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!

 

 

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!