The best advice for anyone who wants to eat a plant-based diet is, first, that the food should be good…like, REALLY good, and, second, the food should be there.
Indeed, the food has to be SO good and SO convenient, that when you’re tempted to eat some crappy take-out food, you can instead think, “Nah–I’ve got food way better than that in my fridge.”
The key to achieving this level of delicious convenience is, of course, to always be prepared. I always have a couple of good sauces in my fridge–for example, a jar of peanut sauce and a jar of smoky vegan cheddar; a jar of creamy salad dressing–for example, cashew-dill dressing; and a big jar of soup–for example, cheezy broccoli or lemony lentil. Add to that lots of fresh in-season produce and a bunch of basic vegetables like onions, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, and you’re off to the races.
But if you don’t have a great deal of time to browse cookbooks and food blogs, you can kind of fall into a whole-food, plant-based rut.
And even though I DO have a lot of time and I DO spent a great deal of that researching food, I frequently end up repeating meals again and again. I also have a tendency to always serve the same grain (I’m talking to YOU, brown basmati rice) and the same collection of vegetables (helllllooooo, ‘taters and broccoli!!).
To shake things up a bit, I began subscribing to a plant-based meal plan a few months ago. These meal plans are a great hack to plant-based eating because the plans give subscribers a weekly grocery list and then a plan for preparing all the food in one day (called “batching”) for the entire week. The idea is that each evening when you wearily arrive home from work, all you have to do is throw a few things together and heat them up!
And even if you don’t make EVERYTHING from the plan, you’ll make a few items and invariably discover some new weird vegetable or fabulous new ingredient…like ume plum vinegar.
A quick search of “Plant-Based Meal Plans” will produce innumerable options–some free, some paid subscriptions–but the key is to find a meal plan created by a plant-based chef with a gluttonous spirit–that is, someone who freaking LOVES food. I say this because plant-based recipes created by medical professionals–doctors and some nutritionists–can be a little…ahem…bland.
The best approach is to try a couple of the sample recipes before you subscribe to a specific meal plan. If the sauces knock your socks off, you know a true glutton is creating the plans!
The meal plan to which I currently subscribe is The Clean Food Dirty Girl Meal Plans and the meals are just the bomb-diggity. I actually hummed and hawed for a full year before I subscribed, all the while I followed the CFDG group on Facebook and made dozens of the free recipes.
Even now, I don’t usually make all the recipes every week and I rarely do a full batch, but when I do, we have a fridge full of amazing meals that cover us for lunch and dinner for a week anyway. The coolest thing is that I often look at the shopping list and realize I already have almost everything on it.
Here’s the list of meals from last week…
Here’s what the batching process looks like…
The sauces on the left are sweet-and-sour sauce, smoky paprika sauce, Caesar dressing, sauce for the Greek dinner, and enchilada sauce.
Here are a few of the meals pre-baking…
And here are the finished products…
The Greek Style Hot and Dirty Dinner. This tastes like a hot Greek salad…so I added a handful of sliced kalama olives. Delicious!
This is the Egg Roll Noodle Bowl. We both absolutely loved this one–I was surprised by James’s delight with this bowl because he apparently used to love that old-school Chinese restaurant sweet-and-sour-pork dish (of the unnaturally pink hue). And Bustie loved the udon noodles.
Roasted Vegetables with Smoky Paprika Sauce. I loved this one; James…not so much. He has an unnatural hatred of Brussels sprouts.
Caesar salad with romaine and arugula: great dressing…interesting croutons. James loved it–croutons and all!
Zucchini Enchilada Boats. Absolutely delicious…and such an odd, but amazing, recipe. I did add a serrano pepper (seeds and all) to the enchilada sauce and another one (sliced) to the bean mixture to add more heat.
Anyway, subscribing to a whole food, plant-based meal plan is a great way to hack this way of eating. I highly recommend it if you’re short of time, are unfamiliar with plant-based cooking, or simply want to shake up your weekly menus!
And as I was batching today, I was listening to a great playlist on Google Music that included a number of Eliott Smith tunes, and I recalled my obsession with Elliot from the early 2000s. Here’s one of my favourites, “Son of Sam”…