Meal Prep Veggie Recipe for Beginners
For the longest time, I disregarded this as purely a trend. Though and after working countless hours teetering between several jobs; I came to the conclusion that if I were to bring any sort of balance and stability into my busy lifestyle; it would be with my nutrition. Which brings me to share about the wonder of MEAL PREP - it’s helped me become much more efficient yet balanced in my own modern day working lifestyle.
You’ve probably seen the meal prep trend online where dozens and dozens of meals are prepped in containers for the entire week? Holy moly. I can say that will probably never be me. I once tried an over-ambitious meal prep and not only did I end up with way too much food, but it took up most of my day.
On the flip side, I’ve realized that my veggie intake falls pretty flat when I don’t do any prep at all.
Soooo… there has to be a happy medium!?
This little dilemma is exactly why I came up with a simple plan that totally fits into my life these days. The recipe below (which is totally customizable!) takes less than 30 mins of active prep time, but makes enough food for several portions, increasing the odds that you’ll be a veggie powerhouse for the workweek. *arm flex* I love how I can quickly reheat a couple things and build a hearty, nutritious bowl in a matter of minutes!
My meal prep method has been going like this:
Roast two huge sheets of veggies
Cook a grain
Chop a couple fresh veggies
Have toppings on hand, ready-to-roll—things like avocado, nuts/seeds, dressing, etc.
This method has dramatically changed my meals in recent weeks (specifically, lunches) and increased my veggie consumption a ton. All of the ingredients can be changed up so it never has to be repetitive and you can be flexible with using what you have in your fridge/pantry. It helps cut down waste because you can easily use up those “on the verge of dying” veggies in your crisper. Just throw ‘em in the oven and roast the heck out of ‘em! And if you get tired of bowls, throw the prepped food into delicious wraps or even soups/stews.
I now love having prepped food in the fridge, but don’t love doing hours of meal prep each week. So I came up with this simple method that takes just 25 minutes of active prep time. The healthy food components can be enjoyed for several days in power bowls, wraps, and even stirred into soups! Buddha bowls are so nourishing yet fun because you can switch up the veggies and toppings to suit each palate, giving anyone the control to build their own bowls. This recipe is also a handy make-ahead option if you’re having friends over for a meal. Simply chop all the veggies the night before and refrigerate them in containers. Just before your guests arrive, pop the veggies into the oven, cook the quinoa, and prep the toppings. After cooking, you can all have fun assembling your own power bowls and everyone will be super impressed by the stunning rainbow-coloured meal!
Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free
For the roasted veggies:
3 small (680 g) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (4 cups)
4 cups (500 g) brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved*
1 medium (800 g) cauliflower, chopped into small florets (4 heaping cups)
1 medium (230 g) red onion, peeled and chopped
1 small purple cabbage, chopped
3 tablespoons (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the brown rice:
2 cups (400 g) uncooked brown rice/quinoa**
For the fresh veggies:
1 medium (370 g) English cucumber, chopped
1 medium (135 g) bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups (255 g) grape tomatoes (1 dry pint)
For the bowl toppings:
Chopped lettuce/greens (Romaine, Iceberg, kale, etc)
Nuts and seeds (I use hemp hearts and roasted pepitas)
Position two oven racks near the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and line two extra-large (15- x 21-inches) rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. It’s important to use extra-large baking sheets so there’s enough room for all those healthy veggies.
Divide the chopped, “to-be-roasted” veggies onto the baking sheets. Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over top each sheet and toss the veggies until they’re fully coated in the oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Roast the veggies for 30 to 40 minutes (I find 35 minutes is perfect in my oven for lightly charred veggies) until fork tender and golden. There’s no need to rotate/move the pans or flip the veggies halfway through baking unless you’re particular about even cooking.
While the veggies are roasting, add the rice/quinoa to a large pot (or Instapot) along with 3 1/2 cups (875 mL) water. Stir. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then immediately reduce the heat to low-medium, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice/quinoa is fluffy. Remove the lid and fluff the cooked rice/quinoa with a fork.
While the rice/quinoa cooks, chop the cucumber and green onions. Rinse the tomatoes (I hold off slicing them until just before serving).
Remove the roasted veggies from the oven. Once mostly cool, transfer all of the veggies and rice/quinoa into containers, seal with airtight lids, and place into the fridge for up to 4 days.
To make the Buddha bowls: Add a couple generous handfuls of chopped lettuce/greens to the bottom of a large shallow bowl. Drizzle with a bit of dressing and toss the lettuce/greens until coated. Top with spoonfuls of your prepped food (rice/quinoa, roasted and fresh veggies)—I always warm up the rice/quinoa and roasted veggies first! Now, add diced avocado, more salad dressing, nuts and seeds, and pesto. Keep the power bowl flavours interesting by changing up the toppings each day!
* If your brussels sprouts are quite large, quarter them instead of halving.
** If you don't think you'll eat this much rice/quinoa in 4 to 5 days, feel free to halve this amount (use 1 cup uncooked rice/quinoa + 1.75 cups water).
Feel free to roast a head of garlic along with the veggies.
Make it nut-free: Top your bowl with seeds (such as roasted pepita seeds and hemp hearts) instead of nuts and make sure your dressing is nut-free.