Working from home means that theoretically I could make all my meals from scratch whenever hunger strikes, but the reality is that I often stare at my computer for super-long stretches of time until I realize I haven't eaten in hours and need to scarf something down, usually hunched over at the counter, before my next meeting. It's super glamorous!
But by making a few staples each Sunday, I can head into the week knowing that at least the dishes I haphazardly cobble together will be wholesome and filling. Here are the six things I prep ahead of time for a week of easy vegetarian meals.
More on my veg lifestyle: How I Accidentally Became a Vegetarian
I usually buy a big bunch of both lacinato and curly kale, wash it, and store it in the fridge to use all week. I am one of those people who really loves washing produce — it's a rare time when I can empty my brain of all thoughts and focus on the task at hand. (My husband affectionately refers to the sink as my "sacred kale-washing basin" when I'm doing this; I get very zen and meditative.)
I eat a lot of lentils. Compared to other legumes, they require no soaking and only need about 20 minutes to simmer on the stove. I always buy French lentils, as they've got great, distinct flavor and hold their shape really well. Lentils make their way into most of my salads, but I also like to toss them into a vegan "bolognese" to serve over pasta or fold them into a cheesy rice casserole.
Soft-boiled eggs, to be exact! There's nothing more satisfying than cutting open a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg — when the whites are cooked, but the yolk is still gloriously jammy. I'll usually cook a half-dozen eggs at a time and then store them in the fridge (unpeeled). I love to top a bowl of kimchi fried rice with an egg or two, or just eat them straight-up with some sliced avocado, salt, and a dash of hot sauce.
Learn how: How To Boil Eggs Perfectly Every Time
You saw this one coming, didn't you? What kind of vegetarian would I be if I didn't have a block of tofu in the fridge at all times? There's a local brand of tofu I buy in Connecticut that is labeled "firm, yet tender," and it's the perfect vessel for soaking up any number of sauces and marinades. I'll give it a rinse, pat it dry, cube it, and toss it in a zip-top bag with the sauce I'm feeling that week (BBQ sauce is on heavy rotation). When I'm ready to bake or pan-fry it, it's already marinated and ready to go. I typically serve the tofu with roasted veggies, but it also makes a nice "crouton" for salads and soups.
5. Brown Rice and Quinoa
All hail these two pantry staples! Quinoa is my favorite because it only takes 15 minutes to cook and it's packed with protein, but I also like to keep brown rice on hand to switch things up. I've used both in vegetarian stuffed peppers, and as the base for a salad. Having cooked brown rice stashed in the fridge also means a quick fried rice situation is always a possibility.
I have very strong opinions when it comes to chickpeas. I do not think it's worth it to soak and cook my own chickpeas from scratch (I buy canned!), but I do think it's worth it to make my own hummus. When I make my own, I can go heavy on the lemon and garlic, which is how I prefer my hummus. I just pour the ingredients into my food processor, blitz up a batch, and store it in the fridge to eat all week as a dip with carrots, as a spread on rice cakes, or as a topping for a baked potato.
Learn how: How To Make Hummus from Scratch