Looking to eat a plant based diet but not sure where to start? Here’s a 28 day plant based diet meal plan with a meal planning calendar.
Are you looking to start eating a plant based diet, but don’t know where to start? Ten years ago, Alex and I were there too! Since then, we’ve written the cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious and Food & Wine. We’ve cooked everywhere from our home kitchen to the TODAY Show with the message that eating mostly plants can be “pretty simple”.
Eating a mostly plant based diet is all about finding a sustainable practice. The goal of this plant based diet meal plan is to help you find a handful of favorite easy plant based recipes that you can make again and again! If you’d like, subscribe to our newsletter for new weekly recipes.
Want all our meal plans? Go to Meal Planning Ideas.
What is a plant based diet?
The term plant based diet or whole food plant based (WFPB) diet have been gaining in popularity. But what do they actually mean? Does it mean you never eat any animal products, like a vegan diet, or consume animal products in moderation? There’s a lot of contention about these terms.
Many sources agree a plant based diet is eating mostly plant based food with little to no animal products. But some sources would argue it is a diet of only plants, equating it with a vegan diet. Read more here: Plant Based Diet for Beginners
This plant based diet meal plan includes only vegan recipes, but you can determine the level of animal products that’s right for you. We encourage you to decide what plant based means for you! Alex and I eat a mostly plant based diet, which we define as eating mostly vegetarian and vegan recipes, and seafood on occasion. If you’d like to include vegetarian or seafood recipes in your meal plan, check out the options in our 28 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan and 28 Day Healthy Meal Plan.
Is this plant based diet meal plan right for you?
This plant based diet meal plan is right for you if you’re looking to eat more plants! The recipes in this meal plan are easy vegan recipes. As noted above, feel free to work in vegetarian or seafood recipes as well based on how you’d like to define plant based. For a vegetarian meal plan, head to 28 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan. If you also eat fish, go to our Healthy Meal Plan, Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan or Pescatarian Meal Plan.
If you have a very specific diet or health condition, consult a medical professional to understand whether these recipes are right for you.
The problem with meal planning calendars
For Alex and me, one problem with meal planning calendars and weekly meal plans is that they offer no flexibility. Most meal plans we’ve found call for cooking something new every day of the week. They’re overwhelming with the amount of food prep that they call for! They also don’t account for your schedule: what if Monday nights I have a weekly meeting where I eat dinner? Or this Friday night I’m going out with friends?
Here’s what makes our plant based diet meal plan different:
- Spotlight dinner ideas. For us, dinner is our main meal where we cook and get the majority of our nutrients for the day. Our approach is to go big on dinner, and then do super simple things for breakfast and lunch. That’s what works for us! At the bottom of the meal plan you’ll find lists of healthy breakfast ideas, snack ideas, and lunch ideas. You can use these, or find others that fit your tastes.
- Pick 3. Each week, we offer 3 healthy dinner ideas. You can make them on any day that week! This encourages you to customize the ideas based on your schedule and particular tastes. It also encourages eating up leftovers.
- Repeats. Since we only offer 3 dinner ideas, this also encourages you to make dinner ideas you liked from previous weeks.
What if this meal plan doesn’t work for me?
It’s possible this meal plan might not work for you–and that’s ok! This meal plan might provide too much flexibility for you and not motivate you to make the recipes. Or, you might not like the style of these recipes. We know this meal plan is not for everyone, but this is an outline of how Alex and I cook on a weekly basis.
Related: Looking for workout plans too? Try our 28 Day Home Workout Plan.
Download: Plant based diet meal plan spreadsheet
To make our Plant Based Diet Meal Plan tangible, we’ve created a downloadable meal planning calendar for you! It’s our Plant Based Diet Meal Plan spreadsheet, where you can copy in your meal planning ideas for each week. Simply download the spreadsheet and then copy in the links to the recipes for each week below. Here’s the download!
Plant Based Diet Meal Plan
Before you start: here’s how to use our Plant Based Diet Meal Plan!
- Pick at least 3 dinner ideas. Confession: Alex and I don’t cook every night! We make enough for leftovers and eat them throughout the week too, sometimes repurposing them in new ways. For this meal plan, pick 3 days that you want to cook dinners. Fill in the other days with eating leftovers, doing “clean out the fridge” meals without recipes, and allow for meals out. If you end up needing more healthy dinner ideas for that week, skip ahead to the next week and try one. (Or, pick one of our other Dinner Recipes!)
