Can it be on the budget too?
Those were two questions asked by one of my best friends. I told her about my decision to eat only whole-foods plant based diet. She was curious whether it is too difficult, too time consuming or even too expensive.
As a result of my research, here are your weekly, Monday to Sunday, suggestions how you can go vegan with your family. Your plant based meal plan contains all weekday recipes that are on the budget and also very easy to prepare. Some items like beans, lentils, stewed vegetables or tomato sauce you can do in advance and store in a container in your fridge.
At the end of it you can simply copy paste a shopping list adjusting it for the size of your family. Certainly, being in a wine business, I could not stay away from some vegan wine recommendations to include in your plant based meal plan too.
No time to spare, a simple mixture of your favourite cereals (as unprocessed as you can get) plus plant based milk of your choice (you can do cashew, almond, soya, rice and so on), your favourite fruit on top (blueberries and raspberries are awesome with regards to vitamins and antioxidants) and if you wan a bit more protein and healthy fat, sprinkle with chia or flax seeds. This will take 5 minutes and will fill you up with goodness too! Your family will love this as well. Nothing new so far I guess.
Wholewheat pasta salad with tomatoes and French vinaigrette. You can prepare it and for your family in advance, it is really easy. If you are buying it from a local supermarket, have a look at the ingredients, some sneak some cream or cheese or lots of sugar to make it taste amazing. Opt for a healthy option, but don't go for a smallest portion unless you are on a strictest diet. What's good about this wholefoods lifestyle is that it fills you up for longer, but as foods' calorie density is lower, you can / need eat a bit more to feel satisfied.
On the way back home don't despair, it is Monday, we need to cheer up and have some fun! What could be better than Mexican?
In addition to that, this cuisine features beans quite prominently, so you won't have any issues with protein at all.
Let's make a simple burrito with sautéed vegetables, smashed avocado and crushed beens.
You would need: peppers, onions, tomatoes, avocado, can of black or red kidney beans, tortillas. The latter you can choose depending on your preferences: there are so many kinds available, wheat, wholewheat, corn, a combination of both.
The preparation is super simple: you need to make sure your veggies are softened but not in any case burned or over fried, I like mine ever so slightly crunchy. Warm up your beans, add a bit of red hot chilli pepper or tabasco if you guys like spicy and then crush it with your potato masher. Now, you can make a salsa and guacamole with your tomatoes and avocado, but I don't bother really, I just slice it and add it when I assemble my burrito. Warm up your tortillas and serve, everyone can simply add as much as they want and make it even more spicy!
A regular day, we need to stay productive and have a lot of energy; a mixture of grains and starches help you to feel full and also rich in slow releasing carbohydrates.
What can be more typical than beans on toast? If you've made some in advance then it would be even better, but if not, open a can (use plain ones and you can then dress with whatever you like avoiding high sugar contents). I advise to use good quality sourdough bread for this, it will be healthier as it will contain fibre and much more nutrients than heavily processed white breads.
Beetroot and barley salad. If you have roasted beetroot in advance, that's great; alternatively you can use a steamed one or even buy already cooked in a supermarket (make sure it is without vinegar or other additives);
The same goes for barley - it is quite a sturdy grain which cooks in 40-45 minutes, so it would be helpful to cook it in advance.
It is very easy to assemble, you can also add tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet peppers to it if you wish; it goes well with peas or even steamed leafy greens. I also urge you to play with different dressings - I love classic French dressing, but sometimes I am after a bit more pungent one, so I grate fresh horseradish to it, it goes absolutely awesome with beetroot!
DinnerSweet potato Thai green curry. Right, this one you can make with a simple cheat by buying a straightforward curry paste (again, make sure it is just a blend of herbs and no nasties sneaking in as preservatives). Alternatively, search for a Thai green curry paste recipe and simply blend the herbs with ginger and so on. Enough about the paste, you can chop your sweet potatoes into cubes and roast them. When ready, simply start heating up your paste, add sweet potato cubes and any veggies you want in your curry (think about green beans, baby corn, thinly sliced aubergines or mushrooms) and when all mixed well together, add enough coconut milk to cover it all. Gently simmer for 5-7 minutes and you are all set! I love when it stands for an additional 10-20 minutes for the veggies to infuse the flavours more and more. Sprinkle with an aromatic coriander and serve with wholegrain rice.
A creamy day, just perfect for mid-week not to feel like a drag.
Repeat your Monday cereals, just change your milk or fruit or cereal mix. It is very easy and you do not to spend more than 5 minutes on it. You can experiment with wholesome oats and make a warm porridge with a plant based milk.
Avocado and quinoa salad. I don't need to repeat myself how easy it is to make a salad when you have a grain pre-cooked or a veg pre-roasted. For this salad simply mix cooked quinoa with sliced avocado and preferably add tomatoes and dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli or kale (these two can be quickly steamed). I love Asian inspired dressing for this salad, quinoa can be quite bland otherwise. Add a good tablespoon or rich soy sauce or tamari to your standard French dressing and you are set! For a fruitier sensation, you can also add a bit of yuzu.
Cauliflower rice with steamed broccoli and a creamy cheesy sauceI have discovered cauliflower rice even before it got its place as a pouch on supermarket shelves. You do not need to buy that, you can do it yourself, provided you have a basic food processor or, if not, ready to finely grate your florets. Don't overdo your cauliflower in a food processor - it should be quite coarse and not a paste. Steam your cauli rice with some broccoli florets for an ultimate vitamin and nutrient rich dinner, serve with a fantastic and satisfying cheese sauce. This sauce actually doesn't have any cheese in it and it is super easy to make. You can make it smoother by pre-soaking cashews, but you can also simply heat a cup of plant based milk with half a cup of cashews and simmer for 15-20 minutes until your nuts are softer. Blitz it into a creamy (something like a double cream) sauce and season well. If you got your hands on a nutritional yeast (don't be alarmed, it is no longer active), it will give your sauce that savoury and cheese flavour you are after. Simply pour it over your dish and enjoy.
A very balanced day with good amount of slow releasing carbs, fats from avocado and plant based protein.
Avocado on toast with nuts and seeds. It is probably even easier than your breakfast cereals. Simply toast your sourdough bread slices and then put a crushed avocado on top, sprinkle with some seeds too. You can add chopped tomato or during colder times I love adding crushed garlic too - it is such a potent ingredient fighting flu or common colds.
Wild rice salad with tomatoes and tofu. Wild rice takes a bit longer to cook, so I hope you were smart on Monday or a day before. Combine it with tomatoes and tofu, add anything else from green leafy veg you want and dress it with basil infused dressing.
Mushroom burgers and/or aubergine burgers. Many people for some reason are not too keen on mushrooms, I do not really know why. Though if you are not, simply substitute the main ingredient with an aubergine. Buy quite large mushrooms or aubergines to form fairly thick slices. Don't forget staples like grilled onions, sliced tomatoes, lettuce and salsa. I also love adding guacamole to it or if I feel like doing it spicy, I recommend harissa paste for your aubergine burgers. Naturally, if you want a bit leaner meal you just serve your patties grilled on a bed of salad. Otherwise, make sure you have some wholewheat buns and your whole family will love these veggie burgers!
Coming to the end of the week you need something easier to digest and comforting for your stomach, hence we have got plant based yogurt and couscous and risotto dishes for the day.
Soya yogurt (or coconut yogurt) and fruit.
Self-explanatory really, it will not only do good for your gut, but also you will get energy from fructose early in the day. Try to buy fresh berries for an extra antioxidant boost.
Giant couscous salad with peas, tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet white miso dressing.
One of my favourite salads simply because it is so simple and easy to make, fragrant and this giant wholewheat couscous is easier to digest and will leave you feeling satisfied for longer. I have discovered sweet white miso paste recently, you can so with any type of miso paste really, so just mix a generous amount of it with your choice of oil (olive or sunflower are good, make sure they are unrefined) and some organic apple cider vinegar. I am keen to add a teaspoon of tamari. Mix your salad and enjoy, it is really where simplicity shines and makes you a healthier one. By the way, peas are very high in folic acid and that's the nutrient hat is being depleted by alcohol quite a lot, so if you are staying for that cheeky drink after work, it will do you good.
Classic risotto with wild mushrooms. Again, risotto is a nice and comforting meal, it is not difficult to prepare as the only thing you need to make sure is that it has enough stock and when it is close to be done, you stir it not to stick to the bottom. I sautee mushrooms with onions with a generous amount of virgin olive oil first, add good quality organic alborio rice, make sure it soaks some oil and veggie juices and then add a good glass of white wine.
I love natural wines made in Italy, they are so vibrant and rich in flavour, like the Sicilian Catarratto or Piemontese Ottavio Bianco. When you will see that the wine is also gone, cover it with stock. Some chefs like adding bit by bit, but I do not bother that much, I will add half of the required measure, let it simmer and then when it is closer to being al-dente, I will be adding bit by bit and stir frequently. It saves a bit of time and effort and you will make your perfect risotto done. No cream, no butter and no parmesan needed. If you follow this, you will have a creamy consistency delicious risotto. If you want to add a bit of cheesy flavour, add a spoonful of nutritional yeast. Enjoy with the same wine you have been cooking with.
