To be quite honest, I am not a meal planner at heart. I just buy a random assortment of things at the grocery and sort of hope and pray that I will have enough ingredients to make meals with for the rest of the week. And then I improvise a lot. This method has worked pretty well for the past couple of years, but hopefully pretty soon here I will find some kind of gainful employment, and I think having some kind of meal plan will help save time.
So the basic idea is to have a certain theme for each day of the week (beans on Tuesday, tempeh on Wednesday, eggs on Thursday, pizza on Friday etc.) and then cook up variations on the theme for the whole month. This is nice because I don’t have to plan exactly what I’m going to do for a particular meal but I have a general idea. And obviously you aren’t inexorably bound to your plan– it’s just a helpful guide so you can use less mental energy wondering what you should cook for dinner (and instead focus on how to make beans interesting and tasty for the 657th night in a row).
Right now I am working through some recipes from the Veganomicon (book) and 101 Cookbooks (blog), so I will pencil in a few specific recipes here and there at the beginning of each week and otherwise stick with something basic and simple that I don’t need a recipe for.
So far, to be honest, I mostly haven’t cooked the meal I’ve planned on its exact day, but I do have a much better idea of what I need to buy at the store, and I feel calmer just knowing that there is a little piece of paper that lets me know generally what I should fix for dinner.
Weekly Meals (dinners only)
Sunday: First Sunday of the month roast a chicken and make chicken and dumplings (using about 1/4 of the chicken meat, freezing the rest for other meals). Otherwise on Sundays: pancakes, beans, quesadillas, or leftovers
Monday: Every other week salmon cakes or pasta with salmon (using canned wild Alaska salmon); rotating weeks beans or eggs with corn tortillas
Tuesday: crock pot bean soup (soak the night before and cook all day to make chili, taco soup, black bean soup or similar– using the rest of the chicken meat and chicken stock until it’s gone)
Wednesday: tempeh w/ rice, pasta, or roasted root vegetables (i.e., like spicy mango tempeh)
Thursday: (we usually have a church dinner thing Thursday nights, so no planned dinner)
Friday: refried bean tacos/quesadillas
Saturday: pancakes/eggs/vegetables (roasted potatoes, carrots, etc.)
Breakfasts: John usually takes a Cliff bar to work for breakfast, though sometimes I make different kinds of fruit or oatmeal bars for him. I usually just eat a piece or two of sprouted bread with butter late in the morning. Or drink green smoothies when I have the energy to make them.
Lunch: John usually takes pb&j to work. I try to buy him lunch meat every other week for sandwiches. I just sort of eat whatever is around. A lot of times I make lentils for myself since John doesn’t care for them.
Snacks: Popcorn, cashews, almonds, dark chocolate, raw macaroons, apples, grapefruit, hummus.