the simplest method for weekly [vegetarian] menu planning

menu planning vegomenu planning vego2
menu planning vego3menu planning vego4
menu planning vego5menu planning vego6
menu planning vego7menu planning vego8

A few months ago now, I wrote an article on my favourite method for menu planning.

Basically it involves buying a few core ingredients each week and then drawing from these to make different meals. So you end up with a simple shopping list, but still enough variety during the week to keep everyone happy.

I’ve had some great feedback and a few requests for a vegetarian version. So here we are. Enjoy!

the 10 ingredient shopping list

– eggs
– tofu
– canned lentils
– broccoli
– zucchini
– salad greens
– lemons
– tomato paste
– parmesan cheese
– hoisin sauce

the pantry checklist

– olive oil
– salt
– pepper

5 days of 5 ingredients dinner recipes

– zucchini ‘cabonara’ with green salad
– tofu & broccoli stir fry with lentils
– lentil ragu with zucchini ‘noodles’ + green salad
– baked zucchini frittata with green salad
– tomato scrambled tofu with steamed lemon broccoli
[recipes below]


menu planning vego11
lentil ragu with zucchini ‘noodles’ recipe
serves 2

Inspired by the good old family classic spag bol (or spaghetti bolognese), these baked zucchini noodles are one of my favourite things when I’m looking for a gluten-free comfort food option.

You could boil the zucchini like pasta if you prefer, but I find the texture much nicer and the flavour more intense with this baking method. A mandoline or vegetable peeler are handy for getting lovely fine ‘noodles’.

Feel free to add to the lentils – I’ve kept it super simple but a little garlic, onion or chilli would work. Sometimes I use butter to give the sauce a richer silkier vibe.

2 zucchini (courgettes), sliced into ribbons
1 can lentils (400g / 14oz), drained
4 tablespoons tomato paste
parmesan cheese, to serve
salad greens, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

2. Layer zucchini ribbons over a baking tray a few layers deep. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until the zucchini is no longer crunchy.

3. Heat 3-4 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add lentils and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes until hot.

4. Taste and season lentils, adding a little more olive oil or some butter if the tomato is too sharp.

5. Divide zucchini between two plates and top with lentils.

6. Serve with parmesan on the side and a green salad

menu planning vego13
broccoli & tofu stir fry
serves 2-3

It’s amazing how changing the sauces and seasonings to a different cuisine can make the same old ingredients feel exciting and new again.

The lentils may seem a little weird – but trust me on this one. Much quicker and easier than steaming some rice to serve with and lentils have the added bonus of their high protein content.

I’ve used hoisin sauce here to keep the meal vegetarian, but oyster sauce would be a lovely substitute if dietary requirements permit.

A handful of nuts such as cashews wouldn’t go astray either.

300g (10oz) firm tofu, drained & crumbled
1 large head broccoli, cut into florettes
1 can lentils, drained
3-4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
lemon juice, to taste

1. Heat a few tablespoons oil in a large frying pan (skillet).

2. Add tofu and broccoli and cook, covered, stirring every few minutes until the broccoli is tender – about 6 minutes.

3. Add lentils and sauce and stir fry for a few minutes or until everything is hot.

4. Taste and season with salt and a little lemon juice if you think it needs it.

menu planning vego9
baked zucchini frittata recipe
serves 2

I’m so glad I discovered the trick of baking frittatas in a spring form pan, as opposed to the old school high maintenance frying pan method. So much easier to mix the egg with your flavouring then pop in the oven to bake for 15 minutes while you do other things. My type of dinner.

Feel free to play around with the filling. Tomatoes are lovely, as are different cheeses, canned chickpeas work a treat or fresh asparagus in the spring. So many possibilities.

2 zucchini (courgettes), sliced into rounds
4 eggs
2 handfuls grated parmesan cheese
salad leaves, to serve
1 – 2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

2. Heat a large frying pan (skillet) on a medium heat. Add a little olive oil and cook zucchini, stirring occasionally until they are tender.

3. Combine eggs and parmesan and season.

4. Line a 20cm (8in) spring form pan with baking paper and grease the base and sides with butter or oil. Spoon the zucchini in then pour over the egg mixture.

5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and puffy.

6. Combine lemon juice with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Season and toss the leaves in the dressing to serve with the frittata.

menu planning vego15
tomato scrambled tofu recipe
serves 2
I’m a big fan of scrambled tofu after discovering it during my ‘vegetarian month’ last year. I’m happy to eat it out of a bowl on its own, but you could easily serve on top of toast or with some pasta if you fancy.

Feel free to spice this up with a little fresh or dried chilli. A little smoked paprika will take it to a new level, but you don’t have to go there. Roast red peppers would also work well.

300g (10oz) firm tofu, drained & crumbled
4 tablespoons tomato paste
steamed broccoli, to serve

1. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan (skillet).

2. Add tofu and stir fry, breaking it up further with a fork or spoon. Cook for a few minutes.

3. Add tomato paste. Continue to cook and stir for a few more minutes until everything is hot and the tofu is well scrambled.

4. Taste and Season. Serve with broccoli tossed in a little oil and lemon juice on the side.

menu planning vego17
zucchini ‘cabonara’ recipe
serves 2
It’s hard to go past zucchini cut into rounds and cooked until meltingly tender. Nigel Slater calls it letting the ‘tenderness fairy’ work their magic and I can’t help thinking of that image every time I cook zucchini like this.

For a more substantial meal you could toss some hot pasta in with the zucchini, but to be honest, I love it just as it is. If the egg doesn’t seem cooked enough for you, just pop everything in the microwave for little while, being careful not to overcook the egg.

4 zucchini (courgettes) sliced into rounds
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 handfuls parmesan cheese + extra to serve
2 large handfuls salad greens
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan (skillet). Add zucchini and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the zucchini is tender and lightly browned – about 8 minutes

2. Meanwhile combine yolks and cheese in a large bowl.

3. Toss the hot zucchini in with the egg mixture and stir well. If the sauce is too runny, pop in the microwave for a few minutes.

4. Combine lemon juice with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season and toss leaves.

Print Friendly

Previous post:

Next post: