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When you’re looking to eat healthier by trying some meatless meals, it’s not always easy to get started. But creating a vegan meal plan doesn’t have to be time-consuming or too difficult. (Surprised?) Just use our step-by-step guide to help build your menu for the week ahead!
1. Look for Recipes
When creating your vegan meal plan, spend some time each week looking for recipes. Write down all the recipes you want to try, plus the ingredients you need, and make note of where you found each recipe (Taste of Home, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). Make a point to try one new recipe a week to keep things fresh. I’ve heard great things about the Tasty Lentil Tacos, so that’s next on my list!
2. Think Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
You’ll want to think about each meal–not just dinner. If you’re making Curried Tofu with Rice for dinner on Monday night, will you have leftovers for lunch the next day? If not, add a lunch recipe to your meal plan. Try making a big ol’ pot of Over the Rainbow Minestrone for lunches throughout the week.
3. Get the Right Nutrients
Don’t forget to think about nutrients! (This is the good stuff.) Tofu, beans and nuts are all good sources of protein to help you stay satisfied. You want to aim to get at least three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit a day, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. When choosing pastas, breads and cereals, look for whole grains for the extra fiber.
(Our How to Cook Whole Grains guide is great when you’re working with something new, like quinoa or wheat berries.)
4. Ask Others for Input
When there are others in the house you cook for, it never hurts to ask for input! Talk to your kids or spouse to see if there’s something they want to add to your meal plan. Help your younger ones get excited about cooking by having a spaghetti night–they’ll be happy to stir the vegetarian pasta sauce!
5. Plan Some Snacks
You know you’ll need an afternoon pick-me-up (who doesn’t?) so don’t forget to plan some snacks. Old standbys such as celery with peanut butter and raisins are an easy go-to, but don’t be afraid to try something new. In addition to having plenty of fresh veggies, fruit and nuts on hand for snacking, try making Sunflower-Cherry Granola Bars or Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies for a sweet treat.
6. Hit the Store
When you arrive, stick to your list, but don’t be afraid to check what’s on sale. If there’s a good deal on canned beans or your favorite rice or pasta, stock up and plan on using them in your vegan meal plan the following week. If your favorite fruit is on sale, plan on eating that as a snack throughout the week.
For even more grocery store success, try these 10 secrets to grocery shopping like a boss.
7. Prep Food
If you can, prep your food as soon as you get home from the store. Chop vegetables for tomorrow’s soup or stir fry, wash lettuce for the week’s salads and even cook a big batch of rice for the week’s dinners. You might also want to press your tofu overnight–here’s how. This will help save you mega time during a busy week.
Not so bad, right? You’ll be eating healthier, fresher and smarter food in no time. Good luck!