Tips for Planning Vegetarian Meals

All-vegetarian meals are growing in popularity.

Vegetarian meal plans are not hard to follow and can help make any vegetarian's life much easier. Mealtimes are often hectic, so having a set plan and menu to follow will save time and help you eat better.

Components of a Meal Plan

To make a successful meal plan, consider how often you cook, how much time you have to cook, and what you'd most like to eat.

  1. Begin by writing down ideas for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Make a full week's list of ideas (some repeats are fine).
  2. Jot down common ingredients that make an appearance in many items on your menu. Some examples might be yogurt, milk, fresh greens, eggs, fruits, rice, or bread. These items should always stay at the top of your grocery list, as you'll probably need to restock with each trip you make.
  3. Think of a few variations on the meals you wrote down in your weeklong menu. For instance, if you like eating oatmeal for breakfast, you might want to try cornmeal, rice cereal, or steel-cut oats instead.
  4. Now use a blank calendar template or day planner to come up with a meal plan for an entire month. With your weeklong full menu and list of variations, you should be able to come up with vegetarian meal plans for a month. Remember to count leftovers and meals you might eat at restaurants.
  5. Use your meal plan as a guide to come up with a grocery list whenever you need to go shopping. Stick to what's on the list, and use those ingredients to prepare each meal you've planned.

Tips for Planning Meals

  • Try to include a variety of foods from each food group to create a balanced diet.
  • Add protein to your meals by eating dairy products, eggs, quinoa, and protein-rich vegetables.
  • Instead of eating the same foods every week, vary your meals. It's better for your body to collect beneficial vitamins and minerals from a variety of natural, whole foods rather than from the same foods all the time.
  • If meal planning grows boring for you or you feel that you're eating the same foods often, ask friends and family members for new recipes or find a cookbook that offers new, exciting options.
  • Plan meals around fresh foods that are in season to get the best taste and value in your cooking.
  • Look at your meal plan as a set of suggestions rather than a rigid schedule. Be flexible, and don't hesitate to switch up your options or abandon the plan for a few days.

Examples of Vegetarian Meal Plans

Steamed vegetables in a wok.

Here are some meal ideas for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

Breakfasts

  • Pancakes with fresh berries
  • Steel-cut oats with cooked apples, raisins, and cinnamon
  • Plain yogurt with granolas, honey, and fresh berries
  • Scrambled eggs with wilted spinach and assorted steamed vegetables
  • Vegetable omelet with mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, and cheese
  • Peanut-butter toast with a banana and cold cereal

Lunches

  • Tossed salad with fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and dressing
  • Toasted pita with hummus, fruit with cottage cheese, and trail mix
  • Grilled-vegetable and cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • Fruit salad with yogurt and peanut-butter bread
  • Rice with steamed vegetables, nuts, and a piece of fruit
  • Vegetable curry with flatbread

Dinners

  • Vegetable stir fry with brown rice or wild rice
  • Curry quinoa with hard-boiled eggs and sautéed vegetables
  • Quiche with a side salad and 100% fruit juice
  • Veggie taco with lentils, tomatoes, lettuce, and seasonings on a whole-grain tortilla
  • Multigrain pasta with fresh tomatoes and pesto sauce
  • Pizza with roasted vegetables and fresh mozzarella
Tips for Planning Vegetarian Meals