Category Archives: Nutrition, Meal Planning, and Whole Food Plant-Based Eating

Planning meals is a means to save time and money while increasing the healthier options of food available for yourself and your family.

Hippocrates said it, “Let food by they medicine.” Nutrition is a basis for health.

Whole Food Plant-Based Eating is 100% healthier than what you’ll find at most fast-food restaurants and healthier than a lot of what you would find packaged and boxed up on the inner grocery store shelves (away from the produce on the perimeter). What’s the difference? How to make a shift to include more of these foods when it hasn’t been your habit? How to make it easier and cheaper to feed your family while getting enough protein and not too many carbs? How do I make it taste good? These are common questions asked when talking about eating whole food plant-based meals. I’ve been on that journey myself. I’ve read many cookbooks and looked at the various cooking techniques, and can cover some of the pros and cons of options that are out there as well as introduce new ideas so you can find what will work for your family.

Healthier Meals Fast: Save Time & Money

With meal planning methods, keep more money in your pocket, spend less time in the car, and get big results in the kitchen on a reasonable amount of time. Try implementing one or two changes at a time for long-term success.

You can take it with you.

Portion out travel-friendly healthy snacks and have them on hand. When hunger kicks in, you may be able to live long enough to get home and prepare a meal despite feeling otherwise. Almonds or other nuts may fit in a purse or bag and travel well. When you decide not to make the drive-through an option, you’ll creatively problem solve to avoid being caught without a meal and snack plan to avoid the hunger pains and tantrums. Consider protecting snacks in a small hard sized container. Be honest about a snack that is on hand but you buy/eat other things – let the less desirable snack go, replace it, and move forward with the healthiest snack that can beat out other cravings.

Shop Smarter, Not Longer.

Separate a shopping list items by store area (or isle) in the order shopped. Some stores have isle layout maps available online. Stores that have primarily groceries and less general merchandise will make for a faster trip.

Forgo the impulse buy with the “maybe next time” approach.

Don’t shop while hungry. Take the healthy snacks along. Get in and out of the store faster with the list that is based on the plan. But, what about all those potential impulsive buys that bust the budget, fill up the cart, or grab your attention for an added 5 minutes of contemplation? Learn to say, “maybe next time”. Leave the item on the shelf and consider it for the next store list. The list was designed to meet needs and budget, if it’s not on the list, it’s not getting in the cart.

More peels, less plastic.

Peel, dice, chop, or eat it whole: less packaging can lead to lower costs and better health. Shop the perimeter of the store where they keep produce and spend less time in the prepared food isles.

One ingredient used 3 ways.

Take a protein ingredient and make a big batch. Freeze some to thaw and use the next week. Portion the remainding out to season three different ways for use as a main dish with a side or topping for pizza, tortilla, pasta, tacos, and salad. While adjusting to a new ingredient, it may help to have a small amount each day for a few days.

Beans cost less than bacon. Swap, substitute, and stretch to win.

In the PlantPure Cookbook, Author Kim Campbell creates meals in the simplest way possible without adding a lot of fats and oils. The book is filled with practical advice on staple ingredients, preparation, storage, cooking methods, and tools. This cookbook includes more valuable information than most plant-based cookbooks and can serve as a resource and reference.

  • cut down on unwanted calories from sugar, fats, and oils,
  • familiar recipes for meals that sound like something we’ve heard of before
  • easy to find ingredients
  • quick and easy recipe prep with good seasoning recommendations
  • portion control support
  • lower glycemic index options for those trying to lose weight or maintain their blood sugar levels (it’s not all pasta!)
  • substitute, swap, and DIY ideas for sauces, condiments, eggs, and milk
  • composition formulas for ingredient rations to craft veggie burgers
  • how to create great textures and creaminess without animal products

If you’re not ready to leave out meat, try using less and incorporating other filling proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu to the recipe or meal.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman is another good resource on the topic of eating whole plant foods.

Make it easier!

Try the Instant Pot® for making healthy meals faster with deep flavors and textures that would usually take a longer cooking time to achieve.  Make quick beans, vegetables, and complete meals.

Go Green with Juices, Smoothies, and Soups

Use the Cuisinart Smart Stick to immersion blend cooked vegetables and their broth for a quick and easy soup. The Dash Chef Series Digital Blender may also get a lot of use for smoothies, soups, and more.

Mason jars are available in a variety of sizes and great for storing homemade meals, sauces, and condiments and can be used for meal prep and to take along in a lunchbox.

For juicing, I use the Breville BJE510XL Juice Fountain Multi-Speed 900-Watt Juicer. There is a newer model, the Breville 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite 1000-Watt Juice Extractor that will have a higher price as compared to a discontinued model.  How to store juice? Keep some in the fridge for up to 3 days (give-or-take) and some in the freezer. When freezing juice, fill the container up and leave a little room for expansion. Drink frozen juice soon after thawing before it has a chance to start to spoil. When storing in the fridge, fill an airtight container up leaving without much room for air to keep the juice fresh longer. Keep in mind fruit will increase the sweetness but also the sugar content.

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Laura Baca is a NASM Certified Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, and NASM Certified Personal Trainer. NASM logo designation