- Fill in breakfast, lunch, and snacks ideas. We focus on dinner as the main daily meal, so we keep breakfast, lunches, and snacks SUPER simple. If possible, we love things that don’t use recipes (like English muffins with peanut butter, yogurt with fruit). That way, we save our cooking energy for dinner.
- Copy the links into your Plant Based Diet Meal Plan spreadsheet. Using a spreadsheet makes things much more tangible than just using a list! Once you’ve taken stock of what your week holds and what nights you’ll have time to cook, fill in your dinner ideas accordingly. We suggest filling out the meal plan on the weekend (Sundays seem to be good for many people).
- Read the meal prep planning notes. Below each week of healthy dinner ideas, we’ve included some meal prep planning notes to help with ways to make ahead or prep in advance.
Related: What is a Vegan vs. Vegetarian Diet?
Plant Based Diet Dinner Ideas Week 1
*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 1! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.
- Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (15 minutes)
- Best Teriyaki Vegetable Stir Fry (30 minutes)
- Chickpea Couscous Bowls with Tahini Sauce (30 minutes)
- Chipotle Black Bean Tortilla Soup (35 minutes)
- Leftovers from above*
*Meal Prep Plan Notes
- For the Mediterranean veggie sandwich, you can use either the Herbed White Bean Dip or purchased hummus. For fully plant based, use Kalamata olives instead of feta cheese. You also may want to serve with a green salad, like this Best Kale Salad or Strawberry Salad.
- For the Teriyaki Stir Fry, it’s fairly simple to make the day of. You can chop the vegetables, tempeh, and ginger in advance and refrigerate: this would make for very quick prep. You could also make the rice in advance; see the reheating rice instructions in Week 2. The teriyaki sauce takes only 5 minutes to make, so it’s easiest made day of; if you make in advance and refrigerate, let it come to room temperature before serving (you may even need to add a small splash of water since it thickens as it sits.).
- For the Chickpeas Couscous Bowls, you can make the Lemon Tahini Sauce in advance and refrigerate until serving. Make sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. You could also make the couscous in advance, but since it takes only 5 minutes, it’s not a large time saver.
- The Tortilla Soup takes about 20 minutes of hands on time. If desired, you can make the tortilla strips in advance or use crushed tortilla chips (just find chips that are minimally processed, with a few ingredients like corn, oil and salt). You can make the entire soup in advance and refrigerate: the flavor gets better over time!
Plant Based Diet Dinner Ideas Week 2
*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 2! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.
- Weeknight Chickpea Curry (20 minutes)
- Mexican Sweet Potatoes (30 minutes)
- Cauliflower Tacos with Yum Yum Sauce (40 minutes)
- Make again! 1 or 2 favorite dinner ideas from Week 1
- Leftovers from above*
Meal Plan Prep Notes
- For the Curry, you can make the chickpeas in advance, though they only take 20 minutes! If serving with rice, you can make the basmati rice in advance and reheat. Tip: To reheat the rice: place the rice in a saucepan with a splash of water and use a fork to break up any clumps. Heat over low heat until warmed through and moist.
- The Mexican Sweet Potatoes, make the Creamy Cilantro Sauce in advance and refrigerate until serving: make sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. You could even use this sauce for the Cauliflower Tacos too! If desired you could roast the sweet potatoes in advance and refrigerate; then reheat in a 400F oven until warm before serving.
- For the Crispy Cauliflower Tacos, these require a bit more time but it’s well worth it! They are one of our fan favorite recipes and perfect for showing how delicious plant based eating can be! You can make the Yum Yum sauce in advance (with vegan mayo for fully plant based), or use leftover Creamy Cilantro Sauce from the Mexican sweet potatoes above. Because the cauliflower takes the most time (about 40 minutes), you can also prepare that in advance and reheat the day of; reheating instructions are in the recipe. We’ve had it both ways and it’s delicious!
Plant Based Diet Dinner Ideas Week 3
*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 3! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.
- Greek Nachos with Cilantro Drizzle (25 minutes)
- Quick Cuban Black Beans (35 minutes)
- Tomato Coconut Cauliflower Curry (35 minutes, plus rice)
- Make again! 1 or 2 favorite dinner ideas from Week 1 or 2
- Leftovers from above*
Meal Plan Prep Notes
- For the Nachos, make the pita chips and Creamy Cilantro Sauce (or use leftovers from Week 2 above!). You can also use storebought pita chips as a time saver.
- For the Cuban black beans, you could make the beans in advance and refrigerate until serving: the flavor will just get better over time! Use the vegan option of olive oil: or if you’re doing some vegetarian, use the butter (you don’t regret it).
