How to Make a Meal Plan for Meatless Monday
Preparation is a major key to maintaining a healthy diet. Planning meals for the week ahead allows you to budget your time and resources more effectively, while also helping you control your portions, manage food waste, and avoid turning to unhealthy options and junk food.
Planning out your Meatless Monday meals in advance is also one of the most important and effective ways to ensure you always have delicious plant-based meals available all day. Meal planning can also include choosing a restaurant with plant-based options when you know you won’t have access to premade meals.
But meal planning doesn’t have to be a burden; it can actually be quite gratifying. When you can anticipate a week’s worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, suddenly the stress of putting food on the table disappears, and you can get more enjoyment from the cooking process and experiment with more complex or time-consuming recipes—whether you’re pickling cucumbers, pressing blocks of tofu, marinating slices of eggplant, or making overnight oats.
So what do you need to plan for a week of plant-based cooking? Not much! Our quick guide to prepping meatless meals will make life in the kitchen a lot easier.
Stock Your Pantry and Fridge
There are some ingredients you should have in your kitchen at all times. Things like canned beans, brown rice, corn meal, nut butters, vegetable stock, frozen fruits and vegetables, and dried lentils and peas can be used in different combinations to make thousands of different meals. It’s also a good idea to have different staple sauces and condiments, like honey mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, etc. to quickly bring a pop of flavor to dishes. Try to focus on ingredients that have a long shelf-life so that you don’t have to worry about them spoiling or going bad.
Have the Proper Storage Equipment
You don’t need much to meal prep, but there are some helpful gadgets that will keep your kitchen clean and organized. Stackable plastic containers can be used to keep pre-diced vegetables or other carefully prepped ingredients. Foods like diced onions, canned chickpeas, and cooked whole grains can be mix-and-matched to assemble different recipes. These containers are also helpful for portioning out meals throughout the week.
Select the Number of Meals
This is a good place to start when thinking about your weekly meal prep. Are you cooking for one? Two? A whole family? Breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Don’t overwork yourself right out of the gate, and instead try to focus on one type of meal before branching out into the others. Making big batches of certain recipes—stews, soups, pasta salads, roasted vegetables, burrito fillings, etc., is a great way to prepare when you’re not sure how many meals you need for the week.
Choose Your Recipes
This is the fun part. The essence of meal planning starts with selecting recipes that are special, tasty, and easily prepared. First off, check out all the creative recipes from Meatless Monday. Next, when choosing what to make, consider dishes that utilize similar ingredients. Fresh spinach or kale can be used in salads, but also in pastas, stir-fries, and dips; while canned beans can be made into a chili, veggie patty, or burrito. If you like looking at recipes online, designate a folder on your computer and save liberally so you’re never out of inspiration. To make things even easier, you can check out these plant-based cooking hacks, no-cook recipes, and plant-based meals for when you don’t feel like cooking.
Schedule a Shopping Day
Picking a specific day to get your grocery shopping done makes it easier to stay committed to your meal planning. It also ensures that you’ll have everything you need to start cooking. For example, shopping over the weekend will ensure you have all the ingredients you need to make your Meatless Monday meals in advance. Consider shopping during off-hours to avoid lines and crowds or try an online grocery delivery service.
Prepare Your Ingredients
If you have spare time in the morning, at night, or throughout the day, you can perform some of the tedious prep work before you start cooking. You can store the peeled, chopped, sliced, and grated ingredients in plastic containers and then pull them out of the fridge or freezer when ready. It always helps to have pre-cooked grains or noodles tucked away for a quick and easy meal.
Click here for more Meatless Monday recipes. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.