Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Plant-Based Meals from the Slow Cooker in Just 1 Hour
If you’re looking for an easier way to get plant-based meals on the table that involves the absolute bare minimum of hands-on cooking, I suggest turning to your slow cooker. Yes, your slow cooker. It’s helpful for a whole lot more than cooking up large, tough cuts of meat. In fact, it happens to be a great friend to plant-based staples, like beans, rice, and a huge array of vegetables. Keep this in mind as we head into a busy time of year, when the temperature continues to drop and the craving for wholesome comfort food persists.
Plant-based eating doesn’t involve a rigid set of dos and don’ts; instead it is a lifestyle that celebrates putting plants at the center of the plate. The way it’s interpreted can also vary slightly from person to person. For some, it mimics a vegan diet, while others may opt to include animal products, like honey, cheese, or eggs into their diet.
In this Power Hour, about one hour of meal prep sets you up with a week of fully prepped plant-based dinners that just need to be dropped in the slow cooker, plus easy and wholesome breakfasts and lunches that are ready to go. Here’s how to do it.
Looking for more plant-based meal plans? Here are seven weeks of plant-based meal plans for every type of eater.
Meal Prep Goals
- Breakfast: Wholesome, prepped breakfast that requires minimal effort in the morning (five days).
- Lunch: Easy lunches that require little to no prep with the option to repurpose leftovers on several days (five days).
- Dinner: Comforting, fully prepped dinners that just need to be dropped in the slow cooker (five days).
- Nutritional Goals: Our primary nutritional goals for the week are meals that follow a plant-based diet.
Meal Prep Plan Snapshot
- Feeds: Two people
- Prep Time: About 1 1/2 hours
- Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
- Weeknight Cooking Required? Moderate. Most dinner components are fully prepped and simply need to be dropped in the slow cooker to cook for the required amount of time.
- Mix-and-Match Salad
- Leftover Chickpea Soup
- Vegetable Burritos
This week’s shopping list is filled with lots of colorful vegetables, some lean protein, and plenty of easy-to-find pantry items. It assumes staples like olive oil, salt, and pepper are already on hand.
- Produce: 1 container berries, 4 medium bananas, 1 bag chopped kale (about 4 cups), 1 large yellow onion, 1 medium sweet onion, 1 head garlic, 8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 medium sweet potato, 1 medium lemon, 1 lime, 1 bunch fresh cilantro, 1 medium zucchini, 1 medium red bell pepper, 1 medium poblano pepper, 3 to 4 avocados, 1 medium eggplant, 6 Roma tomatoes, 2 celery ribs, 3 salad kits
- Refrigerated & Frozen: 4 cups frozen pineapple, 1 bag frozen corn, unsweetened almond milk, 8 ounces unsweetened plain non-dairy yogurt
- Pantry: 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup old-fashioned oats, maple syrup, 1/2 cup chia seeds, coconut oil, ground turmeric, ground coriander, dried oregano, chili powder, smoked paprika, 1 pound dried chickpeas, 3 quarts low-sodium vegetable broth, 1 cup brown rice, 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, 1 tube tomato paste, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup golden raisins, 1/4 cup capers, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, 1 bottle salad dressing, 2 (8- or 9-inch) flour tortillas, 1 pound dry rigatoni pasta
- Other: 1 loaf sourdough or country white bread
Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done
- Cook Quinoa-Oatmeal Cereal. Prepare the quinoa-oatmeal cereal according to the recipe instructions. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator.
- Prep Slow Cooker Golden Chickpea Soup. Sauté the onion with seasonings and spices according to the recipe instructions for the soup. Cool completely. Chop the potatoes, and add to an airtight container or zip-top bag along with the cooled onion mixture. Store in the refrigerator.
- Prep Slow Cooker Veggie Burrito Bowls. Chop the sweet potato and add to an airtight container or zip-top bag. Chop 1 zucchini, seed and chop 1 bell pepper and 1 poblano pepper, and add to an airtight container or zip-top bag with 1 can drained and rinsed pinto beans. Place the rice and seasonings in a small airtight container or zip-top bag. Store in the refrigerator.
- Prep Slow Cooker Caponata. Chop the eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and celery. Add to an airtight container or zip-top bag with the tomato paste. Store in the refrigerator.
- Assemble smoothie kits. Scale the smoothie kits up to make four servings total, and divide among two gallon-size zip-top bags. Store in freezer.
A Week of Plant-Based Slow Cooker Meals
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Quinoa-Oatmeal Cereal with berries: Each morning, spoon some of the cereal into bowls. Reheat in the microwave, if desired, and top with a splash of non-dairy milk and berries.
Tuesday and Thursday, Pineapple Kale Smoothies: Empty the contents of one smoothie kit bag into the blender, plus 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, and blend to the desired consistency. Divide among two glasses.
Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Salad Kit with Beans and Avocado: Divide a salad kit between two bowls, top with beans, chopped avocado, and dressing.
Wednesday, Leftover Chickpea Soup: Heat two portions of the soup in the microwave or on the stove. Top with a generous spoonful of unsweetened plain non-dairy yogurt, a squeeze of lemon, and fresh cilantro leaves.
Thursday, Vegetable Burritos: Heat the leftover rice and vegetable mixture from the burrito bowls. Spoon over flour tortillas, top with sliced avocado, and roll to close.
Monday and Thursday, Slow Cooker Golden Chickpea Soup: In the morning, dump the bag of prepped potatoes and onion, along with the remainder of the ingredients, into the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours, then purée with an immersion blender or regular blender. Each night serve two portions of the soup topped with a generous spoonful of unsweetened plain non-dairy yogurt, a squeeze of lemon, and fresh cilantro leaves.
Tuesday, Slow Cooker Caponata with Toasted Bread: Dump the bag of prepped ingredients into the slow cooker and cook according to the recipe instructions. Spoon caponata on thick slices of lightly toasted sourdough or country white bread to serve.
Wednesday, Slow Cooker Veggie Burrito Bowls: Layer the prepped ingredients in the slow cooker according to the recipe instructions. Serve two portions, topped with the lime yogurt, chopped avocado, and fresh cilantro leaves.
Friday, Slow Cooker Caponata with Pasta: Cook half of a 1-pound box of dry rigatoni pasta. Rewarm the leftover caponata in the microwave and toss with the pasta.