2 Weeks of Meals under $99

After writing the meal planning post earlier this month, the c-virus ramped-up and the closings, cancellations and run on toilet paper are now in full swing. As everyone is getting creative while in quarantine, with kids who are now off from school for at least a month, and adjusting to the different work environment, I thought I’d share some recipes you might like to add to your list of creative activities because you’ll actually be home and have a little more time to cook. These recipes really don’t take much time, just a little planning.

I planned a two week menu. I chose 8 meals because I like flexibility and sometimes just having a salad is enough and allowing for a take out meal to support the local restaurants is important to me. I did have a couple things in my pantry or freezer already, but most of the ingredients were purchased for a total of less than $70. That’s pretty good for 8 dinner meals and some leftovers for lunch. I typically cook for two people now, but most of these recipes are for four servings, some serving six.  Follow the links to the actual recipes.

BBQ Shrimp & Tahini Greens is a quick meal that comes together in under 30 minutes, if your shrimp is thawed.  (I eat an occasional meal with clean/wild caught animal protein, maybe once or twice a month.)

Chickpea Hot Pot and the Ginger Carrot Soup are recipes that are quick to put together because everything can go into one pot and allow time to cook. These two recipes hold well when frozen and can be made in larger batches to have one for the week and another to freeze for a later time.

Peanut Soba & Broccoli and Pad Thai take a bit of chopping and preparing vegetables, but once that’s done the cook time is minimal.

Veggie Enchilada Bake, Curry Red Lentils and Walnut Falafels take a little time but not difficult and definitely worth the time. These are great dishes to make a head and freeze as well, or double the recipes and make one meal for you and another to bless a neighbor.

If you want to limit your trips to the store during this time, pick up enough greens and salad veggies that you can eat in a week, kale lasts for more than a week if wrapped well and kept cold. Then rely on frozen vegetables: chopped spinach and kale, broccoli and cauliflower for sauteed sides or in the above recipes. Root vegetables and cabbage will last well and can be made into soups, roasted and served over boiled grains. Think about having canned tomatoes and beans on hand as well as dried lentils, rice and quinoa. Those things could carry you for two weeks at least, before having to shop again.

For breakfast, having oats and fruit combined with plant milk is delicious, or freeze or buy frozen berries and spinach to make green smoothies. If green is a turnoff, be sure to blend any greens with blueberries or cherries, for a beautiful purple shake. Check out the recipe page for more ideas.

For lunches, eat any leftovers from dinner, try different kinds of toasts, salads or even smoothies.

I know you don’t want to be spending more time in the kitchen than you need to. But I hope while you have some extra time at home, you’ll take a look at the recipes and try a few. They don’t take long, just a little planning. If you want more info about meal planning, check out THIS post.

Let me know how you like the recipes!

 

 

Pad Thai

This recipe is a variation of one I learned in Thailand at a cooking class in Bangkok.

The tangy sauce is lovely and fresh with a squeeze of lime. I’ve substituted the fish sauce in the original recipe with coconut aminos, so there is a bit of taste difference from original Thai, but I like the flavor of both.  Using more or less variety of vegetables is totally okay. Go with what you have in the fridge.

Pad Thai

vegan version, super tasty!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: bean sprouts, carrots, ginger, onion, peppers, plant-based, radish, rice noodles, tofu
Servings: 4
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • Wok or large skillet
  • knife

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 package rice noodles
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger minced
  • 1 carrot julienne or shred
  • 1 bell pepper julienne
  • 1/4 cup red onion sliced
  • 4 oz mushrooms, crimini or shiitake sliced
  • 1 cup snap peas or bean sprouts optional or both
  • 4 oz firm tofu, press between towels and dice sub egg if you want
  • 1 Tbsp tamarind paste or fresh lime juice

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the coconut aminos, sugar, water and chili flakes. Set a side.
  • Follow package directions for soaking the rice noodles.
  • Prepare the ingredients and have them all minced, sliced, julienned or chopped. If using egg instead of tofu, mix it together with 2 Tbsp of water in a small bowl.
  • Heat a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle one teaspoon of sesame oil over the pan, swirl and add the egg or tofu. Scramble or sear the tofu lightly, tossing to brown the sides. remove from pan and set aside.
  • Return pan to heat, drizzle with remaining teaspoon of oil, and add the garlic and ginger. Stir and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, but not browned.
  • Add the vegetables and the aminos mixture. toss well and cook until warmed through and vegetables are still crispy. Add the tamarind or lime juice, tofu or egg and the softened rice noodles at this time and toss well. Heat thoroughly and serve immediately.

Notes

Adjust the vegetables to your liking and the amounts. You can definitely add more or less and even omit the noodles and just have a veggie filled stir fry. I hope you enjoy it.
The picture for this recipe was taken of the original shrimp pad Thai we made in the Bangkok cooking class. 

Curry Red Lentils

This is comfort food for me.  The warm curry spices and the full belly satisfaction afterwards makes me want to make this every week.

In this recipe you can really use a variety of vegetables, please try different combinations. I usually have on hand, celery, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. But try sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, kale, spinach, turnips, kohlrabi. Get creative.

Curry Red Lentils

Curry with your choice of vegetables and creamy red lentils.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: coconut milk, curry, plant-based, red lentils, vegan, vegetables
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • knife
  • large skillet

Ingredients

  • ½ cup red lentils
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 cup carrot diced
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 can coconut milk light
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water more if needed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of cilantro

Instructions

  • Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot, sauté for 5 minutes until onion has softened.
  • Add remaining ingredients, except cilantro, stir to mix and bring to a boil. Stir again, lower the heat to keep the mixture at a slow simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro.
  • Serve with rice or naan and a lime wedge (optional)

Ginger Carrot Soup

This creamy satisfying soup is really easy to pull together.

Cook everything in one pot, when the carrots are nice and soft, blend using an immersion blender or transfer the soup in batches to a blender. To get a super smooth soup, you need to blend a little longer than you think, usually a full minute, scrape the container sides and another 30 seconds of blending. Using the immersion blender does not get as smooth a texture as a blender. Just FYI.

To change the flavor a little, sometimes I’ll add a sweet potato and/or a cup of orange juice or both. But it’s delicious without!

Ginger Carrot Soup

Creamy with a little kick!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: carrot, ginger, plant-based, vegan
Servings: 6
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • dutch oven
  • knife
  • blender or immersion stick blender

Ingredients

  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger diced (adjust to liking)
  • 2 pounds carrots sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk

Instructions

  • Dry sauté or use a little oil to sauté onions until soft but not brown.
  • Add garlic and ginger and cook stirring for 1 minute.
  • Add carrots and just enough broth to cover the vegetables.
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until carrots are tender.
  • Add the coconut milk and stir to incorporate.
  • In batches, transfer the soup to a blender and blend until completely smooth. If desired, add more broth to reach consistency you like. Or use an immersion blender in the pot.
  • Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Veggie Enchilada Bake

Ooh the flavors that pop in this dish are soo good!

I love the combination of sweet potatoes, black beans and spinach. If I don’t have time do this this whole recipe, I just make quesadillas in my skillet with seasoned sweet potatoes, black beans and spinach and serve with guacamole.  If I do have time to put the enchiladas together, I go for it!

You can roll or you can stack layers. the layers are faster, the rolls are traditional.

Veggie Enchilada Bake

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: back beans, red sauce, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, tortillas
Servings: 6
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • knife
  • skillet
  • baking dish

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 bell peppers chopped
  • 2 cups sweet potato bite size
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cans black beans or three bean blend rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 8-12 tortillas organic corn or flour

Red Sauce

  • 1 15oz can tomato puree or crushed
  • 11/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp flour or GF flour
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Instructions

Prepare the sauce:

  • In a small pot, heat the oil over medium and add the flour, stirring into a paste.
  • Add the spices and stir to combine. Then add the water and whisk until smooth.
  • Add the tomato puree and stir to combine well. Allow to cook for 10 minutes at a simmer until thickened. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Prepare Enchiladas:

