This weeks vegan meal prep ideas post will be a bit different than week 1 and week 2. I’ve been loving buddha bowls for lunch and dinner lately so today I prepped the ingredients for making buddha bowls all week. Buddha bowls are easy to put together, beautiful to look at and loaded with healthy, nutritious foods that taste amazing. Let’s take a look at how you can make delicious, plant-based buddha bowls at home with simple, everyday ingredients.
What’s a Buddha Bowl?
A buddha bowl is just a fun name for a colourful bowl, typically composed of healthy, plant-based ingredients like vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and proteins. Apparently the name “Buddha Bowl” comes from the overstuffed bowl resembling the belly of a buddha. They’re also sometimes called macro bowls, hippie bowls or sunshine bowls. Whatever you call them, they’re really easy to make, nutrient-dense and with all the mixed flavours, colours and textures, they’re both beautiful and delicious!
How to Make A Buddha Bowl
The best part about buddha bowls is there are no rules, no strict guidelines and no recipes needed! If you browse Pinterest or search buddha bowl in Google, you’ll notice that most bowls are loaded with loads of veggies, usually piled high on top of whole grains and leafy greens and then topped with extras like nuts, seeds, avocado and sprouts and finished with sauce.
Buddha Bowl Sauces
My favourite part of buddha bowls is the sauce! You can top your buddha bowl with straight up tahini or almond butter, or you can whip up thai peanut sauce, lemon tahini sauce, healthy greek dressing, maple tahini sauce, pesto sauce or anything other delicious dressing you can think of!
Food Prep For Buddha Bowls All Week
1. Roasted Cauliflower
Roasted cauliflower is a delicious and healthy ingredient to prep for your buddha bowls. For food prep, I like to do things that go in the oven first, so to start my food prep this week, I chopped up a crown of cauliflower, added spices and into the oven it went. I added garlic powder, turmeric and curry powder and roasted it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
2. Baked Sweet Potato
I’ll use the baked sweet potato for buddha bowls and for making sweet potato breakfast bowls and breakfast protein cookie dough. I didn’t add any seasoning to my sweet potato this week, I just poked a few holes in it and baked it whole.
3. Sautéed Chickpeas
These are one of my favourite things to make for buddha bowls or just enjoying on their own. They’re so savoury, comforting and delicious! You can vary the spices depending on what you feel like or have on hand. This week I used chili powder, turmeric, cumin and sea salt and I added chopped onions and mushroom. I don’t use any oil, just added a bit of water to the pan and cooked it up for about 10 minutes. They’re perfect for buddha bowls and a healthy, low-fat, high fibre source of carbohydrates and protein.
Use this recipe for Spiced Chickpeas with Mushroom and Garlic for inspiration.
4. Quick Pickled Onions
I like something tangy in my buddha bowls and I’m fresh outta homemade sauerkraut, so I added quickly picked onions to today’s food prep. Quick pickled onions are super easy to make, have a tangy and slightly sweet taste and are awesome in buddha bowls and sandwiches.
How to Make Quick Pickled Onions
- Boil water in a pot, remove from heat, add sliced red onions and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain.
- Add 1/3 cup of white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and 3 cloves of garlic to a mason jar. I also added some peppercorns and mustard seeds.
- Add the onions to the jar and place in the fridge. They’ll be ready to eat in about 30 minutes and can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
5. Baked Tofu
I made a batch of curried crispy baked tofu for adding some protein to my buddha bowls. My garlic black pepper or BBQ tofu would also be good. Some other good higher-protein options to prep are spicy chickpea veggie burgers, tempeh, seitan, edamame, taco-style lentil “meat” and black beans.
Sauces for Buddha Bowl Food Prep
The fun stuff! Sauces for Buddha Bowls! This week I prepped 3 low-calorie sauces to finish off my buddha bowl creations. A virtually calorie-free sweet dijon dressing, a low-fat peanut sauce and a broccoli cheese sauce.
1. Fat-Free Dijon Vinaigrette
This is one of my go-to dressings. It’s more or less calorie-free as it’s just dijon mustard, white wine or balsamic vinegar and stevia. I don’t measure anything, to make it just add the mustard and vinegar to a container and sweeten to taste with liquid stevia drops or powder. You can also use maple syrup to sweeten it, or add hot sauce or chili powder for a spicy version!
2. Low-Fat Peanut Sauce
I make this dressing a lot for a low-calorie alternative to regular peanut sauce. To make it you’ll need powdered peanut butter plus some everyday pantry items. I don’t measure anything except for the powdered peanut butter, I just blend everything then adjust as needed.
Here’s a rough version of how I make low-fat peanut sauce:
- 4 tbsp powdered peanut butter
- squeeze of sriracha
- a few tablespoons soy sauce
- a few tablespoons lime juice
- a few tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- about 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
- stevia, to taste
- sea salt, to taste
Add all ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth and creamy. You can also use the recipe sauce recipe from my Broccoli Slaw with Low-Fat Peanut Dressing. Of course, you don’t have to go with a low-fat peanut sauce, my Spicy Peanut Sauce or Sweet and Spicy Almond Sauce would also be amazing!
