• Alyssa Fontaine, RD
  • Jan 12, 2024

Vegan Meal Prep for Weight Loss

Vegan Meal Prep Weight Loss

Many people struggle with weight loss, however vegan meal prep can help set you up for success in your weight loss journey. Continue reading to learn how. 

What is a Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet consists of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. It excludes animal foods such as meats, fish, seafood, eggs and dairy.

Are Vegan Meals Good for Weight Loss?

Research indicates that vegan diets can help promote a healthy body weight in individuals who are overweight, have type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, there’s more to vegan diets than just weight loss. This diet can also reduce blood pressure, improve blood sugar control, and lower blood cholesterol levels.

How do vegan diets promote a healthy body weight? A vegan diet is rich in plant-based foods which are higher in fibre and lower in calories compared to animal meats and products. Fibre is a type of complex carbohydrate that can help you feel fuller longer, resulting in you eating fewer calories.

How Can I Lose Weight Fast on a Vegan Diet

Rapid weight loss can actually result in a variety of negative health consequences such as low metabolism, muscle loss and malnutrition. If weight loss is what you desire, a steady loss of 1-2 pounds per week is recommended and more sustainable. Speak with a plant-based dietitian to learn how a vegan diet can help you achieve weight loss in a safe and effective manner.

What Vegan Foods are Good for Weight Loss?

Vegan Meal Prep Weight Loss

A vegan diet that is well-balanced is key to supporting any weight loss efforts. However, there are some foods you should pay extra attention to help you achieve your goals.

Nutrient-Dense Foods

Prioritize eating whole plant-based foods over pre-packaged and processed vegan foods, as they are more nutrient-dense. Nutrient-dense foods refer to foods that are high in vitamins and minerals and lower in trans fats, saturated fats, simple sugars and sodium- nutrients associated with increased disease risk and weight gain.

Nutrient-dense vegan foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. 

Protein

Plant-based protein foods are very important to include in your vegan weight loss diet. Why is that the case? 

Firstly, protein takes longer to digest in your stomach, and this can help you stay satisfied for longer.

Additionally, your body needs more energy to break down protein versus other nutrients. So, by eating protein you are actually burning some calories. 

Finally, protein is important for building your muscles. Individuals with a higher muscle mass burn more calories at rest because muscle is more metabolically active compared to fat. 

Thus, make sure your vegan diet is full of protein-rich plant foods to enjoy all the benefits of protein.

How Much Protein Do I Need?

For each day, aim to get about 0.9 g of protein per kg of body weight. However, this value may differ depending on your physical activity, age, health, goals, and other factors. Talk with a vegan dietitian to determine your personalized protein requirements.

Can a Vegan Diet Provide Me with Enough Protein?

You might be thinking there is no way I can meet my high protein needs through a vegan diet, but rest assured you definitely can!

While plant-based proteins have lower amounts of protein versus animal sources, studies indicate that most vegans are able to meet or exceed their protein needs if their diet contains a variety of plant-based proteins and they eat enough calories.

So, if you include a wide range of whole plant-based proteins like legumes (lentils, chickpeas, soy, etc.), nuts and seeds in your diet you will get a sufficient amount of high-quality protein to meet your needs.

To give you a better idea of how many plant-based protein foods you should be eating as a vegan, here’s the protein content of some common plant proteins:

  • Tofu, 1/2 cup= 11g protein
  • Lentils, 1 cup = 8g protein
  • Peanut butter, 2 Tbsp = 7g protein
  • Soybeans, ½ cup, cooked = 14g protein

Fibre-Rich Foods

As previously mentioned, fibre can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time. Thus, it’s important to include fibre-rich foods in your vegan diet. You should aim to get about 25-38 grams of fibre a day.

Luckily most plant-based foods are high in fibre. Here are some ways you can increase your fibre intake:

  • Eat more whole grain breads and pastas
  • Pick whole fruits over juice, as there’s no fibre in juice
  • Add legumes such as chickpeas and beans to your salads
  • Leave the peel on fruits and vegetables whenever possible, they have lots of fibre

Vegan Meal Prep for Weight Loss- Overview

Vegan-MealPrep-WeightLoss-Nutritionist

Meal prepping is a great option if you want to start a vegan diet for weight loss, but don’t know how.

What is Meal Prep?

Meal prep may look slightly different depending on a person’s preferences, but in general, meal prep is the act of planning and making all or some parts of meals in advance. 

Reasons to Meal Prep

There are many reasons why you may want to consider meal prep for a vegan weight loss diet.

