Whole-Foods Plant-Based Eating on a Budget: Week 2
Week One went well. I stuck to the meal plan, didn’t buy anything extra, and ate some yummy, yummy foods. I’ve been eating heaping bowls of soups and stews at each meal – pretty much stuffing myself without overeating. I’m feeling nourished and satisfied.
This diet includes lots of beans, whole grains, and veggies: foods that are nutrient dense and relatively inexpensive. If I tried to include processed foods, even organic ones, there is no way I could stay on budget.
So I’m staying away from canned and packaged foods and focusing on bulk items, fresh veggies, and fresh or frozen fruit. This system takes planning and discipline but so far I’m enjoying it – on many levels – dietary, budgetary, healthwise, and organizationally, plus it feels good to minimize packaging waste.
After I posted Week One of this plan, Deborah from UrbanNaturale.com made a good point in the comments about how its easy to spend too much at the health food store. I worked at an organic grocery store for 2 years and can personally attest (admit) to buying lots of organic junk food – too many organic potato chips and cookies. Just cuz its labelled organic doesn’t mean its good for me.
Notes about this plan:
I’m not always making the meals exactly the same size as indicated in the recipes, e.g. the minestrone recipe below makes 16 servings! I’ll adjust it according to how much of each ingredient I have on hand and make enough for 3-4 meals for myself. That way I have some variety each week but don’t have to do a lot of cooking or have much to put in the freezer. I usually end up throwing away frozen soups 2 years down the road anyway. Last week I froze one serving of the Kale Soup. Reminder to self: eat this on Week 4!
Organic vs. That Other Kind
When the price of organic versions is *reasonable* I’ll buy organic rather than that ahem, other kind, e.g. if regular bananas are 79¢/pound and organic are 99¢/pound, I’ll buy organic.
I’m not a fan of snacking. Generally for breakfast I have a large smoothie plus a few nuts or I’ll have a piece of fruit and some cooked grains with dried fruit. Lunch is always big (I work from home) and includes an appetizer (foods that would otherwise be snacks) and an entrée plus dessert. I might eat a few small snacks here and there but prefer to stick with three large meals a day. Eating at set times is easier on the digestion than eating all day – the digestive system needs a rest!
I’m not a fan of the ‘eat 5-6 small meals a day’ trend that began in the 90’s and was touted as THE way to lose weight. The theory was that eating all day keeps the metabolism high. I truly believe this method overworks the digestive system and throws off our natural hunger signals which negates any minor increases in metabolic rate. In my experience as a personal trainer, I saw many women clients just end up eating processed snacks all day because they never felt full and they didn’t lose the weight they wanted to. Quality counts. So does taking the time to quietly eat a proper meal.
Using dried beans is cheaper than canned and there is zero sodium this way. Canned versions tend to have too much sodium to be healthy. Another reason to plan – its a bummer when I forget to soak the beans the night before.
Menu for Week 2
13 meals (6 lunches, 7 dinners) (One Pea Soup from last week carried over into Monday.)
Some desserts and snacks/appetizers
Fresh fruit & cooked hot grains with dried fruit
Lunches and Dinners (need 13 meals)
Thanksgiving Meatless Loaf (5 meals) from www.fatfreevegan.com
Subbed pinto beans for cannellini beans (much cheaper) and leftover pecans for walnuts. Left out the tofu and used a few extra beans instead – the loaf turned out great – much better than it would with tofu, I think.
Winter Minestrone (6-7 meals – freeze 3) from www.fatfreevegan.com
Subbed fresh tomatoes for canned, pinto beans for canned kidney beans. Left out cabbage and turnip and barley (who needs barley when there’s macaroni?)
African-Inspired Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers (3 meals) (froze 4 burgers) from www.fatfreevegan.com
Subbed chickpea flour (with a little xanthan gum to hold it together) for vital wheat gluten. Left out green pepper. Didn’t serve them with buns.
Apple Crisp (this recipe has added fat)
I ran out of margarine and subbed coconut oil for ½ of the margarine – I don’t recommend it – doesn’t taste as good and burns a little. Sometimes I have non-dairy milk with my apple crisp and sometimes I eat it plain.
Snacks (usually eaten as an appetizer)
Nuts & seeds
Week 2 Shopping List
* denotes organic
# denotes bulk
1 acorn squash
dry pinto beans #*
quick oats #*
5 asian pears*
ginger root *
5 oz spring greens*
16 oz spinach pack
1 sweet potato
Total = $42. This keeps my budget on track.
Things I need this week that I already have on hand:
Veggie bullion cubes
Cacao powder (not raw)
Gluten-free flours (a small amount of various kinds)
Dried beans & lentils
Apples (from my tree)
Oatmeal, rice, quinoa, corn meal
Gluten free macaroni
TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
Nuts & seeds (cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds)
Garlic (leftover from last week)
Dried coconut (leftover from last week)
2 Sweet potatoes (leftover from last week)
dried kidney beans
I’ll be back again next week to let you know how it went. Plus, I’ll link more great recipes.
How do you stick to a food budget while maintaining a healthy diet?
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Backyard Farming Connection, Healthy Tuesday Hop, Tuesdays with a Twist, Down Home Blog Hop, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Wednesday Roundup, Happy Green and Natural Blog Hop, Mindful Mommy Monday, The Homeacre Hop, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Mountain Woman Rendezvous, Create It Thursday