5 Tips for Healthy / Plant-Based Meal Prep

Meal prep – the elusive key to living a healthy, happy life. For some, meal prepping can be the most daunting task in the world. For others, it’s a no-brainer. As for me, I think I’m somewhere in the middle. 

Prior to the pandemic, when I was actually going into the office every day, I was pretty good about prepping meals for the week on Sunday so I didn’t have to cook much during the week. My schedule during the week was always jam-packed so I didn’t have much time to spend in the kitchen. 

A lot of nights, especially this time of year, I would work late and wind up ordering take-out to the office. So if I didn’t at least prep lunches for the week I would eat out at least 2 meals per day. Sure, I love take-out, but after a while it takes a toll on the body. 

During these busy times meal prep became essential for me to make sure I was well-fueled and feeling my best. When you’re working long hours, the last thing you want is to feel sluggish because of what you’ve been eating. And trying to balance out a lousy diet with more caffeine is never the answer, trust me, I’ve tried.

Fast forward to today – I’ve been working from home for almost a year now and meal prepping has become less essential for my daily routine but nevertheless helpful. I’m currently on the East Coast while most of my team is out west, so it’s not unusual for me to have a call during my lunch or dinner hours. It’s nice to have something prepped when a call runs long or if I need to eat while finishing up some work. Having meals ready to go gives me more flexibility in my day and reduces a lot of unneeded stress and anxiety. It’s amazing what a little meal prep can do!

Whether you want to start eating healthier, incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet, make time in your day for a new workout regiment, or just get into a better routine, meal prep can make a huge difference!

Here are a few of my tips to get started prepping healthy, plant-based meals.

5 Tips for Healthy / Plant-Based Meal prep

  1. Keep it Simple

For vegan/plant-based meal prep in particular, simplicity is KEY. I think that a lot of people get overwhelmed when they think about going vegan, but it can be really simple if you want it to be. And meal prep in particular should be simple, especially if you’re a lazy cook like me. 

My favorite things to meal prep only require 5-10 minutes of active work. My favorite thing only takes 15 minutes total. Yes, just *15 minutes*. The beauty of plants is that they cook pretty quickly.

Most of my go-to recipes include a carb, a protein, and LOTS of veggies. A few examples:

  • Brown Rice, Tempeh, and Broccoli/Cauliflower 
  • Whole Wheat Pasta, Chickpeas, Kale/Mushrooms
  • Sweet Potato, Black Beans, Corn/Peppers/Tomatoes/Salsa

*be on the lookout for recipes in future posts*

  1. Don’t try to do too much at once

I think the most common reason people fail or give up on meal prepping is they try to do too much at once. If you try to make every single meal for the week on Sunday night, yeah, odds are you’re going to ver overwhelmed and not want to do it. Additionally, if you’re not used to eating the same thing multiple days in a row, you’re going to get bored of whatever it is that you prepped and wind up getting takeout because you’re in desperate need for variety (trust me, I’ve been there). 

Point is, don’t try to do it all at once. If you’re new to meal prepping try just once meal at a time. Just make breakfasts for the week, or lunches. This way you ease yourself into the new routine and you can still incorporate variety in your other meals. 

  1. Do it the night before

Currently, my favorite meal prep “method” is leftovers. Since I’m working from home, I usually have a little more time to make dinner at night. So instead of prepping all of my meals at the beginning of the week, I make multiple servings out of whatever it is I’m making for dinner that night so I have lunches for the next few days. It’s a good balance because it means I’m being efficient in the kitchen by making multiple meals at once, but I’m also only prepping two or three days in advance so I still have some variety in my diet. 

  1. Tupperware is your friend

If you’re going to get serious about meal prepping I highly recommend investing in some nice food storage containers. Good containers will keep your food fresher, which is important if you’re prepping a lot at the beginning of the week. I find that Glass tends to be better than plastic since it’s non absorbent. Having the right size containers can also be a game-changer. I have specific containers I like to use for my overnight oats that are small and space-efficient, but also big enough to eat out of when I top my oats with berries and almond slivers. For lunches I use a bigger container that still fits nicely in a lunch bag when I’m bringing meals with me to work. I generally find it easiest for me to keep things in single-serving containers, but if you like prepping big crock-pot meals you might want to invest in some larger containers including ones that are freezer safe so you can extend the life of your meals. 

Here are a few good ones:

  1. Don’t be married to the prep

All this being said, variety is still the spice of life. Don’t get too wrapped up in trying to prep perfectly or eat a health home-cooked meal every day of the week. Throughout the pandemic especially, take out has been a necessary indulgence. Whether I want to change things up, or I’m too lazy to cook that night, I’ll turn to takeout one or two days a week…at least. Bonus points if I have leftovers that I can have for multiple meals….it’s just like I meal-prepped then, right?!

Any questions? Or other meal-prep tips? Let me know in the comments! Or connect with me on instagram @carolinemarzo. 

Rise and Shine.

Early Mornings & A Recipe for Apple Pie Oats

There’s something simply magical about the start of a new day. The way the sun starts out shy, just peaking through over the horizon. The way the day starts out a little damp and chilly, especially on a late fall morning. The way a fresh cup of coffee warms your heart, mind, and soul. And, above all else, the way that it feels knowing that I have a whole new day ahead to accomplish whatever it is that I set my mind to. 

I’ve been a “morning person” for as long as I can remember. I’m sure I missed out on at least a few wild nights because I was worried about getting to bed. But I preferred it that way – I was the one who was up early and getting in a 10 mile run before most were out of bed. 