It Makes Weight Loss Easier

Since you’re preparing your meals ahead of time, your fridge will remain well stocked with meals you can grab whenever you need them. This means you’ll be less likely to order takeout or eat whatever you can get your hands on. Additionally, you have more control over what goes into your meals, making them more nutritious. 

You Will Save Time

Cooking every day is much more time-consuming than meal prepping which may just require a single day of cooking. You’re also going into meal prepping with much more planning which means you have all the ingredients you need on hand and there’s no need for last-minute trips to the grocery store.

You Will Spend Less Money

You’ll know exactly what ingredients you’ll need if you’re meal prepping. That means you won’t end up buying foods you don’t need, saving you some money in the long run.

How to Vegan Meal Prep

Here’s a breakdown of how you can vegan meal prep for weight loss.

1) Plan Out Your Week

Good planning will really set you up for success. Here are some things to think about during the planning stage:

What Type of Meal Prep Do You Want?

There are many different approaches you can take to meal prepping. For example, some people meal prep for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of the week, and others just prepare a couple of meals. Use the questions below to determine the best meal prep methods for you.

Are you okay with eating the same type of breakfast every day or do you prefer variety? 

If you’re okay with eating the same breakfast every day, make breakfast recipes that can last the whole week. For example, you could make a big batch of oatmeal cookies to have for breakfast each morning, and you could even freeze some for later use.

If you rather have variety, ask yourself how much variety you’d like. For example, is just changing out the type of fruit in your breakfast enough? If not, then try making recipes like tofu scramble which can easily paired with various sides to really need to switch it up every morning,

Do you often find that you forget to eat breakfast or have no time?

Try incorporating breakfast shakes into your meal prep. You can do this by preparing freezer smoothie packs ahead of time. These packs will then be ready to mix whenever you need them in the morning. 

Do you want to eat your leftovers for lunch the next day or eat something different?

If you prefer leftovers, make sure you’re cooking enough food so you have extra portions available to eat for the next couple of days. If you prefer variety, cook big batches of food over the weekend, so you have different lunches ready for the week.

Do you have gaps of 6 hours or more between meals?

Not eating for long periods of time may cause you to feel extremely hungry later and overeat If this is you, try incorporating snacks into your meal prep. Specifically, have a snack that contains a protein or carbohydrate every 2-4 hours.

Does your eating pattern change on the weekend?

If you answered yes to this question, it’s important to ask yourself why this might be happening. For example, if it’s because you often run out of food to eat by the end of the week, cook larger portions, so your meals last you into the weekend. Freeze some portions, so they remain fresh.

2) Select Recipes

The recipes you select don’t have to be complicated, instead choose recipes that match your cooking skills. 

However, make sure the recipes you select are well-balanced and nutrient-dense. Remember the importance of high protein and fibre foods in a vegan weight loss diet.

Finally, some foods may not translate well into meal prepping such as lettuce, cut fruit and crackers, so keep that in the back of your mind when picking out recipes.

Need some recipe ideas? Check out the 5 vegan meal prep recipes at the end of this article! 

3) Go Grocery Shopping

Once you have a plan and selected some recipes, it’s time to go shopping!

Before you go to the grocery store it’s a good idea to make a list of all the ingredients you need, so you don’t forget anything. While your list will be personalized to the recipes you choose, here’s an example grocery list of the items you may end up buying:

  • Proteins: soy, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, edamame, beans, plant-based milk alternatives, nuts, seeds
  • Whole grains: quinoa, barley, millet, whole oats, brown rice, whole grain pasta
  • Vegetables: butternut squash, spinach, bok choy, broccoli, okra, potatoes
  • Fruit: berries, pears, apples, papaya, oranges, bananas
  • Oils: olive, canola, avocado, flaxseed, sunflower
  • Flavourings: dried herbs and spices, nutritional yeast, mustard
  • Other: snacks, baking items, basics not needed for recipes
vegan-meal-prep-for-weight-loss

Tips to Save You Money When You Shop:

  • Select recipes with seasonal produce
  • Purchase frozen fruits and vegetables, they’re cheaper, but just as nutritious as fresh produce
  • See if any recipe ingredients can be subbed with what you have at home 
  • Use recipes that share the same ingredients 

4) Cook Your Meals

Cooking is often thought to be time-consuming. However, by meal prepping you are already helping yourself reduce the amount of time needed. 