  • Saute onion until softened, then add the chopped sweet potato with a 1/4 cup of water and cover the pan to cook the potatoes. Cook for 15 minutes.
  • When potato is fork tender, add the peppers and beans. If your skillet is not large enough for all ingredients, transfer the potatoes and onions to a bowl, then continue to saute the peppers and beans.
  • Add the spinach in batches, stirring until it wilts, adding more as the spinach cooks.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the red sauce to the bean mixture and combine with the sweet potatoes and onion. Stir in the cilantro.
  • Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil the baking pan you're going to use. Add 1/3 cup of the red sauce in the bottom of the pan and spread evenly.
  • For traditional rolls: Add 1/3 cup of the vegetable mixture to a tortilla, roll and place seam side down. Repeat this until your pan is full. Cover with red sauce.
  • To make a layered bake: overlap tortillas slightly to line the bottom of the pan. Scoop half of the vegetable mixture over the tortillas, cover with another layer of tortillas and half of the red sauce. Repeat with the remaining vegetable mixture, layer with tortillas and remaining red sauce. You will likely need more tortillas for this method.
  • Bake 20-30 minutes at 350.
  • Serve with non dairy sour cream and / or guacamole

Peanut Soba with Broccoli

These noodles have a creamy nutty sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. This recipe is great warm or cold. I recommend buckwheat soba noodles, but you can use regular spaghetti noodles or Asian rice noodles.

In the recipe I list certain vegetables, but you can substitute almost anything, I like the texture of shredded or julienned root veggies and  purple cabbage. Try different combinations. I hope you like it.

Peanut Soba with Broccoli

Creamy noodles with crunchy vegetables.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: almond, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cashew, peanut, soba
Servings: 4
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • Whisk
  • box shredder or food processor
  • Blender (optional)
  • pot
  • knife
  • Cutting board

Ingredients

  • 1 package Soba Noodles substitute spaghetti or rice noodles
  • 2 carrots julienned or shredded
  • 1 turnip or kohlrabi julienned or shredded
  • 1 cup purple cabbage thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1 head broccoli florets and stem peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts or almonds

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/3 cup tamari, soy sauce substitute coconut aminos
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp ginger minced
  • 1 garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup peanut or almond butter sub sunflower or cashew butter
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook noodles according to package directions. Add broccoli florets to the noodle cooking water in the last two minutes of cooking, drain and keep hot or rinse with cold water based on preference.
  • Shred or julienne the remaining vegetables and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Combine the sauce ingredients in a blender or whisk well in a bowl to incorporate everything into a creamy sauce.
  • If you want to serve this warm, toss the noodles and sauce together in the cooking pot over medium low temperature adding vegetables and tossing well until heated through.
    To serve this room temp or chilled, toss everything together in the mixing bowl to coat, serve or chill.

 

Walnut Falafels

I LOVE these falafels even though they take a few more minutes to put together than some of my other recipes.

Everything is pulsed in a food processor to bring the mixture together. I use a mini ice cream scoop to portion and place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and then bake.

I serve these on a romaine leaf or piece of Naan bread with a cucumber, tomato, parsley salad and garnish with a little garlic tahini dressing.

Walnut Falafels

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: chickpea, cilantro, parsley, walnuts
Servings: 4
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • food processor

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 cups chickpeas 2 cans, rinsed, drained
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper
  • Add walnuts to the food processor and pulse for 30 seconds to break them down into a meal.
  • Add remaining ingredients and pulse, stopping to scrape the sides of container, until it forms a chunky dough.
  • Use a mini scoop, or roll two tablespoons between palms to form into balls. flatten slightly on the pan.
  • Brush the top of each one with a little olive oil or use an olive oil spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to flip over and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until evenly browned.
  • Serve with Mediterranean salad, hummus and drizzle of garlic tahini sauce, see notes.

