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Easy Plant-based Cuisine

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Complete Meal Planning Guide: Organise Your Groceries and Meals with Ease

Have you ever wished for a magical go-to resource that could help you organize your purchases, meal prep, and meal storage?


meal planning and storage guide - fruits and veggies

Look no further! In this guide, you'll find a compilation of tips and information designed to make your life easier when it comes to meal planning, storage, and meal preparation. Ready?


Meal Planning Guide: Streamlining Purchases and Meals for a Hassle-Free Life

Let's begin with the foundation – meal planning! The habit of planning, regardless of the activity, is the key to success. In terms of meal planning, the advantages are numerous, from saving money and time to providing peace of mind (because who wants to stress about what to cook when time is limited?). Not to mention that for those with dietary restrictions or specific goals, meal planning allows precise control over food choices.


But how do you get started, you may ask? For a better answer, let's break it down into two sections: Initial Planning and Step-by-Step Planning.


Initial Planning

A guide developed by Harvard Medical School provides essential tips for effective meal planning. Here's a condensed version to help you get started:


  • Discuss favorite foods and meals with your family members.

  • Create a calendar or spreadsheet to record meal ideas, recipe websites, and shopping lists.

  • Compile accessible and practical recipes in your spreadsheet or notebook.

  • Consider assigning themes to different days of the week, such as Meatless Monday, Pasta Tuesday, or Quiche Wednesday. Routine can be an excellent option for those who appreciate predictability.

  • Think of recipes that can be prepared separately and combined later. For example, prepare gnocchi and have various kinds of sauce to go with it and other dishes.


Begin small by preparing enough meals for three to four nights a week and gradually increase the number as you become more comfortable with the process and gain a better understanding of what works best for you, ok?!


meal planning and storage guide - fruits and veggies


Step-by-Step Planning

The meal planning process can be divided into three steps:


  1. Long-Term Planning: it involves thinking about the entire month ahead and organising your budget. Take the time to write down your plans, choose recipes for the month, note the required ingredients, and create a shopping list. Additionally, purchase non-perishable items like legumes, grains, pasta, canned goods, frozen food, and other similar items. For example, in a vegetarian household, legumes (beans, chickpeas, peas), grains (rice, corn, oats), flour, seeds, tofu, frozen food, and canned goods are essential. Therefore, prioritising these items on the shopping list is the key.

  2. Medium-Term Planning: now it's time to purchase and store perishable items such as fruits, vegetables, and greens, as well as prepare the necessary meals. Remember, it may not always be feasible to accomplish these tasks in a single day, so planning is essential. For instance, legumes need to be soaked for 8 to 48 hours before cooking. Therefore, it may be more practical to cook them gradually and reserve them for different recipes.

  3. Short-Term Planning: This stage involves organising meals for the week. Determine if you'll need to pack meals for work or what ingredients you have available. Ensure you have a clear idea of what you'll need to prepare.


Meal Preparation

Without a doubt, the most common question we receive is about how and what to prepare. In this guide, we'll share how to organize a simple process and what to cook based on your own experience and needs.


  • Designate two days each week for meal preparation, and they don't need to be consecutive.

  • On the first day, cook legumes that have been soaked for at least 24 hours and leave the tofu, or meat, marinating. If possible, prepare quick dishes like Chili, Meatloaf, Shepherd's Pie, Dahl, and Burgers.

  • On the second day, focus on other preparations from your list if you managed to prepare the legume portions on the previous day. You can cook polenta, rice, quinoa, various sauces, pies, lasagnas, pastas, and stir-fries.


It's important to consider the order of meal preparation. Start with items that require more cooking time, such as whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. While these items are cooking or baking, proceed with chopping vegetables and fruits, or washing and drying greens.


When planning meals, think about recipes and basic ingredients that can be combined to create a variety of meal options. Having seasoned tofu and cooked beans on hand can be helpful when assembling a unique salad, for example.



meal planning and storage guide - fruits and veggies

Storage

It's time to showcase our expertise in food storage and preservation! After years of trial and error, we've learned valuable tips to keep food from spoiling. Let us share our secrets with you:


  • Fruits, Vegetables, and Greens: it all begins at the market! Each food item has its own particular storage requirements, so avoid mixing everything in a single bag. Some items can be stored in paper bags, such as mushrooms, onions, potatoes, fruits with hard skin, and garlic. However, starchy tubers like beets and carrots, leafy greens, and delicate fruits like cherries, blackberries, and strawberries should be stored in plastic bags.

  • At Home: wash leafy greens and store them in airtight containers with paper towels, changing every other day (cloth towels can be used if you have enough). Another option for kale and spinach is placing them in a glass jar with water and refrigerating them (remember to change the water every 2-3 days). This helps keep the greens hydrated and fresh for days or even weeks. Carrots can be stored in glass jars filled with water if you don't use them quickly.

  • Immediate Meal Prep: you can prepare beets and carrots in various ways, such as cutting them into sticks, dicing, slicing, and grating, and also store grated beets and/or carrots in vinegar for salads, making them ready to use.

  • Other vegetables: can be stored in airtight bags in the refrigerator, with the exception of onions, garlic, bananas, and potatoes, which should be kept outside the refrigerator.

  • Freeze Fruits: whenever possible and as needed, freeze fruits, especially bananas for smoothies.

  • Prepared Foods: Label and date everything stored in the freezer and rotate them so that older meals or foods are used first.

  • Blanch Veggies: blanch vegetables before freezing them.


Try to measure portions based on your typical servings and make smaller portions. This way, when you need or want to eat more, you'll have extra portions readily available instead of making a large portion that may go to waste.


Now you have a comprehensive guide to help you organize your purchases, meals, and storage, creating your own meal planning routine. Are you ready to give it a try? Come back and let us know how it worked for you.

Remember, meal planning makes a world of difference in bringing ease and convenience to your daily routine. Stay organised, optimize your time, and enjoy the benefits of an efficient and stress-free meal planning system.


Do you want more recipes, discover some amazing places to eat in Lisbon, Porto, and even Paris and Athens (and more), plus getting all the tips and tricks to store your food and build your pantry for a plant-based and gluten-free diet? So get your "Easy Plant-based Cuisine" today on amazon.com!

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