To save even more time, here are some additional tips you can use in the kitchen:

  • Make the recipes that will take the longest first
  • Use frozen produce, they’re pre-cut which means less prep time for you
  • Try out one-pot recipes like stews, casseroles, and pasta so you have fewer dishes to clean

5) Storage

Now for the final step, storing your meals. Once you are done cooking your meals, make sure to either refrigerate or freeze them.

Refrigerated meals should be stored using airtight containers and will stay fresh for 3-4 days. 

Frozen meals can be stored using freezer bags or sealed containers and can last you weeks to months. Always label and date your frozen meals so you know when you made them. The safest way to defrost your frozen meals is to put them in the refrigerator, so remember to account for this additional thawing time when eating these meals.

Common Challenges with Meal Prepping

We asked members of a vegan Facebook group what their biggest challenges are when meal prepping, and we’ve included some of their responses along with some advice below.

My Meals Often Aren’t Edible 4 Days Out 

To help your meals stay fresh for at least 4 days, try out the following:

  • Only add sauces to your meals right before eating
  • Portion meals in single-serving containers, to help ensure less air exposure 
  • Store meals on the top shelf of the fridge because the temperature remains most consistent there
  • If you find that your meals aren’t staying fresh long in the fridge, try to mix in some frozen meals and eat those later on in the week instead of the refrigerated meals

I’m Not Sure If I’m Meeting My Vitamin and Mineral Needs

This is a common concern for many vegans because the vegan diet is lower in some vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D. However, if you plan your meals to contain a variety of nutrient-dense and fortified foods, you can surely meet all your nutritional needs. Here are the foods you should be including in your meals:

Iron Rich Foods

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Asparagus,
  • Edamame
  • Kale
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Nut butters

Tip: pair the above foods with vitamin C-rich foods to help you get even more iron from your food!  Examples of vitamin C foods include sweet potatoes, limes, lemons, bell peppers and tomatoes. 

Vitamin B12 Rich Foods

  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified nutritional yeasts
  • Fortified plant-based dairy alternatives (yogurt, milk)

Vitamin D Rich Foods

  • Certain mushroom types (portobello, shitake, oyster, etc.)
  • Fortified plant-based dairy 
  • Fortified cereals

Calcium Rich Foods

  • Beans
  • Tofu (with calcium sulfate)
  • Bok choy, broccoli, kale, okra, collard greens
  • Fortified plant-based dairy 
  • Almonds, chia seeds, tahini 

You might find it challenging to incorporate some of the above foods into your diet and in that case, you may need to take a supplement. Speak with a vegan dietitian to determine your personal supplement requirements. 

I Get Bored With My Meals Easily 

Here are some things you can try to keep things interesting:

  • Fill your pantry with a variety of sauces and condiments to season your food with
  • Try preparing more freezer meals that you can rotate through instead of refrigerated meals
  • Meal prep and freeze different components of a meal (vegetables, plant protein, etc.), then mix and match those components to make different meals

5 Quick and Easy Vegan Meal Prep Recipes:

Tofu Scramble

The tofu in this recipe not only tastes like eggs, but it’s also a great plant-based protein. Additionally, the recipe is very versatile. Once made, just store it in your fridge and use it to make balanced meals like salads, wraps, or bowls throughout the week.

Creamy Bean and Eggplant Casserole 

This delicious casserole contains many nutrient-dense ingredients like eggplant, chickpeas and cannelloni beans. This dish is not only ready in 10 minutes but it’s also packed with a lot of protein and fibre. 

Spicy Sweet Potato Stew

This creamy and flavourful soup is a great option if you want to try freezer meals. All you need to do is chop up the ingredients and pop them in the freezer. The next time you’re craving stew just take it out of the freezer and cook it with a slow cooker for a yummy and nutritious meal.

10 Minute Falafel Cakes With Creamy Lemon Tahini Dressing

These nutritious falafel cakes are super easy and quick to make. You can eat them on their own or add them to pita bread or a salad. These also freeze great!

Mason Jar Instant Ramen Soup Recipe 

Enjoy all the flavours of instant ramen without all the added sodium. This well-balanced dish provides you with a ton of protein and veggies. It’s also very customizable, as you can add whatever vegetables you prefer or have available. 

Final Thoughts 

Vegan meal prepping can get you on the right track in terms of your overall health and weight, but it may require some trial and error as you get started, so remember to be patient as you start this journey.

Still feel like you need additional support? Arrange a free discovery call with one of our plant-based dietitians to build a vegan meal prep plan that is tailored to your needs and preferences. 

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