With all the rampant confusion as we brave grocery stores and hoard items we never considered hoard-able even 2 weeks ago, it’s more important than ever to have a Vegetarian Meal Plan. It keeps us focused on what we need from the market, prevents food waste, and helps us stay within a budget. In our home, these are all Mission Critical.
WEEKLY VEGETARIAN MEAL PLAN CHECKLIST
When I sit down to plan my meals for the week ahead, I start with a checklist. Of course this checklist has changed a bit now, since we’re self-isolating at home. For example, I no longer need to plan our dinners around other activities. 🙇♀️
But as much as I enjoy cooking, I still don’t want a major project every single night. Are you with me?
So here’s my current checklist:
- What’s in the refrigerator or pantry I need to use up?
- What pantry items do I have on hand, even if their expiration dates are in the distant future?
- Is there a central ingredient, such as beans that I can use more than one night during the week?
- What can I make ahead to speed up dinner prep? For example, I frequently cook up a pot of beans in my Instant Pot that I can use in several meals through the week.
- What produce is in season? (Assuming (a) I want to brave the market, and (b) the market has seasonal produce to sell.)
What’s in My Pantry
I define pantry items as canned goods, dried grains, quinoa seed, and dried pasta, as well as things in the freezer and refrigerator. For example, eggs. And right now I have 3 kinds of beans in my refrigerator. Black beans, Italian white beans and pinto beans.
I love beans, obvi.
By the way, I cooked them all up in my Instant Pot over the past 24 hours using this recipe.
If you cook your beans on the stove top, here’s a fool proof recipe with lots of tips for getting a perfect pot of beans. Or, if you prefer a slow cooker, this is the recipe I use that’s never failed me.
So beans are definitely on the menu this week. Dried beans are very shelf stable and can last for at least 2 years in your pantry, and typically much longer. They have great protein, substantial fiber, and fit into most budgets. But for this reason, if you don’t already have dried beans on hand, you may have a lot of trouble finding them right now. There was a great article in the New York Times Business Section just this morning on this.
So let’s get going with a vegetarian meal plan for the week. I’ve also expanded it to 7 days, since we’re not eating out right now.
M O N D A Y
GINGER SWEET POTATO COCONUT MILK STEW with LENTILS & KALE
Get the recipe here by from The First Mess
First of all, this soup is drop-dead gorgeous. Second, lentils cook up very quickly are an excellent staple for any pantry. I also always always always have a few cans of coconut milk on hand. Next fall, I could see this soup with butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes, but right now I have 6 potatoes at home. Some of them are going into this soup.
If someone at the table wants meat in it, I suggest roasted chicken. I don’t like the smell of chicken cooking, but my husband, Carnivorous Maximus, wants it showing up on his plate. So I purchase pre-roasted chickens.
T U E S D A Y
LIGHT ASPARAGUS – GRUYERE QUICHE WITH HASH BROWN CRUST
Get the recipe here.
Eggs last for quite awhile in the refrigerator, so this is another great staple to have on hand. Likewise cheese, especially hard cheese, as it lasts a long time. Think Parmesan, Romano, Asiago. Asparagus is in season now, and I’m seeing it all my markets. For the hash browns, I keep bags of frozen hash browns on hand at all times since my kids and grandkids love the stuff. So, except for the asparagus, this is a great pantry dish.
If my family wants meat in this quiche, I add plant-based “meats”. For example Morningstar Farms Chorizo Crumbles. They’re fabulous in egg dishes like this. They cook up super fast on the stovetop, and are then folded into the egg mixture before baking.
If you want to move to a more vegetarian diet, but not sure the best steps to take, join the Monthly Vegetarian Meals Challenge. Each month I’ll post some tips – great plant protein sources, must-haves for the vegetarian pantry, ways to build flavor, and more. Additionally, we tackle 1 – 3 seasonal recipes tied to the theme that month. Subscribe to Monthly Vegetarian Meals Challenge here.
W E D N E S D A Y
VEGAN ASPARAGUS SALAD with POTATOES AND LENTILS + LEMON VINAIGRETTE
Get the recipe here.
The staples here to make use of are the lentils, of course, but also potatoes. It’s typically best to not refrigerate them as it increases the starch, but for extra longevity, I now recommend refrigerating them.
This salad is also very flexible. If you don’t see asparagus, or it’s too expensive right now, green beans also work very well here.
T H U R S D A Y
CREAMY BRAISED WHITE BEANS
VEGETARIAN 30-MINUTES OR LESS GLUTEN-FREE EASY PARTS CAN BE MADE AHEAD
Get the recipe here from Ali Slagle of the New York Times.
This is where my Italian white beans that are already cooked up in the refrigerator are going. And garlic, in our house is a staple. It lasts a long time in the refrigerator and is very very healthy.
If your family wants a some meat in it, I’d go with some spicy sausage like Linguica. Linguica is a cured, spicy sausage and lasts a long time in the refrigerator. I slice it off into 1/4″ thick rounds and sauté on the stove in a little olive oil until their edges are lightly crispy.
F R I D A Y
TRI-COLOR BEAN GREEK VEGGIE BURGERS + TZATZIKI SAUCE
VEGETARIAN PARTS CAN BE MADE AHEAD
Get the recipe here by Creative Culinary.
There are a bunch of ingredients in this recipe, it’s true, but it sounds and looks fantastic. And it’s a perfect way to use staples such as rice, oats, breadcrumbs and yes, beans. Barb includes great tips for getting the best possible result when making them which I plan to follow. A number of other ingredients are ingredients I always have on hand, and I only need to purchase a cucumber for the sauce.
S A T U R D A Y
CALABRESE – STYLE FRIED POTATOES with PEPPERS
VEGAN PARTS CAN BE MADE AHEAD
Get the recipe here.
I posted this recipe a few years ago from a cookbook I was recommending at the time, which I still use often. Because I’m looking to punch up the protein in some of my vegetarian dishes, I plan to add either black beans or lentils to the peppers – or a plant-based “meat” substitute.
For the meat eaters, I recommend ground beef spiced up with oregano, paprika, salt and pepper.
S U N D A Y
4 LAYER STUFFED AVOCADOS
VEGETARIAN PARTS CAN BE MADE AHEAD EASY
Get the recipe here from Life Currents.
I cheated and already made this one. I couldn’t wait since I had a couple avocados I needed to use. And avocados don’t wait for anyone. I made a variation of it with what I had on hand, and I plan to make it again this week using the salsa recipe they provide.
For the meat-eaters? Shrimp!
If you make any of these dishes, I would love to see how it turns out for you!! Take a photo and put it up on Instagram – just don’t forget to tag me @wimpyvegetarian.
Did you miss my other Weekly Menu Plans? Just type Weekly Vegetarian Meal Plan into the search field, and you’ll see them all.