Last week I was sharing with you my number one strategy for staying on the plant-based diet, food batching. Batch cooking my staples and then freezing them has been the best cooking shortcut in that when I’m ready to eat, I don’t have to wait 30 minutes for my rice to cook or worse yet, skipping a home cooked meal altogether and ordering a pizza.
Maybe all this seems obvious. I’m not really sure. The idea of batching and prepping food has been around for awhile. But, today happens to be the first day of summer vacation for us and a personal refresher seems in order.
School is out, the weather is slowly, but surely, coming around. Graduation parties, bridal showers and weddings are gearing up and we are celebrating summer with picnics, barbecues, weekend camping and trips to the beach.
It can be a recipe for disaster.
Historically, for me, this is when I start to put weight back on after working so hard to take if off after the winter holiday season. And the fact that I'm probably more active in the summer than in the winter doesn't seem to be enough. It’s just the cold, hard truth.
I'm not getting on that loop again. Not this time. So, I’m dusting off my batch cooking skills and sharpening the knives of a few other strategies that have proven to work for me in terms of not only staying plant-based, but staying slim or even slimming down this summer.
And if I’ve said it once to myself, I’ve said it 1000 times, failing to plan means planning to fail.
Here are 6 simple shortcuts I’m using to stay on track, eat more greens, have better quality control over my food, and limit overt fats/oil (Remember, as Dr. McDougall says, the fat you eat is the fat you wear!):
1. Overnight Oats- The idea of preparing overnight oats is not novel, but if you’re a breakfast person, why not batch them? I like to create an assembly line of mason jars and make as many as I need for the week. And, yes, they will keep the entire week! Here’s a video tutorial to show you how I did it this weekend.
2. Giant Salad- I got this tip from Lindsay Nixon, The Happy Herbivore. It has been a game changer for me as I happen to be someone that doesn’t enjoy chopping up a fresh salad on a daily basis. The magic is in this Tupperware bowl. It’s a little pricey, but I’ve found it to be so worth it not having to pitch slimey, wilting greens I wasn’t able to eat in time. At the beginning of the week I make an enormous salad of chopped mixed greens, shredded carrot, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes and green onions. You can add less or more variety, I stay away from wet vegetables like diced tomato. This bowl will keep your salad fresh for at least 7 days or even 10 days if you’re using a heartier lettuce such as romaine, and makes it SO SIMPLE to get your daily greens. I grab a couple handfuls everyday and maybe add some grains, beans or potato if I want to bulk it up or I’ll add a handful to a wrap, top a rice bowl or tacos.
Note: Purchase pre-washed, chopped salad greens. I do this, almost always, to save time. It may be a bit more expensive but not really if the head of lettuce rots sitting in the fridge as I keep thinking I’ll get to it tomorrow.
3. Sauces and Dressings- We talked about salad dressings last week but it’s worth mentioning here again while we have an enormous salad to eat up. Find a dressing recipe that meets your needs and make a double batch, if necessary, to store in a mason jar.
Also, if you’re a meal planner, look at your recipes to see if there are any sauces you could make or whisk up ahead of time. If my schedule permits, I like to do this on Sundays or if it doesn’t, I’ll do this in the morning when I have my best energy for cooking.
A word on OIL: While I can't say I'm following the oil-free thing 100% (it’s almost impossible to be perfect) , sauces and dressing can be GIANT CALORIE BOMBS and a source people often overlook when wondering why they are gaining or not losing weight. Cut oil where you can and you very well could effortlessly create that calorie deficit without realizing it.
4. Hummus- If you are transitioning to a plant-based diet you’ll find hummus to be your new go-to condiment and dip. There are MANY variations out there depending on what type of bean is used, but as with dressings and sauces, hummus can be very calorie dense, meaning a lot of calories per weight of food. Find a fat free or low fat hummus recipe like this one and batch up enough for the week. There are also brands out there making oil free varieties such as Engine 2, Wild Garden Hummus, Oasis Mediterranean, Roots Organic Gourmet and Cedars All Natural Hommus. They can easily be found if you’re near a Whole Foods and Cedars All Natural Hommus and Wild Garden allow you to purchase online.
5. Prepping vegetables- Whether you’re a meal planner or enjoy coming up with a dinner plan that same day, prepping regularly used vegetables from your repertoire will make your dish come together that much quicker. At the beginning of the week I will pre-chop veggies such as onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, or bell peppers along with shredding vegetables like cabbage and zucchini, if using, and store them in the fridge for use throughout the week.
6. Freezer and Produce Shortcuts- Don’t feel like cutting your own veggies or herbs? Me either. That’s why I mostly do them all at once while watching a show or listening to an audiobook or podcast. But sometimes I don’t even feel like doing that. Grocery stores really come to the rescue on this one both in the freezer and produce sections. Frozen vegetables are superior to even fresh vegetables most of the year. More on that in a future blog post. Fruits and vegetables are flash frozen at their peak and cook up perfectly on the stove top or microwave. Most produce sections these days are full of pre-washed, pre-chopped vegetables and medleys that work perfect in a pinch. As Cristy likes to say, the best vegetable to buy is the one you’re going to eat!
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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