Next Week's Meal Plan

A Week of Must-Make Vegan Dinners from Nisha Vora of Rainbow Plant Life

updated Oct 7, 2022
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Five different photos of dinners in a graphic labeled by the days of the week.
Credit: Nisha Vora

Nisha Vora, the cookbook author and force behind the blog Rainbow Plant Life, is on a mission to help you master vegan cooking at home. If you’re anything like me, a quick scroll through her Instagram feed will leave you asking where to sign up.

Not only does everything look totally crave-worthy, but — true to the name of her site — all the food that comes out of her kitchen is also so vibrant and colorful and feels so full of life.

Nisha’s cooking philosophy is simple: She believes you deserve to eat really good food that doesn’t compromise on flavor. Here she shares a week of comforting plant-based dinners and tells us how she does it.

Credit: Nisha Vora

5 Impossibly Comforting and Healthy-ish Dinners from Nisha Vora

This meal plan is exactly how I cook at home: elevated comfort food made with good-for-you, plant-based ingredients and with lots of global inspiration. These recipes are extremely flavorful and surprisingly hearty, so they’ll satisfy the whole family — vegans and omnivores alike. 

Most of these meals go heavy on pantry ingredients, where a lot of vegan magic happens in the kitchen. And some recipes utilize the same ingredients (i.e., cannellini beans on Tuesday and Wednesday, red lentils on Monday and Thursday), which makes grocery shopping simpler.

If you’re cooking for two, you’ll end up with leftovers, but luckily all of these recipes make fantastic leftovers (some are even better the next day!) and most of them freeze remarkably well too. Here’s what I’m cooking this week.

Credit: Nisha Vora

Monday: Red Lentil Bolognese

I developed this 10-ingredient pantry recipe in March 2020, when most of us were living off pantry dinners, but it exceeded my expectations and has since become a staple in my house. It’s bursting with umami, thanks to an entire tube of tomato paste and crushed walnuts, and boasts a rich, meaty texture that even meat-lovers appreciate. 

If you have a dry red wine at home, feel free to deglaze the pan with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of that instead of vegetable broth. Serve over thick, long pasta (like fettuccine, pappardelle, tagliatelle) or a ridged pasta shape (like rigatoni or fusilli), or even gnocchi. Bonus: The Bolognese sauce freezes really well. 

Get the recipe: 10-Ingredient Red Lentil Bolognese

Credit: Nisha Vora

Tuesday: Instant Pot Cauliflower Soup

This recipe requires minimum effort (think: less than 30 minutes, 10 ingredients, and hands-off cooking) all while delivering maximum flavor. While it might not sound hearty enough for dinner, it totally is, thanks to a protein boost from cashews and cannellini beans.

And once blended with cauliflower, the texture mimics the creamiest bisque but is 100% dairy-free. Don’t have an Instant Pot? The recipe also includes stovetop instructions.  

Three finishing touches make this soup a home run, so don’t overlook them: Lemon zest brings an elegant and zesty brightness, a swirl of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil lends a rich body to the soup, and red pepper flakes bring a subtle kick. Round out the meal with a hunk of your favorite bread or serve alongside a salad. 

Credit: Nisha Vora

Wednesday: Gambian Peanut Stew

Peanut stews are common across West Africa, with countless regional variations. Some are soupier, and others are thick stews served over grains. In Gambia, this dish is called domoda, and the vegetarian version usually contains peanut butter, tomatoes, chili peppers, and a vegetable such as sweet potatoes, carrots, or pumpkin. 

My version features hearty and wholesome ingredients, like peanut butter, protein-rich white beans, sweet potatoes, and kale, and is an all around feel-good meal that sticks to your ribs in the best possible way. Serve as is, or stretch out the meal by serving over millet, rice, quinoa, or fonio (a naturally gluten-free West African grain). 

Get the recipe: Vegan Gambian Peanut Stew (Domoda)

Credit: Nisha Vora

Thursday: Red Lentil Curry

If cooking Indian food at home seems too intimidating, let this community favorite red lentil curry be your gateway recipe. It’s inspired by the dal I ate every night growing up, but with a few special touches that make it extra luxurious. 

It’s easy to throw together and is made with mostly pantry ingredients, but tastes like a restaurant-quality meal. Serve with white rice or Indian flatbread, like roti, paratha, or naan (you can find vegan naan at Trader Joe’s and Sprouts). 

Get the recipe: Red Lentil Curry 

Credit: Nisha Vora

Friday: Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff

I like to cook something a little more special on Friday nights as a way to celebrate the end of the week, and this creamy mushroom stroganoff is an excellent option. It’s been known to convert mushroom-haters into mushroom-lovers, and is what one of my readers calls a “10/10 on the umami-meter.” 

Mushrooms and leeks get cooked down until beautifully browned and crisp, and the stroganoff sauce tastes just as indulgent as the classic version but is made with plant-based ingredients. Serve over your favorite pasta or, for the ultimate comfort food, over a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes. 

Thanks so much, Nisha! Check out Nisha’s cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, and follow her on YouTube, Instagram and on her blog, Rainbow Plant Life, for more of her delicious recipes.

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Meal planning isn’t always easy — especially if you’re just getting started. But we’re firm believers that it’s the secret to stress-free weeknight dinners. We 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 one or a family of four or five. Every week we share a new meal plan solution specifically customized for you from reader requests or from a guest contributor, for Next Week’s Meal Plan!