Plant based meal planning

Contents

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Eating for Health and Longevity
A Practical Guide to Adding More Whole, Plant-Based Foods to Your Diet

PDF of Guide to Eating for Health and Longevity

Regardless of whether you seek to stay healthy, improve your health, or even reverse chronic disease, we have terrific, evidence-based news: transitioning to a diet rich in plant foods can help you achieve your goal. Millions of people have successfully made this transition and so can you by using this Beginner’s Guide as a launch pad and guide post for your path to optimal health. Compelling scientific evidence highlights that the best diet for optimal health is a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet. Whole foods occur naturally and are unrefined (i.e., unprocessed), or only minimally refined. More specifically, a WFPB diet is a type of vegetarian diet that:

  • Emphasizes eating plants (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds)
  • Discourages eating refined carbohydrates (such as white rice, white bread, and pastries) and other foods that have been stripped of their nutrients (extracted oils, fruit juice, many prepared and convenience foods)
  • Minimizes, or completely avoids, eating meat (red meats, poultry, fish/seafood) or other animal products (such as eggs and dairy)

Please note that a vegan diet is exclusively plant-based and does not include any animal products at all. In contrast to a WFPB diet, however, a vegan diet may include refined grains, refined sweeteners, extracted oils, and highly processed foods. To maintain our focus on health, we prefer to use the term WFPB based diet instead of vegan diet.

Almost half of Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease, but many of these diseases are preventable. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are directly related to lifestyle factors including poor diet, inadequate exercise, tobacco use, and excess alcohol. The food we choose to eat can lead us either to disease or to vibrant health and longer life.

Extensive research has shown the impressive health benefits of eating more whole, plant-based foods while also decreasing or eliminating consumption of animal products. Studies have shown that WFPB diets can prevent diabetes and heart disease and, in some cases, even reverse these conditions. Plus, following a WFPB diet is one of the best ways to lose excess weight and keep the weight off.

Despite the health benefits of WFPB eating, it can be difficult at first to change what we eat. Obstacles can be cultural, social, financial, and just plain lack of knowledge. We hope to bridge the knowledge gap with this practical guide for transitioning to a WFPB diet as a path to better health. We hope this guide and the evidence-based resources on our website answer your questions and address your concerns. Cheers to health and happiness for a lifetime!

Sincerely yours,
The SUNY Downstate Committee on Plant-based Health & Nutrition

Are you interested in eating a more plant-based diet? I wrote this guide to help get you started!

What Is A Plant-Based Diet?

A plant based diet is just as it sounds – a diet that emphasizes plant-based foods.

However…

…it is not necessarily a strict vegan or vegetarian diet.

“Plant-based” can mean that most of your diet is plant-derived, but that you also supplement your diet with eggs, fish, and small amounts of meat.

A plant-based diet should also be focused on unprocessed foods.

In a perfect world, all of our food would be made fresh (right before we eat it) with freshly-harvested ingredients. As fruits and vegetables are stored or processed, they start losing nutrients. For example, a freshly made soup will have more nutrients than a canned soup. A freshly made marinara sauce, made in your blender, will have more nutrients than a marinara sauce from a jar.

Unfortunately, I just don’t have that much time to spend in the kitchen. None of us do!

So as much as possible, I try to eat as many raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that I can. I choose brown rice over white rice. I’ll buy quinoa over couscous. And while I’m not much of a bread eater, when I do, it’s whole grain (or sprouted grain).

And when I buy canned or package foods out of convenience, I go for minimally-processed options. If it has additives like food coloring, preservatives, added sugars, or anything else that I don’t expect (don’t put palm oil in my peanut butter!) – I don’t buy it.

When you grocery shop, read nutrition labels.

Learn how to build a plant-based diet grocery shopping list.

Plant-based diets are not just about eating fruits and vegetables!

Some people think that a plant-based diet is eating nothing but fruits and vegetables, or trying to subsist on lots of salad and leafy greens. This isn’t the case at all! There are LOTS of different foods that you can eat on a plant-based diet in addition to fruits and vegetables including brown rice, quinoa, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Best of all, you can use these ingredients to make familiar dishes that are much, much healthier than their processed counterparts because YOU control how much sugar, salt, and fat that goes into your food – and YOU control what is added (or not added) to your food. You don’t have that level of control with processed foods.

Eat locally and with the seasons (within reason).

A lot of people who promote a plant-based diet advocate eating locally, or eating with the seasons. I think that this is generally great advice, as seasonal foods are freshest and most nutritionally dense. And buying food that was grown/raised locally supports farmers in your own area. It’s fantastic for the local economy.

But I am also not at all opposed to eating bananas, pineapples, and mangoes (I live in Upstate NY), nor will I turn my nose up at frozen strawberries in January! Find a balance that works for you, but try to eat locally and seasonally most of the time.

Health Benefits Of A Plant-Based Diet

I have followed a plant-based diet since early 2008 and it has transformed my health. With a combination of green smoothies and unprocessed foods, I have lost 40 pounds and my cholesterol dropped 45 points (it was flagged as “high” when I was just 23 years old). I have so much more energy in my 30s than I did in my 20s. I find that I can easily maintain my ideal weight.

Here are some of the key benefits of a plant-based diet:

Weight Loss

Plant-based foods are packed with nutrition and fiber, yet they are not calorie dense. This means that you can eat hearty portions of plant-based whole foods without feeling like you are on a diet.

It is also very difficult to overeat since the fiber bulks up your meal so you automatically consume fewer calories.

Read my 3-step guide to losing weight with green smoothies and plant-based, whole foods.

Higher Nutrition

Plant-based foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Making your own soups, sauces, and other meals means that you are eating fresher, more nutrient-dense meals.

Packaged and processed foods are less nutritious than their fresh counterparts because many nutrients diminish when processed and stored on supermarket shelves.

Read my in-depth guide to plant-based nutrition.

More Energy

Most people report an increase of energy when eating more plant-based, whole foods. Part of this has to do with boosted nutrition as plant-based foods provide more energy-producing vitamins.

Another possible reason for an increase of energy is that this diet is easier on the digestive system. This frees up energy for other things.

High Fiber

Plants are high in fiber. Eating a plant-based diet makes it super-easy to meet dietary fiber intake guidelines every single day. This helps support gut and colon health.

Disease Prevention

Countless studies show that people who eat more servings of fruits and vegetables, and a diet that is higher in fiber, may reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and obesity.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables (and fiber) also supports gastrointestinal health, vision, and helps meet nutritional needs.

Potentially Therapeutic

Many fruits and vegetables, as well as some nuts and seeds, may contain components that have been shown to be protective or even mildly therapeutic for certain medical conditions. Diets higher in fruits and vegetables have been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, while lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

I could write a whole book on this as there is too much information to cover in this article regarding the health benefits of plant-based eating.

However, we have a section on our website that features recipes based on scientific studies that may provide benefit for or protection against common health problems.

Simple & Convenient (But Also Tasty!)

I hear this excuse a lot, and I have used it myself: “But I don’t have time to make all my meals from scratch…”

There is a misconception that eating a plant-based diet means that you will spend hours in the kitchen cooking everything from scratch. This is not the case at all. It really doesn’t have to take a lot of time to make healthy, plant-based meals. If you have the right recipes, you can eat healthy, delicious meals that take minutes to prepare.

Green smoothies are one of the quickest and easiest meals to make. Toss some fresh fruits in a blender with a couple handfuls of leafy greens, a tablespoon of flaxseed or chia seeds, and a scoop of protein powder and zzzzzzzzzzip! – breakfast or lunch in under a minute.

Here are 25 of the best green smoothie recipes that you will ever taste!

Whole foods snacks are quick and easy, too. Almond butter on celery, a piece of fruit, or my peanut butter cup pudding, (pictured above) take little time to prepare.

And for dinner? Planning ahead makes dinner a breeze. Did you know that you can cook up a large batch of brown rice or quinoa, then portion it out and freeze it for later use? I do this all the time so that I can make quinoa salads, maki rolls, and re-fried black bean-quinoa tostados in minutes.

If you have the right recipes and plan your meals, a plant-based diet is not only super healthy, but super convenient as well.

Big Picture Eating vs. Eating For Nutrients/Counting Calories/Carbs/Etc…

While there is a lot of conflicting health information out there – especially in the natural health movement, most experts agree that we all should:

  • Eat more plants and plant-based foods,
  • Avoid or limit processed foods,
  • Reduce or eliminate added sugars,
  • Drink water, coconut water, or tea in place of fruit juice or sweetened beverages,
  • Move your body (exercise),
  • Get adequate sleep,
  • And try to eliminate, reduce, or manage stress that plays a major role in destroying your health.

If you follow these basic principles, you will be much healthier than you were before.

Instead of fretting about the quantity of calories and carbohydrates, focus on quality. Nutritionally, there is a big difference between a 100-calorie slice of pizza and a 100-calorie apple. And when you are not eating pasta and cookies, a high-carb, whole foods diet will result in weight loss and better health over the long term.

Instead of worrying about every tiny detail or chasing after “THE perfect diet”, take a big-picture approach. Keep it simple and sustainable.

But Isn’t A Plant-Based Diet Super Expensive?

A lot of people think that switching over to a plant-based, whole foods way of eating is cost-prohibitive. Just walk into any health food store and you will quickly get sticker shock when you see just how much organic groceries can cost.

Keep in mind, however, that you are not buying extra food on top of what you currently buy. Instead, you should be replacing unhealthy packaged, processed foods with healthy, unprocessed versions. And no, you don’t have to buy everything from the expensive grocery store that many have dubbed “Whole Paycheck”.

And let’s face it – most of the boxed and pre-packaged foods in grocery stores are, in fact, more expensive than a bag of quinoa or black beans, and even most fruits and vegetables. A frozen pizza provides 1-2 meals. But a bag of quinoa will make dozens of servings or more, and often, the bag of quinoa is cheaper than the frozen pizza.

Joining a warehouse club like Costco or BJ’s is an excellent way to save money while buying whole food ingredients. I buy a lot of my organic produce and pantry staples (rice, quinoa, etc…) from BJ’s. I also use Thrive Market to save up to 50% off my pantry staples.

Read more tips on saving money while eating healthy.

So How Do I Eat?

I get asked this question a LOT. People really want to know exactly what I eat in a day. What diet do I follow? What do I think about certain foods, or dietary concepts?

If you want to know how I lost 40 pounds, dropped my cholesterol by 45 points, and rocked a flat stomach in my 30s, then take a look at my Reset 28 Program for Energy & Weight Loss where I spell it all out, while coaching you through the process.

Since 2011, I have coached thousands of people through amazing transformations with green smoothies and plant-based, whole foods.

If you like this, please share!

The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Plant-Based Diet (When You Have Kidney Disease)

By Gretchen Wiese, RD and Kathleen Hill Gallant, PhD, RD

Why start a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet includes eating more plant foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), and healthy plant oils (such as olive or canola) and less animal foods like dairy, eggs, fish, and meat. Growing evidence shows that plant-based diets may help prevent health problems like heart disease and further kidney damage in people with kidney disease. Some studies say that people living with kidney disease who followed a plant-based diet lived longer than those whose diets were more animal-based. However, starting a plant-based diet does not mean that you need to become a vegetarian and cut all sources of animal protein from your diet. One study has shown that swapping out animal protein with plant protein at two out of three meals per day may be enough to provide health benefits of a plant-based diet in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Tips for starting a plant-based diet

Like all lifestyle changes, it is important to start slowly. Try making one change at a time and build up to your goal. Be sure to let your doctor know you are interested in making a shift to a plant-based diet. A registered dietitian can help guide you through diet changes that work best for your individual needs. Some starting steps:

  • Replace animal sources of protein (beef, fish, dairy) with plant sources of protein (legumes, nuts, soy, tofu, or grains) at a meal or snack.
  • Replace more processed grain products with whole grain products.
  • Keep track of the calories and protein you eat daily to make sure you are meeting your needs.

What to look for on the nutrition facts label

There are a few things to watch out for when following a plant-based diet with kidney disease:

  • Serving Sizes: We tend to eat more than one serving of many food. Pay attention to the amount of protein, calories, and important minerals (like sodium and potassium) per serving of a food product.
  • Sodium and Potassium: Some minerals may be out of balance in your body due to lower kidney function. Pay attention to the amount of potassium and sodium on the nutrition label. Large amounts of potassium can be found in some fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. Large amounts of sodium can be found in some soy-based or other plant-based meat substitutes (such as soy-based burgers, hot dogs, or deli meats).

Typical Serving Sizes of Plant Protein

Listed below are sources of plant protein that you can start to include in your diet:

Protein swap-outs

Below are some ideas for swapping sources of animal protein for plant protein: Animal Protein Calories Protein (grams) Plant Protein Calories Protein (grams)

Hamburger patty (3.5 oz.)

20

Soy burger patty (3.5 oz.)

1 Hardboiled egg

6

1/4 cup almonds

2 tablespoons cream cheese

1.2

2 tablespoons peanut butter

Atlantic Cod (3.5 oz.)

18

Tofu, firm (3 oz.)

3-Day Whole Food Plant-Based Meal Plan

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I know when you’re just starting out on a plant-based diet it can feel overwhelming. Where do you even begin? This 3 Day Whole Food Plant-Based Meal Plan was created from 3 days of what I ate in everyday life. I hope this points you in the right direction and inspires you to give plant-based eating a try. Rest assured that a whole food plant-based diet is sustainable, delicious, healthy and much easier than you think.

Why Are you Doing This?

