Do you cringe at the phrase “meal planning”? A lot of people do, and even more so when they think about plant-based meal planning. It’s synonymous with “time-consuming” and implies that your life includes spacious Sundays filled with pouring over cookbooks, strolling farmer’s markets, and spending hours in the kitchen. If this is not your reality, I understand the resistance to meal planning.
Today, let’s look at meal planning in a new way. After all, the purpose of a meal plan is not to torture you, it’s to support you – to set yourself up for more ease and peace. This list of my best meal planning tips will be especially helpful if you’re looking to get more plants on your plate.
5 Tips To Make Plant-based Meal Planning Easier
1. Start with your real life
A supportive meal plan is one that meshes nicely with your real life – chaos and all. Start by looking at your calendar for the upcoming week and determining how many meals you want to plan for. Are there particularly hectic days? Or nights when your time is limited? Plan quick meals or leftovers for those. Is there a night or two when you’ll have a little more space? Plan to cook on those nights.
2. Try grocery delivery or pickup
The pandemic has made grocery delivery and pickup much more accessible and affordable. If you haven’t jumped on the delivery train yet, I highly recommend it. It allows you to do your shopping from the comfort of your couch, in between meetings, or while you wait in the school pickup line. Most services allow you to easily re-purchase staples so you aren’t starting from scratch every time you shop. Check your favorite grocery store’s options or try Instacart, Thrive Market, or Amazon Fresh.
3. Prep ahead
After you’ve planned around your real life and shopped for the week, pencil in time to prep some ingredients in advance. Stay with me – this is much easier than it sounds.
Prep ahead ideas:
- Make a large batch of brown rice in the rice cooker or Instant Pot. (This is hands-off prep.)
- Throw ingredients for a soup in the crockpot, cool, and refrigerate to reheat throughout the week. (Again, hands-off!)
- Roast a big pan of vegetables to throw in bowls, salads, and wraps throughout the week. (Throw them in while you watch your favorite show.)
- Pre-chop vegetables. (No way you’ll have time for this? Keep reading.)
4. Take shortcuts
Forget the pressure to be a made-from-scratch kitchen goddess. Smart women take shortcuts, don’t be afraid to rely on food products that save you time and effort.
Shortcuts worth trying:
- Canned beans
- Frozen cooked grains
- Frozen vegetables and fruits
- Jarred sauces and dressings
- Baked tofu
- Pre-cut produce (Let someone else do the chopping!)
- Frozen bean burger patties
- Frozen edamame beans
- Canned or dried soups dressed up with additional veggies, grains, or beans
5. Find your staples
This is hands-down my most effective tip, so listen up. What are three to five meals that 1) you know how to make by heart, 2) are a hit at the dinner table, and 3) you always have ingredients on hand for? Adding these effortless staples into your weekly rotation (at least two meals each week should be from this category) will help mealtime feel less overwhelming and so much easier.
My staples include Chickpea Noodle Soup, 3-Ingredient Bean Burgers, and Tofu Scramble.
Don’t have staples yet? Grab your copy of the Plant-based Meal Plan Starter Guide – it’s full of easy, delicious recipe ideas.