Back before March, when I was going to work every day, I loved knowing what I could accomplish in those 3-4 hours before work. Up at 5, at the gym by 6, run done by 7, stretch and roll and in the shower by 8, and at work by 8:30 or 9. All that done, and I felt more fresh and ready to go than ever.

Things are obviously a little different now. I haven’t exactly been getting up at 5 every day while working remote. I don’t have the commute to factor in, and I generally have a lot more flexibility with the hours I work. 

To some extent I miss my early mornings. I miss watching the sun rise over the Bay Bridge. I miss the groggy hello’s I’d say as I checked in at the gym. I miss the camaraderie of the San Francisco early morning run scene. While few words were ever exchanged, there was an undeniable bond between me and my fellow runners who enjoy chasing the early hours down the Embarcadero. 

I suppose I could get up early and get in a pre-dawn run now, but I find little appeal in that. For one, I’m with my family in small-town Connecticut. Here, if the sun isn’t out it’s pitch black. There are no sidewalks or street lights, and running on the roads before dawn is basically a death wish. 

Plus, I’ve been enjoying a slower morning. 

I’ve been getting up at a leisurely pace, making myself a slice of toast (usually topped with almond butter and banana… delicious!), and enjoying a hot cup of coffee. I’ll usually at least catch up on emails or get a bit of work done before hitting the road for a run. 

To be honest, I’ve been putting off my runs later and later as it’s gotten colder here. I like to wait for the sun to be a little warmer before leaving my house and our heated floors. Although really, it hasn’t even been that cold here, other than the one day in snowed right before Halloween. 

I have a love-hate relationship with snow. I love watching the snow fall so gracefully from the sky and coat the ground in a gentle blanket of white. However, that gentle blanket of white turns into ice and slush which make winter running less than ideal. 

That being said, while the October snow was beautiful, I was not exactly thrilled by it. The last time it snowed in October in Connecticut we lost power for a week. There were a lot of leaves still on the trees, so when the damp, heavy snow fell, it accumulated on the leaves and took down many branches, and, subsequently, power lines. 

Thankfully, 2020 decided we had enough to deal with already, and we didn’t lose power this time around. 

There really wasn’t too much snow. The white powder fell gracefully for a few hours in the morning the Friday before Halloween. I don’t usually run of Friday’s so enjoyed the weather instead of stressing about getting a run in or moping because I’d have to run on the treadmill. 

Elsie, my dog, and I frolicked in the snow for a little before we decided it was too cold for my California blood. I followed up our little adventure with a hot cup of coffee, of course, and a warm bowl of my signature Apple Pie Oats. 

A snippet of our snowy morning:

Oats are easily my favorite post-run meal. I usually have my coffee and toast pre-run as “first breakfast” and follow my run up with another coffee and a warm bowl of oatmeal, my “second breakfast”. This has probably been my favorite part of my work-from-home morning routine. I couldn’t exactly whip a bowl of fresh oatmeal every morning when I was going into the office. I did make overnight oats sometimes, but that’s another story 😉 

Apple Pie oats, as I like to call it, is my signature oatmeal recipe. It’s perfect for this time of year, as it gets colder and I need something to warm me up after a chilly run. It became my signature though, because I made it nearly every morning this summer. 

Yes, I would come home from a sweaty 85 degree run and whip a bowl of warm oatmeal. Oh, and a cup of hot coffee. If I wasn’t still sweating from my run, I would definitely be sweating from eating the oats. Gross, sorry. 

Other than the overheating thing, the oats were the perfect post-run meal. Topped with almond butter, flax seeds, and maybe some pecans, it was the perfect combination of carbs and fats that my body needs after a tough workout. Plus, it was so easy make, and we almost always had the ingredients on-hand. 

Now that it’s chilly and apples are in season, it’s absolute perfection!

To be perfectly honest, this recipe is nothing revolutionary. It’s a pretty sweet twist simple bowl of oats, but it’s absolutely delicious. Plus, it’s super quick to make – done in just about 10 minutes, maybe 15 if you give the oats a minute too cool down after taking them off the stove. 

I’ll usually put the water on the stove as soon as I’m done with my post-run stretches. As the water boils I’ll chop up the apple. I always add the apple and cinnamon first, and let them boil for a minute before adding the oats. This way, the apples soak up the cinnamon really well, almost like I’m making an apple sauce, and then adding oats on top!

One other touch I’ve been loving lately is maple syrup! Over the summer when I was sweating through my oats, I was using agave, which gives it the necessary sweetness, but 100% pure maple syrup takes it up a notch and gives it a nice fall flavor.

I was lucky enough to win a bottle of local maple syrup for being a top local finisher in the Granby Road Race (check out my Racing in the Pandemic post for more!). The syrup is from Young Farms in East Granby, CT. Would definitely recommend if you happen to be in the Granby area!

I also like to top my oats with a scoop of almond butter. Justin’s Maple Almond Butter is easily my favorite. It just has this sweet maple-y finish that really ties the bowl together. I’ll also top it with pecans and/or flax seeds for extra nutrients and an added crunch!

Finally, I’ll devour my oats and be fueled and ready to take on the day!

Apple Pie Oats Recipe


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small apple, chopped
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 – 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
  • A splash of Almond milk (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon pecans and/or flax seeds


  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Once water is boiling, add chopped apple, oats, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. 
  3. Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for 4-6 minutes, until water is absorbed. 
  4. Add maple syrup or agave and a splash of almond milk, and stir before removing from the stove. 
  5. Transfer oats to a bowl, top with pecans and flax seeds. 
  6. ENJOY!