What’s your reason for wanting to eat a plant-based diet? It for your health? For animal welfare? To lose weight? It can help to nail down your why then keep that reason front and center in your mind.

Start Slow and Keep Going

If you want to reduce the amount of meat you eat, eating plant-based a couple times a week is a great place to start. This 3-day meal plan could be broken up and used Monday, Wednesday, Friday or 3 days in a row, or mixed and matched in any way that works for you.

As much as I’d love people to embrace a plant-based diet I know that may not be realistic for beginners or those coming from a diet heavily based around animal products, however, something is always better than nothing and I’d love to show you just how easy, fun and delicious eating vegan can be, even if it’s just a couple times a week with the goal of moving towards a completely plant-based diet.

What is a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet?

As we go through this vegan meal plan, keep in mind that the focus here is a whole food plant-based diet. That means we’re not eating processed foods or refined grains and sugars and instead focusing on whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. That’s just what a whole food plant-based diet is all about, eating whole, real foods and avoiding highly refined processed foods.

Here are the food groups that make up this meal plan:

  • whole grains
  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • legumes (including soy)
  • fermented foods

There is no dairy, no eggs and no meat and this particular meal plan is based on all whole foods. Processed meat and dairy alternatives have a time and a place and can certainly be helpful when you’re transitioning but just like all processed foods, they should be eaten in moderation, if at all.

That being said, there are some amazing dairy-alternatives available today such as coconut yogurt and cashew cheese that can certainly be included in a whole food diet. Reading ingredient lists can help you determine if a packaged food is or isn’t a good choice.

Ingredients to Avoid

  • hydrogenated oils
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • sucralose and aspartame
  • artificial flavours
  • artificial colours (may just be listed as “blue”, for example)
  • preservatives such as BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydrozyttoluen), TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone)

The easiest way to avoid these ingredients is to breeze past the processed food aisle and straight to the whole foods. There are also many ways to make healthy alternatives to your favourite processed foods, so if you feel like you’re not ready to give certain things up, try investigating a homemade healthier version and giving that a try instead.

You can also review my vegan grocery list for more tips on shopping as a plant-based eater.

Vegan Meal Plan or Whole Food Plant-Based?

This particular plan is both vegan and whole food plant-based. What’s the difference? Well, someone who is vegan may not necessarily eat a whole food plant-based diet. You could subsist on Oreos, vegan meat alternatives and chips if you wanted but you’re not going to feel very good or get enough micronutrients in your diet.

What does Vegan Mean?

On the other hand, someone who is whole food plant-based may not be vegan. Veganism is the practice of minimizing harm to all animals by abstaining from animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, gelatin, lanolin, wool, fur, silk, suede, and leather. It is more than a diet, it is a way of living that seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

What Does Plant-based mean?

A plant-based diet, on the other hand, is just about the food. You can pretty much guess what it’s all about from the name. If you eat a plant-based diet you may not necessarily be vegan and you might have other reasons for eating that way than just compassion.

Choose Both!

Does that make sense? The terms are used fairly interchangeably these days though and that’s ok. I eat plant-based because I whole-heartedly believe in the health benefits but I also do my best to reduce harm in all areas of my life.

My dietary choice to leave animals and animal products off my plate started from a place of compassion but the more I learned and researched over the years, lead me to the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Today it’s very much both health and compassion as well as my desire to reduce my environmental impact.

Whole Food Plant-Based Meal Plan

A note about this meal plan

I’m including everything I ate and drank, including supplements, tea, coffee and snacks during 3 days of real life. The only thing I didn’t include is water, of which I drink around 3 or 4 liters a day. Rather than an exact plan, this is more of a guideline to act as an inspiration to create your own plant-based meals. I hope you find this helpful!

Calories and Macronutrients

The meal plan below consists of approximately 2300 calories per day with a ratio of 50% carbs, 20% protein and 30% fat. If you need more food than this, increase the serving sizes or add an additional snack, if you need less food, reduce the serving sizes and/or omit the snacks. This might be on the higher side for most people however I’m highly active and training in the gym 6 days a week so this works for me. This is about how much I eat when I want to maintain my weight.

If you’re interested in vegan flexible dieting you can find all my posts on the topic here.

Mix and Match as Needed

You can mix and match the snacks listed below with other ideas from my list of Easy Vegan Snack Ideas. For more breakfast ideas, check out my list of Healthy Vegan Breakfast Recipes. For lunch inspiration, check out No Recipe Required: Easy Vegan Meal Ideas. At the end of the meal plan, I’ve included more ideas for plant-based meals and snacks.

Plant-Based Meal Plan Day 1

Upon Rising (Pre-Workout)

  • 1 L of warm water with lemon
  • Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee
  • Omega-3 with EPA and DHA (I use NutraVeg), Vitamin B12, Vegan Vitamin D3

Breakfast

Veggie Hash: 100 grams each of cooked sweet potato, kale, cooked lentils, mushrooms and bell peppers. Cooked over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Topped with Chipotle Sauce and kelp granules.

Tip: adding seaweed such as kelp to your diet is a great way to get enough iodine.

Blueberry and Mango Smoothie: 140 grams of frozen blueberries, 70 grams of frozen mango, a handful of spinach, 4-5 slices of cucumber, 1 serving vegan protein powder (can be replaced with 1/2 a frozen banana), 1 tbsp ground flax and 1 cup of almond milk, or more if needed to get it to blend.

You can substitute any frozen fruit, any plant-based milk or water and any plant-based protein you like. I like my adaptogens and superfoods, so I also added spriulina, ashwaganda and holy basil. Read more about that here.

Tip: check out my vegan protein smoothies e-book for 66 amazing smoothie recipes.

Snack

1 Apple and Mixed Raw Nuts

Lunch

Vegetable Chickpea Chowder: I’d made this for dinner the night before so I had the leftovers for lunch today. This is an awesome recipe that’s very flavourful and easy to make. Get the recipe here.

Small Salad: I also had a small salad with greens, grated carrot, a few black beans, a few pumpkin seeds, sliced cucumber and a drizzle of tahini and lemon.

Tip: pumpkin seeds are a great source of antioxidants, iron, zinc and magnesium.

Snack

Whole Wheat English Muffin: I had half with smashed avocado, sea salt and broccoli sprouts and half with almond butter. You could do the same on toast or crackers.

Dinner

Farro Salad: I followed the recipe for my Mediterranean Farro Salad which has farro, kale, olives, parsley, roasted red peppers, tomato, chickpeas, onions and tahini sauce. I also added tofu feta.

Evening Supplements

  • Magnesium

Drinks Throughout the Day

  • Licorice Root Tea
  • Homemade matcha latte with almond milk
  • Kombucha
  • Nighty Night Tea

Tip: read about how to improve your sleep for better health.

Plant-Based Meal Plan Day 2

Upon Rising (Pre-Workout)

  • 1 L of warm water with apple cider vinegar
  • Matcha tea
  • Omega-3, Vitamin B12, Vegan Vitamin D3

Breakfast

Stovetop Oatmeal: I cooked 1/2 cup of rolled oats in water with 1 tbsp of chia seeds, 1 tbsp ground flax, 3/4 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup grated zucchini and half a scoop of plant-based vanilla protein powder. Cook it over the stovetop until the oats are soft and it has thickened, then add your toppings. I topped it with peanut butter.

For more oatmeal recipes try my sauteed apple oatmeal, carrot zucchini pumpkin oatmeal, blueberry oatmeal, chocolate oatmeal or simple banana oatmeal.

Snack

Strawberry Smoothie: Blend 1 cup of frozen strawberries with a handful of spinach, a few pieces of steamed then frozen cauliflower, a chunk of fresh ginger, 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder and almond milk or water. I also added maca and chlorella. You can read more about these in my post on the best superfoods to add to smoothies.

Lunch

Leftover Farro Salad: The beauty of making healthy dinners at home is you always have lunch ready for the next day.

Snack

Nutty “Cereal”: To make this, add up to 1/2 a cup of various nuts, seeds, coconut and dried fruit to a small dish and top with a splash of almond milk. You can add a bit of fresh fruit too if you like. If you don’t want to add the milk, just enjoy it as trail mix.

Dinner

Quick and Easy Zoodles: Spiralize zucchini then add it to a pan and saute it for a few minutes in some water or stock. Pour your choice of pasta sauce over it, heat it through then add it to a bowl and top with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.

Other Supplements

  • Magnesium

Other Drinks

  • Eater’s Digest Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Kombucha

Plant-Based Meal Plan Day 3

Upon Rising (Pre-Workout)

  • 1 L warm water with apple cider vinegar
  • Yerba Mate tea
  • Omega-3, Vitamin B12, Vegan Vitamin B12
  • Spelt toast with 1/2 banana and almond butter

Breakfast

Chickpea Flour Pancakes: I followed my recipe for chickpea flour pancakes and topped them with thawed frozen raspberries, peanut butter, date caramel sauce and a sprinkling of hemp seeds.

Lunch

Easy Macro Bowl: Because I did food prep ahead of time, it was easy to make a quick macro bowl for lunch. I used a base of quinoa and topped it with massaged kale, roasted sweet potato, roasted brussel sprouts, sauerkraut, baked tofu, kidney beans, tahini, hot sauce, salt, pepper, lemon. Mix and match your choice of grain, legume and veggies to create your own macro bowl.

For more easy bowls try my Vegan BBQ Tofu Bowls, Roasted Potato Avocado Buddha Bowls, Vegan Sweet Potato Tofu Bowls or Brown Rice Burrito Bowl.

Snack

Blueberry Pineapple Smoothie Bowl: I blended 1 cup of frozen blueberries, 1 cup of frozen pineapple chunks, 1/2 a steamed and frozen sliced zucchini, 1/2 a frozen banana and 1 rib of celery with 1 scoop of plant-based protein powder and then topped it with almond butter, walnuts and hemp seeds.

Dinner

Coconut Red Lentil Dahl: I make this dish often and it’s one of the most popular recipes on the blog. I added some kale, diced carrots and diced zucchini and served it with a scoop of brown rice and lots of cilantro. Get the recipe here.

Other Supplements

  • Magnesium

Other Drinks

  • Liquorice Spice Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Americano misto with almond milk

Plant-Based Can Be Simple

I hope that this meal plan points you in the right direction when it comes to creating a full day of plant-based meals. To be honest, it doesn’t even have to be that complicated. A plant-based diet can be as simple or as elaborate as you decide to make it.

Sometimes it might be amazing plant-based diet recipes and sometimes its throwing leftover veggies and lentils in a bowl. There’s no right or wrong answer. As long as you’re eating a wide range of whole plant foods, you’re all set.

I’ve listed more meal ideas below. You can also check out my One-Week Vegan Meal Plan for further inspiration.

Plant-Based Breakfast Ideas

For breakfast, think oats, smoothies, granola, tofu scrambles and toast. You can also check out my list of healthy breakfast smoothies and easy, healthy vegan breakfast recipes.

Dairy-Free Yogurt Parfaits. Layer non-dairy yogurt such as Silk, So Delicious or Yoso in a bowl with berries, banana, nuts and seeds.

Sweet potato or squash breakfast bowls. Add some mashed sweet potato or squash to a bowl and top with things like nuts, seeds, coconut, yogurt, peanut butter and granola.Try my Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls or Stuffed Acorn Squash Breakfast Bowls.

Toast, Bagels and English Muffins. Top you choice of bread with nut butter or tahini and layer with things like sliced apple or banana, seeds. If you’re not doing nut butter, go for avocado. You can keep it simple with plain avocado or combine it with hummus and something like broccoli sprouts. Chickpea scrambles are great on toast too. You can also try my Hummus Avocado Toast or Smashed White Bean Avocado Toast.

Easy Breakfast Wraps. Roll a tortilla up with a quick chickpea or tofu scramble, roasted sweet potato, spinach and avocado. To make it more substantial, add a Field Roast sausage. Try my Vegan Sweet Potato Breakfast Burritos, Healthy Vegan Breakfast Burritos, Vegan Black Bean Burritos with Red Rice or Vegan Breakfast Burrito Bowl with Chipotle Sauce.

Chia Pudding & Overnight Oats. Chia pudding and overnight oats, or a combo of the two are great for food prep. They take just minute to make the night before and then they’re ready to go in the morning. Try one of these chia seed pudding recipes or my brownie batter, zucchini chocolate chip or carrot cake overnight oats.

Granola and Fruit. Store-bought granola makes an easy option but granola is also a breeze ot make at home. Try my peanut butter granola or Cinnamon Raisin Healthy Homemade Granola with almond milk and banana.

Oatmeal. You can’t go wrong with oatmeal or porridge of any kind. I love using quinoa for porridge and brown rice is really good too. I usually combine my oats with chia seed or flax and some protein to create a more balanced meal. For toppings, use nuts, seeds, fruit, nut butters, coconut, dried fruit and cacao. Try my peaches and cream oatmeal, peanut butter blueberry oatmeal, Golden Coconut Apple Oatmeal or Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal.

Plant-Based Lunch Ideas

For lunch, think leftovers, sandwiches and wraps, soups and salad bowls.

Sandwiches and Wraps. Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Try vegan cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato and cucumber or vegan “tuna” salad. Slabs of marinated baked tofu or crispy tempeh slices work well in sandwiches too, try them with lettuce, tomato and coconut bacon. If you don’t want to do a bread, you can use romaine lettuce or collard greens to make veggie wraps. Vegan maya, avocado and hummus work great as spreads in sandwiches.

Quick Salads. You can buy packaged salad greens if that makes things easier. Add a few big handfuls to a bowl and top with a scoop of quinoa, chickpeas, grated carrot, sunflower seeds and tahini.

Soups. Soups are perfect for easy lunches if you make them ahead of time. I have so many good ones on the blog. Try my chickpea chowder, wild rice cauliflower soup, Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup, Healthy Kale and Cauliflower Soup or tortilla soup.

Plant-Based Dinner Ideas

Dinners are where things get really yummy! Curries, pasta, pizza, burgers, tacos, noodles, rice…there are so many options.

Check out my list of easy and healthy vegan dinner recipes or try one of the ideas below.

Tacos. Try easy tacos with lentil meat, lettuce, avocado and carrot. Lentil tostadas are good too!

Pizza. Grab a store-bought pizza crust and layer it up with tomato sauce, veggies and grated vegan cheese.

Curries. Try my quick chickpea curry, panang curry, easy green curry or Thai red curry.

Burgers. Try my much-loved chickpea veggie burger.

Stir-Fry. You can’t go wrong with a big veggie stir-fry! I like to add tofu and serve them over rice or quinoa. Good veggies for stir-fries include bok choy, celery, broccoli, carrot and snap peas.

Pasta. Pasta is the easiest dinner, all you need is pasta and sauce. In fact one of my fave quick dinners is just pasta, store-bought sauce, red pepper flakes and nutritional yeast. For something a little different, try this pumpkin penne.

Salads. If you’ve been by the blog before, you’ve probably noticed I love interesting and delicious salads. There’s no need for salads to be boring! Check out my 28 Healthy Vegan Salad Recipes for an epic list of salads to try.

Creating Plant-Based Meals

When you’re creating plant-based meals, think about combining the three macronutrients, fat, carbs and protein. This helps create more balanced meals that will prevent a spike in blood sugar and help keep you fuller for longer.

Fats

Fat comes from nuts, seeds, soy, coconut, avocado and cacao.

Carbohydrates

Carbs come from beans, starchy vegetables (sweet potato, potato etc.), whole grains such as rice, quinoa and whole grain products like pasta and bread.

Also consider fiber. Fiber is very important for digestion and gut health, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and more. A good place to start is 25 grams a day but that’s the minimum so try to work your way up from there. High-fibre foods include fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains and whole grain products.

Protein

Protein comes from hemp seeds, beans and lentils, nuts, soy products such as tofu, tempeh and edamame, whole grains and if needed, plant-based protein powder. Read my post on the best vegan protein sources.

You can use the macro cheat below to help you build a more balanced diet.

Easy Plant-Based Desserts

Some of my favourite vegan treats are these 3-ingredient oatmeal cookies, flourless peanut butter cookies, tahini date cookies and peanut butter blondies but dessert doesn’t always have to be a recipe.

Some of my favourite simple vegan desserts are:

Chocolate Avocado Pudding. Blend together avocado, maple syrup or dates and cocoa powder.

Quick Baked Apple and Cinnamon. Chop up an apple and place in an oven safe dish and bake with cinnamon until soft. You can enjoy as is or top it with things like coconut butter, cacao nibs or almond butter. This is delicious with pears too, try them in this recipe for cinnamon baked pears.

Raw Vegan Chocolates. Use the recipe for the chocolate portion of my vegan peanut butter cups and freeze in silicone muffin cups or just spread on parchment paper to make a quick chocolate bar.

Protein Cookie Dough. Blend chickpeas with vanilla protein powder, a little maple syrup, peanut butter and pinch of sea salt. You can use powdered peanut butter to and add a bit of water to thin it out.

2-Minute Cookie Dough. Use the recipe for the cookie dough topping portion of my tiramisu smoothie and just eat it as is or crumble it over some blended frozen banana or non-dairy yogurt.

Stuffed Dates. My all-time favourite. Take a big, soft date, stuff it with peanut butter, almond butter, tahini or coconut butter and enjoy. You can also sneak a nut in there or better yet, coat them in vegan chocolate.

Those are just a few ideas. I could go on forever so I’m going to leave it at that today.

Helpful Resources

Before you begin your meal plan I wanted to stare a few resources you might find helpful. I would highly recommend browsing through these posts so you feel more confident getting into the meal plan below. In particular, read my vegan nutrition guide, resources for plant-based nutrition, tips for plant-based beginners and how to transition to a plant-based diet.

Plant-Based Eating Articles

  • Healthy Eating on a Budget
  • Beginner Tips for Eating a Plant-Based Diet
  • Weekly Meal Prep Posts
  • No Recipe Required: Easy Vegan Meal Ideas
  • How to Transition to a Plant-Based Diet
  • Vegan Nutrition Guide
  • Best Vegan Protein Sources
  • Vegan Options to Replace Dairy in Your Diet
  • Vegan Grocery List

Plant-Based Nutrition Books

Educating yourself on plant-based nutrition makes it that much easier to stick to it. In addition to the books below, I would recommend checking out my favourite podcasts and this list of plant-based resources.

  • Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
  • The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted
  • How Not to Die
  • Becoming Vegan: The Everyday Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
  • Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss
  • Plant Strong: Discover the World’s Healthiest Diet
  • Program for Reversing Diabetes

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve got an idea of what a day of plant-based eating looks like, come on over and join my FREE closed Facebook group for more inspiration.

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Plant Based Meal Planning 101 for Beginners and Chefs

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Out of the many hurdles of starting a plant-based diet, coming up with easy, tasty recipes and a nutritionally sound meal plan for every day is one of the main ones. Few people know which foods to choose for a well-rounded meal and are almost intimidated to get into plant-based meal planning.

But does it really have to be so complicated? Sure, there are a few new principles to learn if you’re coming from a non-vegan diet or have lived off of ready-made meals in the past. We have gotten behind them over the years of being healthy vegans and they definitely made our lives easier – which is why we are so keen on sharing them in this article with you.

Whether you’re already into meal planning and want to transition towards a plant-based diet or you’re already a vegan and want to reap the benefits of meal planning, this will be incredibly helpful. Having this information laid out so it’s easy to understand and put into action can be a game-changer. But first things first.

Reasons for Meal Planning

Plant-based meal planning is a little more complicated in the beginning compared to just cooking up random meals. So, why the heck should you even bother and educate yourself on how to meal plan properly? Well, it can offer you more benefits than you might think.

How Would You Like:

  • A fuss-free week
  • Less decision making and overthinking meals
  • Easier shopping and a lower grocery bill
  • Effortlessly sticking to healthy habits
  • Easily meeting individual nutritional needs
  • Trying new recipes
  • Having a plan for your weight loss or weight gain
  • Knowing what works best for you
  • Keeping yourself accountable by having all the ingredients and meals on hand

Best Plant-Based Meal Planning Tips

Before we’re getting right into the vegan meat of the matter, there are a few tips to consider that can make your meal planning journey a lot easier, less frightening, and much more exciting! We really want you to succeed and this means that you’re enjoying the process as well as the results here.

Here Are Our Top Starting Tips

1. Keep a food journal to track which meals you and your family liked as well as how much effort or time they require, so you know if and when to include them in your next meal plan.

2. Go for easy meals in the beginning, maybe just 3-4 ingredients each. An example would be rice, beans, broccoli, and avocado. These dishes don’t require a lot of cooking skills or time to prepare and can be batch-cooked easily.

3. Speaking of which, start batch cooking single ingredients for fast meals. Think beans that can be eaten with rice, in a soup, salad, or pureed and grains which can be used for stir-fries, salads, stews, bowls, or breakfast porridge.

4. Look out for recipes you could easily double for leftovers to take to lunch like chili, soups, or bean burgers.

5. Plan meals you’re already familiar with, replacing the animal-based foods with vegan counterparts like tofu slices for chicken and pureed beans for cream cheese.

6. Ask your partner or kids what they would like to eat so that everyone’s happy with what will be on the table.

7. Keep collecting recipes that look interesting and try a new one every week when you have more time. You can use the internet for some inspiration!

8. Also, keep a list of recipes that work well for yourself and your family so you can remember what to plan for the next weeks.

9. Finally, get creative with new combinations and think outside of the box to keep things exciting! Soba noodle salad, anyone?

Choosing Your Plant-Based Food

There are a few things to consider when choosing the foods which you will include in your meal plan. Again, keep these in mind to make the process more enjoyable and fun! So, for your plant-based meal planning, make sure you…

  • Go for the foods you already like before buying a huge bag of Brussel’s sprouts or rhubarb
  • Add variety through different flavorings and spices, such as curry paste, paprika, Italian herbs, mustard, soy sauce, or BBQ sauce
  • Use what you have at home to save money and avoid wasting any food
  • Keep a running list of what you need so you won’t forget anything and stay well-stocked
  • Make a grocery list to go shopping every week
  • Go for bulk sections & seasonal produce to save some money
  • Adjust your meal plan to your taste, season, and what’s cheapest to buy in your area
  • Look out for frozen or pre-cut/pre-shredded produce and canned legumes to make your life easier

Next, let’s stock up your kitchen! How else would you be able to choose from a nice variety of tasty, healthy, and versatile foods to use in your meal plan?

We’re looking for filling staples such as rice, beans, millet, quinoa, lentils, whole grain pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and corn. For condiments and add-ons, you can also get your favorites nuts and seeds.

Add fresh or frozen produce to these starchy staples. It’s always good to have some leafy greens in the fridge, along with tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, cruciferous vegetables, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms. Choose what you like the most and what’s available to you! Frozen berries are always a good option, so are bananas, dates, apples, and oranges.

For our condiments and flavorings, we like having some soy milk (or other plant-based milk), soy yogurt, mustard, ketchup, hot sauce, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, maple syrup, vinegar, lemon juice and a bunch of spices.

Extra tip: Have a steady supply of snacks in the house, such as fruit, nuts, and crackers!

Let’s Get Into Meal Planning!

Now that you’ve learned about some of the most important foundations, we can get into the planning-it-all-out part. When coming up with a concept for a meal plan, we like to focus on the following guidelines.

Make sure your meals are:

  • Nutrient-dense
  • Low in added fat, salt & sugar
  • Rich in fiber
  • Filling & satisfying
  • Based on starches
  • Adequate to meet your caloric & nutritional needs

This might seem a little abstract to you right now, so we wanted to give you a clearer picture of what your meals should look like. When looking at the different food categories, here’s how you could make sweet or savory well-rounded vegan meals.

Breakfast Blueprint

Pick one or more of each category – for advanced plant munchers, feel free to add some vegetables like spinach or frozen cauliflower to your smoothies.

1. Starches

Oats, bread, cereal, hash browns, pancakes

2. Fruit

Fresh, dried, frozen such as berries, apples, bananas

3. Legumes

Soy milk, soy yogurt, tofu (for scramble), peanut butter

4. Nuts and Seeds

Flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almond butter

Lunch & Dinner Blueprint

Again, pick one or several examples of each category – depending on your energy or weight goals, you can choose to incorporate more vegetables or nuts.

Potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, couscous, bulgur, millet

Leafy greens, broccoli, bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms

Beans, lentils, tofu, soy milk, hummus, tempeh

4. Add-Ons

Nuts, seeds, nut or seed butter, fruit, sauces, spices, condiments

As for snacks, there are no fixed rules – just try not to use this time of day to sneak some junk or vending machine food into your diet. Some better ideas are fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, whole grain crackers, rice cakes, hummus, veggie sticks, roasted chickpeas, granola bars, oil-free popcorn, or simply some leftovers.

Some of you might be thinking now: “But how will I meet all of my nutritional needs if I don’t really track my food? Isn’t that hard on a plant-based diet?” This next part is for you to educate yourself and ease your mind.

Nutrients & Foods to Focus On

We want to start out by saying that a whole foods plant-based diet is just about the most nutrient-dense diet you could come up with. That being said, there are still ways to miss out on a few essential ones if you don’t focus on a nice variety of foods. Some people like to just eat a bunch of fruit or starches, forgetting about vegetables and seeds for example.

It’s not exactly easier for people on an omnivorous diet to meet all of their nutritional needs since they usually get too little fiber, vitamins, and minerals while having too much saturated fat and cholesterol. Therefore, everyone should be planning their diet wisely!

As for the few nutrients that are a little harder to get on a purely plant-based diet, here are the best sources to go for and include in your daily diet. Choose at least one per nutrient:

  • Calcium: fortified soy milk, tofu, kale, broccoli, legumes, sesame, whole wheat
  • Iron: legumes, tofu, tomato sauce, dark green vegetables, oats, quinoa, brown rice
  • Zinc: pumpkin seeds, legumes, whole grains, leafy green vegetables
  • Omega-3: flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, romaine lettuce
  • Vitamin B12: supplements, fortified food
  • Vitamin D: sunshine, some mushrooms, fortified foods, supplements

Full Guide to Meeting Your Nutrients as a Vegan →

Portions and Calories

You might still be wondering about how much to eat on a plant-based diet. If you’re not aware of your daily recommended energy intake, check your BMR and add your activity level using a simple calculator. Most adults need around at least 2000 calories per day which you shouldn’t try to undercut too much, even when trying to lose weight.

Plant-based foods, especially when whole and unprocessed, have a lower calorie density which means you will have to eat larger portions and it will be a lot easier to lose some weight because these foods add much more bulk.

If you find yourself too stuffed or too hungry after a day of eating, make a note and adjust accordingly the next day or whenever you’re making your new meal plan. W

e cannot tell you exactly how much you need to eat, so please have your age, sex, activity level, stress level, and health status in mind. We’re advocates for eating intuitively, meaning go get something when you’re hungry and stop munching when you’re comfortably full.

