If you’re new to a vegan diet, chances are that you’re still learning what vegans actually eat. So many people reach out to me with questions, saying they’re sick of eating only salad and rice!
A vegan diet does not have to be limiting or feel like a sacrifice. In fact, I felt that my options increased after going vegan! I was suddenly trying so many new ingredients and developed a new perspective on ingredients I had been cooking with my entire life.
Perhaps you’ve heard the myth that eating vegan is more expensive. The truth is, a vegan diet is actually more affordable – when you have a plan!
A key to sticking to a vegan diet is to open your mind, get creative and have fun! Meal planning is a great way to research new recipes and develop confidence in this new lifestyle, while sticking to a budget and a busy calendar. Let me explain why…
Finding time to cook
Meal planning helps you stick to your busy schedule because you’ve already done the work to make sure that there’s enough time for food prep.
As a busy business owner, I have a rule of putting things onto my calendar. If I don’t, chances are high that it’s not going to get done. This rule extends beyond just client meetings. I believe that healthy eating should be a high priority – even higher than the to-do list items for my business. That’s because I know that health is the foundation on which everything else I do is built.
”Meal planning has helped me find time to prepare healthy meals at home.”
Each week, I sit down and create my meal plan, shopping list and figure out how to fit food prep into my schedule. By taking a look at my calendar, I can anticipate which nights will be more hectic and I can plan meals that are really easy and require little time to prepare.
Typically, I’ll do a lot of the food prep for the coming week on Sunday afternoons, when I have a couple hours of free time. This advanced food prep saves so much time during the weeknights, when I’m usually tired from long days at work. Knowing that a healthy dinner is already ready takes a lot of pressure off when I’m done with work and ready to relax. You can learn more about this meal planning system here.
Avoiding the cravings pitfall
Have you ever realized that you’ve been so busy all day that you forgot to eat lunch? When you finally notice that your stomach is rumbling, the last thing you want to do is prepare a meal. That’s when you reach for the nearest item that resembles food. Or maybe your mind jumps to a particular food that you’re suddenly craving, usually of the unhealthy variety.
Now imagine that you already have a healthy prepared vegan meal in the fridge. Because you’ve planned ahead, you don’t have to take time from your busy schedule to go make a meal or to spend money on ordering food or going out to eat. You don’t have to worry about giving into cravings and grabbing the nearest junk food to satisfy them.
When you create meal plans, you’re setting yourself up for success and avoiding these types of situations all together.
Sticking to a budget
When I was working my first job right after college, I used to go out for lunch with my work friends every day. It didn’t take long to realize how expensive it can get to eat out every day! Spending $10 on a meal each day adds up to $200 a month!
With a limited budget due to my entry-level job, I had to make a change in order to live within my means. That’s when I started cooking more food at home and using meal planning to make sure that I was only spending money on food I actually needed.
Another great thing about cooking at home is that you can choose healthy, whole food ingredients. Packaged products are more expensive due to the cost of branding, marketing, manufacturing, etc. When you keep things simple and purchase unprocessed foods, you will save money.
Meal planning helps you stick to your budget in two ways; cooking your own meals at home is cheaper than eating out at restaurants and you will save money at the grocery store by having a list of items instead of buying whatever sounds good.
Getting creative and having fun
If the idea of a meal plan sounds restrictive and boring – don’t worry! I’m not talking about a diet plan. A meal plan can be anything you want it to be. And Meal planning can actually be fun if you have an open mind.
Here are some tips for making mealing planning fun:
- Be sure to choose meals and explore recipes that you love. If you’re not sure where to start, try exploring Pinterest or food sharing sites like FindingVegan or VegRep.
- Have weekly themed nights such as Taco Tuesday, Foreign Friday (explore cuisines from different countris), etc.
- Get creative and learn how to “veganize” your favorite non-vegan recipes.
Whether you’re going vegan for health, want to stick to a budget or find time to cook, I believe that meal planning can help you achieve your goals! Not sure where to start? Be sure to get my FREE Vegan Meal Planning Checklist.