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Meal Planning For Vegans: In 5 steps

Meal planning is the less sexy cousin of cooking on the fly, but let’s be real—this isn’t Chopped. It’s your very busy life and your real-world kitchen we’re talking about. And the fact is, planning out your meals can actually take a lot of the stress out of one of the most important jobs you do every day: getting delicious, nutritious food from the grocery store shelves to your dinner table. So if you use to think that planning the week’s meals was just something that Type-A folks do for fun (well, there may be some truth in that too), but it doesn’t make it off limits for the rest of us. Meal planning is a smart way to stay organized, save money, and get a wider range of tasty things to your table.

5 Secrets to Make Vegan Meal Planning a Breeze:

1. Say the magic word: “Double!” If you’re already in the kitchen, maximize your effort by cooking more than you need so you have lunch for tomorrow, leftovers to freeze for a rainy day, or components that can be transformed into another dish. Meals like soups, stews, curries, and baked pasta all make fantastic leftovers. If you’re cooking a pot of rice, double it for tomorrow’s fried rice. On Sunday, double that pot of beans, so you’ll have extra on hand for burritos, hearty bowls, and side dishes throughout the week. 

2. Use it or lose it. Take stock of the key items in your fridge or pantry that likely won’t last through the end of the week—that soft avocado, beets from the week before, a bag of baby greens, last night’s leftover brown rice. Now, design meals or sides for the week that feature these ingredients you already have on hand. Whole grain vegan beet burgers with baby greens and homemade avocado based “mayo”. Okay, you don’t always have to smash everything on your list into one dish, but if it works, why not!

3. Oldies but goodies. Being creative can be fun, but it also takes more energy. There’s nothing wrong with having staple meals that you come back to on a regular basis. Family-friendly dishes like sloppy joes or fried rice are classics for a reason. They’re full of flavor and fill hungry bellies without a lot of fuss and prep work. Build a repertoire of staple meals that your family loves, and don’t feel bad about turning those into part of a regular rotation.

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4. Taco Tuesday, anyone? It helps some people to have a weekly blueprint to build their meals on. For instance, Monday can be hearty bowl night. Cook up some rice or quinoa and top with beans, fresh or roasted veggies, avocado, and baked tempeh. Wednesday can be soup night. A big bowl of Classic Chick’n Noodle Soup or Asparagus Soup With “Bacon” can soothe those midweek blues. Plan on a fridge-cleaning meal—like a stir-fry or burritos—for the end of the week to use up odds and ends. Also include one day a week where no one has to cook. You can have leftovers, go out to eat, or order in.

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5. A little help from your friends. We’re not just talking your BFF or neighbor; you’ve got a whole world of resources to rely on for support. Find a few great blogs that focus on easy vegan dishes. Try the our Counter Culture blog, Minimalist Baker, or Meatless Monday website. Look up specific hashtags on Instagram like #vegan or #meatlessmonday to scroll through hundreds of tasty ideas. Don’t forget your favorite cookbooks that might be gathering dust on the shelf—mark them with post-its to remember recipes you want to try. Search for meal planning apps like Yummly or MealBoard that are designed to make your life easier. Finally, create a Pinterest board to keep track of recipes you love. See the power in sharing with friends? You’re not alone with a calendar of 365 days of ideas to fill in the blanks. The recipe inspiration is out there and it’s yours for the taking. With these five secrets in your back pocket, 5:00 no longer has to hit with that daunting question of What’s for Dinner? You’re set with preventative strategies and last-minute resources to enable you to spend more time enjoying the things in your life that matter most (eating delicious meals with the people you love) and less time worrying about what to buy and cook up next.

Happy planning!

Good food is kind to people, animals, the environment, and especially tastebuds. That’s exactly the kind of food we’ve been making at Tofurky for more than 35 years.

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