A beginner’s guide to vegan meal planning, including what it is, why to do it, and top tips to successfully vegan meal plan to help maintain your dietary goals and save you time and money along the way!
Putting together an easy vegan meal plan can be beneficial no matter what stage you are at as a vegan. As a brand new vegan, planning a customized menu of vegan meals for beginners can provide you with a continuous list of new recipe ideas and help to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
Even more so, it’ll save time and money, take some of the stress out of cooking, and even help you develop healthier eating habits! Within this post, I’ll take you through a complete beginner’s guide to vegan meal planning along with links and info regarding my newly launched vegan meal planner!
What is Vegan Meal Planning?
Creating a plant-based meal plan is precisely what it sounds like. It’s the planning of vegan meals. Consuming a diet free from animal products is good for the animals, the planet, and often our health too (including having a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers). However, if not done with care, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Luckily, with a little pre-thought (aka creating vegan meal plans!), you can easily ensure you’re eating all that’s needed. Not to mention, have fun doing so!
Whether you want to create vegan daily meal plans, weekly vegan meal plans, or even monthly ones, it’s the act of setting aside the time to write out your ‘vegan menu’ for that given time in one go, rather than having to think about it before each meal.
You can plan your vegan diet plan around specific dietary goals, budget levels, ingredients, kitchen skill level, meal-preppable meals, etc. More so, meal planning can be as flexible as you’d like. Whether you want to plan every meal, just your ‘main meal’, or even just specific days of the week.
Meal Planning vs. Meal Prepping
While the two often go hand-in-hand, they aren’t the same thing.
Meal planning is the process of putting together the ‘menu’. In comparison, meal prepping is the act of actually preparing part or all of the said menu (for example, washing/chopping ingredients, pre-cooking certain elements, or even assembling the entire dish) to cut down on kitchen time.
This means that, while it’s possible to create a healthy vegan meal plan without prepping, the planning is crucial for any meal prep!
What Are The Benefits of Meal Planning?
- Helps you stick to your dietary goals: Choose recipes and ingredients that align with your goals (high protein, low-fat, calorie levels, etc.).
- Hit nutrient levels: Meal planning can ensure you hit daily nutrient targets (5-a-day, protein, etc.). When eating a vegan diet it’s important to ensure you’re consuming enough protein, vitamin B12, D, calcium, iron, and omega 3s.
- Saves time: Even with the time to create your plant-based meal plan. I still save SO much time when no longer having to ponder what’s for dinner, check for ingredients, search for recipes, etc. This way, everything is ready to go! It also saves time in the grocery store and cuts down on aimless wandering!
- Saves money: Only buy what you need! Even better, you can specifically choose recipes within your ideal budget range.
- Help to reduce waste: If every ingredient is accounted for and has a purpose, you’re far less likely to end up wasting anything (or forgetting about something in the back of the fridge). The average American family of four throws out $1,600 a year in produce (30-40% of our food is wasted, most of it at our homes)!
- Get out of a cooking slump: A customized vegan weekly meal plan that encourages you to try new recipes is a great way to get your kitchen mojo back!
- Lead to healthier habits: They say it takes, on average, about 66 days to form a new habit. So with just two months of meal planning, you can adjust your lifestyle and eating to align with your health goals!
In fact, these are the same reason I launched my vegan meal planner with 2000+ vegan meal ideas, healthy weekly meal plans, and several other benefits you can read all about if you scroll to the bottom of this post.
11 Top Tips to Vegan Meal Plan
- Set aside the time to meal plan: I recommend setting aside a good 2-2 1/2 hours for meal planning the first week. This will become much shorter over time.
- Take a kitchen inventory first: Before making your first plant-based meal plan, take an inventory of your refrigerator and pantry. I like to write mine down including use-by dates. That way, you can make sure to plan around any ‘must use’ items and items you already have. You can also refer back to the list in future weeks, to avoid buying duplicates.
- Remember your vegan food plan goals: If you want to save time, choose meal-preppable and quick meals. To save money, make the most of inexpensive meals and leftovers, etc. Keep your goals in mind when planning, for the best success!
- Take nutrients into consideration: Make sure to hit all your nutritional needs. Eat the rainbow (i.e., lots of fruits and veggies), load up on protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Using a meal planner with built-in nutritional information will help with this. You can also plug the recipes into nutritional apps like LifeSum or MyFitnessPal.
- Plan around your ‘plans’: Take any ‘meals out’ or events into account, as you won’t need meals then. This is especially important when meal planning for multiple people. More so, if you know you have a quiet evening, choose the ‘longer’ meals for then. For those days you’re rushing, choose simple meals or meal-preppable options, etc.
- Remember leftovers: Whether you’re specifically meal planning with cost-cutting in mind, making large portions and saving leftovers will be more cost-efficient than making something new each day. Likewise, cooking one ingredient once (like a specific protein, grain, or roasted vegetables) and using them in various meals can cut costs, save time, and keep you from getting bored.
- Enjoy experimenting: One of my favorite things about meal planning is getting to try new meals every week. If you don’t like one/have improvements you’d make, then make a note somewhere and move along. Of course, take note of any you love to add to a rotation of favorites, too. Using my healthy vegan meal planner, you can easily do both on the recipe page!
- Start small: There’s no need to immediately throw yourself into a complete weekly vegan diet plan. Instead, feel free to start the first week by just planning one meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks). Increase the amount as you feel comfortable.
- Plan meals around your ingredients shelf lives: For example, if you plan to get your groceries once a week. Make sure to eat the fresh produce earlier on and rely on the longer-lasting/pantry-based recipes later on. That way, you’ll avoid waste.
