Today I’m sharing my favorite go-to vegetarian meal prep ideas. Easy, quick, and nutritious, they’re great for breakfasts, snacks, and lunches on a busy week ahead.
Meal prepping. That one extra chore some of us really don’t wanna do on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I get it. I like my lazy Sundays. You know what else I like though? Having a smoother, easier week because I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to whip up a fresh, healthy meal. Sometimes that can take me anywhere from 20-60 minutes, depending on the prep work and clean up involved.
I’ve found it’s easier to set aside a couple of hours on Sunday to just go ahead and set myself up for success. When I meal prep, I’m more apt to stick to healthier meals, I use up foods that would go bad first (thus less waste and money saved), and I save myself time during my hectic week days.
Admittedly, I do have the luxury of making myself a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs most mornings because I blog from home. There are many times when I don’t need breakfast meals prepped because of this (though I do try to have something for AJ since I don’t always make it up early enough to make him eggs before he’s out the door!). Some of our snacks are store bought, too, so I don’t always make these. I’m not really extreme with meal prepping, but I do enjoy having a handful of certain items made up ahead.
That being said, I want to provide some vegetarian meal prep ideas for those who are trying to transition to more wholesome eating in general. Not a restrictive diet, per se, just a more whole foods focused diet. In order to do this, there is going to be more preparation involved.
Whole foods are full of nutrients that keep you energized throughout the day and if you prepare them correctly, they can actually be pretty tasty. Usually, it’s the time that people lack which becomes a major barrier for eating healthier meals.
However, organization can change that. That’s why I have some great vegetarian meal prep ideas to share with you today.
As you’ve already seen in the title, this is a vegetarian meal prep. I’ve been eating plant-based for almost seven years now. I occasionally eat a piece of salmon, which technically makes me a pescetarian. But because 98% of the time I’m eating vegetarian meals and I really only eat fish if we dine out, I’m focusing on a vegetarian meal prep. Feel free to adjust it as you see fit, though.
Now, let’s get into some vegetarian meal prep ideas…
Reasons to Meal Prep
- Healthier meals since you plan them out in advance, considering nutrients and portions
- Time saved by batch prepping/cooking in one set time period
- More affordable than eating out or buying pricey convenience meals
Grocery List Staples for a Successful Vegetarian Meal Prep
- Protein (including dairy): Eggs, cheese, yogurt, beans and lentils, milk, tofu, tempeh, lentil pasta, and *plant-based sausages, burgers, chick’n nuggets, deli slices, etc. *(I eat these plant-based meat alternatives in moderation. They are usually high in protein and tasty so I don’t deprive myself, but they can have a lot of sodium and other additives. For a more whole foods focused diet, limit these.)
- Vegetables and greens: potatoes, fresh or frozen spinach, lettuce, peppers, onions, garlic, squash, tomatoes, carrots, peas, broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts, and more
- Fruits: dates, bananas, citrus fruits, apples, pears, tropical fruits, berries, peaches, melon, and more
- Whole grains: whole grain bread, cereal, and tortillas/wraps; brown rice; oats
- Fats: extra virgin olive oil, real butter, nut butters, coconut, avocados, nuts and seeds
- Condiments and toppings: bbq sauce, balsamic glaze, nutritional yeast, herbs, ketchup and mustard, salad dressings, jalapeños, olives, pickled vegetables
- Convenience foods: string cheese, dark chocolate, whole grain crackers, sparkling water, or any other things you can’t live without. You may not need that many of these, depending on how much you plan to meal prep. These foods may be good to pair with a meal you prepare for lunch or alone as a snack. Don’t forget to add some of these to your weekly grocery list.
Vegetarian Meal Prep Ideas
Let me just start off saying that you don’t have to make everything from scratch. We don’t make our own condiments (although occasionally I’ll make a fresh dressing and I do pickle some things in the summer months), and we do buy some convenience snacks like popcorn, crackers, dark chocolate, cheese sticks, etc. We also buy some drinks like La Croix for the week.
Keep in mind that I may make more from scratch than you are comfortable with and that’s okay. I make what I can at home, but some things are better bought from the store. I value quality food (which for me means fresh and healthy ingredients), but not if I have to compromise too much of my time. It’s a balancing act, for sure. Do what works for you.
Below are lists of ideas that will need some preparation in advance.
Snack Ideas | Vegetarian Meal Prep Ideas
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Energy bites or granola bark
- Dates stuffed with peanut butter
- Veggies with hummus This may require some prep if you’re making homemade hummus or chopping veggies yourself.