Notes

For the Tahini sauce: combine 1/4 cup each of tahini and water, 3 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1 minced clove of garlic and whisk together. Season with salt and pepper. 
For Mediterranean salad: combine chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, garlic and a little olive oil and salt. toss and add to the Naan or Romaine along with the falafels.

Chickpea Hot Pot

This is a one pot meal, easy prep and then just wait for it to cook. The cook time will depend on the grain you use. Quinoa is quick cooking in about 15 minutes total, whereas, brown rice and farro will take about 30-40 minutes.

The picture is of the dish made with farro grain. Farro is an ancient Emmer wheat, so it does have gluten; however, it  has not been hybridized like traditional wheat is. Some people with sensitivities can tolerate the ancient grains with gluten (farro, spelt, einkorn) but have trouble with the traditional wheat. It is not suitable for those who have Crohn’s or a true allergy to gluten or wheat.

Chickpea Hot Pot

Easy one pot meal. This is delicious hot or cold.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cauliflower, chickpea, farro, grain, kale, one-pot meal, quinoa, rice
Servings: 4
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • knife
  • dutch oven

Ingredients

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2/3 c uncooked quinoa farro, or brown rice
  • 1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 4 c vegetables broth
  • ½ c orange juice
  • 1 ½ c cauliflower small florets
  • 2 c kale chopped
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  • If you use quinoa, everything can go in together at once, except kale. In a large pot, sauté onion in olive oil until the onion softens. Add the quinoa, chickpeas, broth, orange juice and cauliflower, stir well. Bring pot to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • If using farro or rice, after sauteing onion, add grain and 2 cups of broth and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Then stir in the orange juice, remaining broth, cauliflower, chickpeas and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the kale at the end and cook for another 5 minutes until wilted. If the mixture gets too thick, add a little water. Season to taste.

 

BBQ Shrimp & Tahini Greens

This is the first recipe I’ve posted with an animal component. I focus on plant-based foods because they have the most benefit to us nutritionally. Personally, I eat primarily plant-based and will have a meal with some animal product about once or twice a month. For me, that has been working okay.

This is a quick and easy meal that comes together in under 30 minutes.

The recipe does not use a true bbq sauce, but if you have a favorite, then go ahead and sub it in.

BBQ Shrimp and Tahini Greens

This quick and easy recipe is light and tasty, just right for a weeknight meal.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bbq sauce, cabbage, kale, light, shrimp, tahini
Servings: 4
Author: Chef Kim

Equipment

  • colander, skillet, pot with lid, measuring cups

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs shrimp raw, wild caught, easy peel
  • 1/4 cup ketchup no sugar, fruit sweetened, organic
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos substitute soy sauce or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 cups cabbage chopped
  • 4 cups kale or chard chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cider or rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tahini

Instructions

  • For the Shrimp: Thaw if needed, in a colander under running water. When thawed, peel and place into a bowl.
    In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, coconut aminos and garlic, set a side.
  • For the greens: Chop the cabbage and kale or chard. chop the onion.
    In a pot with a lid, add 2 Tbsp of water and add the onion, saute for 3 minutes until it starts to soften.
    Add the cabbage and kale and 2 Tbsp of water, cover and steam for 5 minutes.
    Remove lid, add vinegar, 1/4 cup water and tahini and stir well to coat the greens. If sauce is too thick, add 2 more tablespoons of water. Season with salt and pepper.
  • While the greens are cooking, cook the shrimp:
    Add the ketchup mixture to a skillet and warm over medium-heat, add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally until shrimp is just cooked through and opaque.
  • Serve Shrimp over greens. Enjoy!

A Little Meal Planning Goes A Long Way

Are you wracking your brain every day on your way home from work about what you’re going to fix for dinner? Or are you running from soccer practice to piano lessons after school and don’t have time to make a home cooked meal? Or do you hate cooking and rely on the drive through or order takeout to save time but know your health and your family’s health is being compromised?

