7 Simple Meal-Planning Strategies

Excited to host this post for Nava Atlas’s new book blog tour. Not only did Nava share strategies for planning meals in the plant-based kitchen here, but you can also win a FREE copy of her brand new, gorgeous book, Plant Power, below. Nava is a talented, inspiring author and illustrator of many books on vegan and vegetarian cooking, most recently Wild About Greens and Vegan Holiday KitchenShe runs VegKitchen.com, one of the leading web resources for vegan recipes and lifestyle tips. In addition to her food writing, Nava also produces visual nonfiction and is a visual artist. Her work has been shown nationally in museums and galleries, and is part of numerous museum and university collections. You can see her work at navaatlasart.com.

7 Simple Meal-Planning Strategies for the Plant-Based Kitchen

Here are some of my tried-and-true meal-planning tips for making cooked-from-scratch meals a daily reality, even after the most exhausting days. You’ll find much more detail on how to accomplish all of these strategies, plus lots more of these kinds of tips in Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes by Nava Atlas, from which this was adapted (©2014, published by HarperOne, reprinted by permission). Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.

Back when my kids were growing up and I still was in the midst of the classic juggling act, I was a lot more disciplined about meal planning. I found that it really did buy me time and sanity. For our family of four, I planned three meals per week. If I made ample quantities, I could count on leftovers for three more dinners. And leftovers can always be tweaked so that they’re slightly different the next day. For example, today’s salad can be tomorrow’s wrap; tonight’s soup-and-wrap dinner can become tomorrow’s soup-and-vegan-quesadilla dinner.

What do you see as your ideal meal-making style? Decide whether you want to make different meals every night or most nights and rotate them through the season or whether you want to try the three-meals-with-leftovers strategy. If you want to be a seat-of-the-pants cook, more power to you. For that kind of spontaneity, you’ve got to have an especially well-stocked pantry and fridge as well as the imagination to look at a bunch of ingredients and envision what they can become.

1. Plan three full meals for each week. From those meals, you can plan two nights of leftovers, which makes life easier—though this is challenging if you have hungry teens or athletes at home. Don’t think of leftovers as boring. They can be repurposed in ways that might not make it into the culinary hall of fame, but with a few tweaks they can be as tasty as the original preparation. For instance, leftover chili can become Cincinnati chili mac.

2. Plan meals before going shopping. Planning your meals before you go food shopping will ensure that you don’t waste time, money, and energy running back and forth to the store all week. A mere twenty to thirty minutes of meal planning per week will simplify your life immeasurably, especially if you have a tight schedule, young children, or both.

3. Plan meals after going shopping. What? Didn’t I just say to plan meals before going shopping? Sometimes it’s good to think outside the box. When farm market or CSA season is in full swing—or during the summer and fall harvest season in general—and you’re getting basket loads of fresh produce, it may be wiser to retrofit your meal plans to your fresh food finds.

4. Prepare a few basics for the week ahead. On whatever day or evening is the most home- centered, prepare a few basics for the days ahead. Sunday afternoons and evenings are ideal as you’re looking to the coming week, but do whatever is good for your schedule. Even the simplest things can ease weeknight meal preparation immeasurably.

5. At least once a week, prepare a big one-pot or one-pan meal. This kind of meal can stretch to cover at least two nights. Such meals include hearty soups and stews, bean dishes, abundant pastas, and casseroles. You’ll find many such recipes later on in this book. Double the quantities if you need to, especially if you have a large family. Then you need little more than salad and fresh whole-grain bread to accompany the meal.

6. Develop a weekly repertoire. Make slight variations on your standard recipes each week so that meals don’t get boring. For example, Friday dinner has long been a pizza and salad meal, but within this basic framework, there are endless variations!

7. Create a seasonal repertoire. An alternative to a weekly repertoire is a seasonal repertoire, consisting of ten or fifteen basic meals that you like best. These ten tasty meals— one for each weeknight for two weeks—are repeated as needed throughout the season. Weekends can bring a heavenly leftovers buffet. That doesn’t sound too daunting, right?

