Meal prep Sunday: plant-based and packaging-free

Today, I thought I’d share something a little different; an insight into my meal prep Sunday and food shopping over the past few days.

Now, I don’t meal prep EVERY Sunday,  in fact, I’ve been pretty rubbish about planning in general lately which has led to rather too many simple meals of pasta in tomato sauce, or noodles with vegetables or yet another lentil curry. (Nothing wrong with lentil curry but it can get a bit monotonous!)

Now Jersey has not one but TWO package free / zero waste shops to enhance our sustainable lifestyle goals, I decided now was the time to put my money where my mouth is and buy ONLY package free (or recyclable/compostable materials) ingredients and cook or prepare meals and snacks in advance.

On Friday, I went out armed with my mesh food bags and canvas shoppers to our great new cooperative initiative – SCOOP – based at Vermont Farm in St Peter. They stock a selection of seasonal, organic vegetables plus a whole host of dried ingredients to scoop straight out into your own jars or containers. We came away with some beautiful cooking apples, a giant bag of dark green kale, cashew nuts, almonds, broccoli, toasted coconut and dried mango (which won’t last long in our house!). I also treated myself to a new bamboo toothbrush (ahem – I may have had my last one for over a year) and some Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. All excellent value for money and you can walk away with that sweet smile of smugness plastered across your face!

My daughter and I then headed off to one of our friendliest farm shops on the island, Lucas Bros on La Haule hill, St Aubin. Here you can get the most delicious fresh flat leafed parsley (I literally eat it by the handful) as well as beautiful locally grown lettuce, fresh tomatoes of all varieties, giant mushrooms and so much more. We stocked up on lots of our favourite ingredients -like avocados, cucumber and ripe bananas – and my daughter is always astonished by how cheap it is compared to buying the same items in packaging in the supermarket.

First stop on Saturday afternoon – a local health food store (Barannes) for raw, organic apple cider vinegar and almond butter. Both in glass jars – check!

Then I headed off to Mini Mall, a fantastic new shop in the centre of St Helier, Jersey, where you can take your own jars and stock up on all your dried goods, plus olive oil, teas, spices and more. Oh, and they stock the most delicious raw vegan and gluten free treats from Wild Health. I couldn’t make up my mind so came away with a mint-matcha-chocolate slice and a chocolate-raspberry torte. I’ve sliced each one into three pieces and frozen the leftovers to share with my teenage daughters. (But only if I don’t eat it all before they find out!) *cue evil laugh*

In Mini Mall I bought chia seeds, cacao powder, cacao nibs, hazelnuts and organic ground cinnamon – yummy! It works out so much cheaper buying everything this way, plus, you’re helping to save the planet from unnecessary single use plastic and packaging. Win-win. They also have strong paper bags should you ever be passing by without your own jars.

Today (Sunday) I’ve been to Rondels’ farm shop in Trinity for more ripe bananas (did I mention they’re my favourite food?), frozen fruit, some other veggies – including a giant 2.5lb sweet potato – and more avocados. The only items that had to be in a plastic bag (because I’ve run out of containers – they seem to enter the void known as ‘school’ and never return…) were the frozen berries, but I reuse the bags as many times as possible for covering food in the fridge. (Note to self, buy more large Kilner jars.)

With all the shopping out of the way, I started my Sunday morning with 500ml water, a small glass of water with apple cider vinegar, then a freshly made apple and ginger shot which boosts immunity and warms you up on a cold day. This was followed by a giant blood-boosting juice of the organic kale and carrots from Scoop, fresh parsley, a little apple, fresh lemon juice and a giant raw beetroot. Dee-lish-uss!

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Our main breakfast was a chocolate-oat smoothie bowl topped with toasted coconut, almond butter  and cacao nibs – a nutrient rich start to the day.

Smoothie recipe: almonds, chia seeds, water, vanilla powder, ripe bananas, maca powder, ground flaxseed, cacao powder and medjool dates. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and whizz until smooth and creamy. I made a thick smoothie with less water than I would if I was going to drink it. Pour the smoothie over the oats (gluten free) and top with fruit and toppings of your choice.

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Lunch: A fresh bowl of raw salad ingredients with stuffed vine leaves (bought from Waitrose in a tin = recyclable) and a home made tahini dip.

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Then I started with all the food prep for the week ahead.

I haven’t made a specific meal plan, but I have made a selection of individual ingredients that my daughter can use for school lunches and I can eat at home for lunch to save precious writing time.