Life is busy but I believe food should be prioritized as family health care. The foods you choose to eat really do impact your body’s ability to repair, recover, grow,  protect and function optimally. The nutrients in food determine the quality of your cells. Cells are always dying off and being replaced. If you eat poorly, your cells will be compromised and weak. If you choose to eat high nutrient dense foods, whole foods, mostly plants, your cells will improve their integrity and perform better. Your health will improve.

So then, food is important! And planning makes home cooking doable. Home cooked meals will help you save money, lower stress and improve your health. It looks a little different for each person or family. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Make a list of your favorite meals, ask family members to participate.
  • Determine how much time and where in your schedule you have time to prep some things ahead of time. (Can you chop veggies in the morning to use for dinner? Can you load the slow cooker before work? Do you have two hours on Sunday to roast a sheet pan meal, cook a pot of rice and make a soup?)
  • Get the kids involved, they are more inclined to eat what they help choose and prepare.
  • Always keep certain ingredients on hand for a go-to meal in case things don’t go as planned. (My go-to meals are: black bean & sweet potato quesadilla and broccoli coconut soup, I always try to have those ingredients.)
  • Use a weekly or monthly calendar to plan out what meals to have on which night and generate a grocery list for the recipes. Make a list and stick to it, less impulse buying means better choices.(There are online templates you can print & there are grocery list apps for your phone, choose what works for you.)
  • Starting slow with one or two meals per week might be helpful until you get into the hang of it.
  • For a healthy start with breakfast, think about making a large batch of regular or baked oatmeal, chia pudding or smoothie bags. Oats are easy to warm up quickly, chia pudding goes into a bowl and add fruit and nuts to it, or dump contents of smoothie bag (fruit, greens, protein) into a blender and add plant milk or water.
  • For lunches, make enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch or think about layering ingredients into jars to make different salads in jars or even burrito in jars, ready to grab and take to work or school.
  • When you’re in the kitchen prepping food, turn on some music, an audio book or listen to podcasts, it helps to keep you going.
  • If you’re really short on time , take advantage of fresh ingredients that are already chopped, either packaged or in the salad bar at most grocery stores. Having frozen peas, corn, squash, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower rice and grains can make tossing dinner on the table quick. Have canned beans, tomatoes and fish for convenience and quick turnaround. Meal delivery services can be helpful as well, for those short on time, but they will not save money.
  • Make a quick dressing or sauce each week to have for salads, roasted veggies or grain bowls. (I think dressings are one of the worst things on the grocery shelves, they have so many additives for shelf life and the oils used become rancid.)
  • Meal bowls like THIS ONE are easy to put together from ingredients you’ve prepared ahead of time or from frozen. (Combine a grain or starchy vegetable + raw or sauteed greens + plant protein + non starchy vegetable + herbs, spices + condiment dressing)

Providing nourishing home cooked meals are more nutritious than restaurant and convenience foods because you are in charge of the ingredients. Most restaurants and convenience foods have high salt, sugar and fat /oil.  Your meals don’t have to be fancy, but you can definitely express your creative side with the colors, flavors and textures you choose.

It does take time to plan, but after a long day, knowing what to have for dinner, reduces stress and brings mindfulness to the act of nourishing yourself and those you love.

I have partnered with another plant-based chef who offers an online plant based meal planning service. Meals are science based, delicious, hearty and tailored to your lifestyle, health goals, prep time available and kitchen appliances. A mobile grocery list is generated and can be linked to Amazon Fresh or Instacart. Each recipe has the nutrient breakdown and you choose your level of culinary skill. If you want to take a look go HERE and use the code KIM10 for a discount. I really enjoy the variety and it makes deciding what’s for dinner much easier. I hope you check it out.

I have checked out other meal planning services: meallime app, realmeals.com and emeals.com, however the plant based meals are lacking substance and creativity, or the option of plant-based is not available. Keep in mind that having meals that are plant focused are more nutrient dense than those meals that are primarily animal based. You can supplement a plant focused meal with a clean animal protein, if you choose.

Meal planning will get easier with tools and practice and I’m confident that if you take a little time to plan, you will see great rewards in your health. Food is the best medicine!