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Chef Sara’s 5-Day Meal Plan

There’s something so special about the dawn of a bright new year, fresh with possibilities and potential. If you’ve been yearning to get in the kitchen more, whether you’re a longtime vegan or new to the plant-based cooking world, this 5-day dinner meal plan featuring Compassionate Cuisine recipes may be just the encouragement you need to dust off your apron and find joy in your kitchen.

If you’re brand-new to meal planning and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities, here are some surefire tips for success!

Start small. You don’t have to follow this entire plan on your first go: this is just a suggestion, so feel free to change it up! Pick a few recipes you’d like to try and pencil them in on your calendar or planner, then commit to making them instead of ordering takeout. If you’re pressed for time but still want homemade meals on the table, seek out pre-cut veggies in the produce section of your local grocery store: they can be wonderful time-savers.  

Shop and prep in advance. A day or two before your meal plan begins, write up your shopping list, buy all the ingredients you need, and commit to spending an hour or so in the kitchen, getting everything washed and chopped for your recipes. Put on some music or a podcast and make it fun!  Be a “meal plan detective” and see what you can make in advance to save more time during your busy week. For the recipes you won’t be making in advance, wash and chop all your produce, then store in the refrigerator until needed. With your vegetables ready to go, dinner will come together in a snap!

Looking for specific meal-planning pointers? Here are some time- and sanity-saving tips for tackling this particular meal plan:

  • Make a batch of Broccoli, Spinach, and Hemp Seed Pesto on Sunday, then refrigerate until needed for Thursday’s dinner.
  • Don’t want to use canned beans? No problem! Cook them from scratch on Sunday and refrigerate until needed.
  • Assemble the Slow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet on Monday morning before you leave for work or school. When you get home in the evening, dinner will be waiting for you! (And if you don’t have a slow cooker, don’t fret! Just make the cassoulet on the stovetop on Sunday night, then refrigerate and reheat on Monday.)

Be patient with yourself. Meal planning is like any other skill: it gets easier with practice. Give yourself permission to take it slow and steady as you learn how to plan and prep for a week’s worth of meals, knowing your reward will be an abundance of delicious, nourishing homemade dishes for you and your family. It’s worth it – and most importantly, you’re worth it!

Day:

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursday

Friday

Dinner Menu:Slow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet; Simple Green SaladLentil Sloppy Joes; Zesty Lime-Pineapple SlawEasy Eggplant Pizzas; Roasted Garlic and BroccoliWhite Bean Cashew Alfredo over Zucchini Noodles; Roasted Vegetables with Pesto (made with Broccoli, Spinach, and Hemp Seed Pesto)

Lentil Sweet Potato Tacos; Sliced Fresh Pineapple

Click here to download the Shopping List

Sunday Prep List: All prepped vegetables, fruit, and herbs should be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

Ingredient:For Recipes(s) and Day(s):Total Amount Needed:To Do:
AsparagusRoasted Vegetables with Pesto (Thursday)1 poundWash and trim tough ends.
BasilBroccoli, Spinach, and Hemp Seed Pesto (Thursday)1 handfulWash and pat dry; remove leaves from stem and discard stem.
BroccoliRoasted Garlic and Broccoli (Wednesday); Broccoli, Spinach, and Hemp Seed Pesto (Thursday)2 large bunchesWash and cut into bite-size florets.
CarrotsSlow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet (Monday); Lentil Sloppy Joes (Tuesday): Zesty Lime-Pineapple Slaw (Tuesday)8 medium carrotsWash and peel; slice 3 carrots into coins; finely chop 2 carrots; and grate 3 carrots.
CauliflowerRoasted Vegetables with Pesto (Thursday)I headWash and cut into bite-sized florets.
CelerySlow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet (Monday)3 stalksWash, trim ends, and finely chop.
CilantroZesty Lime-Pineapple Cabbage Slaw (Tuesday)1 bunchWash well and pat dry; remove leaves from stems, and chop leaves.
Cremini MushroomsSlow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet (Monday); Lentil Sweet Potato Tacos (Friday)1 pound plus 10 ouncesWipe clean and remove coarse stems; halve, then thickly slice 1 pound; slice remaining 10 ounces.
EggplantEasy Eggplant Pizzas (Wednesday)1 large Cutaway ends, then slice into ¼-inch-thick rounds; dip each slice into a bowl of water to which you’ve added the juice of 1 lemon. (To prevent any possible discoloration, cut the eggplant the day you’ll be serving it.)
FennelRoasted Vegetables with Pesto (Thursday)1 headWash, trim, and quarter, then thinly slice; toss with a bit of fresh lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
GarlicMany of the week’s recipes20 cloves, about 2 headsPeel garlic, and mince 12 cloves; keep remaining garlic whole.
Green CabbageZesty Lime-Pineapple Cabbage Slaw (Tuesday)1 small or ½ medium headWash, peel off any wilted outer leaves, and thinly slice.
KaleLentil Sweet Potato Tacos (Friday)6 to 8 leaves, about 1 bunchWash, strip leaves from stems, and chop.
LimesZesty Lime-Pineapple Cabbage Slaw (Tuesday)3 limesWash, halve, and juice.
Mixed Salad GreensSimple Green Salad (Monday)1 small containerWash and dry if necessary.
Onions, YellowLentil Sloppy Joes (Tuesday); Lentil Sweet Potato Tacos (Friday)2 mediumWash, peel, and finely chop.
ParsleySlow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet (Monday)½ cup, approximately ½ a bunchWash, pat dry, and pinch leaves from stems; finely chop.
PineappleZesty Lime-Pineapple Slaw (Tuesday); Fresh Sliced Pineapple (Friday)1 largeWash, then cut away ends and tough peel; cut ½ the pineapple into small cubes, and slice the other half.
Red Bell PepperLentil Sloppy Joes (Tuesday); Roasted Vegetables with Pesto (Thursday)3 mediumWash; finely chop 1 pepper, and cut the remaining 2 into ¼-inch strips.
Red CabbageZesty Lime-Pineapple Cabbage Slaw (Tuesday)I small or ½ medium Wash, peel off any wilted outer leaves, and thinly slice.
Red PotatoesSlow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet (Monday)3 mediumWash and cut into ½-inch pieces; store covered with water to prevent discoloration.
Romaine LettuceSimple Green Salad (Monday)1 headWash, pat dry, and cut into bite-sized pieces.
RosemarySlow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet (Monday)1 small bunch, to yield 2 teaspoons, choppedWash, strip leaves from stems, and chop.
ShallotsSlow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet (Monday)4 mediumPeel and finely chop.
SpinachBroccoli, Spinach, and Hemp Seed Pesto (Thursday)2 cupsWash and pat dry.
Sweet PotatoesLentil Sweet Potato Tacos (Friday)3 large, about 2 to 3 poundsWash, peel, and cut into ½-inch pieces; store covered in water in the refrigerator to prevent discoloration.
ThymeSlow Cooker White Bean Cassoulet (Monday)1 small bunch, to yield 1 tablespoon choppedWash, pat dry, and strip leaves from stems; finely chop.
ZucchiniWhite Bean Cashew Alfredo over Zucchini Noodles (Thursday)4 to 6 medium zucchini, depending on how many people you’re serving Wash and trim ends; run zucchini through spiralizer to make thin noodles.

 

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