***Enter to win a FREE copy of Plant Power here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

7 Ways to Save Money On A Plant-Based Diet

A common concern about eating a plant-based diet is that it is expensive. I beg to differ. There are ways to purchase food on any type of meal plan that range widely from simple to extravagant, regardless of whether there are animal foods in the mix or not. In fact, you will likely save thousands of dollars (or more) in healthcare expenses by eating a wholesome plant-centered diet and, further, you can easily live frugally (and still very deliciously) on plants.

 

Here are 7 ways to save money on a plant-based diet:
1. Buy foods that have a longer shelf life in bulk. Shop warehouses for large packages of whole grains (oats, brown rice, quinoa), dried or canned beans and lentils, dried spices and herbs, frozen veggies and fruits, plant milks, tea, coffee, jarred or canned goods (tomatoes, tomato sauce, marinara sauce, olives), dried fruits, sun-dried tomatoes, dehydrated mushrooms, whole grain pasta, nuts, and seeds. Or buy from the bulk section at your local health food store.
2. Shop local farmer’s markets for fresh, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Try to show up towards the end of the day, when farmer’s will typically discount their remaining items. You can opt to buy from farms that may not yet be certified organic (it takes years and costs money to be certified), but do not spray their crops with pesticides. This is the next best thing to organic.
3. Minimize or avoid processed and convenience foods at the grocery store. Packaged food costs more because of the convenience factor, the marketing and production costs, etc. You are better off health-wise and wallet-wise to eat the most whole form of foods, found as close to nature as possible.
4. Cook more often. Simple skills – such as cooking grains and legumes, whipping up soups and stews, blending smoothies, dressings, and sauces – are easy to learn and will save you tons of money. These are the healthiest meals to create, keep in your fridge and freezer, and enjoy as regular staples. Batch cook foods so you can freeze some, and have plenty left for your week’s worth of dishes.
5. Prepare. Decide what you will make for the week ahead, check your kitchen to see which ingredients need to be purchased, and shop with grocery lists to avoid impulse purchases, and avoid overspending.
6. Never shop hungry. This is a recipe for purchasing less healthful, more expensive, and unnecessary items, racking up your bill.
7. Try growing your own food. Planting a garden – if you can – is a great way to save money on fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs. There are multiple ways to do this in small spaces, indoors, using hydroponics, aquaponics, and small or large pots outdoors if you are limited in space or land.

Resources:
—>Bureau of Labor Statistics Average Retail Food & Energy Prices
—>“Eating Healthy on a Budget” on PerezHilton.com
—>My interview with John McDougall MD about eating well on a budget on Veria’s What Would Julieanna Do?
—>Learn how to cook plant-based online from home at the Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional Certification Course
—>Eating On a Budget on Fox 13 Seattle
—>Richard A Oppenlander, DDS, PLC’s The Cost of Eating Animals
—>My Veria Do’s and Don’ts for Food Shopping
—>Plant-Based On A Budget
—>Eco-Vegan Gal’s video series on eating healthy, organic, and vegan on a budget
—>How Important Is It To Buy Organic
—>Ellen Jaffe Jones Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day

*Graphics by Vegan Sidekick

First, Do No Harm

A significant premise of the Hippocratic oath, which Physicians take upon receiving their medical degree, is to “first, do no harm.” For all intents and purposes, healthcare professionals aim to care for their patients with the goal of ameliorating their ails, injuries, and protecting their lives and well-being to the best of their ability. Quite a noble and demanding promise, indeed. One in which, perhaps, would significantly benefit humanity, other species, and the earth, if we all decided to strive for the same intention. What if we all as individuals focused our mindsets on doing the least harm possible in our day-to-day lives? Could we make notable strides? Could we at least minimize our impression cast upon our world during the short allotment of time in which we inhabit this incarnation? Could we make a difference? I believe with conviction that we very well can. That every smile to a stranger, every time we hold open a door for a person or let them pass our car on the road, every choice to bring our own shopping bags into the stores, each time we restrain our frustration and anger at a difficult situation, and every bite we consciously consume make small, yet lasting, imprints of added beauty, inspiration, and joy into our world and, simultaneously, to ourselves as an added incentive. Nobody is perfect and it is impossible to expect a flawless journey. Yet, there are small acts, deeds, and impressions we can all try to incorporate into our daily lives that can lift, calm, and inspire a better world.

