I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for warmer days and flowers popping up! In the meantime, I’ve prepped (get it?…) this blog post all about spring meal prep ideas for us to bookmark for when the seasons change. (Yes, I’ll be bookmarking it too, as I found some good ideas while preparing this post!)
The key to success with spring meal prep is focusing on the building blocks of healthy eating: spring vegetables and other whole foods that you can then mix and match to make different meals.
HOT OFF THE PRESS:
If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I recommend – if you can – getting something like an Abel & Cole or Riverford box (or whatever is available where you live) for seasonal, organic vegetables on your doorstep. Then you can scroll down to the veggies you have in the list below, and do the relevant meal prep. If that isn’t available to you, just use the list below as inspiration for your grocery list.
(Note: this blog post contains affiliate links to products I genuinely like. If you click a button or a link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my work!)
Cabbage two ways
I know, cabbage doesn’t sound sexy, but cruciferous veg are part of the Daily Dozen foods that are great to get every day, and these two recipes might actually convert cabbage-haters!
So I’m using a video by Nisha Vora, aka Rainbow Plant Life, several times in this blog post, but I’ve shared it with the times where each relevant spring meal prep recipe starts. So for example at 2:30 is where the roasted cabbage recipe starts.
If you think you don’t like cabbage because you’ve been eating it boiled and mushy your whole life, it’s time to shake things up by frying it, or in this case, roasting it. You’ll be surprised by how yummy it can be!
This sounds a bit questionable, but I’m really tempted to try it. Sauces, pestos, dips, etc. are really what can make eating otherwise rather plain “healthy” meals enjoyable. And I’m always super happy when I’ve got something like this prepped in my fridge to add to salads, toast, etc.
So if you want to be brave and give cabbage sauce a try, that segment starts at 6:30. I hate onions, so I’d skip those, but you do you. 😊
Asparagus two ways
Now if there is a spring vegetable that I’m excited for, it’s definitely asparagus! I could probably eat it every day. But actually this is a veggie that you want to eat in the first few days after you bring it home as it doesn’t keep very well. So you might want to prep it on the day you get it and then eat in the next couple days.
Anyway, there are two main ways, I believe, of prepping asparagus. In any case, you want to snap the woody ends off of the asparagus before cooking it. But don’t throw them out, scroll down to the no food waste dips for a yummy way to use them (and really get your money’s worth)!
The first one is to steam them. As shared in the video below, you don’t want to overdo it otherwise you get a mushy mess rather than the nice fresh, crisp texture asparagus is known for. It can really add that “spring” element to your meals.
As Jessica says in the video below, if you’re cooking asparagus as part of your meal prep, you want to put the cooked asparagus in ice water so they maintain that nice texture.
Alternatively, you can roast your asparagus for about 12 minutes. The cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the spears, so be ready to get them out at the 10-minute mark if they’re super skinny spears or give them more like 15 minutes if they’re thick.
When looking this up, I’ve found different temperature recommendations ranging from about 180 to 220 Celsius (360 to 425 Fahrenheit). Ultimately, you know this, if you cook things at a hotter temperature, you’ll probably want to get them out earlier and vice versa. You can’t really get this wrong, unless you walk away for 20 minutes and burn the whole thing!
So pop them in the oven when you’re roasting other things, like the cabbage “steaks” above or the chickpeas below, for the last 12 minutes and keep an eye on them.
Asparagus are lovely on their own, so a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper is all they need to shine.
Carrots three ways
I don’t know if it’s the association with the Easter bunny, but carrots do remind me of spring. They’re also very versatile, you can even use the leaves!
This is almost meal prep 101, but a great way to help yourself eat healthier snacks is to pre-chop your veggies. This works with carrots and celery, and I believe also with cucumber, but I’ve yet to test that.
Anyway, all you have to do is chop up your carrots (and celery etc.) into snackable sizes and keep them in a jar, covered in water. The water keeps them fresh for several days.
For bonus points: keep them at eye-level in your fridge. I am quite guilty of ignoring the vegetable drawer in our fridge and instead just looking at what’s straight in front of me. But having a jar of fresh chopped veggies + a tempting dip (e.g. the cabbage sauce above or the pestos below) would actually make having a healthy snack more tempting.
PS: If you want chocolate or whatever as a snack, just eat that. I’m not saying anyone should restrict themselves and only eat “healthy” snacks, I’m just trying to have healthy options *as well*. 😊
Lentil carrot salad
This carrot salad would be a great addition to a lunch box. It would also make a filling alternative later in the week when you’ve eaten all your salad greens, but still want something light.
