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Next Week’s Meal Plan: 5 Cheap and Healthy Vegetarian Dinners for Two

Welcome to Next Week’s Meal Plan! Meal planning isn’t always easy — especially if you’re just getting started. But I’m a firm believer that it’s the secret to stress-free weeknight dinners. I want to help you find inspiration and ease some of the pain points that come with getting dinner on the table night after night, whether you’re cooking for one or a family of eight. Every week, I’ll be sharing a new meal plan solution specifically customized for you from reader requests or from a guest contributor.

As an author of two cookbooks about healthier eating (Healthier Together and Glow Pops), a podcast host, and former food director of mindbodygreen, Liz Moody is well-versed in getting wholesome, low-effort dinners on the table. That being said, she values a balanced approach to healthy living. “I believe in the power of foods to heal and nourish your body, but I also think that a good pasta carbonara can serve as a salve for your soul,” she tells Kitchn.

When it comes to weeknight dinners, Liz is all about fast, easy cooking and leaning on budget-friendly foods and store-bought shortcuts to get healthy, vegetable-packed meals on the table for her and her husband. Read on for her meal plan for the week.

A Week of Healthy, Budget-Friendly Vegetarian Dinners for Two from Liz Moody

Because I’m a health food writer and healthy cookbook author (my latest book, Healthier Together, just came out and is already a number-one bestseller!), people often assume I sit around munching salad leaves, but nothing could be further from the truth. I love food that makes me feel good, but I also love food, period, and I want to eat things that make my mouth water. My mission in life is to turn taquitos, coffee cake, and cookies into healthy-enough versions of themselves that I can eat them every single day — and still have tons of energy, lowered anxiety (something I really struggled with before changing my diet), and a happy gut.

Can I be honest? I’m also super lazy. After a day spent writing articles or testing recipes, the last thing I want to do is prep a labor-intensive meal, so my weeknight dinners tend to be short on time, but high on flavor and health benefits. Here’s what I’m making for the week ahead.

Yes, the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi really is as good as everyone says. The trick is to sauté it directly in the pan straight from frozen, eschewing the boiling step, which always makes the texture gummy. I love this Italian version with kale, red pepper flakes, garlic, and tons of delicious olive oil.

Quesadillas are the linchpin of my weeknight cooking, because they’re actually surprisingly healthy if you make ‘em right. While the fillings change — sometimes it’s black beans, pastured cheese, frozen corn, romaine, and a ton of hot sauce, and sometimes it’s kale, sautéed in olive oil with some fine-grain sea salt, ground garlic, and ground onion until it’s crispy — the outside is always a grain-free Siete tortilla, and it never fails to make me feel decadent and super happy.

This chopped Thai Satay salad is one of the most popular recipes in Healthier Together, and for good reason: It takes 10 minutes to make (less if you have a food processor!), and the garlicky, peanut-y dressing turns what’s essentially a ton of vegetables into a savory-sweet meal that’ll leave you craving more. This salad also keeps super well, so I love making extra and eating some for lunch the next day.

When in doubt, make soup. It’s a great way to use up veggies that are going bad or simply to use always-on-hand frozen veggies, like this one, which tastes exactly like pesto, and has a ton of immune-fighting benefits from the garlic. Top it with lots of toasted walnuts for extra crunch.

If you sauté chickpeas with pretty much any vegetable you’ll end up with a meal. I love this one because it ups the ante even more with crispy shallots on top (is there anything better in life than crispy shallots?). The trick to getting crispy, not soggy, chickpeas in a pan is to give ‘em a lot of room, otherwise they steam instead of pan-fry.

Let’s be real: It’s not really a week of meals for me unless it includes dessert! I make all of the dessert recipes in Healthier Together and on my site full of protein, healthy fat, and fiber, so they don’t spike your blood sugar or wreak havoc on your hormones in the same way traditional desserts do, making them fully acceptable everyday fare. The viral #besthealthycookies from my book are a weeknight go-to, mostly because they only take one bowl (no cleanup!) and a few minutes to create the crispy-edged, chewy-centered grain-free cookies of my dreams.

New to meal planning? Start here.

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