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An Easy Plant-Based Meal Plan for Busy Families

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fresh avocado cut in half

Image: NatashaPhoto/Shutterstock

If you’re interested in trying out a plant-based meal plan, but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve gathered a few of the most affordable, simplified plant-based recipes for you to follow (and modify as you wish). If you’re able to visit the sites recommended, some even offer additional perks like weekly shopping lists of ingredients to help you out, too!

For the simplest day ever to start with, give these a try:

Breakfast

For starters, you can always keep it simple for a busy family at breakfast by making easy, nutritious smoothies. This vegan meal replacement is all organic, packed with 20 grams of protein per scoop from “13 raw sprouted ingredients” as well as healthy fats, greens, probiotics, and 21 vitamins and minerals. Otherwise, this hemp protein powder is tasty, affordable, and offers 14 grams of protein and 40% of the recommended daily allowance of iron per 1/4 cup serving. Not bad! We like ours with a little almond milk, frozen or fresh fruit (berries are best) and a fresh whole banana for each smoothie. (Hint: If your bananas are getting too ripe, break them into pieces and freeze them for future smoothies!)
Additional options and easy hot breakfast recipes can be found here or here.

Lunch

Crock pot lunch ideas are helpful if you’re serving lunch at home, or you can always swap these out for dinner as well. Otherwise, grab a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse them, mash with a fork and mix with vegenaise, chopped onion, salt and pepper to taste and your favorite relish for a chickpea salad to go. Put it on a couple slices of Ezekiel bread with lettuce and tomato (or without), and you’ve got an easy vegan sammie!
Serve with fresh sliced veggies or fruits on the side.

Dinner

If you can grab a few ingredients, parchment paper, and have a cookie sheet and an oven, you can make cauliflower “hot wings” very easily! This recipe walks you through each step and you can also skip the aioli if you want to save time and just grab some Follow Your Heart vegan ranch dressing for dipping. (It’s really good, our favorite vegan dressing so far!) Serve with slices of cucumber, celery stalks, and mild flavors on the side — the spicy BBQ sauces can be very spicy so you’ll want to balance it out at the dinner table! Some like to serve with buns and lettuce or vegan cheese slices to make a “buffalo cauliflower sandwich” too. Both ways work great!
Tips for Success:
*Always keep a good stock of almond, cashew, coconut, or hemp milk on hand. We like to keep a carton of unsweetened almond milk in the fridge as well as a carton of vanilla, as some recipes are better without the sweet flavor. Pay attention to nutritional information to be sure you’re getting enough calcium.
*Keep plenty of fresh chopped veggies around, as well as fruits, nuts, trail mixes, almonds, a nice stash of fresh avocados, and a few cans of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), or white beans (cannellini) for snacking or quick recipes.
*Buy cashews in bulk if you can, as they can be soaked and made into numerous vegan replacements for different foods (like cheese).
*Frozen meals can be convenient and healthy in a vegan household as well. Look for brands like Quorn, Gardein, BOLD brand vegan pizza, Starlite cuisine, Amy’s Organic, and Morning Star.
*For dessert, grab a pint of So Delicious non-dairy “ice cream” to try. They have choices made with cashew milk, coconut milk, or others — our favorite is the coconut milk types, but try them all to find your favorite tastes. The coconut milk chocolate flavor is delicious, and only 400 calories for the whole pint. Split it with your bestie! (They have ice cream bars now, too, so don’t miss those)

Alternatives for plant-based meal plans

If you still want more ideas, visit some of our favorite recipe blogs like Vegan Richa, The Minimalist Baker, Connoisseurus Veg and Vegan Heaven. Thevegancoach.org offered a free pdf download for vegans trying to lose weight as well, which even offered a calorie guide and ingredient list for shopping!

One Green Planet has a basic vegan meal plan with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert options. Included is an autumn version of popular overnight oats for breakfast, easy vegan mac and cheese for lunch, a sweet and spicy recipe for a homemade dinner of sweet potato burgershomemade hummus and/or kale chips for a snack, and a flavorful lemon chia pudding for dessert.

Kristen lives in the Michiana area, where she enjoys lake-effect weather, apple orchards and occasional South Shore rides into Chicago. She can probably tell you more about apple cider vinegar than you'd ever want to know. You can reach her at: http://lakesedge.wix.com/lakesidewriting