How To Eat A Lot & Still Lose Weight →

It’s on you to decide how many meals per day you’d like to eat and if you want to snack. Different things work for different people here. No matter if it’s 2, 3, 4, or 5 small meals per day – work with your preferences and your schedule.

Customizing for Weight Goals

When adjusting your meal plan to your needs and goals, we advise that you shift your focus from one food group to another and not to cut something out completely. All whole plant-based foods are beneficial to your health (so long as you’re not intolerant or allergic to them) and can be eaten. We’re working with the principle of calorie density here which you can use to either lose, gain, or maintain your weight while fueling your body with healthy foods.

If you’re into weight gaining or body building, focus more on whole flour products and legumes as well as nuts, seeds, and dried fruit to get enough calories. The same goes for people with a small appetite who struggle to eat enough.

How To Build Vegan Muscle →

You might also want to include more smoothies and even juices into your diet to increase your calories. Go easy on huge raw salads and vegetable stews since they offer only few calories while adding a lot of bulk.

Likewise, if you’re into weight loss, focus on non-starchy vegetables to go with your whole, intact starches like potatoes or brown rice for lunch and dinner. Don’t cut back on the starches too much, have around 50% vegetables and starches on your plate. Go easy on flour products and dried fruit, have fresh fruit as a snack and try to eat a green salad every day. Also, avoid added oils and reduce the amount of nuts and seeds you consume.

3-Day Plant-Based Meal Plan

We encourage you to get started with all the information you have and write down your first vegan meal plan! Should you be a little overwhelmed or intimidated now, here’s a sample 3-day meal plan for you.

Day 1

  • B: Easy blueberry muffins
  • L: Creamy pesto pasta
  • D: Rice with bean chili

Day 2

  • B: Whole grain bread with chickpea omelette
  • L: Leftover rice with beans, rolled in a burrito
  • D: Easy one pot pasta

Day 3

  • B: Strawberry bean smoothie
  • L: Leftover bean chili with some bread
  • D: Creamy mushroom risotto

Want a Fully Laid Out 14-Day Meal Plan?

If you’re trying to go vegan or want to take your plant-based eating to the next level, our eBook bundle will help you go “From A To Vegan”. We cover all the important topics and burning questions in a well laid-out format in 7 eBooks and some printable cheat sheets. Here is what you will find inside:

  • How to get all nutrients and nourish your body optimally on a vegan diet
  • How to navigate social situations with ease and deal with unsupportive families
  • Eating out at all types of different restaurants or fast food places
  • Recipe book with 40 mouth-watering whole food vegan recipes that will please even non-vegans
  • A complete 2-week whole food plant-based meal plan including 56 recipes & shopping lists
  • … and a whole lot more!

Have you been planning your meals in the past or are you just starting out? Did you find our tips and blueprints helpful to see what well-rounded plant-based meals look like? Let us know in the comments.

Alena has been eating a plant-based diet for 6 years and is passionate about sharing her learnings in the fields of nutrition, wellbeing, and vegan ethics. She is the co-creator of nutriciously and loves music, reading, nature, traveling, yoga & good food. Alena received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy, and social work.

The So Delicious 21 Day Dairy-Free Challenge has wrapped up, but we’ve got some fantastic takeaways from the event! For starters, you can still sign up to get discount coupons for their dairy-free milk beverages, coconut milk, ice cream, and yogurts. Then you can come back here and enjoy the recipes and shopping list from our Dairy-Free Challenge Plant-Based Meal Plan Round-Up below. Sponsored by So Delicious, myself and eleven other talented recipe creators developed these to help merge the challenge into everyday life!

Monday’s Plant-Based Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: Cold-Fighting Wellness Smoothies – Kick off the week on the offensive. Add some plant-based vanilla protein powder for more staying power.
  • Lunch: Greek Power Bowl with Tzatziki Dressing – Prep these bowls the night before for a quick grab ‘n go meal.
  • Dinner: Mushroom Stroganoff – Easy, satisfying and nourishing, this is a comforting way to reward a busy Monday. Serve with side salads of mixed greens. Store leftover noodles and sauce separately, tossing the noodles with a little oil to keep them from drying out.

Tuesday’s Plant-Based Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: Yogurt Waffles – Did you know waffle batter can be made the night before? You can also freeze waffles and pop them in the toaster for a very quick breakfast. Make a double-batch, freeze, and enjoy them Thursday, too!
  • Lunch: Leftover Mushroom Stroganoff – pack along a side salad and some baby carrots for noshing, too!
  • Dinner: Turmeric Golden Beet Soup – For a little extra protein, top this soup with crispy chickpeas (they’re like croutons, but better!) and serve with chunks of whole grain bread. You can buy a whole what bread or gluten-free one, but for an easy homemade option, I love this Brown Soda Bread.

Wednesday’s Plant-Based Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: Coconut Chai Smoothie – You deserve a mid-week treat! Spike these with the optional vanilla protein powder to make them a fulfilling meal.
  • Lunch: Quick & Easy White Bean Salad – No need to hassle; this recipe can be prepped the night before or tossed together in minutes in the morning.
  • Dinner: Butternut Squash Tortellini with Sage Brown Butter – Yes, really. Unwind with this shortcut recipe that goes perfectly with steamed or roasted asparagus. Coat leftovers in the brown butter to keep them moist for lunch the next day.

Thursday’s Plant-Based Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: Maple Pecan Overnight Oatmeal – A sweet favorite that packs in both fiber and protein. Just be sure to make it the night before! Leftovers store well in the refrigerator (for a few days) or freezer (in single portions).
  • Lunch: Leftover Butternut Squash Tortellini with Sage Brown Butter – At lunch they go wonderfully with a side salad or leftover asparagus.
  • Dinner: Mashed Potato Bowls with Creamy Cashew Gravy – You enjoyed leftovers all day, so freshen things up at dinner with these fun, comforting, bowls.

Friday’s Plant-Based Meal Plan

  • Breakfast: Yogurt Freezer Waffles or Maple Pecan Overnight Oatmeal – You have leftovers of both stashed away in the freezer or refrigerator, just pop one out and enjoy!
  • Lunch: Purple Potato-Eater Chowder – Chowder just sounds like Friday, doesn’t it? This Thai-inspired soup tastes fresh, even if made ahead. Add your favorite protein (like chopped baked tofu) to take you to 5pm.
  • Dinner: Creamy Garlic & Mushroom Pasta – It’s Friday night, which means a little white wine for the pot and a little for the cook! Serve with steamed broccoli for pretty presentation and a little green goodness.

Bonus Snacks & Sweets

I recommend keeping cut vegetables and fresh fruit on hand for regular snacking. Dairy-free yogurts, granola, and baked chips are also convenient. But you can also mix things up by adding these into our weekday plant-based meal plan:

  • Frozen Strawberry-Balsamic Souffle – Easy and a little healthier than the norm, but still a decadent evening dessert!
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip – This dip is protein-rich and can be enjoyed as a snack or treat!
  • Everyday Turmeric Smoothie – For an afternoon recharge, try this quick and delicious creamy beverage.
  • Flax & Walnut Zucchini Muffins – Sunday bakers can whip up a batch of these for munching on with almondmilk, tea, or coffee.
  • Papaya Boats – Though originally created as a breakfast recipe, we also like it as a fun healthy evening treat to make and share.

For more tasty ideas, enjoy my vegan, gluten-free Snackable Dairy Free E-Book and get your copy of Go Dairy Free 2nd Edition. The latter has more than 250 plant-based recipes!

Weekday Plant-Based Meal Plan Shopping List

I got the brilliant idea to do a recipe format printable shopping list from Sophia of Veggies Don’t Bite. She has another Vegan Meal Plan that I also recommend checking out!

5.0 from 4 reviews Easy Weekday Plant-Based Meal Plan + Shopping List This shopping list covers 5 days of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for 2 people plus the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip for snacking and the Frozen Strawberry-Balsamic Souffle for a treat. Double the quantities in this shopping list if you are serving 4 people. Author: Alisa Fleming Serves: 2 people Ingredients Vegetables & Herbs

  • 1 ¼ pounds golden beets
  • 1½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 pound button mushrooms (can be pre-sliced)
  • 14 ounces portobello mushrooms
  • 12 ounces asparagus
  • 8 ounces green beans
  • 2 small + 3 medium carrots
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 crown broccoli
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 large head red or green leaf lettuce
  • 2 cups kale or spinach leaves (or a 5-ounce package)
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 piece fresh ginger
  • 1 medium banana pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions or chives
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 small bunch fresh dill (optional; can use dried)
  • Additional in-season vegetables for snacking

Fruit

  • 3 navel oranges, peeled*
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • Additional in-season fruit for snacking

Non-Dairy Case

  • 1 half-gallon So Delicious unsweetened dairy-free coconut milk beverage
  • 1 quart So Delicious vanilla dairy-free coconut milk beverage
  • 2 24-ounce tubs So Delicious unsweetened dairy-free yogurt alternative
  • 1 24-ounce tub So Delicious plain dairy-free yogurt alternative
  • 1 5-ounce single-serve So Delicious strawberry dairy-free yogurt alternative
  • 1 13- to 15-ounce package dairy free buttery spread
  • 1 quart So Delicious plain dairy-free coconut creamer

Spices (1 small jar each will cover it)

  • black pepper
  • cardamom, ground
  • cayenne pepper
  • cinnamon, ground
  • cloves, ground
  • garlic powder
  • ginger
  • Greek seasoning (make sure it’s dairy-free!)
  • nutmeg, ground
  • onion powder
  • oregano
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • rosemary
  • sage (or a small bunch of fresh sage leaves)
  • salt
  • thyme
  • turmeric

Baking Goods

  • 2 ¼ cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups gluten-free or wheat all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 10-ounce bag dairy-free mini chocolate chips
  • 1 package baking powder
  • 1 package baking soda
  • 1 8-ounce bottle maple syrup
  • 1 1-ounce vanilla extract

Other Pantry

  • 1 quart regular vegetable broth
  • 1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 pound whole grain dried linguine noodles (gluten-free, if needed)
  • 3 15-ounce cans chickpeas
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans
  • 1 bottle white wine (for the pot & the cook!)
  • 1 16-ounce bottle balsamic vinegar or glaze
  • 1 16-ounce bottle olive oil
  • 1 16-ounce grapeseed oil (or other neutral-tasting oil)
  • 1 8-ounce tub coconut oil
  • 1 8-ounce jar dijon mustard
  • 1 11-ounce package full-fat coconut milk (like So Delicious Culinary)
  • 1 10-ounce bottle soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
  • 1 16-ounce jar creamy almond butter or sunflower seed butter
  • 1 8-ounce jar creamy cashew butter
  • 1 8-ounce jar seedless strawberry jam
  • 1 box chai tea bags
  • 1 16-ounce tub vanilla plant-based protein powder
  • 1 small bag pretzels (gluten-free, if needed)
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup shelled hemp seeds
  • ¼ cup raw coconut flakes or shreds
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 ½ tablespoons nutritional yeast

Other Fresh

  • 25 wonton wrappers
  • 4 pita pockets (gluten free, if needed)
  • 1 package vegan bacon
  • 1 tub So Delicious Dairy Free Original CocoWhip (freezer section)
  • 1 package dairy-free parmesan (optional)
  • 1 lb baked tofu

Instructions

  1. Print or copy this plant-based meal plan shopping list and cross off whatever you already have on hand!
  2. Note that most of the produce and potential bulk items are listed with exact quantities. However, the items that we typically buy pre-packaged (spices, herbs, dairy alternatives, oil, etc) are listed in the package size you will need to cover everything. Expect some leftover supplies to use in the future!

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28 Day Plant Based Diet Meal Plan

Looking to eat a plant based diet but not sure where to start? Here’s a 28 day plant based diet meal plan with a meal planning calendar.

Are you looking to start eating a plant based diet, but don’t know where to start? Ten years ago, Alex and I were there too! Since then, we’ve written the cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious and Food & Wine. We’ve cooked everywhere from our home kitchen to the TODAY Show with the message that eating mostly plants can be “pretty simple”. Eating a mostly plant based diet is all about finding a sustainable practice. The goal of this plant based diet meal plan is to help you find a handful of favorite easy plant based recipes that you can make again and again! If you’d like, subscribe to our newsletter for new weekly recipes.

Related: 28 Day Healthy Meal Plan | 28 Day Vegatarian Meal Plan | 28 Day Vegan Meal Plan

What is a plant based diet?

The term plant based diet or whole food plant based (WFPB) diet have been gaining in popularity. But what do they actually mean? Does it mean you never eat any animal products, like a vegan diet, or consume animal products in moderation? There’s a lot of contention about these terms.

Many sources agree a plant based diet is eating mostly plant based food with little to no animal products. But some sources would argue it is a diet of only plants, equating it with a vegan diet. Read more here: Plant Based Diet for Beginners

This plant based diet meal plan includes only vegan recipes, but you can determine the level of animal products that’s right for you. We encourage you to decide what plant based means for you! Alex and I eat a mostly plant based diet, which we define as eating mostly vegetarian and vegan recipes, and seafood on occasion. If you’d like to include vegetarian or seafood recipes in your meal plan, check out the options in our 28 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan and 28 Day Healthy Meal Plan.

Is this plant based diet meal plan right for you?

This plant based diet meal plan is right for you if you’re looking to eat more plants! The recipes in this meal plan are easy vegan recipes. As noted above, feel free to work in vegetarian or seafood recipes as well based on how you’d like to define plant based. For a vegetarian meal plan, head to 28 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan. If you also eat fish, go to our 28 Day Healthy Meal Plan.