3. Broccoli Cheese Sauce
I had a bunch of broccoli stalks left over from chopping up broccoli so decided to use them to make a sauce. Inspired by this recipe, I steamed them then blended them with nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon, tahini and sea salt. It turned out really good!
Here’s a rough version of how I made it:
- stalks from 3 large crowns of broccoli, steamed until tender
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup tahini
- juice from 1 lemon
- 5 cloves of garlic
- splash of apple cider vinegar
- sea salt, to taste
More Buddha Bowl Sauce Ideas
I’ll often just top my buddha bowls with tahini, hot sauce, sea salt and pepper. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice is awesome in there too. The simple combination is so good and it’s one of my all-time favourites for putting on pretty much anything! It’s easy, made with basic ingredients and you don’t need a recipe.
Here are a few other dressings that work great for buddha bowls:
- Tahini Ranch Dressing
- Maple Tahini Dressing
- Garlic Miso Dressing
- Cilantro Cashew Dressing
- Sweet and Spicy Almond Lime Dressing
- Low Fat Pesto Sauce
More Buddha Bowl Food Prep
Here’s what else I did for food prep today. I’ll use these ingredients for my buddha bowl creations, snacks, breakfasts and other recipes I might feel like during the week.
- Grated Carrots – I grated about 6 carrots to add to bowls this week. I also chopped up a bunch of carrot sticks for snacking.
- Steamed Beets – Each week I’ll either grate a bunch of raw beets, or prepare steamed or roasted beets. I went with simple steamed beets today. They’re one of my favourite buddha bowl ingredients for adding a little sweetness.
- Zucchini Noodles – I’ll use these for buddha bowls and other pasta-inspiried dishes this week.
- Chopped Broccoli – I chopped up a ton of broccoli to eat for snacks, steaming for buddha bowls and using in stir-fries.
- Chopped Bell Peppers – We go through diced peppers so fast, I prepped an extra large container this week. We’ll use these in scrambles, stir-fries and buddha bowls.
- Cooked Edamame – Good for snacking and using in bowls as a protein source.
Other Buddha Bowl Ingredients
Some of these I already had in the pantry, the rest I added to my grocery list so I was ready for epic buddha bowls this week!
- raw cashews
- raw almonds
- raw walnuts
- sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, hemp seeds
- fresh tomato, cucumber
- coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage – I like to buy packaged coleslaw mix to save time chopping cabbage, these mixes are awesome for quick stir-fries! If I don’t buy the packaged mix, I’ll pick up a red cabbage and finely chop that up.
- frozen diced butternut squash – I recently started buying packaged frozen butternut squash to save time on prep. One package is only a few dollars and it’s perfect for adding to smoothies and buddha bowls when I only want a little bit of squash at a time.
- fresh spinach – You can use any cooked or raw leafy green in your buddha bowls. I’m going with spinach this week!
Whole Grains for Buddha Bowls
I’m not really eating much grains right now so I didn’t prep any for bowls this week. However, if you need more complex carbohydrates in your diet, whole grains make a hearty, filling and nutritious ingredients for buddha bowls. I’d recommend the following grains for buddha bowls:
- brown rice
- wild rice
- whole-grain couscous
I like cooking whole grains in vegetable stock to add a little more flavour. If you plan to use grains in your buddha bowls, I’d recommend adding one or two of these items to your food prep list. They’re all easy to prep and keep well for healthy meals all week. You can also freeze them if needed.
How to Build Your Buddha Bowl
Ah, now the fun. You’ve got all these awesome ingredients ready to go, let’s build some buddha bowls! Here are a few tips for making the most delicious creations.
Steps for a Perfect Buddha Bowl
- Start with a base of grains (if using.)
- Add leafy greens. Think raw spinach, kale, arugula, romaine or any other leafy green. I use one big handful but add as much as you like.
- Add some fats. Think avocado, hemp seeds or nuts. I like to add a few tablespoons of one or two of these. I love cashews, hemp seeds and avocado!
- Add some protein. Think baked tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, black beans, seitan or edamame. Choose one or two.
- Add more veggies. Anything and everything goes! I love beets, grated or roasted carrots, roasted sweet potato, diced peppers, pickled onions or sauerkraut, corn, cooked butternut squash, spaghetti squash, raw zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice or roasted cauliflower, raw or sautéed mushrooms – there are no rules! The more colourful, the better!
- Top with sauce. Once you’ve loaded up all your favourite buddha bowl ingredients, top it off with some delicious, flavourful sauce! My favourites are tahini sauce, peanut sauce or spicy almond sauce.
- Finish with extra flavour. I like to finish off my buddha bowls with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice, a sprinkle of sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and some fresh herbs. Cilantro and basil are my favourite.
More Reading on Vegan Food Prep
- Vegan Food Prep Tips for Healthy Meals All Week
- Where to Start: 17 Simple Healthy Eating Tips
- Plant-Based Basics: Stocking A Vegan Pantry
- Meal Planning Tips for a Healthy Vegan Diet