I’ve prepared this information to help you transition to eating vegetarian with our Free 4 week vegetarian meal plan.
You have made a wonderful decision to invest in your health! I’ve created a complete meal plan for one person. If you are feeding a family, the recipes are simple and easy enough to adjust for multiple people. This plan is a vegetarian plan; however it is very adaptable for a vegan diet. You will find everything included in the plans to eat a clean, vegetarian or completely plant based diet. If you are a new vegetarian, or vegan, you will find that this plan makes for an easy transition.
How to use this plan
Each days meals are planned out for you. The days are completely interchangeable, so if you want to switch Monday’s breakfast with Wednesday’s, go ahead. There is a grocery list for each week with items that should be easy to find and reasonably priced at most grocery stores. If you can afford to buy organic, please do! If you can’t, then don’t sweat it, just do the best you can to avoid chemicals.
Most recipes that call for milk are listed as almond milk, however feel free to use any unsweetened or fat free milk of your choice.
Many foods can be prepared ahead of time. You can bake potatoes for the week and keep them in the fridge. You can also make soups ahead of time and freeze them and make salads in advance. For salads, don’t add dressings until they are ready to eat.
Adjusting for a vegetarian diet
You will find that many of the recipes included here are entirely plant based. Some call for some cheese or yogurt. You can find vegan and vegetarian cheese in most grocery stores; however watch the ingredients because many times these “veggie” cheeses actually contain lactose or whey which are not vegan. Your best bet (especially in keeping with eating a clean diet) is to omit cheese altogether. Nutritional yeast makes a good substitute for parmesan. There is a vegan yogurt recipe included here that is easy and simple to make that can be used in any of the recipes calling for yogurt. Instead of cow’s milk, use almond, soy or coconut milk. You also want to take a multivitamin or vitamin B12 supplement, because you need a source of vitamin B12.
Let’s face it; it can be expensive to eat healthy in comparison to all of the cheap, unhealthy eating we may have been doing in the past. However, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to eat whole, wholesome foods. Here are some easy ideas to save some money:
- Buy dry beans. They take a little bit more preparation (soaking overnight) but are less expensive
- Buy frozen fruits
- Buy frozen veggies to use in stir frys and other dishes
- Buy seasonal produce. If you come across this plan in the middle of winter when some of the fruits might not be in season (and $8/lb. instead of $1/lb.) then by all means, use what is fresh and in season.
- Buy dry goods in bulk: oats, whole wheat pasta, stuff that will keep for a long time but is not full of preservatives
- Use coupons. Kinda goes without saying, but you would be surprised how many people don’t.
- Don’t shop when you are hungry. Or tired. And if you have young kids, try to leave them at home if you will be persuaded to by junk food.
A few tips on eating clean
- Be prepared to do a lot of cooking. Not an extraordinary amount, but your meal prep is going to take some time out of your schedule. Figure 10-30 minutes per meal. In our busy lives, it is sometimes hard to justify this time, however if you are going to eat clean, it is necessary. Think of it as something you are doing to nourish your body. You deserve to be healthy and what you eat is a huge part of your success. Allow yourself to have that time to care for your body’s needs.
- Don’t eat fast foods. Not even a salad from McDonald’s. Get yourself out of the fast food habit. The less you eat it, the less you crave it.
- Avoid processed foods. Try to avoid anything that is prepackaged or prepared for you (except frozen produce and nut milks). Anything that is refined, anything that has white flour or sugar in it, or even worse, artificial sweetener.
- Read labels. If you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t put it in your body.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself time to learn. It is about progress, not perfection. No one gets it right their first time. If you slip, get back on track. If you feel like you can’t live without a Starbucks Frappuccino, plan for it and opt for the healthiest version you can find.
- Don’t be too easy on yourself either. Push yourself. See just how far you can go. Don’t tear yourself up over a little slip, but don’t make excuses to stay stuck in bad habits either.
- Eat your leftovers. It saves you time (you already have food prepared) and money (you have already paid for that food). In our society of fast and convenience foods, it is not surprising that so many people just throw out their leftovers. If you are not in the habit of eating leftovers, it might feel strange at first, but after time you will be glad that you switched from that takeout burger to last night’s healthy dinner! With some practice, you will begin to plan your dinners so that you have leftovers for lunch for the week.
- For lower fat options sauté with vegetable broth or water, choose low fat cheeses, avoid dressings that are high in fat and omit butter or margarine type spreads from your diet.