Breakfast Ideas | Vegetarian Meal Prep Ideas
- Homemade granola This can be eaten alone, added to yogurt or smoothies, or eaten with milk and fruit as a cereal.
- Baked Oatmeal (Chocolate, Triple Berry, Peanut Butter)
- Vegetarian Breakfast Casserole
- Avocado toast If you like a homemade sourdough or whole grain bread, this will require preparation.
Lunch Ideas | Vegetarian Meal Prep Ideas
- Soups and chili (split pea, butternut squash, vegetarian chili, tomato, potato, cheddar & broccoli, lentil)
- Grilled wraps, sandwiches, paninis (Italian panini with pesto, mozzarella, spinach, and tomato; artisan grilled cheese on sourdough; grilled tofu veggie wrap; falafel wrap)
- Salads (chick’n caesar, berry spinach salad, greek orzo salad, chick’n cobb) For this I would just focus on chopping veggies and portioning them out into containers. If the salad includes a meat alternative like plant-based chick’n, you could crisp this in the oven in advance.
- Protein, veggie, rice bowls (Asian or Tex-Mex style bowls) I prepare brown rice and beans or tofu, shred cheese (for the Tex-Mex bowl), and sauté some veggies with a homemade sauce or seasonings to create the bowl I want. Top a Tex-Mex bowl with avocado or add a hard-boiled egg to your Asian bowl right before you devour it.
- Chickpea or egg salad with pita bread/chips and veggies Mash your chickpeas or hard-boiled eggs and combine with mustard, mayonnaise, and salt for a protein-packed dip for your pita and veggies. Or eat on whole grain bread as a hearty sandwich.
Dessert Ideas | Vegetarian Meal Prep Ideas
Tips for Success | Vegetarian Meal Prep Ideas
Try to gradually start implementing some of these meal/snack ideas.
It’s always easier to ease into change. Start with just prepping snacks one week and then every week or two add in prepping another meal. You don’t have to be perfect. Most weeks I prepare only a couple of items on Sunday because I know I can do more midweek since I work on my blog from home. Even simply preparing rice, beans, hard-boiled eggs, and chopping some veggies in advance will help you a lot in preparation for work days throughout the week. Those items are all so versatile, so having them ready will do wonders.
You do not have to meal prep on Sunday.
Not everyone operates on the same work week. Prep food on the days you’re available but be consistent about it. I’m home during the week, so I can usually sneak in more prep midweek. That still allows me to save time. If you have to have two mini food prep sessions a week like I do, by all means go for it.
Invest in a set of storage containers.
That way you aren’t left fitting food into containers you should be using for preparing the foods. I’ve used mixing bowls, jars, even plates with foil on top for leftovers. This is fine on occasion. Practicality says invest in a few solid pieces of meal prep containers. You can buy glass ones, plastic ones, ones of varying sizes. Or you can keep it simple and buy a 20-pack of the same size container. Just have ample containers for putting your food in. Especially if you work outside the home, it’s so easy to have individual containers prepped so you can grab them in the morning and go.
Look for more inspiration as the seasons change.
I get tired of the same old meals. I am all about variety with food. That’s exactly why I love using Pinterest for lots of vegetarian meal prep ideas. I love eating healthy (not restrictive–i.e. low calorie, low fat, low carb–but balanced, hearty meals that are full of nutrition), and it’s easier to keep eating healthy foods when you’re constantly looking for new ways to make them. In warmer months, focus on salads more (which may mean your prep is mainly chopping this week). In cooler months, simmer pots of soups or stews on the stove while you whip up granola bars.
Keep in mind that the bigger the batch you make the farther it’ll stretch for meals.
If you’re prepping for two you’ll need twice as much food. If you make a large batch just for yourself, you will probably be eating the same exact lunch all week. Some people are okay with this, I am not. I crave variety and get tired of the same meals after about the third day. If you’re like me, be prepared to make smaller batches of two different meals versus one big batch of something for the entire week. (Unless of course you’re cooking for two, in which case you may need two big batches of meals per week.)
Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.
You don’t need a five course meal or a protein with two sides and a salad for lunch. Most people tend to eat lighter lunches because dinners are the main meal of the day. Keep lunch rotations simple. Think sandwiches, wraps, fast pasta dishes, salads, soups, etc. Try to pick meals that don’t require 50 ingredients. If a dish does take a while to bake or simmer, though, use that time in between to chop veggies and work on prepping something else. Meal prepping is all about being efficient with your time.