- For the Curry, you could chop the vegetables in advance and refrigerate until serving: in that case make the curry within about a day or two. Follow the rice and quinoa prep instructions from Week 3.
Plant Based Diet Dinner Ideas Week 4
*Pick at least 3 dinners to cook at home and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet on the days for Week 4! On days you’re not cooking, use up leftovers or do “clean out the fridge” meals, and allow for meals out.
- BBQ Bean Tacos with Pineapple Salsa (25 minutes)
- Tuscan Soup with White Beans (30 minutes)
- Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich (40 minutes)
- Make again! 1 or 2 favorite dinner ideas from Week 1, 2 or 3
- Leftovers from above*
Meal Plan Prep Notes
- The Tacos are one of our simplest recipes: you simmer the beans in the time it takes to make the pineapple salsa. If desired, you can make the salsa in advance and slice up the garnishes. For a filling side, serve with rice (or to look fancy, turmeric rice).
- For the Soup, you can cut fennel and chard in advance and refrigerate until making the soup. In this case, we’d make the soup within a day or two of cutting the vegetables. While the soup simmers, you can whisk up the dressing for the salad. We like using boxed salad greens for easy prep.
- For the Jackfruit BBQ, this one is a little outside the box but SO delicious! You’ll be surprised at how much jackfruit tastes like pulled pork. You could make the jackfruit filling in advance and refrigerate until serving; then reheat in a skillet. Also you could chop the veggies for the vinegar coleslaw in advance: then add the dressing right before serving. Our best creamy coleslaw would also be fantastic using vegan mayo.
Healthy Breakfast Ideas Weeks 1-4
Alex and I do really, really simple breakfasts that don’t require a recipe so we don’t have to think too hard in the morning. This frees us up to spend most of our creative energy on dinner. Pick any of these to eat throughout the week and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet. We’ve offered quite a bit of options to account for your breakfast tastes and style. Do repeats as much as you’d like!
- Peanut butter on multigrain toast or English muffin
- Avocado toast
- Best Oatmeal with PB&J
- Healthy Granola Recipe with almond milk
- DIY Instant Oatmeal
- Toasted Oatmeal
- Cinnamon Pecan Muesli (made in advance)
- Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies (made in advance)
- Turmeric Vegan Blueberry Muffins (made in advance)
- Glowing Green Apple Smoothie
- Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie
- Homemade Acai Bowl
- Healthy Banana Bread Muffins — if you plan to allow some eggs, these banana bread muffins are fan favorites and are easily made in advance! You can also freeze them.
Healthy Snack Ideas Weeks 1-4
Pick any of these to eat throughout the week and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet.
- Very Verde Cilantro Dip & crackers (as minimally processed as possible)
- Dark Chocolate Hummus Recipe & fruit
- Hummus or Glowing Green Hummus & veggies
- Pecan Snack Bars or Cashew Snack Bars
- A handful of almonds and dried cherries or apricots
- Popcorn (Homemade or purchased without flavoring)
- Crispy Roasted Chickpeas or Crispy Roasted Black Beans
- See also: Vegan Snacks, Healthy Snack Recipes
Healthy Lunch Ideas Weeks 1-4
Lunches can be hard, especially if you’re eating at your desk! Again, Alex and my philosophy for lunches are to keep them super, super simple, without a recipe if possible. Pick any of these to eat throughout the week and copy them into your Healthy Meal Plan spreadsheet.
- Leftovers from any of the dinners!
- Peanut butter (unsweetened) on multigrain toast or English muffin
- Avocado toast
- Simple Chickpea Salad
- Easy Stuffed Dates (use the nut butter option)
- Hummus, Green Hummus, or Garlic Herb White Bean Dip, veggies and crackers
- Famous Tomato Dip with crackers
- Easy Chickpea Salad Sandwich (or use curried chickpea salad)
- Mediterranean Loaded Veggie Sandwich
- Hummus and Veggie Roll Ups
- Vegan Banh Mi Sandwiches
- Chickpea Salad with pita or crackers
- Mexican Quinoa, Black Bean Salad, or Vegan Italian Pasta Salad
- Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup and multigrain bread
- Easy Marinated Tofu (make up a batch and refrigerate; consider serving with brown rice)
- See also: Vegan Lunch Ideas
Did you like this plant based diet meal plan?
We’d love to hear your feedback on this plant based diet meal plan: let us know in the comments below. And let us know if you have any questions!
If you enjoyed the recipes in this plan, you might enjoy our healthy cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking!
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.