5-Day Meal Plan Recap + Grocery List

A 5-day easy, healthy, vegetarian meal plan, plus grocery list. Perfect for weeknights and busy schedules. Vegan and gluten free options.

5-Day Meal Plan Recap

As promised, here’s a recap of the 5-day meal plan that I posted this past week. First things first, why did I all of a sudden meal plan for 5 days (and never before? ha ha). Well, I’ve had the idea for some time, but like many things, it hit the back burner. With the launch of our new meal journal, I thought: “Welp, now’s the time!”

There’s a concept that I touch on in our cookbook… I call it “cooking backward” and it differs from many other meal planning approaches. You see, I’m not a person who plans, organizes, and preps perfect meals on Sundays before the week begins. I’ve tried to do that and have failed miserably every single time. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to prepare my meals efficiently.

So this is what I do: I start with a group of ingredients that I know will stretch pretty far. I jot down a loose plan (in this case, 5 meals) that all use those common ingredients in various ways. Bonus points for ideas that can morph straight into other ideas. Then I start the week! The most important part about this process is to allow for change to happen as it comes. For example, if you read about meal #5, you’ll see that my initial plan for a frittata became the Curried Cauliflower Soup. Instead of tossing out the whole meal when I didn’t have enough leftover veggies, I changed my plan on the fly and still used available ingredients – notably, a lonely a half-cauliflower that was forgotten about in the back of the fridge. It ended up being my favorite recipe in the bunch and it also satisfied what I was craving.

A few things you’ll notice:

– I skipped 2 days in the middle of the “plan” because one night I was too lazy to cook and another night we went to dinner for my sister’s birthday. In the past, these sort of “life happenings” would foil my well-laid plans, but not this time! I just picked up the next day and moved on.

– I didn’t prep too much in advance. My goal was to cook dinner (the grain bowls) on night #1 and use those leftovers for nights #2 and #3. After that, I still used my original ingredients, but I cooked them fresh because I don’t love eating roasted vegetables after they’ve been sitting in the fridge for more than a few days.

– These meals all serve 2 people, because it’s just Jack and me in our household and these were our real life dinners.

Meal 1: Mean Green Grain Bowls
This was the most cooking I did all week. I used the leftovers for the next recipe.

Meal 2: The Big Green Kale Salad
I made the grain bowls stretch by tossing the leftovers with massaged kale. If this isn’t enough food for you, serve it with some crusty bread. You could also add any protein you like. Feel free to make these meals your own.

Meal 3: Quinoa Kale Quesadillas
I sautéed the leftover kale quinoa salad and stuffed it in between tortillas with cheese. The recipe notes that if you’re vegan, use a slather of refried beans as the glue and skip the cheese.

Meal 4: Broccolini & Brussels Sprout Orecchiette
A classic late-week approach because pasta is easy to keep on hand in the pantry. I loved how this recipe reused the kale stems from #2.

Meal 5: Curried Cauliflower Soup
Even though I made the plan, I forgot about the cauliflower I used half of on Day #1. It was the last vegetable I had left and go-figure it ended up being my favorite recipe. I love it because it has great flavor in so few ingredients since I was working with what I had. Of course, I did run to the store for the micro green garnish because I still have to make things pretty for you!

Grocery List:
This was everything I used for the 5 meals for 2 of us. I hope you can use this as a guide and adjust to your own family’s needs and tastes:

(download a Printable PDF HERE)

That’s it for this one! Please let me know if you find this helpful and if you’d like to see more of this in the future :). Happy planning!


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  1. Liza

    absolutely love this meal plan so much that I am going to purchase your book, it will be my first cook book I have ever purchased. your a big deal! thank you! esp love the kale pesto!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      aww, I’m so glad you loved the plan! I hope you enjoy the book!

  2. Sarah

    Love this! Am off to the store now to get all the ingredients! Please do this again!

  3. shelbi

    Yesssss please please do more of these in the future? Maybe once a month? 🙂

  4. Kara

    Longtime follower of your recipes. I love this idea, this is so helpful for those who don’t have time/energy to meal plan (myself included), but want to eat healthy, satisfying, and tasty meals throughout the week. I hope you will repeat this in the future!