I don't know about you, but I rarely know what I am going to do on Saturday or Sunday. Quite recently it has been work on Saturday and then a proper rest on Sunday. Before I have embarked on the entrepreneurship journey it has been more of a day of rest and a day of socialising, so I will suggest both simple and a bit more complex dishes (nothing too difficult, just a bit more time to prep), so you can decide.
Tomato and avocado panzanella. I had this simple Italian salad in a French restaurant one day for lunch and it has become a go to dish for me when I want that something special, yet simple and so amazingly fresh! You have two steps to follow really. First, start by chopping juicy tomatoes, olives, capers and a little bit of red onion, add some mixed lettuce leaves, season and mix well. Tomatoes should be very ripe and juicy so whilst you are waiting for 10 minutes, salt stimulates further release of the juice and your mixture becomes very very wet! The only other step here is to tear some fantastic ciabatta into pieces (I prefer using any kind of quality sourdough bread) and serve warm with a dressing of olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Juices should be plentiful for this dish to truly sing!
I love a glass of unfiltered Masieri Bianco with my panzanella. It creates a wonderful match and just 12% alcohol, so you won't feel sluggish in the middle of the day.
Buckwheat spaghetti with a vegetable stir fry. Wholesome buckwheat spaghetti is a lighter version of your popular pasta. It has a darker colour and needs to be cooked al-dente, otherwise it is really mushy. Other than that, prepare you wok to get any veg you ant to throw at it - aubergines are great, also carrots, and lots of green leafy vegetables. he latter are key to get your antioxidants, but also enough zinc, calcium and all essential vitamins. I love dressing my stir-fry with a rich soya sauce and alternating it with a coconut milk sauce and ginger shavings. Explore herbs and spices isles and dress your stir-fry differently each time!
Spicy and fragrant foods require vibrant wines. I love matching it with very naturally made, small cooperative Valli Unite wines: Alessandrino or Ottavio Rube, or if I am in the mood of a smoother operator, I choose a passionate Spanish winemaker Gonzalo and his Gran Cerdo red or white wines.
Rest, socialise, enjoy!
Meze platter (houmous, baba ganoush, pea and mint dip, toasted flatbreads).
It is my lazy time, you can do all the dips and meze in advance (tastes just so much better), but sometimes I simply buy a selection from my local supermarket (just choose organic alternatives). I also choose to toast some corn tortillas to serve with the meze, it is how Mexican bread item meats the whole range of Mediterranean foods. You can toast flatbreads too! Look at the labels if you are buying your meze platter, don't buy items that contain milk, cream or cheese in them.
Some people will go for a lightly sparkling wine, it just doesn't agree with me much, but if it did, I would go for a glass of sulphite free Cremant d'Alsace made by Domaine Klur. On this occasion I choose Ciu Ciu wines: we do love this native blend, either white or red, they are very popular among our members, so hurry up to taste!
Vegetable lasagne, side of greek salad (just forget about feta)
This is a dish that will require a little bit more time than any of the above suggestions. It involves meddling with lasagne sheets and different layers and sauces. It is so worth it. The recipe is a bit long, but our friends at IBlameTheWine.com have kindly agreed to allow us to refer to their vegan lasagne recipe, so if you are interested in specific instructions how to cook a veggie lasagne step by step - please follow this link.
I love a richer red with my veggie lasagne. I recommend Cannonau Sartiu (featured by Jamie Oliver in his Super Foods programme), Tour de Gendres Merlot Malbec from Bergerac in France or one of Cantina Pizzolato wines - no sulphites added Cabernet or Merlot.
Here you have it - a full week on plant based meal plan. It is easy, absolutely not time consuming and on the budget too! You can see that it is packed with enough protein and other nutrients everyday. Read this short post about foods rich in protein if you are still concerned (external link to our friends at Simplicity Lists)!
With an exception of the above dessert and this delicious veggie lasagne, everything else is not even 15 minutes, the recipes take no time to cook or assemble. You would be so much better off if you buy a few containers to store pre-cooked grains or pre-roasted veggies. Just re-heat them when needed. Another super tip is to invest in a salad box for each of your family member. With separate compartments for your grains, veggies and dressing, you family will be eating so much healthier in no time!
You will eliminate animal protein, animal fats and limit the intake of unhealthy cholesterol. You will gain in health, but also in your wallet too - look at the whopping list below and see that nothing is very expensive. Organic certification will also ensure the absence of pesticides and herbicides, so that could be a tiny factor when your cost will increase. Yet the difference between organic barley and regular one is really small comparing with a piece of organic meat vs regular.
Copy paste a list below to help you with your shopping or download our Shopping List pdf to save on your mobile phone by clicking here.
Let us know if you have any questions for the above content and we would be happy to supply you with these fantastic vegan wines. Cheers!
Check how you and your family look and feel after this plant based meal challenge and share with our community! Thank you