Here are five ways to initiate the process of doing no harm and adding to the collective compassion of our universe:

1. Choose plant foods over animal foods. The contribution to animal cruelty and environmental degradation can be infinitely improved with each and every choice of plants over animals. Additionally, it is the healthiest diet for the human body which provides you with a solid foundation by which to function and thrive.
2. Know thyself and to thine own self be true. Say “yes” to opportunities that make your body sing and “no” to those that make you feel uncomfortable. Trust your instincts and feel your decisions before committing to them.
3. Recognize one another’s struggle. We are all dealing with pain, stress, and fear in our own ways. With less defensiveness and judgment we can be more empathetic and supportive, leading to deeper compassion and unity.
4. Remember that anything about someone else that irks, bothers, or offends you is a direct reflection of something about yourself you may want to address. We are human. We are evolving. Allow that information to help you question your reaction – as opposed to defending it – so that it may strengthen and educate yourself about you.
5. Rise above our ego’s urge to be defensive, to protect its identity, and to mark its stability. Nothing is permanent and everything is dynamic, fluid, and dancing with time. Being open and willing to learn and grow is far superior to fighting for the status quo. Change needs to happen and we can all contribute.

What are other ways you recommend to lessening the harm in the world and in your heart? As a collective conscious, connection and flow are indispensable and proactive….I welcome and request your contributions in the comments below….

Notable Nutrient Sources

“But where do you get your [fill-in-the-nutrient]?” This is the most common type of question I am consistently asked. Rest assured, you can get all of your essential nutrients from plants – and packaged better – than when they come from animal products. In fact, plant-based diets have been found to not only be nutritionally adequate across the lifespan, but to actually be more nutrient-dense than a standard diet. The exceptions are vitamin B12, made from microorganisms, and vitamin D, which is supposed to come from the sun. Certain nutrients that concern herbivores include omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and protein. Thus, I have created this handy chart as a go-to guide on excellent food sources for some of these notable nutrients and more:

Resources:

IOM Dietary Reference Intakes for Macronutrients

IOM Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamins

IOM Dietary Reference Intakes for Elements

What Would Julieanna Do Q&A

5 Ways to Enhance Nutrient Absorption

A Day In The (Vegan Life)

 

6 Steps Towards a Plant-Based Diet

Undoubtedly you have been hearing the words “plant-based” and “vegan” flooding the media as more and more people are becoming more and more plant-curious. With evidence building in the scientific database on the extraordinary health benefits of eating more plants; with rapid growth of vegan restaurant (chains) and vegan options on menus; and with exploding recipe sources and plant-based ingredients on the shelves, it’s a sign of positive growth, indeed. Of course, this brings me great joy and I am happily answering an increasingly voluminous influx of questions via email and social media. Bring them on! The more plants people eat, the more healthy bodies, happier planet Earth, and fewer animals bred for harm.

Whether by delving in wholeheartedly or simply starting by dipping your toes, you will help improve your life in myriad ways…

Here are six steps you can take to kick off the process:

1. Focus on the positive. Instead of thinking about what you will be crowing out (animal products and processed foods), think about ways to incorporate new and exciting whole plant ingredients and recipes. For example, check out the wall of plant milks and the dozens of different whole grain varieties you may never have noticed sitting on the shelves at the supermarket. Visit the tables and tables of vibrant, fascinating vegetables and fruits at your local farmer’s market. Try something new each week or – heck, why not – each day? Broadening your culinary horizons makes your world more delicious and interesting. Here is my recent post with a bunch of ideas on what a day in the vegan life looks like for some inspiration.

2. Seek support. Anytime you venture out into unknown turf, it helps to have some peeps on standby that have been there, done that, and can help offer guidance, direction, or even just a boost of reassurance. Unite with people at conferences, talks, events, local meet up groups or online via social networking. There are many plant-friendly groups and individuals that are more than happy to open their arms and welcome you in with loving arms, share their favorite recipes, tips, and help you strategize. Follow groups like PCRM and Mercy for Animals for inspiration. PCRM has a 21 day kickstart program here to get you underway and Mercy for Animals has a great starter kit here.

3. Stock up your kitchen. If you are well stocked with healthful ingredients and options in your pantry, fridge, and freezer, you will have no choice but to choose well. Plan a day to shop for food once a week so you will have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to use throughout the week. A weekly trip to the local farmer’s market ensures longer-lasting, as fresh as can be produce that will inspire you. Here is a how-to-stock-your-pantry list I recently wrote for Parenting.com. Here is one from Brendan Brazier on US News Health. This is a great list by Nava Atlas on what to keep in your fridge and this is a list of freezer staples. In addition, play with batch cooking in order to simplify food prep and then store leftovers in your fridge or freezer so there are healthy meals ready to eat when you don’t feel like cooking or are in a rush.

4. Try out vegan restaurants and vegan products. There has never been a better time to go veg, as there are new restaurants popping up across America at lightening speeds and most non-veg restaurants are serving up veg-friendly menus to accommodate their customers’ demands. Find these restaurants near you and wherever you may be traveling by using an app or website like HappyCow.net. Further, the list of companies making vegan ingredients, foods, and meals are spreading like wildfire across supermarket shelves everywhere. Experiment when you hit the stores with one of the dozens of plant-based milks, yogurts, and frozen veggie burgers. It’s helpful to have your recipes planned out ahead of time and then to shop with a prepared list (see here for my Do’s and Don’ts of Food Shopping on Veria).

5. Fill up with information. Study. Read books, blogposts, and articles. Watch documentaries and videos. Take classes or go to seminars, if possible. Knowledge is power and inspiration and the more you know, the better you can explore with confidence and enthusiasm. Start here with my favorite books, films, and resources. Please add your suggestions below in the comments section.

6. Have fun. This may be the most important step of all. Nothing about eating healthfully should be stressful, discomforting, or mopey. This is an adventure and it is pure goodness, as it will restore your body’s inner glow physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. Enjoy every moment, every bite, and every success. If you mess up a meal or veer off the wagon, assess what you can learn from the experience and hop back up. Travel your journey and embrace the ride.

5 Ways To Enhance Nutrient Absorption

1. Use the magic of synergy by combining certain foods together (as seen in this graphic). Vitamin C-rich foods help absorb iron, so eat them together. Some ways to do so are to have a green salad with bell peppers or citrus dressing, drink a green smoothie with some fruit, or make hummus with beans and lemon juice. Include a healthy source of fat with fat-soluble vitamins, such as a garnet yam with a peanut sauce or salsa with guacamole.
2. Eat a wide variety of different whole plant foods. For example, some leafy greens contain higher amounts of oxalates (which may decrease absorption of certain minerals, such as calcium), while others do not. Low oxalate greens include bok choy, cabbage, some types of kale, and most lettuce. Mixing up the types of greens (and other foods) you eat will provide different nutritional profiles and ensure a broader absorption of those nutrients.
3. Maximize intake of raw foods, but include cooked foods as well. Raw foods have nutrients and certain enzymes that have health benefits, but which are lost by heat, such as vitamin C (in most fruits and vegetables), myrosinase (in cruciferous veggies), and aliinase (in vegetables of the allium family). However, certain nutrients are better absorbed when cooked, like those in the carotenoid family. Incorporate both into your diet.
4. Try food preparation methods that enhance bioavailability of nutrients, including soaking (and sprouting) of nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. This breaks down phytates and activates plant enzymes so nutrients are well absorbed.
5. Help break down nutrients with blending or juicing so all of the nutrients are released from the cell walls and are easier to absorb. Sometimes, we don’t chew our food well enough, leaving certain nutrients trapped so as to pass straight through the digestive tract without gaining their benefit. Thus, incorporating green smoothies, pureed soups, or green juices is beneficial.