If you have a very specific diet or health condition, consult a medical professional to understand whether these recipes are right for you.

The problem with meal planning calendars

For Alex and me, one problem with meal planning calendars and weekly meal plans is that they offer no flexibility. Most meal plans we’ve found call for cooking something new every day of the week. They’re overwhelming with the amount of food prep that they call for! They also don’t account for your schedule: what if Monday nights I have a weekly meeting where I eat dinner? Or this Friday night I’m going out with friends?

Here’s what makes our plant based diet meal plan different:

  • Spotlight dinner ideas. For us, dinner is our main meal where we cook and get the majority of our nutrients for the day. Our approach is to go big on dinner, and then do super simple things for breakfast and lunch. That’s what works for us! At the bottom of the meal plan you’ll find lists of healthy breakfast ideas, snack ideas, and lunch ideas. You can use these, or find others that fit your tastes.
  • Pick 3. Each week, we offer 3 healthy dinner ideas. You can make them on any day that week! This encourages you to customize the ideas based on your schedule and particular tastes. It also encourages eating up leftovers.
  • Repeats. Since we only offer 3 dinner ideas, this also encourages you to make dinner ideas you liked from previous weeks.

What if this meal plan doesn’t work for me?

It’s possible this meal plan might not work for you–and that’s ok! This meal plan might provide too much flexibility for you and not motivate you to make the recipes. Or, you might not like the style of these recipes. We know this meal plan is not for everyone, but this is an outline of how Alex and I cook on a weekly basis.

Related: Looking for workout plans too? Try our 28 Day Home Workout Plan.

Download: Plant based diet meal plan spreadsheet

To make our Plant Based Diet Meal Plan tangible, we’ve created a downloadable meal planning calendar for you! It’s our Plant Based Diet Meal Plan spreadsheet, where you can copy in your meal planning ideas for each week. Simply download the spreadsheet and then copy in the links to the recipes for each week below. Here’s the download!

Plant Based Diet Meal Plan

Before you start: here’s how to use our Plant Based Diet Meal Plan!

  • Pick at least 3 dinner ideas. Confession: Alex and I don’t cook every night! We make enough for leftovers and eat them throughout the week too, sometimes repurposing them in new ways. For this meal plan, pick 3 days that you want to cook dinners. Fill in the other days with eating leftovers, doing “clean out the fridge” meals without recipes, and allow for meals out. If you end up needing more healthy dinner ideas for that week, skip ahead to the next week and try one. (Or, pick one of our other Dinner Recipes!)
  • Fill in breakfast, lunch, and snacks ideas. We focus on dinner as the main daily meal, so we keep breakfast, lunches, and snacks SUPER simple. If possible, we love things that don’t use recipes (like English muffins with peanut butter, yogurt with fruit). That way, we save our cooking energy for dinner.
  • Copy the links into your Plant Based Diet Meal Plan spreadsheet. Using a spreadsheet makes things much more tangible than just using a list! Once you’ve taken stock of what your week holds and what nights you’ll have time to cook, fill in your dinner ideas accordingly. We suggest filling out the meal plan on the weekend (Sundays seem to be good for many people).
  • Read the meal prep planning notes. Below each week of healthy dinner ideas, we’ve included some meal prep planning notes to help with ways to make ahead or prep in advance.

Related: What is a Vegan vs. Vegetarian Diet?

Plant Based Diet Dinner Ideas Week 1

*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 1! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.

  1. Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (15 minutes)
  2. Best Teriyaki Vegetable Stir Fry (30 minutes)
  3. Chickpea Couscous Bowls with Tahini Sauce (30 minutes)
  4. Chipotle Black Bean Tortilla Soup (35 minutes)
  5. Leftovers from above*

*Meal Prep Plan Notes

  • For the Mediterranean veggie sandwich, you can use either the Herbed White Bean Dip or purchased hummus. For fully plant based, use Kalamata olives instead of feta cheese. You also may want to serve with a green salad, like this Best Kale Salad or Strawberry Salad.
  • For the Teriyaki Stir Fry, it’s fairly simple to make the day of. You can chop the vegetables, tempeh, and ginger in advance and refrigerate: this would make for very quick prep. You could also make the rice in advance; see the reheating rice instructions in Week 2. The teriyaki sauce takes only 5 minutes to make, so it’s easiest made day of; if you make in advance and refrigerate, let it come to room temperature before serving (you may even need to add a small splash of water since it thickens as it sits.).
  • For the Chickpeas Couscous Bowls, you can make the Lemon Tahini Sauce in advance and refrigerate until serving. Make sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. You could also make the couscous in advance, but since it takes only 5 minutes, it’s not a large time saver.
  • The Tortilla Soup takes about 20 minutes of hands on time. If desired, you can make the tortilla strips in advance or use crushed tortilla chips (just find chips that are minimally processed, with a few ingredients like corn, oil and salt). You can make the entire soup in advance and refrigerate: the flavor gets better over time!

Plant Based Diet Dinner Ideas Week 2

*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 2! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.

  1. Weeknight Chickpea Curry (20 minutes)
  2. Mexican Sweet Potatoes (30 minutes)
  3. Cauliflower Tacos with Yum Yum Sauce (40 minutes)
  4. Make again! 1 or 2 favorite dinner ideas from Week 1
  5. Leftovers from above*

Meal Plan Prep Notes

  • For the Curry, you can make the chickpeas in advance, though they only take 20 minutes! If serving with rice, you can make the basmati rice in advance and reheat. Tip: To reheat the rice: place the rice in a saucepan with a splash of water and use a fork to break up any clumps. Heat over low heat until warmed through and moist.
  • The Mexican Sweet Potatoes, make the Creamy Cilantro Sauce in advance and refrigerate until serving: make sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. You could even use this sauce for the Cauliflower Tacos too! If desired you could roast the sweet potatoes in advance and refrigerate; then reheat in a 400F oven until warm before serving.
  • For the Crispy Cauliflower Tacos, these require a bit more time but it’s well worth it! They are one of our fan favorite recipes and perfect for showing how delicious plant based eating can be! You can make the Yum Yum sauce in advance (with vegan mayo for fully plant based), or use leftover Creamy Cilantro Sauce from the Mexican sweet potatoes above. Because the cauliflower takes the most time (about 40 minutes), you can also prepare that in advance and reheat the day of; reheating instructions are in the recipe. We’ve had it both ways and it’s delicious!

Cauliflower Tacos with Yum Yum Sauce

Plant Based Diet Dinner Ideas Week 3

*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 1! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.

  1. Greek Nachos with Cilantro Drizzle (25 minutes)
  2. Quick Cuban Black Beans (35 minutes)
  3. Tomato Coconut Cauliflower Curry (35 minutes, plus rice)
  4. Make again! 1 or 2 favorite dinner ideas from Week 1 or 2
  5. Leftovers from above*

Meal Plan Prep Notes

  • For the Nachos, make the pita chips and Creamy Cilantro Sauce (or use leftovers from Week 2 above!). You can also use storebought pita chips as a time saver.
  • For the Cuban black beans, you could make the beans in advance and refrigerate until serving: the flavor will just get better over time! Use the vegan option of olive oil: or if you’re doing some vegetarian, use the butter (you don’t regret it).
  • For the Curry, you could chop the vegetables in advance and refrigerate until serving: in that case make the curry within about a day or two. Follow the rice and quinoa prep instructions from Week 3.

Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich

Plant Based Diet Dinner Ideas Week 4

*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 1! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.

  1. BBQ Bean Tacos with Pineapple Salsa (25 minutes)
  2. Tuscan Soup with White Beans (30 minutes)
  3. Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich (40 minutes)
  4. Make again! 1 or 2 favorite dinner ideas from Week 1, 2 or 3
  5. Leftovers from above*

Meal Plan Prep Notes

  • The Tacos are one of our simplest recipes: you simmer the beans in the time it takes to make the pineapple salsa. If desired, you can make the salsa in advance and slice up the garnishes. For a filling side, serve with rice (or to look fancy, turmeric rice).
  • For the Soup, you can cut fennel and chard in advance and refrigerate until making the soup. In this case, we’d make the soup within a day or two of cutting the vegetables. While the soup simmers, you can whisk up the dressing for the salad. We like using boxed salad greens for easy prep.
  • For the Jackfruit BBQ, this one is a little outside the box but SO delicious! You’ll be surprised at how much jackfruit tastes like pulled pork. You could make the jackfruit filling in advance and refrigerate until serving; then reheat in a skillet. Also you could chop the veggies for the vinegar coleslaw in advance: then add the dressing right before serving. Our best creamy coleslaw would also be fantastic using vegan mayo.

Healthy Granola Recipe

Healthy Breakfast Ideas Weeks 1-4

Alex and I do really, really simple breakfasts that don’t require a recipe so we don’t have to think too hard in the morning. This frees us up to spend most of our creative energy on dinner. Pick any of these to eat throughout the week and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet. We’ve offered quite a bit of options to account for your breakfast tastes and style. Do repeats as much as you’d like!

  • Peanut butter (unsweetened) on multigrain toast or English muffin
  • Avocado toast
  • Best Oatmeal with PB&J
  • Healthy Granola Recipe with almond milk
  • DIY Instant Oatmeal
  • Toasted Oatmeal
  • Cinnamon Pecan Muesli (made in advance)
  • Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies (made in advance)
  • Turmeric Vegan Blueberry Muffins (made in advance)
  • Glowing Green Apple Smoothie
  • Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie
  • Homemade Acai Bowl
  • Healthy Banana Bread Muffins — if you plan to allow some eggs, these banana bread muffins are fan favorites and are easily made in advance! You can also freeze them.

Healthy Snack Ideas Weeks 1-4

Pick any of these to eat throughout the week and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet.

  • Very Verde Cilantro Dip & crackers (as minimally processed as possible)
  • Dark Chocolate Hummus Recipe & fruit
  • Hummus or Glowing Green Hummus & veggies
  • A handful of almonds and dried cherries or apricots
  • Popcorn (Homemade or purchased without flavoring)

Easy Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Healthy Lunch Ideas Weeks 1-4

Lunches can be hard, especially if you’re eating at your desk! Again, Alex and my philosophy for lunches are to keep them super, super simple, without a recipe if possible. Pick any of these to eat throughout the week and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet.

  • Leftovers from any of the dinners!
  • Peanut butter (unsweetened) on multigrain toast or English muffin
  • Avocado toast
  • Simple Chickpea Salad
  • Easy Stuffed Dates (use the nut butter option)
  • Hummus, Green Hummus, or Garlic Herb White Bean Dip, veggies and crackers
  • Famous Tomato Dip with crackers
  • Easy Chickpea Salad Sandwich (or use curried chickpea salad)
  • Mediterranean Loaded Veggie Sandwich
  • Hummus and Veggie Roll Ups
  • Vegan Banh Mi Sandwiches
  • Chickpea Salad with pita or crackers
  • Mexican Quinoa
  • Caribbean Black Bean Salad
  • Any of the Snacks above
  • Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup and multigrain bread
  • Vegan Italian Pasta Salad (if you have time for prep)
  • Vegan Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce (if you have time for prep)
  • Easy Marinated Tofu (make up a batch and refrigerate; consider serving with brown rice)

Did you like this plant based diet meal plan?

We’d love to hear your feedback on this plant based diet meal plan: let us know in the comments below. And let us know if you have any questions!

If you enjoyed the recipes in this plan, you might enjoy our healthy cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking!

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

WFPB Vegan Meal Plan For Beginners

Quick Synopsis

A whole food plant-based diet can be overwhelming when you’re starting out. Luckily, MamaSezz is here to guide you. One of the best ways to stick with your new healthy lifestyle? Getting a WFPB meal plan in place! Keep reading to get our our top planning tips PLUS a delicious meal plan for whole food plant-based beginners.

The Full Story

Looking to try a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) or vegan diet but overwhelmed by the thought of vegan meal prep? We get it. Finding and preparing plant-based and vegan recipes can be daunting if you are inexperienced and have a busy life (and we all do, right?).

At MamaSezz, we know that when you eat a whole-food plant-based diet, your body gets all the nutrition it needs (with no B.S – bad stuff) and it’s better for the planet than the Standard American Diet.

But figuring out how to meal plan can be a pain in the you-know-what. We’re to help! So We designed this easy vegan meal plan to save you time and hassle. No need to spend hours searching for easy vegan recipes or pouring over nutrition labels.

Let’s dive right in, and you can see for yourself just how easy plant-based meal prep can be.

Set yourself up for meal planning success

1. Wash, cut and batch cook vegetables in advance

As with any meal prep, WFPB and vegan meal prep always go faster quickly if you batch cook and chop veggies in advance, especially since you will be eating a lot of nutritious vegetables. So go and stock up on all your favorite veggies and instead of putting them away when you get home, get started peeling, chopping, dicing, and steaming. The store them in your fridge ready to add to anything. Your future self will thank you!

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it

One of the biggest stressors when making the switch to plant-based eating? The grocery store! It can feel like a brand new and confusing world of ingredients you’ve never even heard of (Medjool dates, Nutritional Yeast???). The good news is making a list can go a long way to alleviate uncertainty, not to mention it saves loads of time.

Start with a simple meal plan and shopping list. Install a whiteboard in your kitchen with reusable markers and make a note when you need to refresh pantry items. Take a picture before you to the store. A list will also make you less likely to impulse buy and save you money and waste. The more familiar you get with plant-based meal planning the easier shopping will get. We promise!

