Vegan Meal Plan: A Week of Delicious Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

When Kenji launched this year's Vegan Experience, reader Double_J left a comment requesting a little help mapping out what a week of vegan eating looks like. Well, Double_J, your wish is our command. Below, you'll find a meal plan for each day, including hearty breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners—and plans for the leftovers that'll save you from eating sad frozen pizza.

One key bit of advice if you're a first-time vegan: We recommend stocking up your pantry before you start cutting animal products out of your diet. Staples like canned beans, whole grains, nuts and nut butters, pickles, tofu, and a wide variety of vegetables will help keep your meals varied and interesting. Investing in some really good olive oil and vinegar, plus condiments like mustard, harissa, tahini, and miso paste, can help amp up the flavor of whatever you're making.

Feel free to mix and match the meals in this plan depending on how much time you have to prep or what you're craving each day. And if you're looking for more vegan recipes, we've got 'em.

Sunday

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Lower your stress for the week ahead by cooking a big pot of chili on Sunday; leftovers will be great on Monday. But first: brunch. Tender and creamy silken tofu makes for the best vegan version of migas, a classic Tex-Mex dish of scrambled eggs with fried tortillas, onion, tomato, and chilies. Sunday is also a good time to whip up a big batch of this crunchy all-purpose topper; its savory olive-and-rosemary flavor is an awesome addition to soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as the pasta you'll be eating on Tuesday.

Brunch: Vegan Migas
Snack: Dried Olive and Miso Shake on popcorn and/or Vegan Kumquat Creamsicle Smoothie
Dinner: The Best Vegetarian Bean Chili
Dessert: Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Monday

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Rise and shine with a bowl of steel-cut oats, toasted until nutty and aromatic and cooked with sweet-tart berries. Lunch is a hearty garbanzo bean salad that gets even better with a little time in the fridge, and dinner comes courtesy of last night's awesome bean chili—have a little fun and make it into a Frito pie, topped with bright pickled onions and creamy avocado.

Breakfast: Vegan Toasted Oatmeal With Maple Syrup, Cranberries, and Raspberries
Lunch: Make-Ahead Chickpea Salad With Cumin and Celery, plus pita or naan. Make extra for tomorrow!
Snack: Banana with almond butter
Dinner: Leftover chili, or Frito Pie

Tuesday

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Make Tuesday easy. Go with quick, savory garlic toast or a smoothie for breakfast, and eat another serving of your cumin-spiced chickpea salad for lunch. Dinner is a flavor-packed vegetable pasta (with more veggies than pasta).

Breakfast: Breakfast Garlic Toast and/or Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
Lunch: More Make-Ahead Chickpea Salad With Cumin and Celery, or Make-Ahead Quinoa Salad With Cucumber, Tomato, and Herbs
Snack: Avocado with lime, salt, and hot sauce
Dinner: Zucchini and Roasted Tomatoes With Pasta and Dried Olive Flavor Shake

Wednesday

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Tofu scrambles can be disappointingly rubbery, since they often start with squeaky extra-firm tofu. But that doesn't mean we need to write off the whole category: Kenji's vegan version of menemen, the custardy Turkish scrambled egg dish made with tomatoes, onions, and chilies, works wonderfully with soft silken tofu. (And it only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.)

If you've managed to save some pasta from Tuesday night, your lunch for Wednesday is already made. But the giant-bean salad below, flavored with smoked paprika and a little tomato paste, is worth the effort if you have time. Simmer a simple soup—lentil, veggie, or polenta and kale—for a low-key dinner (and tasty leftovers for Thursday's lunch).

Breakfast: Turkish-Style Vegan Tofu Scramble
Lunch: Leftover pasta or Warm Spanish-Style Giant-Bean Salad With Smoked Paprika and Celery
Snack: Vegan cheese from Miyoko's or Kite Hill Creamery and olives
Dinner: Easy Lentil Soup With Lemon Zest, Garlic, and Parsley, Quick and Easy Colombian Vegetable Soup (Ajiaco Negro), or quick and hearty Vegan Polenta and Kale Soup With Miso and Toasted Sesame Oil

Thursday

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

You're probably on a roll by now, and you might even be ready to repeat a favorite dish—feel free to sub more berry oatmeal for today's savory breakfast, or experiment with other toppings on the oats. (Ever tried oatmeal with a little soy sauce, sesame oil, and scallions? It's shockingly good.) Or go with the plan below: creamy refried beans and avocado on toast, then a lunch of soup or a boldly flavored grain salad. When you prep the bánh mì for dinner, consider doubling up on your fillings so you can take them for lunch on Friday with a few extra greens.

Breakfast: Toast With Refried Beans and Avocado
Lunch: Leftover soup or Carrot and Rye Berry Salad With Celery, Cilantro, and Marcona Almonds
Snack: Dates stuffed with peanut butter
Dinner: Grilled Lemongrass- and Coriander-Marinated Tofu Vietnamese Sandwiches—make extra fillings for tomorrow's salad!

Friday

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Kick off Friday with a caffeinated smoothie, then roll on through with a salad topped with last night's bánh mì accoutrements. Dinner is what happens when the Northern Thai coconut curry noodle soup called khao soi meets West African peanut soup: Let's just say things get a little nutty (and totally delicious).

Breakfast: Matcha-Banana Smoothie and toast with avocado. (Add smoked-mushroom bacon or crunchy dried-olive topper if you want.)
Lunch: Leftover grilled tofu, cucumbers, cilantro, pickled carrots, and daikon, on salad greens or rice
Snack: Raw veggies with store-bought or homemade hummus or baba ganoush
Dinner: Vegan Peanut, Sweet Potato, and Kale Soup With Coconut

Saturday

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Hello, weekend. Can we offer you some chilaquiles and spicy refried beans? And in the evening, feast on a dinner party–worthy menu of polenta piled with a deeply flavorful ragù made from both fresh and dried mushrooms. Try your hand at homemade vegan ice cream if you really want to get fancy—we promise our coconut-based recipes yield desserts that are plush, rich, and free of ice crystals.

Brunch: Chilaquiles With Pepitas, Charred Corn, and Black Beans with Refried Beans
Snack: A cup of leftover peanut soup
Dinner: Mushroom Ragù with polenta (made with water or vegetable stock and olive oil), plus a green salad
Dessert: Homemade vegan ice cream

Sunday

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Pretty much everyone loves a potato-based brunch dish, vegan or no. Today's rösti is crispy and golden brown on the outside, creamy and tender in the middle, and it comes with some good garlicky mayo for dipping. It's a pretty good way to start the day. For dinner, travel to China for silky braised eggplant and crunchy lettuce cups stuffed with tofu, jicama, and pine nuts.

Brunch: Crispy Potato, Onion, and Mushroom Rösti with vegan mayo, homemade or store-bought, plus fresh fruit
Snack: Raw veggies with store-bought or homemade hummus or baba ganoush
Dinner: Sichuan-Style Braised Eggplant With Pickled Chilies and Garlic and Cantonese-Style Tofu, Pine Nut, and Jicama Lettuce Cups
Dessert: More ice cream