Cooking for One

Next Week’s Meal Plan: 5 Vegetarian Dinners for One

updated May 29, 2019
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Credit: From Left to Right: Leela Cyd, Joe Lingeman, Chronicle Books, Joe Lingeman

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 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.

This week’s plan is a request from home cook following a vegetarian diet and cooking for one. It includes five fresh and seasonal, vegetable-heavy dinners that are easy to scale down for solo home cooking, and promise not to leave you bogged down with a mountain of leftovers. It also includes some smart shortcuts to save time in the kitchen and tips on repurposing extra ingredients, like herbs and vegetables, into meals later in the week.

Credit: Leela Cyd

This gnocchi is one of my favorite pasta dinners this time of year. It’s deeply comforting yet packed with bright, fresh flavors from the lemon and basil that keep it light. Plan to stash the extra gnocchi in the freezer for a future dinner and save the extra basil and mushrooms for Friday’s dinner.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

While these beans get more and more delicious every day, I often halve the recipe (which is quite easy) to limit leftovers. Serve the beans over a slice of toast, and top with a fried egg to bulk it up even more. The recipe calls for fresh parsley and oregano, although it’s worth noting fresh basil can be used in addition or in place of those herbs.

Credit: Chronicle Books

This is the perfect low-effort mid-week meal that’s more about assembly than time at the stove. While the recipe makes four sandwiches, it’s easy to halve it, or even just make a single sandwich. And if you find yourself with leftover broccoli rabe or mozzarella, it makes a great addition to Friday’s dinner.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

The beauty of rice bowls, like this one, is that they’re super versatile. To save a little time, I like to pick up a container of rice from my local takeout joint, then cook just the amount of tofu (you can freeze the extras), sweet potato, and broccoli I want to fill the bowl.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Friday nights are for ridiculously easy cooking and clearing out the fridge. Roast anywhere from a half to a single pint of tomatoes (save any extras for weekend toast or eggs) and the leftover mushrooms from Monday night, then toss it together with your favorite pasta. If you have any leftover broccoli rabe or mozzarella from Wednesday’s sandwich night, this is the perfect way to use it up.


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