge source of protein with 7g per 1/2 cup!), but we always mix up the variety. Think of it like eating chicken with rice one night, then swapping chicken for pork the next (but ew, don’t actually eat that).
So with that said, here’s a sample grocery list with meal ideas inspired by it to get you started. I’m not going to suggest amounts of what to buy because maybe you’re cooking for just yourself, or maybe you’re cooking for an army. I dunno… but I’d like to if you wanna chat :)
Tri-color bell peppers
Red Kidney beans
(For the beans: canned or dry, but canned is easier to prepare)
Vegan Protein Powder
|Don’t forget spices and such too – garlic, lemon juice, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper… stock up! These can make or break your meals. It’s all in the seasoning, trust us.|
Breakfast – Overnight Oats, Hot Oats, Avocado Toast
A super easy go-to breakfast for busy professionals, moms, or anyone really is overnight oats. All you have to do is mix 1 cup dried oats with chia seeds, flax seeds, and a fruit in a mason jar or tupperware. Pour in enough nut milk to soak through the oats and cover it all (about 1.5-2 cups), shake it up, and let sit in the fridge overnight. Yeah, it’s seriously that easy. And it’s ready for you in the morning when you’re rushing out the door trying to get to work on time (or maybe that’s just me).
Don’t be afraid to mix it up too. You won’t feel like you’re eating the same thing over and over again if…well.. you don’t. Sure the base is the same, but swap out blueberries for strawberries sometimes. Or add a pinch of cinnamon or a drizzle of agave nectar. I think it tastes like rice pudding with a dash of cinnamon, so if that means my breakfast tastes like dessert then I’m in. Another nifty trick is to dice up an apple in the beginning of the week and freeze the pieces. Toss them in your oats in the morning and you’ve got another variety to indulge.
If you have extra time in the morning to heat up your breakfast, hot oats with peanut butter and bananas are a great source of protein. We have a recipe here for that! Or use some frozen fruit, peanut butter, and protein powder to make a yummy smoothie. Here’s an idea for that one too.
Avocado toast is another simple breakfast. Pop some whole grain bread in the toaster, slice an avocado, dice up a tomato half, and heat up some black beans. Smother everything on the toast and top with salt and pepper. BOOM! Say hello to your new addiction.
Lunch – Chickpea Salad Wraps/Sandwiches, Roasted Vegetables with Brown Rice and Tofu or Beans
Whether you’re a person on the go or a social butterfly in the break room of your office, prepping lunches ahead of time is never a bad idea. My favorite is to make a batch of chickpea salad to last me a couple days of sandwiches and wraps. Chickpea salad is probably what you think it is – a spinoff chicken salad… but better.
L and I both have our secret recipes and lucky for you we typed ‘em up to share publicly here. A couple uncommon ingredients aren’t on this grocery list example though. So FYI, you’ll need Vegan Mayo (Vegenaise or other brand) and dijon mustard. It’s always a nutritiously delicious idea to make your wrap or sandwich with spinach, tomato, and onion toppings too.
Meal prepping for lunch leaves you a lot of time during the week to do whatever it is you enjoy doing in your free time. Like going to the gym, reading a book, or catching up on Teen Mo…. I mean, current events. When I take the time to meal prep, I like to toss a bunch of my veggies into a baking dish with garlic and my favorite spices and roast them in the oven at 400° for 30-40 minutes. For instance, I’d use half a red onion, a red pepper, broccoli, and carrots. While that’s going, I get some water boiling for 2 cups of brown rice; and I sauté a diced block of tofu (also seasoned with garlic, different favorite spices, and a splash of soy sauce) for my protein. Or instead of tofu, you could open a can of beans and season those. Combine a little bit of everything in multiple tupperware and you’ve got a few lunch meals to heat up quickly during the day.
Personally I think the best way to keep your lunch tummy happy with diverse foods is to make both of these options at the beginning of the week. That way, you won’t get sick of either. Change up the ingredients on a weekly basis too, like subbing a new grain, different beans, or unusual spices.
Dinner – Tempeh Vegetable Kabobs on Quinoa, Loaded Baked Potato with Lentils and Veggies
Even though I undeniably enjoy cooking, I still have some nights where I just need to make something quick. One of my top choices on these nights is to make roasted vegetable kabobs (yeah, you’ll need to make sure you buy the skewers for this). It’s simple. Just chop some red onion, bell peppers, and marinated tempeh into chunks; load them onto the skewers; drizzle olive oil, garlic, and spices atop, and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile whip up some protein-packed quinoa and you’ve got a hearty meal that only requires minimal attention and mess! Or honestly say, “screw the skewers!” and throw everything in a baking dish instead.
One of my other dinner go-to meals is loaded baked potatoes. I’m obsessed with potatoes. I wrote an entire post about them here previously because they’re so damn good (and good for you). I admit, sometimes I cheat and use the microwave to bake the potato. It’s like 30 minutes quicker than an oven, c’mon! But however you want to cook your potato, make sure you simmer some delicious lentils (also protein-packed) to spoon over it when it’s done. Sauté mushrooms, onion, and kale alongside the lentils as well. Loading your potato with veggies ensures you’re getting vital nutrients. Don’t forget to wash your potato and eat the skin too!
If you’re really someone who can’t stand cooking, frozen vegetables with beans and a grain are always an option too. Just make sure you don’t buy those frozen packages with all the sauce and sodium additions… just stick with the plain vegetables and add your own flavor!
Snacks – Fruits, Raw Vegetables, and Nuts
Don’t forget to snack throughout the day on healthy choices! L and I came up with our favorites for you here. Apples, carrots, and different kinds of nuts are great choices from the list above though!
I hope this helps you aspiring vegetarians, reducitarians, and vegans put plant-based food in your carts and on your plates! Send me a message if you come up with other simple meal ideas, I’d love to hear them!
Much Love & Many Nomz!
P.S. Don’t forget to bring reusable bags! ;) and sign the petition here to ban plastic bags in Florida!