• Donnelle Brooks

8 Vegetarian Meal Prep Recipes

Updated: Feb 1

I've been a vegetarian for many years. I tried veganism and I use a lot of vegan products, but have landed pretty solidly on "vegetarian with vegan tendencies" for my diet. I've found it a great way to make sure I am eating a lot of vegetables and whole foods, plus I have saved money on my grocery bill too! I was surprised when my partner visited recently at how expensive meat was!


Preparing meals in advance can be a pain when you are vegetarian. A lot of meal ideas and recipes involve salad, which turns soggy after 2 days in the fridge. So I have put together a list of my favourite vegetarian meals that you can prepare in advance to make sure you are still eating healthy when life gets busy.


1. Pumpkin and Lentil Lasagna

2. Italian Baked Beans

3. French Onion Potato Bake

4. Pesto Gnocchi

5. Stuffed Tomatoes

6. Mushroom Fettucine

7. Red Curry

8. Mexican Beans and Rice



Pumpkin and Lentil Lasagna



pumpkin and lentil lasagna


OK, so this one takes a lot of prep time, but it can feed you for a week! I recommend dried lentils soaked overnight rather than tins. The texture is so much better! I hated lentils before I started using them dried. They are so much firmer and don't have the grainy mouth feel of tinned lentils. I also recommend some veggies for the sauce, but honestly, I just use up whatever I have in the fridge. Cauliflower going brown? In you go! Celery wilting? Say hello to the pasta sauce buddy!


Ingredients

Red Sauce:

1 brown onion

2 cloves garlic

your choice of vegetables (carrot, zucchini, capsicum, mushroom are all good)

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

1 cup of dried lentils, soaked (or 2 x 400g cans)

1 700g jar of passata

1 stock cube



White Sauce:

1 - 2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 tablespoon flour

200g packet of spinach leaves

500ml milk (plant based or dairy, doesn't matter)

200g of grated cheese


To assemble:

900g pumpkin

1 or 2 packets of lasagne sheets


Method

Dice onion and cook off in some olive oil til slightly translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for a hot minute. Then add your veggies and mixed herbs and let them sweat for a few minutes until the start to get tender. At this point bang in the lentils, cook for a few more minutes then add the passata and stock cube. Let the sauce simmer while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients


Next, remove the skin from the pumpkin and slice into 1 - 2 mm thick slices. Make sure you keep stirring the sauce during this part!


To prepare the white sauce, melt the margarine on low heat. Add the flour and remove from heat, mixing briskly. Add the milk a tiny bit at a time, adding to the heat to thicken. This will ensure your white sauce is not lumpy. Once you have added all the milk, stir in your chopped spinach leaves. You can use frozen ones if that's easier. Once your leaves have mixed in and wilted, add a handful of grated cheese and some salt and pepper.


Now you are ready to assemble! Start with a layer of red sauce, then a thin layer of pumkpin, then the white (green) sauce, then lasagna sheets. Repeat until you fill your pan (leave at least 1cm from the top) or your ingredients are used. I like to finish with lasgna sheets on top, then a spread of white sauce and a sprinkle of cheese on top.


Whack it in the over for an hour at 180 degrees or until the top looks nice and toasty. Let it sit for 20 minutes before you serve to stop it being a soggy mess.


And the most important part - enjoy!


Italian Baked Beans


Italian Baked Beans with Ciabatta topping

This recipe does remarkably well in the fridge. I thought the crispy bread layer would go sloppy but it surprisingly doesn't! Be careful though, this one really aids digestion if you know what I mean


Ingredients

1 brown onion

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon chilli paste (or chilli powder)

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

1 red capsicum, diced (green is ok but not as nice)

1 carrot, grated

2 tins of cannellini beans. rinsed

1 stock cube

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

4 tablespoons tomato paste

1 small bag of fresh spinach

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

5 slices of bread

100g grated cheese


Method

Dice onion and cook in some olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and cook off for a minute. Grate the carrot, capsicum, chilli and mixed herbs. Cook the veggies until tender. About 6 or 7 minutes should do it. Then add the tomato paste, vinegar, sugar and stock cube. Mix well til all the veggies are coated. If you think it needs more tomato paste, add that now. Fold in the cannellini beans, being careful not to mash them. Then add the spinach and butter, folding through until wilted.


While that is cooking, tear up your bread into chunks in a separate bowl. Add some mixed herbs, some salt and pepper, and dash of olive oil and the cheese. Mix well.


Transfer the beans into a baking dish and top with bread. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the bread is toasty and the cheese is melted and crispy.


French Onion Potato Bake


French onion potato bake

This one wins points for being delicious but is not overly nutritious. It is super easy though! And when I reheat it at work I always get compliments about how good it smells. Based on a recipe from my Mum. Buying washed potatoes is a real time saver here. I hate peeling potatoes, plus the skin has lots of fibre and nutrients.


Ingredients

1kg washed potatoes

French Onion soup sachet

300 ml cream (optional)

However much grated cheese you want


Method

Chop your potatoes into 2cm cubes. Add to a pot of water and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes or so, making sure they don't get soft enough to break apart. Drain and transfer to baking dish.


Mix your french onion soup with either 300ml cream or 350 ml of water. Either is delicious to be honest! I only use cream if I have some unused laying around. Once mixed, pour over your potatoes.


Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 - 30 minutes at 180 degrees, until the cheese on top is nice and brown.


