This guide to plant-based meal planning makes it easy to prep healthy, vegetarian meals for the week ahead in order to save time, money, energy, and calories!
How amazing would it be to peek inside the mind of a crazy, hungry, scatter-brained dietitian food blogger extraordinaire (ha!) each Sunday when she's planning the escapades for the week ahead? Today, my friends, we are doing just that!
What I didn't want this post to be was a long, drawn-out novel about what macro and micronutrients you need for every meal. Everyone has different energy needs based on several factors like height, weight, activity level, age, gender, etc. so nothing is one size fits all. My goal here was to give you a quick guide to easy plant-based meal planning---some ideas for how you can plan out balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner options for the week ahead.
I always tell my clients that if all else fails, there are a few simple tweaks they can do to their diet to set themselves up for success. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Even a couple hours on the weekends makes a HUGE difference.
Number 1: Make a smoothie for breakfast and make Freezer Smoothie Packs your best friend. If it's in the freezer, you'll make it! Smoothies ensure you're getting a hefty dose of fruits, veggies, and superfoods early in the morning to energize you through the day. We all fall short on those food groups!
Number 2: Make at least two salads ahead of time to have throughout the week for lunch. More details below. My rule is to include a fruit or veggie and every meal and snack and this makes it fool-proof!
Number 3: Prep at least two snack options, even if that means pre-portioning nuts or baking whole grain muffins.
Number 4: Make at least one new recipe every week. Boost your kitchen confidence!
Number 5: Make a batch each week of something yummy and healthy you can have in the fridge ready to go for dinner after work, like veggie burgers, soup, lasagna, enchiladas, stir fry, whole grain pasta, etc.
Onto the recipe ideas!
--Smoothie: For a general formula, try ½ cup frozen berries (I use frozen Wild Blueberries from Costco), 1 small frozen banana, 1 cup fresh or frozen spinach, 1 tbsp chia/flax/hemp seeds/nut butter, 1 scoop chocolate Vega Protein + Greens protein powder, medjool date/stevia to sweeten (I also add in 1 tbsp cacao and 1 tsp spirulina), and unsweetened vanilla almond milk to blend. I like making mine extra thick and topping with drippy peanut butter and Power O's for crunch. Make freezer smoothie packs ahead of time for easy prep.
--Oatmeal: Overnight oats like these Zucchini Banana Oats come together in just minutes. You can also make oats in the crockpot or overnight (which is what I do in the winter). I also like to make baked oatmeal bars for grab-and go. Try these Lemon Coconut Baked Oatmeal Cups, Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cups, and Banana Zucchini Oatmeal Cups.
--DIY Cereal: Combine ½ cup old-fashioned oats, 1 tsp ground flax, 1 tsp cacao nibs (optional for crunch), a hefty sprinkle of cinnamon, and a heaping tbsp of chopped walnuts in a bowl. Top with fresh berries, sliced banana, and lots of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Devour!
--Toast: Look for a sprouted whole grain bread like Ezekiel. Top two slices with ¼ of an avocado (mashed), red pepper flakes, and sea salt OR 1 tablespoon almond butter + a handful of berries OR a few tbsp of hummus, arugula, sliced cucumber, and sriracha each.
--Pancakes: I'm all about the quick, healthy mixes. Simple Mills, Bob's 7-grain mix and Pamela's are all great options! For the egg substitute, stir together a tablespoon of ground flax and three tablespoons water in a small bowl. Let it sit for five minutes that proceed with recipe.
--DIY Salad: Make 5 salads to take for lunches throughout the week that have plenty of veggies, a plant-based protein, and healthy fat. For the base, I like to use organic mixed greens or arugula. Then I add pre-shredded carrots, sliced cucumber, tomato, and green onion. For the protein, I'll use one of the following: a veggie burger, ½ cup of chickpeas, black beans, TJ's pre-cooked lentils, or edamame (dry roasted is great for crunch, too). Then I'll add some leftover roasted sweet potatoes for pizazz. For healthy fat, pack avocado or add a sprinkle of your favorite nuts/seeds. Season with salt and pepper and pack your favorite dressing on the side. I usually just whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a squirt of maple and Dijon, oregano, salt, pepper. Salads in a jar are another super convenient option!
--Veggie Burger: This Tomato Basil version is my current favorite.
To round it out, pack sliced veggies (carrots, peppers, cucumber, celery) and hummus/guacamole, a small muffin/no-bake bite, and a piece of fruit.
--No-bake bites or muffins
--3 cups air-popped popcorn + piece of fruit
--Baked sweet potato slices + 1 tbsp nut butter + cinnamon
--¼ cup nuts + piece of fruit
--Brown rice cake + hummus + sliced cucumber
--⅓ cup dry-roasted edamame + piece of fruit
--Easy Vegetable Teriyaki Stir Fry (use frozen veggies and brown rice for quick prep)
--Tempeh and Kale Enchilada Casserole: a meal in a bowl--protein, fat, and veggies!
--Vegan Enchiladas: there's no one that doesn't like these!
-- Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes (or baked sweet potato + ½ cup black beans + ¼ of an avocado + ½ cup salsa, fried egg optional)