Thursday, November 14, 2013

PBOAB Challenge Week 1

Plant Based On a Budget has produced a challenge for this month in which they are making FREE meal plans that will allow someone to spend $25/person a week. I am actually really excited to be doing this challenge. I might fail right off the bat because I don't think I'm going to make the 25 dollar cut. I'm still going to save so much money. I'm not incredibly irresponsible with money, but I am in need of saving up. Please check it out: This is wonderful. I struggled through most of my health issues in college and still don't make a ton of money. I still have medical bills that come in on a regular basis. It's always good to save money so you can keep up on those unexpected medical expenses.

I have not been feeling great lately. It has been incredibly difficult to find motivation to do much of anything, but I've still been able to cook the meals from the plan. I wasn't able to go through with my personal plan which was to make sure I'm eating at appropriate intervals during the day and eat some protein a bit before bed. I heard it helps your insulin control during the night. I was hoping it would just help me out of bed in the morning. That's why there are some extra ingredients on my shopping list because I was hoping to make some protein rich snacks. I never got around to it :( I still have the ingredients so I will try for next week.

I have really good things to say about this week's plan. This is similar to how I would create a meal plan when low on money: lots of soup! Soup is cheap, comforting, and filling. I've always bought in bulk, but never bought just what I needed. Only buying the cup that you need for the recipe really helps. Also, Toni did a great job in picking cheap ingredients. The broccoli may be a bit repetitive, but it's good for you and I'm glad there's more than just celery or cabbage to eat. I cheated and added cauliflower to the first soup to just mix it up. Cruciferous vegetables are great for my estrogen production. They help make good estrogen, not the breast cancer kind. That will also allow me to stay away from birth control.

Tonight I made the Curry Chickpeas. So Yummy! The spices are great and I love baked chickpeas. It could have used a bit of tomato to bind it together more, so if you wanted to spend extra on the can of tomatoes, I might try it. The recipes so far are tasty, filling, and quick to make. The last one being my favorite. The recipes make very large portions. This is great if you are worried about snacking. Having a small bowl of soup for a mid day snack is a great idea. I still have some leftover pasta in the fridge at work I will probably get to tomorrow as I graze through the day. Nonetheless, next week I may try to make the snacks I was planning on doing this week and make smaller versions of the recipes. Right now I have enough food to last me through most of next week as well. Which would be great, but I want to try the new meal plan when it comes out! I will have lots of soup in the freezer :)

Whether you want to do the challenge or not, I would check out the site to get recipe ideas for nights when you don't feel like cooking. I already peaked at the family plan to get some ideas as well. Most of the recipes are made in less than thirty minutes and could be made with things you probably already have. In fact, I didn't have to buy many things from the shopping list. I already had them, saving me more money! Even so, my total at WinCo came to $35.33.
I'll leave the extra expensive items that I bought at the end so you can see how much I would have saved if I had kept on track.

Better Than Bullion Vegetable Broth $3.48
Corn Tortillas (30Ct) $1.36
Whole Wheat Elbow Pasta (Instead of the Mexican stars) $.79
Garbanzo beans $.83
Brown Rice Rotini Pasta $.99
Pumpkin Flax Granola (So Delicious! Probably not good for my blood sugar though!) $2.22
Pinto beans $.57
Pearl Barley $.30
Oats $1.02
2 Bananas $.44
Celery $.78
3 lbs of Fuji Apples (I actually eat an apple a day. They are so delicious!) $3.29
Kale $.98
3 Cucumbers (I usually eat a salad every day) $1.74
Cilantro $.58
Redleaf Lettuce $1.68

Total of needed items: $21.05
If I add what I didn't buy from the list with the prices she gives it comes to $4.78. Therefore, the price should have been $25.83.

I bought some staples I was missing and ingredients for quinoa tots ( ). I'll probably still make these this weekend!

Peanut Butter $2.82
Capers $1.59
Hot Sauce (I'm obsessed!) $2.08
½ lb Quinoa $2.27
Trail Mix $1.24
Baby Carrots $.98
Avocado $.78
Chives $1.98
Mushrooms $.54

Total of extras: $14.28

Next time I will try my best to stick to the budget. In the mean time I learned more about meal planning than I ever have by doing it on my own. I'm somehow more aware of where the cheap ingredients are. I'm hoping to learn even more this month! Thank you Toni for this great resource. I look forward to more easy recipes!

No pics this week of food so here's a picture of my baby boy: The guy that keeps me going :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bag of Produce Challenge

I have the most amazing and supportive family. They help me with everything I need. By moving to Spokane and being closer to them, I have benefited from some perks. Recently, my great aunt has been giving me a large bag of veggies and fruit (see pic) as she can't finish all of the things she receives every week. I love having extra fruit and veggies to snack on. This week I went a step farther and decided not to buy groceries! Don't panic, I have many things still lying around that I can use in addition to what my lovely aunt gave me. However, doing it this way is a bit more challenging. You have to use what you have. Therefore, I can't chose a recipe that looks yummy and skip off to the store with my basket for ingredients; I have to search for recipes with what I have. For most Americans, this is simple. Most recipe sites have an actual entry search for this ( for example). Not many plant based sites do this. If I can find a decent vegetarian recipe, I will modify it to my needs.

Don't mind the wine ;)

This weekend and tonight I made the following recipes:

I added balsamic vinegar at the end to this one because I always put it on my chickpeas and Brussels sprouts. Very yummy!

I omitted oil and sugar, but added agave nectar too make up for the thickness and sweetness that those two would have provided. Also surprisingly yummy to a non fennel-eater.

Finally, I modified a recipe with butter, heavy cream, and oil! Oh My! I'm sure the original recipe is delicious, but I just wanted a nice soup for lunches and a way to get rid of the eight chile peppers I had in that bag. In no way am I an experienced chef, but I try to make things work for me. So please, no criticism. I just want to give an example of how easy it is to go from an unhealthy to a healthy recipe.

My version:


½ cup roasted chiles, skins and seeds removed (see directions in original)
2 cups of corn (I used frozen)
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Lemon Pepper Mrs. Dash
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup non-dairy milk
2 red potatoes
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons cilantro


  1. Place onion, corn, and garlic in pot with a bit of water or broth at the bottom. Cook until onions are translucent.
  2. Add vegetable broth and potatoes, bring to a boil.
  3. Add non-dairy milk and cook on medium until potatoes are soft.
  4. Add Mrs. Dash and chiles. Cook for five minutes.
  5. Add lime juice and cilantro.
  6. Blend all chowder except for half a cup.
  7. Mix back together and enjoy!

This makes about six cups of soup. So four servings for me :) With a dishwasher, this is not labor intensive after you're finished. I would add more corn if you want to offset the heat.

This is a great start to my next challenge. I agreed with Toni from PlantBasedOnABudget that I would join the one month challenge where it should only cost $25 dollars per person. This is wonderful because I need to save up for Christmas presents and most importantly, online classes. So look for my budget post and I'll let you know how the first week goes.