My Weekly Meal Plan (vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free)

Time and time again we hear that meal planning is the way to go to set yourself up for an easier week full of nutritious meals.  But, it can be overwhelming to plan days in advance when you are already treading water to get through each day.  So, I thought it might be helpful to create a busy person’s guide to weekly planning using myself as an example.  Today, I’m sharing my plan for the week ahead for breakfasts, lunch, snacks and dinners.  I’m also including my tips for what you can prepare in advance and how to shop for the week.  I hope this inspires you to plan out your meals a bit more.  I find when I do, my week goes a lot more smoothly and I end the week feeling nourished and calmer.  

Tips for Meal Planning

First things first, write it down.  Write down what you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry and use that to build your meal plan.  Prepare a list of your family’s favorite meals and work off that list as you make your plan.  Try and pick recipes that are easy to prepare (think one-pot, 30-min meals or Instant Pot when possible) and also recipes that make enough for leftovers.  Plan your meals so that one sauce, dip or dressing can be used in 2 or more recipes for efficiency.  Be sure to check out my round-up of my 25 Easy Weeknight Meals.

Look at your pantry and freezer and then make a shopping list.  This helps prevent food waste and also means you won’t have to run last minute to the grocery store.  Be sure to check out 40 Easy Recipes Using Pantry Staples.

Highlight on the meal plan what you can prepare in advance.  The weekend before I usually make my sauces/dressings, soups/stews, and a batch of hummus as well as prep veggies and bake breakfast muffins.  I also make smoothie freezer bags for easy breakfasts or prep overnight oats or chia seed pudding in advance. 

Smoothie Freezer Bags

Elaine Gordon making smoothie with smoothie freezer bag

Energy balls/energy bites are also a great on-the-go snack option to help get you from one meal to the next.  I make a big batch and use throughout the week.  Back when school was in session these were great to pack in lunches.  My kids think they are dessert.

Elaine Gordon Making Cookie Dough Energy Bites

 

Stay flexible.  Leave some wiggle room in your meal plan and have a backup plan in case your week gets extra crazy for whatever reason.  One of my favorite recipes is this Easy Mexican Quinoa that keeps well throughout the week and is so good!  I enjoy it for a quick and easy lunch or sometimes dinner if I don’t have time to cook.  It uses mostly pantry ingredients and fresh ingredients I usually have on hand (lime, bell pepper, cilantro, onions).

Easy Vegan Mexican Quinoa Salad

 

Below is my plan for next week with notes on what I plan to make in advance.  I included my grocery list for items not already in my pantry (scroll all the way to the bottom for that).

Monday Meal Plan

Dye-Free Green Muffins

I usually make a batch of muffins over the weekend and these spinach blender muffins have been a long-time favorite for everyone in our household.  It is great for grab-and-go busy Monday mornings. 

I love to make a big batch of soup over the weekend if possible.  And Monday leftovers are always fantastic.

I make 1-2 batches of hummus on Sunday for the week ahead.  It keeps well and is so simple to make. When school was in session Riley loved to take hummus in her school lunch.  Our entire family loves to snack on it before dinner.  I love it for an easy and nutritious snack too.  

The tikka masala is so quick and easy and can most definitely be made in advance.  The flavors get better overnight anyways.  All this prep makes Monday SO much easier.  If you cannot make it in advance it is such a quick and easy meal to prep on Monday after work.  You throw everything into the Instant Pot and press a button basically.  Dinner is done!  

Tuesday Meal Plan

Cauliflower and Chickpea Tikka Masala

I typically make smoothies the morning of since they are so quick and easy.  But, you could make in advance if desired.  If possible, you could blend everything accept for the ice and add that in the morning.  Another option is to create a freezer bag with everything you need (other than the liquids) so you can dump and blend the next morning.  I also love to make smoothie jars which typically for me contain pitted Medjool dates, chia seeds, hemp seeds and blanched slivered almonds.

The hummus is already made in advance and if I don’t have time for homemade almond flour crackers I use Simple Mills almond flour crackers.  

Lunchtime leftovers are a great way to save time during a busy week.  Tikka masala makes fabulous leftovers.  

For Taco Tuesday we love to use Siete almond flour tortillas for added protein.  Lately I have been loving adding this Vegan Sour Cream (this can be made in advance) and my Guacamole to my tacos.  I like to cook black beans down and make them creamy and serve that with sautéed bell peppers and red onions.  Shredded romaine lettuce is also good for a refreshing crunch inside the taco.  

Wednesday Meal Plan

Overnight oats are such a wonderful hump day easy button trick.  It takes less than five minutes to prep the night before and it makes the morning effortless.

For lunch, I make the vegan ranch dressing ahead of time.  You can dress the salad ahead of time too since kale holds up well.  If you are taking this lunch to-go you can use raw chickpeas which hold up better. 

I love roasting up tons of veggies for dinner and serving over quinoa with crispy chickpeas and a good tahini sauce drizzle.  You can make the tahini sauce over the weekend too and it will keep until Wednesday.  The quinoa could also be made in advance in your Instant Pot pressure cooker or on your stovetop.

Thursday Meal Plan

Homemade Vegan Mac N Cheese Recipe

You can prep the smoothie bowl in advance in a freezer bag and add the liquid and ice in the morning.  You certainly don’t have to eat this as a smoothie bowl.  It can easily be taken to-go.  This is my favorite to-go smoothie cup.

This is the quickest dinner to make and is always a hit with the entire family.  You can use any type of noodle – gluten-free brown rice quinoa from Trader Joe’s is a favorite.  I also like using chickpea or lentil-based pasta sometimes for added plant-based protein.  You can add broccoli to this dish as well.  

Friday Meal Plan

Crispy Quinoa Falafel Bowls

As mentioned I make the chia seed pudding parfait the night before.  It takes less than five minutes to pull together.  The chickpea salad can be made the night before.  It is like chicken salad but vegan.  This also works well with raw soaked almonds (pulse them first). 

I make the energy balls over the weekend for easy snacking during the week.  They are just so quick, easy and nutrient-dense.  You certainly don’t have to add chocolate chips.  If you do and want to keep them refined sugar-free I recommend Hu chocolate gems (chopped).

For dinner, you could make the quinoa, tzatziki and falafel in advance.  The hummus is leftover from earlier in the week.  That cuts down the prep time significantly for this recipe.  

Here is a recap of what I try and make in advance over the weekend to make the week ahead easier:

Total time spent meal prepping (hands-on time):  ~1 hour

One hour!  If you can spend just one hour on Saturday or Sunday meal prepping, your week ahead will be SO much easier.  And you don’t have to prepare everything at once.  Sometimes I break up the tasks throughout the weekend when I have pockets of time here and there (like when the kids nap or first thing in the morning while we are eating breakfast).  

Here is my grocery list for the week based on this meal plan (not including pantry and freezer staples):

  • spinach
  • red bell peppers
  • celery
  • cauliflower 
  • dill
  • red onions
  • carrots
  • strawberries
  • avocados
  • limes
  • lemons
  • kale
  • sweet potatoes
  • broccoli
  • beets
  • shallot
  • cilantro
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • romaine lettuce

Recap of the weekly meal plan

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

So there you have it!  I hope you found this helpful.  If this post inspires you to meal prep this week please let me know in the comments below.  I would love to hear how it goes for you.  If you get a chance to snap a picture of any of the recipes then please tag me #eatingbyelaine / @eatingbyelaine on social. 

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2 Comments

  1. Katie

    Very helpful, thank you!!!

    Reply
    • Elaine Gordon

      Thank you so much for letting me know, Katie!

      Reply

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