Meal prep is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’m often prepping 4 days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Sundays. I try to go for meatless for breakfast and lunch, mostly because I know that I should amp up my vegetable intake in general. You would think about after three years of meal prep (more or less) that I’d have it down to a science, but I really don’t.
Breakfasts tend to be the same recipe, week after week, until I can’t stand it anymore. Lunches can go either way. They are variations of the same basic recipe or simple-but-new-to-me recipes. Dinner is the one meal that I give myself more time and freedom for experimenting. I’m often flipping through recipes all week long, trying to decide what I am willing and wanting to make that weekend. And sometimes, I end up in a mild panic and just use a tried-and-true recipe when I’m too indecisive and running out of time.
I’ve always wanted a cookbook that did all the thinking for me, which led me to pick up a review copy of Vegan Meal Prep by Robin Asbell. Asbell’s latest cookbook is basically detailed step-by-step meal prep instructions, from start to finish.
The book is split into three major sections. “Setting Yourself Up for Success: Five Weeks of Vegan Meals” is the first section. The highlight in this section, in my opinion, is Vegan Nutrition Basics. Asbell is pretty detailed: listing sources of protein, omega-3, calcium, iron, and zinc. It’s a pretty good one stop reference if you’re fully vegan.
The second section is “Meal Prep 101: Planning, Shopping, and Prepping.” This is where you’ll find the overview of the five week meal plan, shopping lists, and the prepping instructions for each week.
The third section is “Let’s Get Cooking! 125 Vegan Recipes”, which is broken down into these chapters.
- Vegan Staples
- Salads, Dressing, and Sides
- Desserts and Snacks
Here are the recipes that I’m most interested in trying:
- Whole Grain Baking Mix
- Lemon Pecan Muffins with Apricot Cashew Spread
- Smoky Tempeh Taco Meat
- Sweet Potato Chickpea Cakes
- Barley with Vanilla Apples and Spiced Sweet Potato
- Blueberry Breakfast Squares
- Farro and Kimchi Bowls with Kale and Sesame Dressing
- Farro Salad with Apricots, Carrots, and Spinach
- Tempeh, Brown Rice, and Roasted Veggie Wraps
- Tempeh Pasta Salad with Tomato and Avocado
- Black Bean and Sweet Potato Curry
- Black Bean and Squash Chili with Dumplings
- Matcha-Glazed Pistachio Blondies
- Peanut Butter Raisin Cookies
The things I liked most upon first impressions were the tips, variations, and “to pack for lunch” blurbs that frequently show up on corners of the recipe pages. I also like how the ingredient lists are generally not intimidating nor filled with hard to find items.
The only critiques I have are two. I wish nutritional information were listed. I’ve seen other meal prep books that do. But for the purpose of mixing and matching for people who might be trying to watch their sugar intake, etc., it would be handy to have. The other issue I have is the order of the recipe section. The whole book is planned around the five week meal plan/schedule but the recipes are in order by course. At least within each course type chapter, recipes are back in order by schedule and marked with which week/day the recipe belongs to. If you’re planning to mix and match, then recipes ordered by course type makes sense. But I think if you’re planning to use the book as written, then having the recipes ordered by course type makes less sense.
In neither a “pro” nor a “con” comment, all of the recipes are meant to make about 4 servings. So while I had originally planned on following a full week of recipes for this review, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t feasible for me. I am not trying to feed a family of four (But you might be!),
I ended up testing two recipes: Baked Marinated Tempeh, and Breakfast Protein Cookies with Dates and Pistachios.
Both were easy to make. I’ve made breakfast cookies before but it never occurred to me to use dates and pistachios. I tend to use a lot of raisins. (In fact, I didn’t have time to get dates for this recipe so I used golden raisins which I think are milder in raisin flavor than the more familiar thompson seedless raisins. Please don’t hate me for substituting.) The cookies have good protein content, due to the sneaky addition of tofu, and don’t taste too sweet. Having said that, the cookies actually use more sweetener than my typical baked oatmeal, and I don’t think you can reduce it as the maple syrup acts as part of the wet ingredients. (Well, maybe you could increase the tofu? Maple syrup and tofu are the only wet ingredients in this recipe. Vanilla doesn’t count. And like I said, it doesn’t taste too sweet so would reducing the sweetener be a futile exercise?) The portion size is 3 cookies, and it seems to mostly sate my morning hunger. (But I have a really high appetite in the mornings. Sometimes I want more food. Your mileage may vary.)
I liked the baked marinated tempeh too. It never occurred to me to use apple juice as part of the marinade before. I decided to mix up the baked tempeh with leftover marinade (which I cooked with cornstarch thinking i could use it as a sauce) and some cauliflower rice. The natural tempeh flavor was not too strong in this recipe, so I think I’ll use it again in the near future. (However, the cooked marinade plus cauliflower tasted like… fish? It’s a subtle enough flavor that I will push through it, but yeah, I’m never doing that combination again. lol!)
Overall, I recommend this book for anyone who wants to do more meal prepping, want a reasonable food budget, and have more than one mouth to feed. Oh, and if you’re just trying to up your veggie intake (like me). I do have the minor reservations as listed above, but that might not bother you as much as it does me.
Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Robert Rose for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.