Whole Food, Plant-based (WFPB) Meal Planning

By Jane Birch

“Planning meals ahead of time is essential for leading a healthful lifestyle. You must prepare and organize your time and your kitchen so that you have delicious, healthful meals within reach at all times. When you make it convenient to eat healthfully, you keep temptation at bay, and avoid falling back into destructive, but familiar old habits when you are pressed for time.” — Jay Benson, D.O.

Establish a Routine

Having a routine will help you utilize your time more efficiently and cut down on stress. Create a simple weekly schedule, like the one below.

Preparation Food
Saturday Shop and cook
Sunday Eat leftovers
Monday Eat leftovers
Tuesday Shop and cook
Wednesday Eat leftovers
Thursday Eat leftovers
Friday Plan for the week Eat out or salad bar

Also schedule time for exercise, sleep, and family/social connections. All of these are important for health! Combining these activities will allow you to do more than one thing at a time: exercise and cook with family and friends!

Meal Planning Basics

Planning is essential if you are feeding a family. Here are basic strategies.

  1. Review the food you have in your fridge and cabinets to remind yourself what you already have and what you need.
  2. Plan out the major meals for the new week/month. (Make it simple: choose recipes with similar ingredients in the same week.)
  3. Gather your recipes.
  4. Make your grocery list based on ingredients you are missing or which to stock.

Meal Planning Strategies

The following are examples of strategies others have developed.

How Often to Shop?

The main reason to shop often is for fresh produce. Here’s some advice from busy moms:

  • “I shop once a week and rarely have a problem with produce going bad. During the summer I keep more of it in the fridge than I do in the winter because the heat makes it go bad faster. Soon you’ll figure out what needs cold and what will last longer than a week, etc.”
  • “I also shop once a week because that’s how we get paid. I only have a problem with produce when I haven’t planned well and buy too much. BUT, I have learned to either freeze or dehydrate what would otherwise go to waste.”
  • “I just eat what looks like it might go bad first. If I can see that I may not be able to eat food before that time, I will dehydrate or freeze it or make something out of it, like soup or veggie broth or a casserole that I can freeze.”
  • “I go once a week, or even every week and a half. I buy my produce, then make a list of what I have, and I put an asterisk by the items that need to be eaten up in the first three days. I plan to do those meals first, cross them off the list, and reevaluate how the rest of the produce is doing at this point. Sometimes items can surprise you and last a while, or take a bad turn, so it helps to be flexible and switch around meal plans as necessary.”

Meal Planning Tips

  • Before going 100% whole food, plant-based, find enough recipes (at least 4-5) that you and your family like well enough to eat (after your taste buds have changed, you’ll like these meals even more!)
  • Involve the family in the planning, shopping, and cooking. They will be more invested if they have some say, and they need to learn the skills you are learning.
  • Cook in large batches, so you can get several meals out of a few short hours spent in the kitchen. Cook big pots of staples you can use all week in a variety of ways: grains, beans, non-dairy milk.
  • You don’t need a new dish every day! Plan on lots of leftovers.
  • Have a way to collect new recipe ideas when you find them. Put them in a folder, binder, or computer file so you can find them later.
  • Always make a comment on your copy of any recipe you try so you’ll remember next time how it worked out, modifications you made, and recommendations for next time.
  • Unless you love to cook, don’t try more than one new recipe a week.
  • Some staples freeze very well in small plastic bags: grains, beans, veggies, fruit for smoothies
  • “Plant-Based Diet in a Hurry: Time-Saving Tips & Tricks”
  • Consider purchasing WFPB meal plans: 7-Day Meal Plans from Lindsay S. Nixon (the Happy Herbivore)

Remember, Remember

  • Don’t begrudge the amount of time it takes to prep food! Heavenly Father designed the world this way for a reason. Cooking and eating together turns out to be critical to binding family members together!
  • Get into enjoying this aspect of earth life. Find the blessings in it. Just as you come to fully enjoy this experience, you’ll also discover that you have the skills to do it in much less time, when needed!

References

“To Meet Your Health Goals, Planning is Essential” by Jay Benson, D.O.

More WFPB Food Resources

Last Updated: November 19, 2016

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