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Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Life Abroad

Meal-prepping is a helpful way to stay healthy—and save money—while living abroad. Ella Olsson - Unsplash

When it comes to healthy eating abroad, a little organization goes a long way. 

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m vegan in Asturias, Spain. While most people around me consider it next to impossible to eat vegan in a place that is so heavy on meat, I have barely even noticed this so-called discomfort. A little organization has made my life much easier. Along with being vegan, I'm also allergic to gluten. I prefer eating fresh food and I like staying in shape. Plus, I don't like spending a ton of money on fancy things—so my meal-prep routine always takes cost into account. In order to be more environmentally friendly, I avoid buying certain things I love because they're packed in plastic (I'm looking at you—beautiful cup of soy-oat yogurt that I just can't eat). 

While most people around me find it difficult to eat vegan in Asturias, I have barely noticed this so-called discomfort. A little organization has made my life much easier.

Okay, now that you know me a bit better, let’s dig in. Here's what I buy each week before I begin meal-prepping:

Grocery Shopping for Vegan Meal-prep

1. Buy local vegetables. I usually go veggie shopping once a week, but sometimes end up buying a few things here and there if the need arises. 

2. Choose reusable containers to store leftovers. Mine are plastic, but they’re reusable—so why not? It is single use plastic that is the enemy.

3. Prep lots of veggies in advance. These days, I’ve been cutting up and chopping carrots, bell peppers (one of each colour), a zucchini, 2-3 onions, an entire clove of garlic, ginger, broccoli and spinach. I put these in the fridge in the plastic containers. I also buy frozen peas to add to dishes.

4. Choose your grain. I pre-boil my quinoa and rice. I also end up buying either a loaf of gluten-free bread or gluten-free tortillas (made of tapioca flour and maize). I put the rice and quinoa in containers as well. I do this about twice a week since I don’t want them to feel stale.

5. Stock up on sauces. Sauces are crucial for adding flavour to your dishes. I always keep store-bought tomato sauce, pesto sauce and hummus on-hand.

Healthy vegan meals—in just a few minutes

With all the ingredients prepped and ready-to-go, making healthy meals is simple.  

• Meal Example #1: Pesto, quinoa and veggies

You come home from work—it’s late and you’re famished. Take a saucepan and add some oil and those pre-cut garlic cloves. Throw in whichever veggies you prefer. Let’s see: some zucchini, carrot, yellow bell pepper and spinach. Stir it in there for a while. While this is happening, you add some hot water to the peas to defrost them. Then you add in some quinoa, along with the peas and pesto sauce. Toss in some salt and garlic powder—and voilà! You’re done.

• Meal Example #2: Tofu and veggies

Throw onion, any veggies you feel like, some tofu, and tomato sauce together and—boom. A healthy vegan dinner, made in just four minutes. Serve with a tortilla for some extra sustenance.

• Meal Example #3: Chickpea stir-fry

Pick some of your favourite meal-prepped veggies and stir-fry them with some chickpeas. Serve with rice on the side and some hummus on top. Heaven.

I could go on forever. The basics are simple: you need veggies, you need grains and you need some form of protein. You'll hardly need to spend any time in the kitchen—until the time comes to gorge down an entire can of peanut butter (guilty). Plus, all this healthy eating will help you reveal those abs you've been trying to get since you were 16 (again, guilty). 

Healthy living is only as complicated as you make it, and there is no excuse to treat your body like Kleenex—even when you’re travelling. I’ve done the exact same thing while on the road and living in hostels. It’s easy and makes for a great way for people around you to be super impressed by your dedication to your health. So soak in the compliments and don’t forget to eat your greens.

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Shrita Pathak

Shrita (or Shay; whatever floats your boat) is a 22-year-old from New Delhi, India who is currently teaching English in Spain. She graduated with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, with a major in political science, and a double minor in econ and film studies. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, meditating and doing anything that gets her heart rate up.

Website: https://www.instagram.com/itstheshayway/

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