Overcoming Plant-Based Overwhelm
In my last post I told you about the day I hit my Plant-Based Wall, a moment of overwhelm that was cured with a night out of the kitchen and a new plan.
After that turning point, three things have helped me stick to a whole-foods-plant-based diet for five years.
#1 Meet some Processed Plant Superheroes
I’m talking about minimally processed plants and plant-based foods that are usually found in bags, boxes, or cans in different areas of the grocery store. Some of them may be more expensive, because you are going to pay a little more for convenience. Many are very reasonably priced, and in the long run, STILL result in a lower cost expense than if you were eating out. And they not only save money and time, but also your health.
Some examples of things I buy weekly and use daily.
- Bagged cole slaw, and bagged greens
- Prepared fresh pico de gallo or fresh salsa in the produce or deli section
- Canned beans and some canned vegetables
- Jars of artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers
- Frozen vegetables and fruit
- Flavorizors like salsa, marinara, and salad dressing
When you’re buying items like salsa, marinara, and salad dressing, you really want to read the label and steer clear of products with excessive added sugar (sugar listed as the first or second ingredient), added oil, or a lot of chemicals you don’t recognize.
Some plastic containers and bags, and the lining of aluminum cans, frequently contain a chemical called BPA. This chemical has been scrutinized in recent years for its effects on human health, particularly regarding how it affects human hormones. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found an association between high levels of BPA and some chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and liver inflammation.
To avoid BPA as much as possible,
Don’t cook in plastic bags or plastic containers in the microwave.
Drain and rinse canned veggies and canned beans (except tomatoes).
#2 Cook Once, Eat for a Week
Use batch cooking and prepping! I can’t stress enough the benefit of using an hour or so on the weekend to do a little bit of prep work for the week. Rice, potatoes, and grains can all be cooked in batches, with very little attention while they are cooking.
Fire up your slow cooker for easy batches of brown rice, baked potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Salad greens can be rinsed and chopped in batches. I like to keep greens in a salad spinner or in large Ziploc bags with a damp paper towel, where they will be happy for several days like this.
In this video, I’ll show you one example of how I use one cooking session to start more than one meal!
#3 Menu Planning Once a Week
Finally, nothing takes away the weekly meal chaos like having a plan. You have a couple of choices here. There are several great meal plan services available both free and for a fee. I have tried just about all of them, and they all have their pros and cons. You can head over to the resources page to check out a few plant-based options.
These services can be great for inspiring new meal ideas. But one problem I had with all services, is that inevitably there are things on every weekly menu that my family would probably not eat. It wasn’t personalized enough. So I still found myself jacking around with every weekly menu.
I finally found a way to make menu planning much simpler and I am assured that my family will eat 95% of the meals. It takes me about 30 minutes on the weekend to plan the menu, get online, and order the groceries. (yep, I just order the groceries and pick them up for free… find out if a grocery store near you offers the same service! Changed my life!)