Plant based on a budget challenge

The past couple of months have been rough, personally, and I’ve been looking for a way back into eating right, being healthy and blogging beyond my glass bowl photos. So, when I saw on facebook that Plant Based on a Budget was going to be hosting a challenge, I thought I’d go for it. This is a notoriously hard time of year for sticking to my food budget. I go out with friends; I ignore meals in order to get just a little bit more work in before the end of the semester; I have friends over for nibbles and wine. Oh, and I love holiday treats! Aldi gets all kinds of great cheese (I know) in this time of year and there’s stollen and panetone and pfeffernusse and all kinds of cookies and summer sausage (I know) and crackers and cocktails. I love the upcoming holidays.

Anyway, I have other things I really need to be focusing on, so the thought that I’d just have to follow someone else’s meal plan was pretty great. Last friday the first meals were posted. I went through plan and everything looked great. There were soups, salads, and tacos, all foods I enjoy. I did a little tweaking to the menu, though. A couple of the breakfasts called for granola and I’m not a huge fan of granola. Instead a baked a no-knead loaf of bread and had that with peanut butter on those days. I’ve been in the mood for comfort food, so I tweaked one of the soups and turned it into a casserole. In the same vein of looking for comfort food, I changed up the potato tacos (which look delicious and will one day grace my table) for beans on potato and spinach waffles. I had to tweak some of the purchases, too. The grocery stores I like to frequent are places you buy in bulk but not places there are bulk bins. That’s alright, though, because I used stuff I already had this week (for example, the bread came out of ingredients already in the house) and in the coming weeks I’ll use surplus of what I bought this week.

This was what was on Toni at Plant Based on a Budget’s list this week: kale, 1/2 lb cheapest pasta, 4 bananas, cilantro, garlic, 2 carrots, lemon, fuji apple, 2 yellow onions, orange, 1/2 lb pinto beans, tomato, 5 lb bag russet potatoes, small cucumber, 18ct corn tortillas, lettuce, 1/2 brown rice, celery, mexican pasta shapes,15 oz tomato sauce, soy milk, 2 packs 6 ct bullion cubes, frozen broccoli cuts, 1 lb pearl barley , 1 lb oats , 1/2 garbanzo beans, 1 lb cheapest granola, 1/2 cup cheapest dried fruit, 1/4 cup cheapest seeds

I already had garlic, lemons, apples, onions, potatoes, rice, bullion cubes, barley (funny story about that), oats, garbanzo beans (funny story about that, too), dried fruit, and seeds. And, as mentioned above, I already knew granola was out. So, I didn’t get those things. I meant to do my casserole vegan, I even looked up a recipe that used silken tofu and soy milk for the creamy mushroom soup base but I was tired and cranky the night I went shopping and didn’t have it in me to go to another store. So, I opted for the “just like mom used to make” way and I picked up some dairy products.

This is what I ended up buying: broccoli, Spinach (there was no kale), Great northern beans (1/2 lb left), celery, romaine hearts, cucumbers (came in a 3-pack) Sugar (for the bread), sour cream (dairy, for the casserole), almond milk, clementines (have extra for next week), bananas (have extra for next week), tomato sauce and condensed cream of mushroom soup (dairy). My total was 20.26.

I made the casserole first. I just used everything in the second soup with the Mexican shapes minus all the water and bullion plus the dairy products. Mix, Bake at 350 for half an hour. It did taste like home.

When I went to make the chickpea dish, I realized I was wrong and I didn’t actually have chickpeas. No bother. So, I instead made the celery barley soup. Of course, when I went to make that I realized I had only half a pound of barley and not a whole pound like I thought. It all worked out in the end, though. The last time I bought rice, I bought something like 10 lbs of it so I just subbed in rice for the missing barley. The soup was just too delicious. I had two bowls the first night. I haven’t really felt like eating breakfast this week so I was glad to have the bread. I had it with peanut butter the first day and then just with Earth Balance the next couple of days. On Friday I had a breakfast date with on colleague and a dinner date with a couple of other colleagues. So, I guess I didn’t miss those chickpeas? And, today I started out with a spinach banana smoothie to which I added a scoop of cocoa powder and I have baked beans in my crockpot for later. I’m going to make spinach and potato waffles (my own recipe I’ll post.) The beans are orange (well, clementine) bourbon beans and when they’re done I’ll serve them with the waffles. Yum.

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