3. Fill your kitchen with nutrient-dense food

We all like a good snack (even those of us trying to lose weight). And snacking doesn’t have to get in the way of your healthy living goals. The easier it is to make good choices, the more likely you’ll actually make them. Stock your kitchen with whole foods, like natural fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains — and take away the B.S. (bad stuff) like processed foods, meat, and dairy products.

Need snack ideas? We’ve got ‘em in spades. Some of our favorite quick and easy WFPB snacks: peanut butter (or other kinds of nut butter), dates, dried or fresh fruit, nuts, and edamame. You can also check out these 15 plant-based snacks from Chef Caroline.

One Week WFPB/Vegan Meal Plan

The final piece to your meal planning success? An actual meal plan might help! These healthy recipes are great for beginners and feel free to change them to your liking, More of a savory breakfast person? Swap out the sweeter recipes for something salty. Not feeling one particular ingredient? Get creative and experiment to fit your taste. The more you play around, the more comfortable you’ll get switching things up. And we’ve got a boat load of plant-based recipes from Chef Caroline to explore when you’re ready.

The typical American breakfast is loaded with animal products, and that’s not great. These plant-based breakfast recipes mimic traditional breakfast foods but are high in nutrients and fall in line with a healthy vegan diet. But really, you don’t have to confine yourself to “breakfast foods” just because it’s the morning. We’d eat MamaSezz Scalloped Potatoes for breakfast any day of the week!

1. Green Mountain Plant-Based Power Smoothie

Smoothies are one of the easiest healthy breakfasts out there. To save time, compile ingredients the night before so in the morning all you have to do is blend. Try this Mamasezz original recipe, and again, feel free to switch things up should the mood strike! Add favorite ingredients like extra natural peanut butter or oats. Pour it into a mason jar or your travel mug and drink it on the go.

2. Bean, Potato, & Veggie Vegan Breakfast Hash

We love make-ahead dishes and this delicious hash is something you can whip up in advance and eat for days. Adjust the spices to your palette.

3. Sweet Potato Toast

Another great plant-powered breakfast! Sweet potato toast is a quick way to get important nutrients, like fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Top with your favorite nut butter and fruit for a sweet morning treat.

4. Breakfast Tacos

Savory breakfast people, rejoice! These tacos are the perfect breakfast to take on-the-go. Double the recipe and enjoy multiple times throughout the week.

5. Turmeric Steel Cut Oats

A classic oatmeal with a nutritious (anti-inflammatory!) twist. Just a few extra ingredients turn regular oatmeal into something spectacular. (And to stay WFPB, omit the oil!).

6. Plant-Based Pancakes

And easy vegan recipe that’s kid-friendly, to boot? Heck yes, parents! Nothing says weekend like pancakes and these are refined sugar-free.

7. Chipotle Black Bean Avocado Toast

Avocado toast is all the rage these days, and for good reason — it’s loaded with nutritious ingredients and is super satisfying. This Mamasezz recipe is mouth-wateringly delicious and will keep you sated through lunch time.

Eating lunch out is hard on your health and budget. These make-ahead recipes will keep you and your plant-based lifestyle on track, whether you’re at work or traveling.

1. Sweet Beet Salad

Say hello to this easy-to-make salad that’s great year-round. Pro tip: prep the veggies in advance for a quick lunch.

2. Quinoa Kale Bowl

Bowls are a great lunch for beginners because they are easily customizable. Better yet, they can be served warm or cold, so don’t feel like you need to hunt down a microwave.

3. Curried Chickpea Salad

Reminiscent of chicken salad – but without the BS (Bad Stuff). This healthy plant-based version will give you tons of flavor, without the animal products.

4. Black Beans and Greens Over Rice

This quick lunch is easy to make in advance. Top with some fresh avocado, and you are good to go, my friend.

5. Portobello Plant-Based “BLT” Sandwich

An All-American sandwich turned WFPB, this “BLT” has all the best elements of the original, without any of the junk.

6. Vegan Chopped Salad

Full of crunch and ready to munch, this salad has the potential to become a weekly staple for lunchtime. Loaded with fiber and nutritious veggies, salads are a must for any vegan meal plan.

7. Low Fat Creamy Mashed Chickpea and Veggie Sandwich

Make this chickpea filling ahead of time for a quick, healthy sandwich even your kiddos will enjoy.

A whole-food plant-based dinner doesn’t have to be complicated. These dishes are light on preparation and heavy on nutrients to help carry you through the night and into tomorrow.

1. Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Omit the oil and you’ve got one protein-packed WFPB and zesty dinner recipe. Keeps great as leftovers!

2. Antioxidant Packed Vegetable and Wild Rice Soup

This soup can be made in the Instant Pot or on the stove — a true classic, but with extra nutrients.

3. Plant-Based Buffalo Quinoa

You won’t miss the chicken in this spicy buffalo dish. Pack up any leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

4. Plant-Based Vegetable Fried Rice

Who needs takeout when you can make your own nutritious fried rice at home? Using vegetable broth instead of oil, this oil-free fried rice recipe is the Chinese-food lover’s WFPB dream come true.

5. Roasted Cauliflower Burrito Bowls

Make this recipe with brown rice or cauliflower, and you have an easy dinner that’s as fun as it is nutritious. (Omit oil.)

6. Creamy Plant-Based Avocado Pasta

Comfort food doesn’t have to be nutrient deficient. This pasta dish will energize your body while it warms your soul.

7. Mexican Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Everyone loves a good slow cooker recipe, and this flavorful dish won’t disappoint. Load the ingredients into your cooker in the morning and comfort food will be waiting when you get home.

Want to skip the meal planning altogether? You can always order No B.S. Ready-to-Eat meals from MamaSezz. Whether you want MamaSezz every day, or to keep it on hand for the night’s when cooking just isn’t in the cards, we’ve got your back.

Key takeaways: A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard!

Checking off these items will keep you organized, full, and happy!

  • Get an easy WFPB/vegan meal plan in place.
  • Batch cook to make meal prep a breeze.
  • Always bring a shopping list to the grocery store (and stick to it).
  • Fill your pantry will healthy snacks (and purge the junk!).
  • Get No BS (Bad Stuff) Ready To Eat meals from MamaSezz when you don’t have time or energy to prep!

What you should do now

  1. We have been where you are and we’ve helped thousands of people (just like you) transition to eating a plant based diet. If you are looking for a guide that can help you with some of the big questions, and dramatically reduce your stress, this FREE Ultimate Little Guide to Plant-Based Eating is a great place to start.
  2. If you’d like to learn about plant-based living go to our Heartbeet Journal where you can read hundreds of “How To” articles. If you’d like to learn about plant-based cooking go to our Recipes Section for easy step by step favorites.
  3. If you’d like to work for us—or see why our team members love working for us—then contact us at [email protected] and tell us about yourself.
  4. If you enjoyed this article, then so will your friends, so why not share it on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Email

Eating healthier can feel hard — just ask Sheinelle Jones. The co-anchor of Weekend TODAY and co-host of the 3rd Hour of TODAY made it her New Year’s resolution to “eat clean” in 2017, 2018, and (yup) 2019.

“It sounds silly, but ‘eat clean in about 2020’ doesn’t rhyme,” she tells GoodHousekeeping.com. “I didn’t want another year to go by and to set a resolution I made years before.” But after trying cutting carbs, counting calories, and even eating keto, she’s finally found a successful way to make good on her resolution to eat more mindfully: by following a plant-based diet.

She’s not the only person jumping in on the plant-based trend. New cookbooks like Mostly Plants, products like Banza chickpea pasta, and meal delivery companies like Plantable all extol the benefits of eating more veggies, beans, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains and make it easier than ever to do so. But is eating plant-based really that much better for you than keto, paleo, or any of the other diets you’re currently seeing all over Instagram?

“What I love about plant-based diets is that they promote inclusivity over exclusivity and foods that are as close to their original, natural state as possible,” says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “The idea is that the more you can add veggies to your plate, the more likely you are to displace the calories from less nutritious sources. That can be beneficial for your health and weight overall.”

Here’s everything you need to know about following a plant-based diet:

What can you eat on a plant-based diet?

Lew RobertsonGetty Images

The definition of a plant-based diet can depend on who you ask. Generally, it is an eating style that emphasizes real, whole foods that come from plants, including:

For Sheinelle, her typical day went something like this:

  • Breakfast: oatmeal with sliced banana
  • Lunch: black bean soup
  • Snack: roasted kale chips with nutritional yeast
  • Dinner: lentil pasta with homemade tomato sauce

What can’t you eat on a plant-based diet?

What you decide to avoid is up to you. For the most part, people on plant-based diets eat less of the following:

  • Fast food
  • Desserts and sweetened beverages
  • Refined grains: white rice, white bread, refined pasta, etc.
  • Packaged foods: cookies, chips, sugary cereals, etc.
  • Processed meats: bacon, sausage, etc.

But what about meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, and all those other favorites? Sheinelle decided to eat mostly vegan for the first month, but plans on enjoying eggs and seafood after the fact — and that can still count as plant-based.

“I think many people get a little caught up in the idea of ‘plant-based’ meaning vegetarian or vegan and that’s simply not the case,” London says. “Plant-based does not mean eliminating food groups or lean sources of protein in totality! It’s much friendlier than that.”

She recommends choosing low-fat, unsweetened dairy products and dairy alternatives (like unsweetened soy milk) to get sufficient potassium, magnesium, and calcium. “These nutrients counterbalance the effects of sodium in the diet and have the effect of minimizing bloat,” London adds. Adding some seafood to your plate of veggies will also help supply your body with cognition-boosting omega-3’s.

Plus, it’s not realistic to assume you’ll never eat or drink something you love again. “I don’t want to live my life where I can’t have a cinnamon roll,” Sheinelle says. “Even if you do 70/30 plant-based eating, I think your body kind of feels a difference. That’s kind of where I am.”

How do you transition to a plant-based diet?

NemanjaMiscevicGetty Images

Before she tried her plant-based diet, Sheinelle felt that snacking — especially on the sweet stuff — tripped her up, not to mention all the free food (pizza!) in the TODAY studio. To make good on her resolution, she enlisted the help of meal delivery service Plantable on the recommendation of her friend. The 28-day plan had her choosing her own breakfast — usually oatmeal with banana from the office cafeteria — and snacks (like trail mix), and then eating prepared meals for lunch and dinner.

While she found that less prep work and shopping made it easier to stick to her new plan, the built-in nutrition coaching from Plantable also helped her navigate different situations as they came up. Now that she’s finished her month-long trial, Sheinelle plans on implementing some of the lessons she’s learned in her own kitchen in addition to ordering a few meals from Plantable à la carte.

You don’t need to subscribe to a meal plan to start a plant-based diet though. London advises trying the following first:

  • Eat more veggies, more often whenever you can.
  • Switch your typical portion sizes for meat and vegetables.
  • Fill up on a salad or veggie-heavy soup before your main meal.
  • Cook with plant-based oils, like olive, canola, sesame, and peanut.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds for more fiber and protein.
  • Sip on unsweetened coffee and tea.
  • Emphasize real, whole foods versus processed ones.
  • Enjoy sweets and treats as indulgences in smaller amounts.

Is plant-based the best diet?

Yes, a plant-based diet is 100% the way to go, London says. “Plant-based eating is a holistic approach to better health, but in a tangible, simple, and actionable way that won’t overwhelm you,” she says. “The reason why fad diets backfire is because they’re motivating at first, but ultimately require elimination and restriction, which isn’t a way of life! That’s the beauty of Sheinelle’s plan.”

Sheinelle herself noticed a big difference just a few days after starting her plant-based diet. She wakes up more easily, feels more present, has more energy, and noticed her persistent stomach pains finally went away. “It felt really good to be able to wake up in the morning and not have a stomach ache, not feel indigestion,” she says.

She also saw a change in how her clothes fit. “Dresses I hadn’t been able to zip in more than a year, I’ve been able to wear,” Sheinelle shared. “I feel like I lost more inches than weight.”

Her next mission: passing on what she’s learned about healthy plant-based eating to her family, including her mom, husband, and children.

“There’s this notion that if you eat healthy it can’t taste good, but that’s just not true,” she says. Amen to that!

Caroline Picard Health Editor Caroline is the Health Editor at GoodHousekeeping.com covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news.

A Vegan-Friendly Grocery List for Anyone Going 100% Plant-Based

Grab your sustainable grocery bags, because we’re going shopping for vegan-friendly foods. When you decide to commit to a vegan diet (whether for good or for a select period of time), a key component to your success is setting up your kitchen with all things vegan.

The good news is that you’ll still be shopping for the vegetables, fruits, and grains you’ve already been purchasing, but you need to leave the yogurt, eggs, and chicken sausage at the store. Get ready to load your cart with some of the nutritious foods listed below (but, seriously, don’t buy everything on this list or you’d be wasting precious produce!). Happy shopping, veg-heads!

PLANT-BASED PROTEINS

Contrary to popular (and annoying) opinion, it isn’t hard to get enough protein on a vegan diet.

Soy Products
Edamame
Tofu
Tempeh

Nuts and Seeds
Almonds
Brazil Nuts
Cashews
Chia
Flaxseeds
Hazelnuts
Hemp seeds
Macadamia nuts
Pecans
Pine nuts
Pumpkin seeds
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds
Tahini (sesame seed butter)
Teff
Quinoa
Walnuts

Beans and Legumes
Adzuki beans
Black beans
Black-eyed peas
Chickpeas
Fava beans
Kidney beans
Lentils
Lima beans
Mung beans
Navy beans
Peanuts
Peas
Pinto beans
Split peas
String beans
White beans

Other
Wheat protein (seitan)
Soy, rice, hemp, or pea protein powders

CEREAL AND GRAINS

All grains are fair game on a vegan diet, but complex carbohydrates are higher-quality energy sources—and even contribute to better gut health—so try to stick with whole-grain, fiber-rich options instead of refined flours.