Resources:
Food Synergy
My article on One Green Planet, The Real Deal on Kale and Your Thyroid
Iron
Juicing Versus Blending
Healthy Fat Intake
NutritionFacts.org on Food Synergy
NutritionFacts.org on Nutrient Absorption
YumUniverse™ on Soaking and Dehydrating
Vegetarian Times on Soaking and Sprouting

Get FREE shipping on a Vitamix

 

A Day In The (Vegan) Life

Plant-based? Plant curious? After all of the compelling data (such as thisthis, this, and this) being shared in the media about the infinite benefits of eating a vegan diet and why we and the world are better without animal products (such as thisthis, and this), many people wonder…”well, what do you eat when you are vegan?” A good question, indeed. You may know that being vegan means abstaining from anything with a mom or a face, but, then, what does it include?

What’s on the plate includes any combination of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices….and the possibilities are infinite…

Here is a very brief list of suggestions for meal options:

Breakfasts-

Green Juice (my favorite combo is cucumber, kale, carrot, ginger, and lemon)

Green smoothie – some of my favorites: Spicy Tropical Green SmoothieGreen Sludge, or Chocolate Chip Mint Smoothie

Overnight Muesli

Banana Blueberry Pancakes with Pure Maple Syrup

Oatmeal with fruit (berries, apples, raisins) and nuts/seeds (walnuts, hemp seeds, almonds)

Muffins – Chocolate Chip Pumpkin, Blueberry Oat

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Grain-Free Breakfast Options

Chia Pudding

Rice pudding with raisins made with almond, coconut, or soy milk

 

 

Lunches-

Bean, rice, and veggie burrito with guacamole and pico de gallo

Noritos

Huge shock n’ awe salad with lots of raw veggies, leftovers, cooked veggies, and delicious dressing (this, this, or this)

Swiss Chard Leaves

Pad Thai with Thai Corn Chowder

Gluten-Free Chicken Salad

Autumn Chowder with salad

Vegetarian and avocado sushi rolls with sunumono and miso soup

 

Dinners-

BBQ Tofu Wings with celery sticks dipped in veg ranch dressing

Hearty Lentil Chili with Whole Grain Corn Muffins

Japanoodles

Fiesta Fantastica

Herbed Balsamic Pasta

Mardi Gras Red Beans and Rice

Baked Lentils and Rice

Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Sweet Potato French Fries

Indian coconut curry or tofu stirfry with brown rice or quinoa

Falafel with hummus, pita, and cucumber/tomato salad

Lemon-Infused Mediterranean Lentils

 

Menu Plans-

On the Marie Osmond Show on the Hallmark Channel (9 recipes)

Superbowl Menu For Forks Over Knives

Thanksgiving Menu for Forks Over Knives plus the livestream demo on how to make them 

Here are some of my favorite cookbooks and blogs. 

What’s on YOUR plate? And please share a day in your vegan life below….

