Vegetarian meal planning made easy

Eating well as a vegetarian requires a little more thought and planning than eating meat based meals as you need to ensure you are meeting your protein and nutrient requirements, which is not always as straight forward as when meat is included. The goal of many vegetarians is to be healthy and a little extra thought into good planning will ensure maximum health benefits by increasing the variety of nutrients eaten. Try this method to make meal planning a breeze.

If you are just exploring vegetarian meals then just the following ideas numbered 1 and 2 using your regular favorite meals. This is a good way of quickly picking meatless alternatives without too much time and effort.

If you have been eating vegetarian for a while continuing with the rest of the planning method as it will help you balance your meals and nutrient intake better and help you try new recipes.

Putting a plan together – get some lined paper and a pencil.

  1. Write down your favorite dishes. Then organize them or mark them into their type or ethnicity, such as is pizza, pasta, Curry style, Mexican, BBQ or burger, Asian Inc. stir-fry, Family/special dinners (Inc. roast here). You will end up with 7 or more categories. So here is where you make your life very easy.
  2. Write out the days of the week and then assign one meal type to an evening and make a list. For instance, Monday is burger night, Tuesday Asian, Wednesday Pizza and so on.  Now these nights do not have to be set in stone but every night needs dinner theme. This is my usual order.

Monday –  Burger. Tuesday – Stir fry. Wednesday – Pizza. Thursday pasta. Friday – Curry/Asian.

Saturday – Tapas/free style. Sunday – family/special/formal roast style.


  1. Now write out a weekly plan for next weeks meals and pick a meal that matches the night, for instance if Tuesday is Asian put down a stir -fry idea. Fill in the days with meals form that category. If you are already vegetarian try writing in a particular meal like Tofu and cashew stir fry or Pad Thai rather than just stir fry or on the Mexican night bean and cheese burritos, or bean tacos. It means you just choose from 2-3 meals rather than scratching your head thinking of every meal you have ever made! It is so much simpler with limited (in a good way) options.


For the new vegetarian meal preppers write in a vegetarian alternative to the meal you would normally make. This is where you can look up recipes or find out those saved magazine recipes or ones you have pinned. Again, this fills your meal plan without having to rack you brain coming up too many ideas on the day.

Now you might be surprised at how often you repeat meals but don’t be, we are creatures of habit and actually most families have a small rotation of meals. I read once (can’t remember where) that in fact people have about 12 meals that they eat over and over again. I was surprised by that and said no way – until I wrote down our favorite meals, the ones I cooked often. Mine came to 18 but as a Dietitian who likes to cook I might expect to have a larger rotation.

This also goes a way to explain why as much as we buy recipe books and save recipes, often we do not try new meals – we say I‘ll make that sometime but then most often we do not. When you come across a recipe you like, add it to a category (a new pasta recipe in Pasta!) and then when you make the next meal plan add it in the day you have that type of meal. You are much more likely to make it then.

The neat thing as well about planning this way you will see if you are getting a wide variety of food types. If you have pizza three nights and pasta the rest you will see quickly that you need to increase the variety and macronutrient content of your meals.

This will help you try and plan to eat a variety of vegetarian protein sources. Let me know how this works for you, or what works for you.

Here is an example of a weeks plan. You can see the themed nights.

Meatless March week 4 – By Sarah Rush RD MSc.
Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast
Oatmeal/porridge High fibre cereal Oat bran muffin or Probiotic yogurt High fibre cereal Whole wheat pancakes French Toast with fruit
1tbs ground flax seed 1% milk Hard cooked egg 1-2 tsp ground flax seed 1% milk I /2 cup of Berries add cinnamon to the egg
Blueberries or mixed 1/4 cup sliced almonds Whole grain toast 1/2 Blueberries 1/4 cup nuts Activa yogurt mixture for extra flavor
Berries 1/4 cup berries Whole grain toast
mandarins 1/2 banana jam/peanut butter Apple or Pear banana
Coffee/tea Coffee/tea Coffee/tea Coffee/tea Coffee/tea Coffee/tea Coffee/tea
Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
Sandwich and soup or Quiche with salad Veggie soup Left over pizza Sandwich and salad Homity pie. Ploughmans lunch
Salad Slice of  whole grain Make with egg if you eat Cheese, salad, pickle
bread or crackers them. Side of raw veggies, crusty bread.
sprinkle with ground carrots, cucumber
flax seed. celery, tomatoes
fruit and yogurt
Fruit and yogurt Banana loaf Kiwi fruit mixed fruit juice fruit salad
Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner
Veggie “Nando’s” Burger. Tofu Pad Thai with Pizza night Creamy mushroom and Roasted cauliflower, Sushi and Tempura. Vegetarian Goulash
Sauté meatless chicken flat rice noodles. Make at home, take out spinach linguini with cashew and coconut milk Take out Spätzle or mashed potato
tenders in Nando’s sauce Add beans, spring onions, or buy in store pine nuts. curry. or crusty bread
Oven fries and coleslaw. peppers. Garden salad Jasmin rice Cabbage or kale.
Garlic toast Nan bread
ice cream and chocolate Cinnamon pears Apple oatmeal crisp
Banana split sauce Ginger snap cookie Chocolate pudding (with flax seed) Fruit topped meringues pineapple slices

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