  5. Tany from paleseptember.com

    As someone who loves cooking but doesn’t have the time during the week this is perfect. Usually I just eat eggs and juice at night because I can’t think of anything faster but I miss fresh food and also cheap and easy ones so yeah I loved it. Please, post more meal plans! I’m very excited 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      so glad you love the concept! Hopefully these post inspire some tastier dinners 🙂

  6. Sarah

    So Helpful!!! Thank you Thank you!!! This will make my meal prep so much easier. Love the grocery list for all of it too. Can’t wait to try.

  7. Fi Mackay

    Thanks Jeanine for making life easier. Am constantly (trying!) to plan healthy meals, in advance, on a budget. It’s really time consuming looking for, and creating, new ideas for a hungry family. T Thanks for doing much of the hard work! Yes please – to more meal planners in future. Love your printable list. Have just ordered a copy of Love and Lemons meal planner too. Soooooooh helpful.

  8. Ginger

    Thank you, Jeanine! You just made the week ahead SO much easier and the recipes look amazing. 👍🏻 I hope you’ll share more planners!

  9. Oh no! I just had breakfast and I’m already hungry again reading this – why does everything you create have to look so delicious. Based off your other recipes I’m sure all of these will taste just as good if not better so I cannot wait to try them! 🙂 Especially those quinoa kale quesadillas. Truly mouthwatering!


  10. Sue

    WOW – what an awesome meal plan! I love the concept behind utilizing ingredients throughout the week for each meal as opposed to so many meal plans that have a new recipe with totally different ingredients each day. I will definitely put this meal plan to work next week and would love to see more meal plans from you in the future.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      That’s how I always feel when I see meal plans! Never realistic to how I would actually cook every single day in a row 🙂

  11. Rene

    Great recipes! I tried #1, #2 and #3. Excellent quésadillas! Very inspiring for my lunchbox! I love your blog. Keep up the good work!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved them! yay!

  12. S

    Where do people get broccolini? I see it in tons of recipes, but never at the grocery store. How is it different from broccoli? Do broccoli florets work as well?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      You can use regular broccoli instead – I find broccolini at Whole Foods pretty regularly (some other local stores too)… I think it’s more tender and mild flavored than broccoli and I really enjoy it. Sometimes it’s called baby broccoli. Hope that helps!

  13. Laura

    Jeanine, I love your blog and your cookbook. Please do more weeks (or another cookbook) just like this!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Ha, ok got it – so glad you enjoyed this series!

  14. Geri

    Absolutely love this meal plan! Would definitely like to see more like this as it truly helps to make it a healthy week instead of picking up fattening to ood to go more often than not. Thank you soooooo mucj!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      You’re welcome! Thank you for letting me know that it’s helpful!

  15. Rebekah

    Love seeing this example of a meal plan and the ideas coming out of it. It would be great to see additional posts like these. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Rebekah – thank you – it’s so helpful to know that this sort of thing is helpful!

  16. Julie

    Absolutely love this post…maybe my favorite of yours ever, please do more like it!! Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Haha, yay – thank you for your feedback!

  17. Sahana

    I feel like this was made just for me! All my favorite ingredients and such an approachable way to cooking unique meals all week! Thank you so much and i hope you keep doing more of these 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Sahana, I’m so happy to hear that we think alike 🙂 I hope you enjoy the plan and the recipes!

  18. Heather

    Love this! Thank you. It is incredibly helpful.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      thanks Heather!

  19. Amanda

    So informative and helpful. Great series!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      thanks Amanda!

    • Erica

      This was truly amazing. As a mother of two young children and being vegetarian your recipes make life much easier. And this 5 day meal plan with ingredient list, perfect!!! Please do this again. I would even pay to have a subscription to a love and lemons weekly meal plan. Thank you!

      • Jeanine Donofrio

        Thanks Erica! I’ll do it again sometime soon :). I really appreciate the feedback!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.