Preventing and Reversing Disease with Plant-Based Diets

Hot in the news this week is a new study suggesting that consuming probiotics can slightly reduce blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. So, now everyone is running out and eating yogurt, hoping for a miracle cure. There are no pills, procedures, or superfoods that prevent or cure chronic disease. These pills and procedures are band aids being placed on top of a core problem that many prefer to cover up and “fix”… Yet, research is building on the ability to prevent and now reverse cardiovascular disease, its risk factors, type 2 diabetes, and more, with a whole food, plant-based diet. Overall diet and lifestyle need to be the focus of health and medicine today in order to shift away from the downward spiral of the current healthcare crisis…

Some of the research:
—>Kaiser Permanente Thrive’s Permanente Journal Review: “Research shows that plant- based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C [blood glucose control over time], and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.” (link)
—>The CHIP Program, a 6-year study emphasizing a whole food, plant-based diet, can lead to rapid and meaningful reductions in chronic disease risk factors. (link)
—>Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. showing that 99.4% of 198 people with cardiovascular disease on a plant-based diet for 3.7 years avoided major cardiac events (2014). (link)
—>Dean Ornish, MD regression of coronary atherosclerosis with intensive lifestyle changes – 10% fat whole foods vegetarian diet, aerobic exercise, stress management training, smoking cessation, group psycho- social support – for 5 years (1998). (link)
—>”An 18-week dietary intervention using a low-fat plant-based diet in a corporate setting improves body weight, plasma lipids, and, in individuals with diabetes, glycemic control.” (link)
—> “Vegetarian diets confer protection against cardiovascular diseases, cardiometabolic risk factors, some cancers and total mortality. Compared to lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, vegan diets seem to offer additional protection for obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular mortality.” (link)
—>Adventist Health Study-2 “Vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with lower body mass index, lower prevalence and incidence of diabetes mellitus, lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and its component factors, lower prevalence of hypertension, lower all-cause mortality, and in some instances, lower risk of cancer.” (link)
—>”The dietary portfolio approach of combining a range of cholesterol-lowering plant foods may benefit cardiovascular disease risk both by reducing serum lipids and also blood pressure.” (link)
—>5 Ways to Avoid Cardiovascular Disease Without Medication (link)

*Image via Vegan Street

 

Thirsty: How Livestock Production is Drinking Up Our Diminishing Water Supply

To save time, I zest and juice a bunch of lemons at a time to use throughout the week (I use a lot of it) and keep it in a container in the fridge. This week, I squeezed about 8 large-sized lemons and yielded approximately half of the juice I typically receive. As I am squeezing them with all my might, I am looking out my kitchen window and seeing the dehydrated, pale yellow-colored plants and leaves on the hill in my backyard. California is in a serious drought. We had virtually no rain this year (I remember one storm). It is terrifying to witness the impacts of climate change. But the worst part is that of all the fresh water we do have, we are wasting the vast majority of it on livestock production.

Here are some horrifying facts on fresh water usage from Comfortably Unaware’s Dr. Richard Oppenlander:
—>50% of all the water used in the U.S. is given to the animals people eat.
—>70 billion animals are raised and killed each year for food. A few billion of these animals need up to 40 or more gallons of water per day…which is over 100 times what we, individually, consume daily.
—>The average water footprint per calorie of beef is TWENTY times larger than for grains.
—>Legumes (or “pulses”: lentils, beans, peas) require FORTY-FIVE times less water to produce versus beef and they are excellent sources of protein.
—>To produce 1 pound of meat, it takes:

  • 1,800-2,500 gallons of water per pound of beef
  • 731 gallons per pound of sheep
  • 127 gallons per pound of goat
  • 468 gallons per pound of chicken
  • 880 gallons per gallon of milk
  • 60-120 gallons to produce 1 egg
  • 11.6 gallons to slaughter and process 1 chicken

*The image below is from Farmscape (see link below) and the data is a few years old, but the ratios of comparison say it all, which is why I used it. The most recent data from Dr. Oppenlander is as above.