Amaranth
Barley
Buckwheat
Bulgar
Cornmeal
Couscous
Farro
Freekeh
Kamut
Millet
Oats and oat bran
Orzo
Rice (white and brown)
Rye
Sorghum
Spelt
Wheatberries
White flour
Whole-wheat flour

VEGETABLES

Duh. There shouldn’t really be any restrictions on vegetables on an average vegan diet.

Acorn squash
Artichoke hearts
Asparagus
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Cucumber
Eggplant
Mushrooms
Onions
Peppers
Radish
Spaghetti Squash
Tomatoes (yes, technically a fruit)
Turnips
Zucchini

Leafy Greens
Arugula
Bok choy
Collard Greens
Kale
Romaine
Spinach
Swiss Chard

Starchy Veggies
Beets
Butternut squash
Corn
Parsnips
Pumpkin
Sweet potato
Yam

FRUIT

Like vegetables, fresh fruits are one of the main pillars of a vegan diet. Some varieties, like mangos and grapes, are higher in fructose than, say, berries, but unless you’re really trying to watch your sugar intake, the natural kind in fresh fruit shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Apple
Avocados
Bananas
Cantaloupe
Cherries
Figs
Grapes
Jackfruit (great as a meat swap too!)
Mango
Peaches
Pears
Pineapple
Plums
Watermelon

Berries
Blueberries
Blackberries
Strawberries
Raspberries

Citrus
Grapefruit
Lemon
Lime
Orange
Tangerine

Dried Fruits
Apricots
Cranberries
Dates
Mango
Prunes
Raisins

PLANT-BASED OILS AND FATS

Butter is a no-no for vegans, but most plant-based oils are OK in moderation. If you’re particular about how your oil is processed, avoid refined types and look for “expeller-pressed” or “cold-pressed” on the label.

Almond oil
Avocado oil
Canola oil
Coconut oil
Coconut butter
Grapeseed oil
Macadamia oil
Olive oil
Rice bran oil
Sesame oil

SWEETENERS

Several forms of sugar are a-OK on a vegan diet. That said, here are some vegan-approved sweeteners.

Agave nectar
Beet Sugar
Brown rice syrup
Coconut sugar
Dates
Date syrup
Maple syrup
Raw cane sugar
Palm sugar
Stevia
Xylitol

HERBS AND SPICES

Herbs and spices are the ultimate secret weapons for adding tons of flavor to your food without resorting to processed condiments or unnecessary extra oil.

Basil
Chives
Cilantro
Cinnamon
Chili powder
Cumin
Dill
Garlic
Green onion
Ground ginger
Nutmeg
Oregano
Paprika
Parsley
Rosemary
Thyme
Turmeric

DRINKS

You have to kiss dairy goodbye, but these drinks will satisfy your need for something smooth or bubbly.

Almond milk
Cashew milk
Coconut milk
Coconut water
Club soda
Kombucha
Macadamia nut milk

MISCELLANEOUS

Look to these foods if you need an extra boost in terms of protein and vitamin intake, mineral absorption, or gut health.

Next time you’re shopping on Amazon, stock up on these vegan snacks too!

This plant based foods meal plan and grocery list is perfect for anyone on a gluten free and plant based diet, and we have vegan-friendly options, too!

Ask and you shall receive, right? Yep, we’re bringing back another plant based meal plan per YOUR request, and for all my peeps in our meal plan Facebook group! By the way, if you’re not in our FB group, you so need to be! Just sayin…

Anyways, this plant based foods meal plan is just a tad different than our last one. Actually, it’s more informative and vegan friendly! You know me, I’m all about the nerdy nutrition talk when it come to food – real food!

So let’s talk about what extra nutrients you need on a vegetarian and vegan diet.

You see, for anyone on a plant based diet, it’s crucial that you take in enough iron, B vitamins, and non-heme protein. Those vitamins and minerals are commonly found in meat proteins, which is why vegetarians and vegans need to find ways to incorporate them into their diet.

What are some plant based foods high in iron?

While some people prefer to take a plant based iron supplement, you can also get a good dose of iron from these plant based foods:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Turkish dried apricots
  • Tempeh
  • Brazil Nuts (good source of selenium too)
  • Flaxseed and chia seed
  • Legumes
  • Palm hearts
  • Gluten free oats
  • Amaranth
  • Spinach

If you want more examples or information on iron-rich plant based foods, check out this resource.

Another way to boost your iron intake on a plant based diet is by eating plant based foods that are rich in Vitamin C. This is because Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. In addition to citrus fruits, here are other plant-based sources of Vitamin C:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Bell peppers (any color)

These foods paired with plant based protein rich in iron create what I call, SYNERGY nutrition.

Speaking of protein.

How can I get more protein on a plant based diet?

Fortunately, there are a lot of options when it comes to protein-rich plant based foods. Good sources of plant based protein include:

  • chickpeas
  • legumes
  • pistachios
  • hemp seeds
  • tempeh (cultured)
  • edamame
  • sprouted pea protein

Alright, hopefully all that info will leave you feeling more imPOWERed on a PLANT POWERED diet. Ha, see what I did there?

In all seriousness friend, please feel free to leave comment questions if you need more information or explaining about plant based foods. That’s what we are here for!

NOTE – If you’re looking to download all these recipes in one place, I got you covered! Here’s a printable PDF version. We also have the GROCERY LIST below with PDF link. And a KIDS EAT your VEGGIES chart! Phew!

Get ready to eat the rainbow!

Plant Based Foods Meal Plan

Here are some delicious ways to get in your veggies and plant based protein. These plant based meal plans are great for adults, but they’re also kid-friendly! Each recipe contains a good source of fiber, plant based iron, and other key nutrients. Gluten free and vegan friendly!

PLANT BASED BREAKFAST IDEAS

  1. Vegan Mushroom Bacon Breakfast Toast – Rich in B vitamins, protein from chickpeas, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D from the mushrooms!
  2. Cookie Dough Oatmeal Breakfast Bars-(Vegan) Chickpeas and oats contain a good source of iron and B vitamins.
  3. Gluten Free Breakfast Power Bowls (Vegan) – loaded with plant based protein, antioxidants, and healthy fats.

PLANT BASED LUNCHES

  1. Moroccan Chickpea Salad (Vegan option) – dried fig and/or Turkish apricot are a great addition to this salad because they add in plant based iron, along with the chickpeas and pistachio!
  2. Satay Style Spiralized Vegetables Stir Fry (paleo and vegan options) – rich in Vitamin C and healthy fats!
  3. Vegan Spring Roll Recipe with Ginger Curry Dipping Sauce – The sauce alone is rich in plant based protein and Vitamin C! Be sure to add some spinach to those rolls for extra iron.

MEATLESS DINNER IDEAS

  1. Curried Chickpea Cauliflower Bake (vegan options) or any other vegetarian casserole from my 5 meals, 5 ingredients post! All of these casseroles contain plant based protein! The curried chickpea cauliflower bake contains an extra kick of anti-inflammatory properties from the curry powder. A winner of a plant based dinner!
  2. Southwest Black Beans Polenta Casserole (vegan option) – Polenta is rich in B vitamins and super versatile for vegetarian and vegan meals.
  3. Homemade Vegan Veggie Burgers – Need I say more? All the nutrients you need on a vegan diet is in this burger. Grain free option too!
  4. Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Paprika Cashew Cream (vegan, whole 30, paleo)- One of my favorite vegan and paleo plant based meals. Super simple ingredients that are rich in nutrients. The olives add a punch of flavor and minerals.

SNACKS

  1. No Bake Cinnamon Vanilla Protein Bites – These bites are great to make with sprouted pea or rice protein. The sprouted of the pea or grain help you ease digestion and maximize absorption.
  2. Maple Sesame Quinoa Bars (Vegan) – Sesame and quinoa contain a good source of plant based iron and other minerals such as zinc and selenium!
  3. Kiwi Super Green Smoothie (vegan and paleo) – cleansing and healing for the gut! Plus loaded in Vitamin C.

DESSERTS

  1. Raspberry Chocolate Chip Edible Cookie Dough
  2. Creamy Banana Vegan Soft Serve

BONUS FREEBIES

Need some organization and motivation to eat more plants? Here ya go! Printables. 🙂

PLANT BASED FOODS GROCERY LIST

(PDF version)

For the kiddos!

VEGGIE CHECKLIST

(PDF version)

Alright my friends! I hope you are feeling nourished already. If you have any questions about this meal plan or a vegan/vegetarian diet in general, please don’t hesitate to comment below or email.

And lastly, favorite vegetable??

I’d say mine is zucchini. It’s so versatile. 😉

Cheers,

LC

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Planning Paleo meals can be hard, especially if you’re used to grains or beans as staple foods. The basic concept looks like this:

  • A huge pile of vegetables – at least half the plate.
  • 1-2 palm-sized servings of animal protein (or 3-4 eggs).
  • Some healthy fat, like olive or coconut oil.
  • Optionally, some starchy vegetables, fruit, or nuts.

Here’s why that particular meal template works. If that sounds a little strange or hard to plan for, here’s a two-week sample meal plan with a printable grocery list so you can see how it can work on a day-to-day level. You can download the grocery list for week 1 here and week 2 here.

Notes about the menu:

  • The plan assumes you’ll be eating 3 meals and a snack every day. It’s fine to skip the snack, or even one of the meals, and just eat larger amounts at the other two meals. It’s also fine to add more food if you’re hungry.
  • The meal plan is sized for two people. Adjust up or down for your household size.
  • Lunches are written to be portable if necessary, for people who eat at work/school. Most snacks are also portable. Breakfasts are fast and usually portable.
  • You can download one PDF with printer-friendly versions of all the recipes for Week 1 here, and for Week 2 here.

2-Week Paleo Diet Meal Plan

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snack
Breakfast Casserole with Sausages (makes 2 days of breakfast; save the leftovers for tomorrow) Portable salad: grab a can of tuna and an avocado with some salad greens, oil, and vinegar, and mix it all up. Butterflied roasted chicken with wild mushroom soup. (Make stock with the chicken bones) Piece of fruit
Leftover breakfast casserole Salad with leftover roast chicken, dried cranberries, pecans, apple slices, and vinaigrette. Ham and Pineapple Skewers with oven-roasted tomatoes (makes 2 servings; save leftovers for snacks) Carrot sticks with mustard and/or mayo
Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon Leftover roast chicken (cold or hot) inside lettuce wraps with mustard, mayonnaise, or your favorite other condiments Greek-style meatballs (makes 2 days; save leftovers for lunch tomorrow) with roasted cauliflower Leftover ham and pineapple skewers (they’re great cold!)
Ham and Butternut Squash Hash (cut recipe in half) Leftover Greek-style meatballs on top of a big leafy salad with almond slivers and balsamic vinaigrette. Chicken Pad Sew Ew (makes 2 days; save leftovers for lunch tomorrow) Banana with almond butter
Egg and Vegetable Muffins (makes 2 days; save leftovers for tomorrow) Leftover chicken Pad Sew Ew Beef Cubes with Roasted Carrots and Mushrooms (makes 2 days; save leftovers for lunch tomorrow) Handful of nuts or trail mix
Leftover egg and vegetable muffins Leftover beef cubes with carrots and mushrooms (add more vegetables on the side if you like) Garlic Roasted Cod (make ½ recipe) with green beans. Handful of olives
Onions, mushrooms, and spinach fried up with bacon or sausages. Salad with canned salmon, mustard vinaigrette, Maple Braised Chuck Roast (makes 2 servings; save leftovers for lunch tomorrow) with roasted zucchini Piece of fruit

Download the printer-friendly versions of all the recipes for Week 1 here.

Download a printable grid of the meals for week 1 here.

Download a shopping list for week 1 here.

Week 2

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snack
Apple and Onion Scrambled eggs (make ½ recipe for two people) with some extra fried onions and mushrooms Leftover maple braised chuck roast Simple sausage casserole (makes 2 servings; save leftovers for breakfast tomorrow) Carrot sticks with mustard and/or mayo
Leftover sausage casserole Portable salad: grab a can of tuna and an avocado with some salad greens, oil, and vinegar, and mix it all up. Beef and Winter Vegetable Soup with oven-roasted eggplant Frozen berries with a drizzle of coconut milk (and honey if you like)
Breakfast stuffed peppers (makes 2 servings; save leftovers for breakfast tomorrow) Leftover beef and winter vegetable soup Grilled chicken breasts with zucchini (save half the chicken for lunch tomorrow) Beef jerky
Leftover breakfast stuffed peppers Leftover grilled chicken breast on top of salad greens with vinaigrette Spicy Pork Chili (makes 2 days; save leftovers for lunch tomorrow) with pan-fried Brussels sprouts Piece of fruit
Cabbage and onions fried up with bacon Leftover pork chili with baked sweet potatoes Pistachio-crusted salmon (makes 2 servings; save leftovers for breakfast tomorrow) with roasted beets and sweet potatoes. Roast a double batch of vegetables so you have some for lunch tomorrow. Hard-boiled egg
Leftover pistachio-crusted salmon served over wilted spinach Hard-boiled eggs (roughly 3 per person) with leftover roasted vegetables. Spicy Indian Chicken Stir-Fry with riced cauliflower Handful of nuts or trail mix
Cherry Tomato and Basil Quiche with extra fried onions Leftover chicken stir-fry and cauliflower Ground Beef and Cabbage Skillet (make ½ recipe for 2 people) Half an avocado sprinkled with sea salt and balsamic vinegar

Download the printer-friendly versions of all the recipes for Week 2 here.