- Make sure to have a plan B: At some point, something will trip you up. Perhaps the grocery store is out of a key ingredient, or you go to the fridge to discover someone else has eaten something needed for one of your vegan meal ideas (it happens!). It’s always great to have a plan B you can pull together from your pantry/freezer when needed.
- And remember, practice makes perfect: Or in this case, improved. The first week of creating a beginner vegan meal plan may feel daunting, but it gets easier. You’ll soon pick up a rotation of favorite meals, cut down on the time it takes to plan, learn your ideal portion sizes, and essentially learn what works best for you. This includes how much variety you like per week, the amount of meal-preppable options needed, and more!
However, even with all of the above sorted, it can still feel incredibly overwhelming to begin creating your plant-based diet menu/ meal plan (and prepping). This is where tools like my vegan meal planner come in handy!
What You’ll Get With My Meal Planner App
The basis of meal planning is gathering recipes and compiling a shopping list, whether you’re creating a vegan meal plan for beginners or seasoned vegans. My brand new vegan meal planner allows you to do that and more! Including:
- A weekly suggested meal plan that you can tailor and customize!
- Choose from over 2000+ vegan recipes (including whole-food plant-based, gluten-free recipes, vegan kid-friendly recipes, etc.)
- Personalize and customize/filter your meal plan to your preferences. These include cooking skill level, time, how many people live in your household, which appliances you have in your kitchen, allergies, and ingredient dislikes.
- Choose the meal plan type for you. These include the ‘anything goes,’ ‘creative kitchen’ (lower processed meals), and ‘health is wealth’ (clean menus, 100% gluten-free, 100% delicious!)
- All nutritional information is included per recipe, with adjustable portion sizes.
- Create unlimited printable plant-based meal plans and auto-generated or manual grocery lists!
- Options for delivery if you don’t have time to make the trip to a grocery store.
- Add notes to recipes. Every time you try a new recipe, add your personal notes/tips. They’ll be there for you to refer to next time!
And, best of all (and what sets my meal planning app apart from many others):
- Get all the support you need! This includes a help section with a Beginner’s guide, FAQs, Tips & Tricks section, and tech support. As well as 1-on-1 coaching (via chat, email, or phone) by a dedicated team of food coaches, 7 days a week!
This includes offering you cooking advice, suggesting food substitutions, helping to create a tailored plant-based meal plan and grocery list for your needs, and more! Refer to the FAQs section here for more information!
What kind of vegan meal ideas can you find on my planner?
With over 2000+ vegan meal ideas and healthy weekly meal plans, you certainly won’t lack ideas. These include:
- For breakfast: Smoothies, overnight oats, pancakes, yogurt parfaits, muffins, chia pudding, tofu scramble, avocado toast, and more!
- For lunch/dinner: tacos, pizza, salad bowls, mixed salads, sandwiches, tortilla wraps, simple dishes with brown rice and quinoa, and more!
- Dessert/snacks: vegan soft serve, truffles, no-bake cheesecakes, cookies, cake, and much more!
Whether you want a whole-food plant-based diet meal plan or a more flexible plant-based diet meal plan. This vegan meal planner has your back with plenty of whole grains, vegetables, beans, nuts, fruits, and more!
If you keep an eye on my blog (or sign up to my email newsletter), I’ll be posting more useful guides over the coming weeks. These include a beginner’s guide to vegan meal prepping, a vegan diet plan for beginners, and how to become vegan for beginners!
Head over to this page for more information on my new vegan meal planner! Have any more questions about the vegan meal planner? Feel free to ask them in the comments below and/or follow me on Instagram @elavegan for more!
Below is one of my favorite quick recipes in my meal planner – sweet and sour chickpeas.
Vegan Meal Plan: Sweet and Sour Chickpeas
- 5 tbsp (75 ml) orange juice
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot flour
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
- 1 tsp veggie bouillon powder
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 2-3 tsp coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 (15 oz) canned chickpeas drained and rinsed
- Leftover cooked rice to serve
- To a bowl, add the tomato paste, orange juice, cornstarch, water, bouillon powder, tamari, coconut sugar, and hot sauce. Mix with a whisk and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the chickpeas and continue to cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Give the sauce another mix and then pour it into the skillet. Bring to a simmer, add the peanut butter, and cook for 1 minute. Then turn off the heat.
- Serve with rice. Enjoy!
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
Hi dear Ela.
I’m an iranian girl. I’m not a vegan but I like vegetables. A plate of beans, potatoes and mushrooms! It’s perfect.
Actually I’m a good cook and vegetables are always pleasant to me. Your recipes are singular and absolutely delicious.
Have a nice day.💛🍄🍎
We loved this recipe! It is SO easy and quick, filling and very tasty. I doubled the chickpeas & the sauce because I like things sauce heavy, it was plenty! Mine cam out pretty citrus-y, but we loved it and will save this recipe!
So happy it was a hit, Carly! Thanks for your awesome feedback. 🙂
I’ve not tried this yet, but I’d like to whether this Sweet and Sour Chickpea recipe can be frozen after it has been prepared??
Yes, that is possible. 🙂
I love your vegan meal planner, it’s absolutely amazing. Thanks for your wonderful recipes, they make a huge difference. xo Kara
I am so glad you like it, Kara! Thanks for your kind comment. 🙂
I just put cashew instead of peanuts Butter.
Work out fine as well.
Sounds great! Happy you like it. 🙂
would it be ok to leave out the boullion powder, seems all I find contain soy, which is a food allergen for me. Thank you. I will also sub the tamari and replace with coconut aminos. this looks great, will make this weekend.
Yes, that should be fine, you might need to add a little more coconut aminos then. Enjoy!