Resources:
CA approves fines for water usage because of drought
The Vegetarian Resource Group‘s Save Our Water
Food Tank: The Food Think Tank‘s Meat’s Large Water Footprint
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Livestock Water Use
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Livestock Longshadow
Farmscape water use
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Food Choice and Sustainability by Dr. Oppenlander
Dr. Oppenlander: Your Role in Global Depletion (video)
 

Healthy Travel Tips

Traveling this summer? Or any other time? One of the toughest parts of being thrown off your regularly scheduled programming is the uncertainty of the ability to locate and enjoy healthful foods you are accustomed to enjoying. As someone who loves routine and knowing where her next serving of kale and hummus can be procured, I empathize with the trepidation of traveling. However, after practicing consistently for several years as a whole food, plant-based eater, I have a few tips to offer fellow travelers. Please share any of your favorite tips in the comments below so we can come up with a super list of ideal methods and options for us all!

1. Research and plan ahead. Careful plotting for how long you’ll need to be stocked up from door to door, as well as investigating where you’ll be able to find food while away, makes the process less worrisome. Most of what you can bring along will depend on how you are traveling … by car or by plane.

2. Pack enough food to get through the first leg of the trip to avoid having to eat airport/airline food or truck stop/fast food along the way. When traveling with others, bring along enough food for yourself and your dependent traveling companions. For airports, dried food and packed whole foods are options, but water will have to be purchased after going through airport security; unfortunately, the prices are brutally ramped up, but maintaining hydration throughout the flight is ideal. A more cost-effective and eco-friendly option is to take an empty stainless steel or BPA-free plastic water bottle to the airport, and fill it up once you’re cleared into the terminal. Of course, driving is far easier because you can pack however much food you can squeeze into your car, and you can easily use coolers to keep foods longer. Plan ahead and pack up plenty of food to ensure you have lots of healthy options along the road.

3. Scout out your travel destination. Try a healthy food-finding app and website like HappyCow to locate veg-friendly dining and markets just about anywhere.  Stock up at markets on some items for meals and snacks can supplement what you brought along, when possible. If staying with friends or family members, ask ahead if you can store some food in the fridge or, even, if they can have some of your preferred staples ready when you arrive. When staying at a hotel, call ahead of the trip and request a refrigerator unit in the room. Most hotels will provide one. If not, you can use the ice bucket to keep perishables cool. International travel can require even more planning. Be sure to search online ahead of time. When traveling to other countries, ask detailed questions (you may need a translation dictionary handy, if there’s a language barrier). Most restaurants want to please their guests, and will go out of their way to accommodate patrons, even if you don’t speak the same language.

 

Travel-Friendly Foods, Cooler-Dependent Foods:

- Salads in disposable containers with dressing in a separate container

- Fruits: whole, cut, salad, dried, dehydrated

- Baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams

- Hummus with chopped veggies and whole-grain crackers to dip

- Wraps or sandwiches made on whole-grain breads or tortillas with hummus or bean spread and veggies or nut or seed butter and whole-fruit jam or sliced fruits

- Edamame

- Veggie sushi

- Bean, rice, and veggie burritos with salsa and guacamole on the side and separate

- Whole-grain pasta with sauce

- Unopened tempeh or tofu packages

- Leftovers packed in a disposable container

- Takeout from a healthy restaurant or market, packed in a disposable container

 

Easy Foods With No Refrigeration Necesary:

- Dried oatmeal in separate baggies with seeds (chia, flax, hemp) and/or nuts (simply add hot water when ready to eat)

- Kale chips

- Whole-fruit and nut bars

- Baked bars, whole-food cookies, muffins, and whole-grain breads

- Whole-grain or raw crackers, breads, tortillas, bagels

- Dehydrated bean and veggie soups

- Nut butters

- Trail mix

- Jarred bean dips

- Nutritional yeast and other spices in individually wrapped baggies to bring to restaurants

- Dehydrated green juice powders (for times when you don’t know when you’ll find your next greens

- Dissolvable whole-food powders to fill up on, if no other healthy options

Resources:

Top 5 Tips for Dining Out

Healthy Voyager, Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, on What Would Julieanna Do?

Vegetarian Travel with HappyCow

10 Must-Haves for Healthy Vegan Travel on VegNews