Download a printable grid of the meals for week 2 here.

Download a shopping list for week 2 here.

Of course, it’s totally fine to modify the meal plan – these are suggestions, and there’s more than one way to do Paleo.

Think you can’t get skinny eating bread, cheese, meat, and potatoes? “Think again!” says Arne Astrup, MD, an obesity expert at the University of Copenhagen. He and his team burst onto the international weight-loss scene with an “undiet” that’s been clinically proven to melt three times more fat than traditional plans, but can it really be a diet for longevity? The Nordic diet (which was inspired by the Nordic region of the world, where even swimsuit models enjoy hearty fare and remain effortlessly slim) promises no calorie counting, no fuss over portions, and no bland, low-fat food — ever. Simply follow a few healthy guidelines, and you’ll eat dramatically less without even trying. On this Scandinavian diet, “You feel great, your waist shrinks, and life is good,” Dr. Astrup promises.

While many have tried vegetable and meat diets to lose weight, women are often surprised to find that you can lose weight eating potatoes. Proof the University of Copenhagen undiet really works: When we asked Woman’s World readers to test it for us, they shed up to 14 pounds in a week. “It’s amazing,” marvels Ohio mom Tracey Ellis, 46, who lost 13.5 pounds in just seven days. “I can’t believe how much weight I lost.” Georgia mom Christina Vincelli, 40, was also wowed by the experience. “All I could think about was how good the food tastes — and the next thing I knew, I’d shrunk by five inches.”

The Nordic Diet

Impressed by studies on Mediterranean-style diets, Astrup and his team set out to prove that a Nordic-style strategy — based on habits from obesity-resistant nations like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway — can be equally powerful. From the get-go, scientists knew that Mediterranean and Nordic approaches have plenty in common: Both emphasize naturally slimming foods like seafood, fresh veggies, fruit, and good fat, and both limit calorie-bomb restaurant meals and hunger-inducing processed fare.

Perhaps the key difference? “Because of our cooler climate, there is considerably more stick-to-your ribs fare,” notes Astrup. (Think crusty bread, full-fat cheese, roast beef, and herbed potatoes.) With more than 800 test subjects, the Nordic undiet has demonstrated that it can produce “greater weight loss and fat loss” than a traditional diet. “We never tell people to eat less,” Astrup adds. “We simply encourage them to eat more of the best things. Weight loss comes naturally.”

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Meat and Potatoes Diet Plan

So, how can you follow the meat and potatoes diet? Read on for the rules you need to know.

Rule 1: Eat more produce — even potatoes. “You can freely eat all fruit, beans, peas, beets, corn, and potatoes,” Astrup insists. Potatoes in particular get a bad rap, but this, the doc notes, is largely due to frying. Baked or boiled, potatoes are packed with fiber, vitamin C, and other nutrients.

Rule 2: Eat more whole grain — especially hearty rye bread. Whole-grain foods contain more protein, antioxidants, and especially dietary fiber, which “increase feelings of satiety, thus causing you to eat less,” Astrup says.

Rule 3: Get more protein — including from beef. “Protein is proven to keep you fuller longer, and it raises your metabolism because it requires more energy to digest than fat or carbohydrates,” Astrup notes. Seafood, a Nordic staple, contains belly-fat-busting omega-3 fatty acids. That said, Astrup adds that “fish protein is not necessarily superior to meat for weight control.” Lean beef, lamb, and venison actually provide a decent dose of omega-3s thanks to their grassy diets. Plus, they generally offer more fatigue-busting B vitamins and iron than fish.

Rule 4: Eat foods close to nature. The more unprocessed, additive-free, locally produced options you choose, the better off your health and waistline will be, Astrup says.

Nordic Diet Meal Plan

Drink all the healthy, natural beverages you like — including water, tea, and coffee. Freely add seasonings like herbs, spices, vinegar, and lemon juice to flavor meals. As always, get a doctor’s OK to try any new plan.

Breakfast

Option 1: Dark rye toast, Neufchâtel cheese, smoked salmon, fresh dill to taste with one piece of fruit

Option 2: One bowl of low-fat regular or Greek yogurt sprinkled with whole-grain cereal and drizzled with honey, paired with one serving of berries

Lunch

Option 1: Baby spinach, chilled diced beets, chilled barley or brown rice, crumbled goat cheese, olive oil, herbs, and balsamic vinegar to taste, with one hard-boiled egg

Option 2: Nitrate-free deli meat, cheese, baby arugula, a little mayo, and a squirt of lemon on thin dark rye bread together with fresh coleslaw mix and slaw dressing (add dill to taste)

Option 3: Cooked shrimp, cocktail sauce, and creamy potato salad: 1 boiled, cubed medium red potato with skin, 1/2 cup each peas, diced celery and plain low-fat yogurt, 1 tsp. mayo and fresh chives, dill, and salt to taste

Dinner

Option 1: Grilled fish over steamed spinach or kale, lemon and pepper to taste, with sliced red bell pepper or Brussels sprouts sautéed in olive oil and crusty whole-grain bread

Option 2: Grilled kebabs: Cubed chicken breast, grass-fed lamb or shrimp, mushrooms, bell pepper and tomatoes threaded onto skewers and grilled with hummus as dip and a piece of corn

Option 3: Grass-fed beef or wild salmon (add seasoning to taste) with steamed vegetables, baked potato, plain yogurt, and chives

Snacks

Option 1: 1/4 cup trail mix made with dried cranberries, pistachios, raisins, and/or cashews

Option 2: 1 cup berries with 10 roasted almonds

Option 3: 1 cup vegetables with 1 oz. cheese

Nordic Diet Menu Plan

Fill your plate with unlimited produce. Add a serving of protein like fish or grass-fed beef and a side of whole grains such as rye bread or brown rice. For best results, aim for unprocessed, local ingredients.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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Vegetarians enjoy a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit with some also choosing to include dairy products, including cheese (made using vegetable rennet) and eggs. Studies suggest that a plant-based diet like this can be a healthier way to eat with fewer reported cases of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Typically, a varied vegetarian diet contains less saturated fat and more folate, fibre and antioxidants, plus as a vegetarian you’re more likely to exceed the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables.

The Eatwell Guide defines the different types of foods we should be eating and in what proportions. The guide explains some simple rules to follow like getting a minimum five-a-day of fruit and veg, including wholegrains and choosing more beans and pulses, while opting for lower fat, lower sugar dairy (or dairy-free alternatives). But that’s not the whole story. How much should you be eating and is there an ideal time to eat protein, carbs or fats? Read on for our guide to healthy eating around the clock.

Reference Intakes (RI)

The RIs are benchmarks for the amount of energy (kilocalories), fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, protein and salt that an average, moderately active adult should consume each day. The RIs for fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt are maximum daily amounts. There is no RI for fibre, although health experts suggest we have 30g a day. Don’t forget that we are all different with varying needs for energy and nutrients so this information is for guidance only:

Perfect portions

Numbers and figures are all very well, but how does this relate to you? Keeping the Eatwell Guide in mind, you can personalise your portion sizes.

Foods Portion size
Carbs like cereal/rice/pasta/potato (include 1 portion at each main meal and ensure it fills no more than ¼ of your plate) Your clenched fist
Protein like tofu/beans/pulses (aim to have a portion at each meal) Palm of your hand
Cheese (as a snack or part of a meal) 2 of your thumbs
Nuts/seeds (as a snack or part of a meal) 1 of your cupped hands
Butter/spreads/nut butter (no more than 2 or 3 times a day) The tip of your thumb
Savouries like popcorn/crisps (as a snack/treat) 2 of your cupped hands
Bakes like brownies/flapjacks (as an occasional treat) 2 of your fingers

Don’t forget, as set out in the Eatwell Guide, we should all be aiming for a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Discover what counts as one portion using our five-a-day infographic.

A protein-based breakfast is an ideal choice because it’s a filling and sustaining way to start the day and needn’t take any longer to prepare than toast or cereal. For example, while your bread is toasting, scramble an egg for a nutritious toast topper and, on days when you have a little more time, enjoy our version of a vegetarian kedgeree.
Eggs provide a good balance of quality protein combined with fat, plus the yolks are a useful source of vitamin D, which we need for strong bones and teeth. Protein slows stomach emptying, keeping you fuller for longer so you’ll eat fewer calories during the rest of the day. If you do prefer your breakfast in a bowl, pack your porridge or cereal with a selection of nuts and seeds and finish with a generous dollop of natural yogurt.

Many people think vegetarians are at risk of being low in the mineral iron, but there are plenty of plant foods that are good sources along with fortified breakfast cereals, muesli, wholemeal bread and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Enjoy any of these with a small glass of fruit juice, rich in vitamin C, to optimise your body’s iron uptake. For those who avoid dairy, like milk and yogurt, choose an alternative that is fortified with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium.

Whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast as this sets your blood sugar off on a roller-coaster that means you’ll end up choosing the wrong foods later in the day. Remember breakfast makes an important contribution towards your daily intake and plays a key role in maintaining a healthy weight.

Breakfast suggestions:
Spinach protein pancakes
Vegan tomato & mushroom pancakes
​Tofu brekkie pancakes
Seven-cup museli
Scrambled omelette toast topper
Spicy tofu kedgeree
Veggie breakfast bakes
Get up and go breakfast muffins
Apple & linseed porridge
Cinnamon buckwheat pancakes with cherries
Creamy yogurt porridge with apricot, ginger & grapefruit topping
Bulghar & spinach fritters with eggs & tomato chutney
Fruit & nut yogurt

Mid-morning snack

Make every snack count with nourishing options that supply both the ‘pick-me-up’ you need while topping up your portions of fruit and veg, or delivering key nutrients like iron or vitamin D. Swap your morning biscuits for toast topped with slices of banana, bake a batch of fruit-packed muffins or blend up a fruit smoothie.

Snack suggestions
Peanut butter & banana on toast
Malted walnut seed loaf
Almond butter
Crunchy baked eggs
Super berry smoothie
Exercise shake
Melon & crunchy bran pots
Nutty blueberry muffins

At lunch, aim for a mix of protein from beans, peas, nuts, grains or dairy or dairy-free products, combined with starchy carbs. You need carb-rich foods because without them you’re likely to suffer that classic mid-afternoon slump. The key is to choose carbs that produce a steady rise in blood sugar, which means passing on the sugary ‘white’ foods and going for high-fibre wholegrains that help you manage those afternoon munchies.

We need some fats in our diet, but it’s important we don’t eat too much and the focus should be on the right type of fat. Fat is not only a source of energy, it helps us absorb fat-soluble vitamins including vitamins A, D, E and K. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat, but keep in mind that some plant foods like coconut and palm oils, are high in these saturates. Heart-friendly mono-unsaturated fats are found in plant foods like avocado, olive and cold-pressed rapeseed oils, whilst nuts and seeds supply the heart-friendly polyunsaturates, including the omega-3 variety. It’s these unsaturated fats that we should be eating more of, so include a tablespoon of ground flaxseed or two tablespoons of oil, or the equivalent of unsalted nuts, daily.

Lunch suggestions:
Falafel burgers
Red lentil, chickpea & chilli soup
Fragrant vegetable & cashew biryani
Exotic avocado salad
Spicy vegetable fajitas
Hearty mushroom soup
Houmous & avocado sandwich topper
Poached egg with spicy rice
Vegetarian club
Risotto-stuffed tomatoes
Indian chickea & vegetable soup
Curried squash, lentil & coconut soup
Black bean, tofu & avocado rice bowl
Bulghar & broad bean salad with zesty dressing

Mid-afternoon snack

For many it’s not sugar so much as salty, savoury foods they crave in the afternoon. If this sounds like you, forget the crisps and opt instead for a spiced seed mix, savoury popcorn or enjoy lower fat cream cheese on crackers or a crunchy colourful salad.

Snack suggestions
Pea & artichoke houmous
Chickpea & red pepper dip
Pear, blue cheese & walnut sandwich topper
Spicy seed mix
Spiced chilli popcorn
Sweet potato & pea puffs
Dagmar’s detox salad
Carrot & houmous roll-ups

Don’t curfew carbs. They’re low in fat, fibre-rich and help you relax in the evening, plus they’re filling, which means they’ll get you through to breakfast. Combine them with some healthy essential fats, such as the ones you find in nuts, especially walnuts, as well as seeds like pumpkin and some protein from tofu, eggs or dairy. During the night your body will use the protein and these healthy fats for regeneration and repair, which is important for maintaining healthy skin and hair.

Dinner suggestions
Veggie shepherd’s pie with sweet potato mash
One-pot mushroom & potato curry
Spiced veg with lemony bulghar wheat salad
Spaghetti with spinach & walnut pesto
Mushroom, walnut & tomato baked peppers
Fragrant vegetable & cashew biryani
Chinese noodles with tofu & hazelnuts
Spinach & artichoke filo pie
Veggie bolognese
Tofu & asparagus pad Thai
One-pot mushroom & potato curry
Easy veggie biryani

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This article was last reviewed on 4 July 2019 by Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
Do you follow a vegetarian diet? We have lots more vegetarian recipes, but would love to hear your tips for staying healthy as a vegetarian in the comments below…

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