(Note: While I’m completely plant-based, my daughters do eat some meat, fish and eggs, though primarily it’s when they’re out with friends or with their dad. However, on this occasion I bought some skinless chicken breasts – straight into my own glass container – from the friendly couple who run The Country Butcher at Rondel’s Farm Shop so that my eldest daughter has a little more protein in her school lunches. I rarely cook meat for my kids at all so this is a rare occurrence!)

Here’s what I’ve been busy making, chopping and cooking all afternoon (is it bedtime yet?!):

  • Apple compote (stewed apple) – a great addition to breakfast dishes, as an ingredient in healthy muffins or to use as apple crumble… yum! Peel and chop cooking apples straight into a saucepan. Add a little water (about half a cup for 3-4 small cooking apples), and your choice of spices. I added cloves, star anise, ground mixed spice and cardamon seeds. However, a dash of cinnamon works perfectly well if that’s all you have. I don’t tend to sweeten my cooking apples but feel free to add a little maple syrup or agave if desired.
  • Cacao energy balls – a perfect mid morning snack for busy teenagers or an after dinner treat if you have a sweet tooth. They’re also great as a post-workout snack alongside a ripe banana. In a food processor add gluten free oats, chia seeds, cashew nuts (or any nut of your choice), cacao nibs, ground flaxseed and cacao powder. Blitz until it’s a coarse consistency but not a powder. Add soaked medjool dates and coconut oil and blitz until it starts coming away from the sides and can be easily rolled into balls. Roll the mixture into balls and store in the fridge or freezer in a container. I made about 15 balls which should keep us going for a few days!
  • Brown rice and bulgur wheat – staples for a plant-based diet, I made these in bulk and separated into portion sizes so that my 17 year old can easily put together her own lunches (dream on, mummy!). Cook until al dente, then rinse in cold water, drain and store in the fridge immediately. *Note, bulgur wheat is not gluten free. 
  • Sweet ’n’ spicy roasted sweet potato cubes – another family favourite, I roasted peeled, cubed sweet potato in a little olive oil, sea salt, smoked paprika, turmeric, chilli flakes and cinnamon. Once cooked, allow to cool and store in the fridge in a sealed container.
  • Roasted pumpkin and courgette – the last of the Halloween pumpkin has now been cooked!! I peeled and cubed the pumpkin and chopped the courgette into chunks and popped them in a roasting dish together with sea salt, black pepper and a tiny bit of olive oil. Again, once cooked, allow to cool and store in the fridge in a sealed container.
  • Dehydrated pineapple slices – Am I the only one who buys pineapples with good intentions and then watches them slowly become overripe…?!! This one needed eating asap so I peeled, sliced finely and dehydrated in the oven on about 50 degrees celsius for a few hours. (While I was cooking the roasted vegetables I sat these in the top oven which gets slightly warm from the main oven anyway. Then I returned them to the lower heat once the oven had cooled down.) I never manage to make these as dry as the ones in the shops but they’re so yummy (and so small) that they generally last all of about 4 minutes anyway….
  • Chopped red bell peppers and organic carrots – washed, sliced and ready to use in salads or as a snack.
  • Soaked almonds – soaking in water ready for tomorrow morning’s almond milk (because I’m trying not to buy cartons of milk anymore as they’re not recyclable …)

Plus, for those of you not yet on a plant-based or vegan diet, you probably need time to transition. So here’s what I did with the chicken and eggs… (and I’m not even going to crack a joke… *groan*)

I roasted the chicken breasts in turmeric, sea salt and black pepper, then sliced into lunchbox chunks and popped half in the freezer and half in the fridge in a large Kilner jar. I hard-boiled two of the eggs and saved the others for omelette or cakes. (Just for the kids…) If you want more meal-prep inspiration for meat and fish based dishes, just search on YouTube as there are soooo many vloggers and fitness experts who share their tasty, healthy recipes. 

Hopefully you’re exhausted (but inspired) just by reading this… and I’m now off for a long soak in the bath with candles! 

I’ll leave you with a couple of questions to get you on track with meal prep and planning.

  • How could you be more organised this week and plan ahead to give yourself more time?
  • What meals or snacks could you prepare in advance? Even making a slow cooker casserole is a great way to free up the early evening when everyone is tired and hungry after a busy day.
  • Have you got any local sustainable shops near you? If you’re not sure, your challenge this week is to do some research.

If you live in Jersey, do pop in to the shops I’ve named above and tell them they were featured in a local blog. They’ll be really happy! Or share your photos on Instagram and tag me @lorrainepannetiercreative or @bowlsofsoul. I’d love to see your take on meal prep. 

Have a wonderful, slow, relaxing Sunday evening,

Lorraine xx

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Cacao energy balls sprinkled with toasted coconut… just because 😉