Tips for Quick Dinner Planning

I hear a lot of “excuses” for why eating a healthier, plant-based diet isn’t “possible” for people to adopt. But that’s what they are — excuses. I understand that making any kind of lifestyle change (or any change for that matter!) can be an overwhelming task. And perhaps even downright SCARY! But I will ask you to be honest with yourself about why you may resist change to a healthier plant-based diet. No one can argue with the benefits of a plant-based diet…sure, there are groups that try to put their own “spin” on it, but let’s face it, eating a diet full of fruits, veggies, and whole-foods is good for you no matter how you look at it! And if you are dealing with the plethora of diseases, including auto-immune deficiencies, that are plaguing our society, then you should be really interested in learning ways to improve your quality of life!

Okay, so I hear lots of reasons why people are hesitant to embrace a more plant-based diet – and one that I hear all the time is that it takes too long to prepare. I fully disagree – if you’ve got 30 minutes to cook that chicken dinner, then you’ve got 30 minutes to cook a dinner that is better for you (and the birds!).

There is no doubt that preparation is key for sustaining a plant-based lifestyle, but it’s not as hard as you may think! Today I will share a few tips for how to prepare for more plant-based meals

I know that in today’s world, we are busier than ever. But that is no excuse to feed our bodies poorly. In fact, it is imperative for us to fuel our bodies with the best foods to allow us to keep up with the many daily demands we have!

Bad choices – especially if you allow bad choices to reside on your shelves – can be made when your belly is growling and you don’t have some basics in place!

Here are a few tips that I follow to ensure that I’m never caught without a plan for having healthy dinners.

First – in case I won’t be able to get to having dinner in a timely manner, I try to always have some apples or fresh veggies cut in the fridge to grab for a super quick snack. I keep a batch of hummus or Notcho Nocheez on hand for a healthy veggie dip to tie me over until dinner time. A sliced apple with some almond butter can also satisfy me until dinner. I try not to snack however, and find that usually a big glass of water is all that I need to be satisfied until dinner, but it’s good to be prepared in case that isn’t enough.

Next – Make a double batch of brown rice on a weekend and freeze 1 cup portions for easy use in meals throughout the week. Making brown rice isn’t hard, but it does require about 50 minutes of simmering on the stove. I usually don’t make quinoa or basmati rice in advance because that really only takes 15 minutes on the stove which gives me enough time to prep the rest of the dinner while those items cook.

Another tip is to wash and cut your veggies as soon as you bring them home from the store and then put 1 cup portions in individual reusable freezer containers and keep them in the freezer. They thaw quickly and it saves you the trouble of cutting veggies everyday! If you are really adverse to doing the chopping yourself, then you can buy fresh pre-cut veggies at the store or even frozen veggies. Frozen veggies are just about as nutritious as fresh veggies – so do whatever it takes to ensure veggies make up a significant portion of your plate. Washing your leafy greens and keeping them in a sealed container with some paper towels ensures that you will always have the hardest part done for a quick salad base.

I always have cans of garbanzo beans on hand because they can be added to any grain, salad, or vegetable dish for an extra bonus of fiber and flavor. Simply open the can, pour the beans in a colander and rinse and drain. It doesn’t get much easier than that…

Add some raw pumpkin seeds and perhaps some sliced almonds or walnuts to enhance a quick salad.

Keep a favorite salad dressing on hand (check out some recipes in my Blog for dressing ideas) or even make a super quick “dressing” — cut up a ¼ of an avocado, add some lemon or lime juice (buy Santa Cruz or Lakewood Organic juice in a bottle in case you don’t have fresh lemons/limes!) and a dash of Himalayan sea-salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.

Lastly, I try to always have a back-up meal in the freezer. Now this takes some time to build up but each time you make a meal, make enough extra so you will have 1 meal to freeze. Trust me when I say that comes in handy for those times when you find yourself less prepared than you’d like to be!

Vegan cooking doesn’t have to be hard. Keep it simple; and that will help to sustain your healthy lifestyle.

Happy planning and eating!