Do you find it hard to shop for a whole week’s worth of meals in a single trip to the grocery store? You’re not alone. My personal preference is to do one big weekly shop… and a couple of smaller trips to the store later in the week to get more fresh produce, plus a thing or two I forgot the first time. But sometimes the circumstances just force me to get ingredients for all breakfasts, lunches, and dinner all at once. To increase my family’s chances of eating healthy and cooked-from-scratch plant-based meals throughout the whole week, I need a plan. That’s why I created this “One Big Shop” plant-based meal plan covering one week’s worth of meals.

I designed this vegan meal plan as a tool for home cooks who may not be professionals but still know a thing or two about feeding their families. It is meant to provide you with guidance to plan all of your week’s meals, but also relies on your knowledge of your family’s situation and past cooking experience. You get to choose among suggested ingredients based on your family’s preferences and what is available at your local store. You set desired quantities to reflect your appetites. You pick preparation method to reflect the time you have available. And you have to adjust the shopping list to remember other items you might need, like snack foods or personal care items.

This is the first version I make of this “One Big Shop” plant-based meal plan. Normally, my vegan meal plans focus only on dinner, because that’s the meal home cooks struggle with the most. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures! I decided to release this as a free printable meal plan immediately, even if I don’t think it’s totally ready yet. If you download it, please have a serious look and write a comment below or send me some feedback at your earliest convenience. I will improve the meal plan thanks to your questions and suggestions.

Features of the One Big Shop pant-based meal plan

  • Three breakfast options to use in the mornings.
  • Two lunch recipes. I recommend making sure you cook enough food at dinner to have leftovers for lunches. Increase quantities as necessary.
  • Five from-scratch dinners, one recipe that takes advantage of convenience options (for when you’re tired), and the option to make a buffet of leftovers or cook from a fancy recipe from a cookbook on the final night of the week.
  • Many recommended substitutions to get your gears turning.
  • Easy-to-identify components that can be prepped ahead on the weekend.
  • A customizable shopping list to adjust based on preferences and quantities required by your family.
  • Some dishes work best with a blender, but alternative prep modes are suggested.

How to use the One Big Shop plant-based meal plan

  1. Print the plan. It will be easier to work on paper than on screen. While it prints, prepare a hot beverage for yourself.
  2. Review your schedule for the week. How much time and energy, realistically, will you have around dinner time?
  3. Read the “meals” sections of the plan. You can skim it really quickly first but don’t skip a complete read.
  4. In the first column of each section, jot down the days when the different meals will be eaten based on your schedule. Also read the instructions and, as required, highlight the mode of preparation you choose.
  5. As needed, highlight or strike-out ingredients from the list in the “recipe” section. Add other ingredients you might need to go along with the suggested dish.
  6. Decide which (if any) of the meal components you will prep ahead.
  7. Look at the ingredients section. There are recommendations for quantities based on a family of two adults and two young children, but you’ll definitely need to adjust based on your family’s appetites and preferences. (up2u means “up to you” – ain’t I trendy?)
  8. Transfer the ingredients you need onto the shopping list on the last two pages. Tick the box next to the ingredients (in the “recipe” part of the plan) once you have transcribed them.
  9. Pack your hand sanitizer, don your mask, and head to the grocery store, socially distancing the whole time. You may need to make substitutions based on what’s available (or not) at the store, so perhaps bring the plan along.

Nutritional and culinary details about the One Big Shop plant-based meal plan

  • Whether you use oil is up to you. The only mention of oil in the plan is related to roasting vegetables, but even there it is optional. I assume you are already familiar with oil-free cooking techniques, like misting with water (for roasting) or using small quantities of water or broth (for sautéing).
  • Salt and pepper are at your discretion everywhere. To save space, I did not write “taste and adjust seasoning” everywhere – but you should always be doing it.
  • The ingredients listed reflect the primary version of each meal. For example, for pasta night, the ingredients are those of a bolo-style sauce. If you choose to make a  pesto instead, adjust your shopping list accordingly.

What about the following week?

This meal plan could be the base of your plant-based meal plan for the following week, too. Just change the beans, veggies, spices, and seasonings, but follow the same instructions (roughly). For example, on “Simmered Night,” the chili can quickly become a curry by using a curry powder mix and perhaps substituting coconut milk for one of the cans of tomatoes. You can still have tacos with the leftovers, or spread the leftover curry on roti bread and bake like a pizza for 15 minutes. Pay attention to the ingredients that go in, and examine the results as a scientist would. Take note of what you like and think of how you’ll improve for next time. I know you can do this!

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