Pesto Gnocchi


Pesto Gnocchi

I love sneaking some vegetables into this absolutely delicious recipe! In this recipe I recommend zucchini mushroom and peas, but you can also add spinach or any other type of green vegetable you like. I like peas for the protein content. I recommend buying the mini gnocchi from ALDI, the small size makes for a nice pasta to sauce ratio. I alsolove their basil pesto. Honestly, ALDI is the best and I do most of my shopping there.


Ingredients

1 packet of gnocchi

1 jar of basil pesto

1 teaspoon minced garlic

150 ml cream

1 zucchini, grated

1 cup of peas

5 - 6 mushrooms

parmesan cheese, to taste


Method

Cook the garlic in a little olive oil. Add the mushroom, zuchhini and peas and cook until the mushroom are dark and collapsed. Add the pesto and cream and cook until slightly reduced. Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of water to the boil. Add the gnocchi and bring back to the boil, cooking for an extra 1 - 2 minutes. This helps the gnocchi from going hard when reheating.


Add the gnocchi to the sauce and cook for a few minutes. Serve and add parmesan to taste. When storing for meal prep add your parmesan on top.


Stuffed Tomatoes


Stuffed Tomatoes

This is an adaptation of a traditional greek recipe called Yemista. I ate so much yemista while I was in Greece! This recipe is fairly close, with a few changes I made to suit my taste. Make sure you use curly leaf parsley. The flat leaf is too pungent.


Ingredients

9 medium round tomatoes

3 medium red capsicum

1/2 bunch of curly leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 bunch of mint, chopped

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

50g pine nuts

100g parmesan

12 tablespoons rice

250g feta cheese


Method

Chop the tops off your tomatoes. You'll be putting these back on as "lids" later so make sure you take them off in one go. Scoop out the centres into a bowl. As you go, put the tomatoes in a baking dish. Cut the tops of your capsicums and scoop out the seeds. Put these in the baking dish with your tomatoes. Sprinkle the inside with a little sugar. I've been told this is the key to a good yemista but I don't know why.


The centres that you scooped out before? Whiz them into a puree in a blender then put them back into the bowl. Add your brown onion, herbs, pine nuts and parmesan, plus some salt and pepper to taste. Did you think 12 tablespoons was a weird measurement for the rice? It is. But this is why. You need to add 1 tablespoon for every vegetable you intend to stuff. I always add one for good luck too.


Spoon your mixture into the vegetables. Slice your feta cheese into 1 - 1.5mm slices. Put these on top of your yemista, then replace the tops.


Fill your baking dish with 5mm of water and add some olive oil. This will keep your yemista moist while baking. You can also add a small amount of tomato paste to the water for extra flavour.


Bake for at least 90 minutes at 180 degrees celsius. Keep an eye on them. You want the skin of the tomatoes to blister and turn a deep red. The cheese will also turn a deep brown and caramelise.


Mushroom Fettuccine


mushroom fettucine

I don't want to brag, but last year I spent a week in Italy and had the most amazing pasta! This is the inspiration behind this simple and delicious dish. I like to cut my mushrooms chunky, but if you want them to integrate into the sauce more, chop as fine as you like


Ingredients

250g punnet of mushrooms, chopped roughly

150 ml cream

1 brown onion, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dried)

salt and pepper to taste

200g dried Fettucine

parmesan cheese to taste


Method

Cook your onion in oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add your chopped mushroom and cook until they have reduced in size. Add the thyme, giving it a good chop if it is fresh. Add the cream and allow to reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.


While the sauce is reducing, cook the fettuccine to your liking in a separate pot. Add the fettuccine to the sauce and cook until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Add parmesan and salt and pepper when serving or portioning.


Red Curry


vegetarian red curry

I love making a curry when I have leftover vegetables. This recipe works with almost anything! I like snow peas and red capsicum, but feel free to experiment. I have also tried making my own curry paste, but honestly it was not worth the effort for me. Find a jar sauce you like and stick with it. I do like to add extra lime and kaffir lime leaves though, as I love the zingy taste!


Ingredients

1 jar of red curry paster

400ml coconut milk

1l vegetable stock

1 red capsicum

1 brown onion

200g snow peas

2 medium potatoes

1 large carrot

1 lime

soy sauce to taste

kaffir lime leaves


Method

This one is nice and easy. Chop all your veg and put them in the pot one by one, cooking and stirring as you go. Add the curry paste and cook it off for a minute or two. Then add your coconut milk and veggie stock and simmer for 20 minutes until the veggies are tender. Serve with rice.


Mexican Beans and Rice


mexican beans and rice

This one pot recipe is super easy and tasty. Make sure you choose a pot with a lid so you can cook the rice properly.


Ingredients

1 brown onion diced

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp cumin

3 tsp paprika

1 tsp chilli

1 red capsicum

1 cup uncooked rice

400g tin diced tomatoes

400ml water (you can use the can to measure

400g tin black beans

125g tin corn kernels

bunch fresh coriander


Method

Fry the onion in olive oil for a few minutes until tender. Add garlic, chilli and spices and cook for a further minute. Add the capsicum and cook a bit more.


Add the rice, passata and water. Add the lid and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. After this, add the corn and black beans, replace the lid and simmer for another 2 - 3 minutes or until the rice is done to your liking.


Serve with fresh coriander. You can also use this to add bulk to your burritos!


If you are trying to save money on your grocery bill, there are two things you should be doing - prepping your meals and eating less meat. I hope these recipes help you do both in the most delicious way possbile!




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