Figuring out what to eat day after day can be pretty exhausting. Even with all the drool-worthy inspiration from chefs on social media and the plethora of recipes at our disposal online, plant-based cooking can still be hard to navigate.
Luckily, an expert is here to help. From batch cooking to planning out your meals in advance, registered dietitian Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, the executive chef for Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, has some easy tips that make incorporating plant-based meals into your weekly lineup a breeze.
3 Plant-Based Cooking Tips from a Pro
1. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
When it comes to making plant-based meals that are well-balanced and delicious, it’s best to plan them out ahead of time. That way, you won’t wind up eating pasta every night.
“One of the downfalls that can easily happen during a transition to plant-based eating and cooking is a reliance on carbohydrates and a lack of balance,” says Cavuto. “By planning your meals, you can make sure you’re including a balance of macronutrients.”
Compile a handful of recipes you want to try every week, then jot down everything you need to cook them up. Planning out meals ahead of time not only ensures they’re balanced, but also helps you cut down on food waste. You won’t buy anything you don’t need.
2. Batch Cook
Having to come up with new recipes all the time can be overwhelming—especially if you’re just starting out. Batch cooking can help alleviate that.
“Choose a few plant-based proteins—like tempeh, beans, lentils, tofu, and even quinoa—that you can batch cook for the week and therefore easily incorporate into a variety of meals,” says Cavuto. “The same goes for vegetables and grains. Batching cooked roasted vegetables, rice, and even oats can allow for easy prep come mealtime.”
By implementing this tip, you’ll spend less time thinking about what to eat and more time chowing down.
3. Remember: It’s Not All or Nothing
As much as you may feel the pressure to be a perfect plant-based eater right from the get-go, remember that it’s not an all-or-nothing kind of lifestyle.
“Plant-based eating doesn’t have to mean no meat at all,” Cavuto says. “You can start by using the half-your-plate rule by starting each meal with the mission to fill half your plate with vegetables.”
When you do eat meat, focus on the most sustainable and ethical options. The same goes for eggs and dairy: Some options are better for the environment and the animals than others. Even eating one plant-based meal a day, or making planet-friendly swaps here and there, can better the planet.
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