Carrot leaf crisp
Did you know that you can eat carrot leaves? So next time you get a bunch of carrots that takes over your fridge, chop off the leaves and make a tasty snack / topper for your other dishes. You want to do this early on, as carrot leaves can go slimy and gross if left in the fridge several days.
Wash the leaves and pat them dry, then chop them up small and fry them with some olive oil and a pinch of both salt and sugar. You can then just snack on them, or use them with the other dishes in this spring meal prep.
Which brings us to… More ideas to reduce our food waste, this time as dips / spreads!
No food waste dips / spreads
Carrot leaf and walnut pesto
If you don’t fancy the carrot leaf “crisp” described above, you could try making a pesto instead. Wash your carrot leaves, then blitz them in a food processor with a handful of walnuts, a small clove of garlic and a bit of goat’s cheese (skip that part if you’re vegan / dairy free).
Add basil or tarragon, ideally fresh, but hey realistically we rarely have fresh herbs for very long, so feel free to add a bit of dried herbs, they’ll still impart some flavour. Finally add some olive oil and mix it all together in the food processor. Give it a taste and adjust as needed!
Asparagus and mint pesto
If you want something a bit fresher + a way to use up the woody ends of the asparagus spears, this is it! Simply adapt the following recipe up or down based on the quantity of asparagus you have.
Blitz two handfuls of asparagus with a handful of cashews or pine nuts, a small garlic clove, a large handful of mint leaves with enough olive oil to make it into a paste. To use it more like a drizzle, add some water or lemon juice.
(This is making me want to get a bigger food processor as ours is small and might struggle with these amounts… Feel free to send me your recommendations by messaging me on Instagram!)
These low waste recipe ideas are from Abel and Cole’s How to Eat Brilliantly Every Day spring section. By the way, if you love the idea of reducing your food waste by using “unusual” parts of the veggies / fruits you buy, check out Plant You’s scrappy cooking on Instagram or her new book! At the time of writing, it’s available for pre-order and you can get $120 worth of free bonuses.
How to Eat Brilliantly Every Day: Abel & Cole Limited
PlantYou: Scrappy Cooking: 140+ Plant-Based Zero-Waste Recipes That Are Good for You, Your Wallet, and the Planet by Carleigh Bodrug
Now if you’ve been here before, you might have been thinking, isn’t this a vegan blog?! How come you’re advocating for eating eggs?
Well last year I started having honey (with hot water and lemon juice) when I had a cold, and then there were a few instances of getting cheesy pizza when I felt low, and eating chocolates at my in-laws over Christmas… And actually an Earthling Ed video backfired and made me want to no longer label myself as vegan.
So while I now still eat plant-based the vast majority of the time, I also eat a few animal products here and there. With the exception of the sad pizzas mentioned above / food provided at parties, etc., I do my best to source things that are as ethical as possible, e.g. organic honey and high-welfare eggs, and will only eat eggs a few times a week.
With all that said haha, here’s how you can meal prep eggs to add to your breakfasts, lunches, etc. (at the 4:38 mark):
Chickpeas + tofu
Now, for all the vegans out there and especially for those who aren’t vegan, there is a lot of value in being intentional in adding some plant protein to your diet. If left to my own devices, I’d easily just eat bread all day, so I need to make sure I find ways of making legumes more appealing.
One way of doing this is focusing on texture. Beans can seem a bit mushy and unappealing, but roasted chickpeas and fried tofu can add interest to your meals / make for yummy snacks.
I often think of overnight oats, but rarely chia pudding, though it can be quite delicious! You don’t have to make your own milk (though kudos to you if you do, I’ve yet to give it a go). It’s simply a case of mixing chia seeds with milk and letting it sit so the chia can absorb the liquid. I’d personally add a tablespoon of milled flax seeds too, but you do you!
Meals you can put together
So here’s how a day of eating could go with all of these spring meal prep ideas together:
- Breakfast: chia pudding with whatever berries and fruit you have available, e.g. blueberries and bananas
- Lunch: carrot lentil salad, a boiled egg, steamed asparagus and carrot leaf pesto
- Dinner: fried tofu, roasted cabbage, some kind of carb like rice or potatoes (I didn’t include this in the prep, but you could if you wanted), asparagus and mint pesto
- Snacks: roasted chickpeas, carrots with cabbage sauce
But you don’t need to do all of them! Just prepping one dip could make the meals you normally make feel new again.
This blog post was all about spring meal prep
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