Weekly Lunch Prep (Vegan-Friendly)
Makes 5 grab-and-go lunches
Cook your beets. Fill a pot 3/4 of the way with water, and add scrubbed beets with skins on. Boil the beets about 40 minutes until easily pierced with a fork. Remove from water, Rinse with cold water, slice off top and bottom of each beet, slice of skins, and dice beets. Add beets to a bowl with 3 Tbsp. balsamic, red wine or white wine vinegar and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Let beets sit in mixture to marinate. (If you do not prefer beets, use 2 diced + roasted sweet potatoes or fresh diced veggies such as red bell pepper, cherry tomato or carrots in place of beets).
Cook the quinoa. Rinse the pot from the beets, add quinoa, 2 1/2 c. water, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower temperature and let simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes or follow package directions).
Make the sauteed chickpeas while the quinoa cooks. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a frying pan, and heat oil over medium heat. Add chickpeas, paprika, turmeric, and salt + pepper to taste. Cook about 10 minutes until slightly crispy. Allow to cool.
When quinoa is done, drizzle it with olive oil, squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon, and add parsley. Add salt + pepper to taste, and mix. Add 1 c. of the mixture to 3 of your Tupperware containers. If there is still quinoa left, add some to each green salad container.
Fill the 2 green salad containers 3/4 of the way with chopped kale. Top each with the shredded brussel sprouts or cabbage as well as the nuts.
Divide chickpeas*** among 5 tupperware containers. Add most of the beets + liquid to the 3 containers filled mostly with quinoa. If there are beets left, you can add them to the salads as well (however, do not pour liquid into the salad). Sprinkle each quinoa salad with za’atar spice mix, dukkah spice mix, or a bit of garam masala for added flavor.
Add dressing of choice to your 2 small tupperware containers for green salad dressing. I like to make a simple vinaigrette (1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar + 1/2. Tbsp. olive oil + 1 tsp. maple syrup + small squeeze of lemon in each and whisk with a fork)
Refrigerate lunches, and eat as needed each day!
***If you are wary of the chickpeas being pre-cooked and seeming “mushy” or weird as the week progresses, you can sub the cooked chickpeas with pre-packaged crispy chickpeas (pictured below). You can find these in snack aisles at Whole Foods or other food markets. If using these pre-prepared crispy chickpeas, add them to each salad or quinoa salad the morning of. Do not add these ahead of time as they will soften throughout the week.
***The vegetables I use hold up all week in the fridge. This meal prep may not work well with certain vegetables if you are thinking about subbing anything. For instance, kale holds up all week long, while spinach and other greens will wilt.
1 1/4 c. quinoa, uncooked
1 can chickpeas
1 bunch of curly kale, washed, stemmed + chopped (or 1 bag pre-chopped kale)
About 8 brussel sprouts, trimmed + shredded OR 1/2 c. shredded cabbage (I use pre-sliced brussel sprouts)
2 medium golden beets
1/2 c. chopped parsley or cilantro
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or chopped pecans or almonds, raw or toasted
3 Tbsp. balsamic, red wine or white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp. paprika + 1/4 tsp. turmeric, for the chickpeas
Salt + pepper
Dressing of choice
Za’atar, dukkah or garam masala for added flavor (optional)
**Optional: feta cheese or avocado for serving
5 tupperware containers that hold about 4 cups each
2 small tupperware containers for dressings
1 sauce pot
1 small frying pan
15 minute prep
30 minute active cook time
40 minute inactive cook time
About 1 hour - 1.5 hours total
Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free option, refined-sugar free
Do you ever go through your week forgetting lunch, spending too much money on lunch, wishing you had packed a lunch, or eating out too often for lunch? I did too until I got in the habit of setting aside time to prepare my lunches for the work week ahead of time. Is it time consuming? It can be! But to be honest, the time, energy and stress it saves during the week outweighs the couple of hours I set aside to prepare it ahead. This is my current lunch meal prep routine as of 3/18/2019. I’m sure it will be ever-changing depending on the seasons and personal preference, but right now, this is what works for me.
These meals help me to feel full, satisfied and healthy throughout the week. A couple of things I’ll note:
1. If these meals do not appeal to you, don’t make them! If you are going to take the time to prepare meals ahead, make sure you’re preparing meals you love and will look forward to eating. This is IMPORTANT if you’re going to stick with meal-planning.
2. Why kale? Because it holds up all week. The vegetables I used (kale, cabbage, raw brussel sprouts, beets) stay fresh all week long in the fridge. This meal prep will not work with baby lettuces, spinach or other greens. Kale is key here — if you don’t like kale, I suggest making salad components ahead of time and assembling them individually the night before!
3. Make the process fun. If you dread meal-prep, you may not stick with it. Open the windows, let the sun shine in, turn on your favorite music, dance in your kitchen. One thing I do before I prep is deep clean my kitchen. I enjoy being in there so much more when it is freshly cleaned!
4. If you’re going to stick to a basic lunch prep plan like this one, get creative! Experiment with different grains (farro! barley!), use a variety of herbs and seasonings, try sweet potatoes in place of beets, add pickled onions, add chicken if you eat meat or different harder cheeses (feta! parmesan!), use different dressings each week, put other crunchy veggies on your salads (carrots! peppers!), etc. I switch things up all the time — it’s what keeps lunch fun and interesting!
5. Bring a snack! Meal prep really helps to curb cravings and keep you satisfied, but halfway between lunch and dinner can be hard. So bring a healthy snack with you! I generally bring a protein bar (RX or a Health Warriors pumpkin seed bar are my go-to’s) on days I have the green salad and a lighter snack, such as a piece of fruit or 1/2 avocado with rice cakes, on the days I have the quinoa since it’s more filling.
Good luck with your meal-prep endeavors! I promise the work and the time are so worth it! You’re going to feel like a boss.