7 Plant-Based Eating Hacks for When Life Gets Busy

Photo: Getty Images/humanmade; Graphic: W+G Creative
This isn’t your standard New Year’s plan. No restrictive diets, no weekly weigh-ins, no “whole new you” for this new year—because, hey, you’re pretty great already. These four expert-led plans—designed to help you move your body, eat more veggies, get a better night’s sleep, or show yourself some loving care—are all about developing healthy habits that better align with your goals.

This is the last week of ReNew Year; time to finish strong! It’s worth remembering that the whole point of this month-long challenge is to discover ways to eat more plants long-term, not just through the month of January.

At this point in the month, you’ve discovered some plant-based meals you like and what to meal-prep to make mealtime easy. This week is focused on what to do in trickier scenarios, like when it’s 2 p.m. and you’re digging around in your pantry for a snack. Or after dinner when you want some dessert. Guess what, there’s room for plant-based foods in these situations, too! Get ready to see how.

Plant-based eating hacks for an entire week

Day 22: Prep a batch of pesto for the week

Pesto is one of my all-time favorite plant-loving secrets—yes, you could sit down and eat a whole salad (and sometimes I’m in the mood for that), but you could also take all of that leafy green, nutty, and garlicky goodness and turn it into a delicious sauce that you can add to just about everything.

I love to prep a big batch of pesto at the beginning of the week and use it to up the greens quotient on all of my dishes. I’ll dollop it on eggs, use it on quesadillas, dip carrots in it as a snack, and toss it with cooked pasta for a 10-minute dinner.

Day 23: Make a fiber-filled snack

One of the best ways to add more plants to your day is to turn your snacks into plant-munching opportunities. Roasted chickpeas are one of my favorite snacks, and by turning to them instead of more processed foods, I’m adding a ton of blood-sugar stabilizing fiber and protein to my day while honoring my cravings for something crunchy and salty.  The trick is to roast them dry at 375°F until they’re crispy and brown (about 20 to 30 minutes), then add a drizzle of oil, salt, and seasonings of choice. I also love these Thai satay roasted sweet potatoes bites or these umami-packed cherry tomato poppers.

Day 24: Master "fridge clean-out" meals

There are few things sadder than buying beautiful veggies and having them meet their demise in your fridge. The best way to avoid that is to pick a day of the week that you consistently make a fridge clean-out meal.

I love a quick quiche, which I make by sautéing whatever veggies are looking past their prime with chopped onion, then adding to a store-bought crust with pasture-raised eggs and a dash of plant milk. Fried rice is another great option! Swap half the rice for frozen cauliflower rice for bonus veggie points.

This is our favorite cauliflower fried rice recipe—and it uses up so many veggies, too: 

Day 25: Build a salad using herbs (not just lettuce!)

Eating more herbs feels like a plant-based life hack: You’re still eating leafy greens, but all of a sudden they taste way more exciting and interesting (with some extra health benefits for good measure).

Buy a few bunches of herbs and challenge yourself to use them up in new and interesting ways over the next few days. Swap half your salad greens for parsley, cilantro, basil, or mint for a gourmet twist, or toss a handful into your smoothie (lemon thyme, cilantro lime, and basil strawberry are a few of my favorite combos).

Day 26: Try out some plant-based desserts

Yes, your plant-based lifestyle even extends to the dessert realm, and your stomach and palate will thank you for it! Fruits and nuts are some of nature’s most delicious offerings, and a great way to keep packing your plate with nutrients even after the main course is over.

Play around with chocolate-dipped orange wedges, crisps made from apples, or even just a bowl full of frozen berries tossed with vanilla extract, a bit of honey, and a pinch of cinnamon and salt. You can even use bananas as a base for delicious dairy-free ice cream.

Day 27: Master a plant-based version of your favorite dish

There are veggie-packed versions of pretty much any dish on the planet available on the internet these days to help you more fully enjoy your new plant-forward lifestyle. Today, take to Google (or the archives of Well+Good) to find a plant-based version of one of your favorite recipes if it isn't already so—and make it!

Day 28: Have a (virtual) cooking date

Hopefully this month you’ve added a few new plant-based recipes to your repertoire. Why not share the love? Have a virtual cooking date with a friend where you make and eat one of your favorite new go-to meals together. (Share the recipe a few days in advance to give time to buy the needed ingredients.) A huge part of what makes mealtime so enjoyable is who you share your food with. Next month, your friend can pick the recipe to make together!

Join Well+Good's Cook With Us Facebook group to swap plant-based recipe ideas with people from around the world. 

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