Weekly grocery haul

Hi!  I often hear people say that they couldn’t afford to go vegan, which is very interesting.  I find that a whole food, high carb and low fat style vegan diet is a lot cheaper than when our family ate meat and dairy or high fat vegan.  The staples we rely on are some of the most affordable- bananas, potatoes, rice, beans, oatmeal, and frozen fruit.  I budget for my family of 2 adults+2 small kids $150/week for groceries. To make this work, I employ a combination of Costco (i try to limit these purchases because i hate all the plastic packaging), bulk bins at my local co-op, and the farmer’s market/produce stands.  This is what I bought this week: (first pic is from the farmer’s market, second from my Co-op and Costco combined).  Mostly everything is organic, but I also buy conventional sometimes if the organic option comes from far away or doesn’t look as fresh.  In this case, the almond milk, chocolate bar, and oranges are not organic.

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1/2 gallon of almond milk $2.99

bulk tamari (i refill an old 20 oz kombucha glass) $4.31 lasts quite a while

1 bunch kale $2.39

2x bunches celery $1.98

1 big cluster of shallots $1.69

gardein frozen “chicken” scallopini (the kids love these and i buy them maybe once every few months as a treat- not the best choice but you have to live a little ;))

90% chocolate bar (Lindt) $2.89 for treats- SO dark and bitter but very silky

10 Fuji apples $6

large hand of bananas $2.69

2 GIANT heads of romaine $4.78

large block of local tofu, from bulk section (put in my own le parfait jar) $3.11

black beans from bulk section (in my quart mason jar) $3.85 for black bean brownies!!

dried cranberries in bulk (quart mason jar) $4.79 for salads

chickpea miso paste $6.39 (lasts forever)

bulk bin chocolate chips in a pint mason jar $6.10 (expensive! but i prefer to forgo packaging whenever possible-kinder for the earth) for black bean brownies

4 gallons bulk reverse osmosis water in our giant glass jugs $1.17

6 large sweet potatoes

1 head red cabbage

25 lb local navel oranges $8.99- a super deal!  Not organic but super fresh and not sprayed with pesticides as per farmer.

4 lemons $1

6 limes $1

big bag of broccoli crowns $2.99

2 bunches asparagus

11 avocados $11

2 bunches green onions

1 kabocha squash- i love this steamed and drizzled with tamari, green onions and sesame seeds.  add rice and tofu for a complete meal.

GIANT bag of yukon gold potatoes- potatoes are life in this house, lol.  they get us through the winter.  roasted, in soups, oven fries, potato salads with vinaigrette, etc.

1 lb mixed greens

1.5 lb cremini mushrooms

2 large (Costco) bags frozen fruit: mango, and a tropical blend of mango, papaya,strawberry,pineapple

15 tomatoes

large bag of dried apricots, large bag of dried prunes- the kids love these as an after dinner treat and I have recently become inexplicably obsessed with prunes?

I lost one of the detailed receipts so I can’t list exact prices for everything , but I came in at approximately $160.  This is $10 over my budget for the week BUT some of these things (dried fruit, miso, tamari,choc chips,black beans) will last past the week and I came in quite under budget last week, so it evens out.

Some meals I’ll be making this week?

-celery, mushroom, cashew, tofu stir fry, seasoned with tamari and garlic+brown rice: one of our FAVE combos.  Super flavorful, filling, fast, and balanced.

-our “house salad”- mixed greens, green onions, kidney beans, dried cranberries, whatever chopped up veggies you have in the fridge+ a maple syrup/balsamic vinegar/dijon mustard dressing (3-2-1 dressing)

-quinoa, black rice, lentil, shredded kale salad- seasoned with shallots, herbs, and a bright mustard-vinegar dressing.  Probably will toss in some roasted asparagus or broccoli too.

-“house salad” + greek style lemon oregano baked potatoes- i use this recipe

-black bean brownies: seriously so good and i can let my kids have them for snacks because they are loaded with fiber, protein, and iron

-OJ+frozen fruit smoothies: such a easy and delicious combo.  loving OJ+ froz mango+ vanilla right now

-avocado sushi, duh

-forks over knives PIZZA with chickpea flour crust- recipe here

I’ll probably make other things too, but I don’t like to plan every meal.  I’d rather leave space for some creativity and intuition.

Hope this helps and please leave me a comment if you have a question or if there’s a specific topic you’d like me to post about!

 

Kelp noodle pad thai (raw vegan) + a fully raw meal plan.

raw vegan gluten free pad thai kelp noodle

I’ve been wanting to try kelp noodles for a while now, but it was something that I held back on for fear it might taste funky.  It is made out of kelp, you know.  I’m happy to report that kelp noodles are completely neutral in taste.  They are slightly crunchy in texture, but not weird and rubbery like shirataki noodles (blegh).  The longer that you let them sit with the sauce, the softer they will become.  I made a Thai inspired coconut milk sauce for them and added lots of raw veggies, avocado (duh) and served it all in a cabbage leaf.  Simple and beautiful.  I take extra care in how I present meals to my daughter because I want her to eat as much fruit and veggies as I can get her to!  I have found over and over that the prettier/cuter/more fun you make food for kids, the more likely they are to eat a variety of healthy foods.  This is especially true if you give them a little bowl of dipping sauce.  Kids LOVE to dip veggies.  We eat with our EYES before any food reaches our mouths.

Kelp noodle pad Thai. (serves 2)

1 package kelp noodles, soaked in cool water for 15 minutes and then drained well

1/4-1/2c coconut milk, depending on how thick you’d like it

3T almond butter (you could use peanut if you prefer)

2T tamari (or soy sauce)

1 finely diced jalapeno with seeds (adjust to your liking)

1T maple syrup

1T minced ginger

Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon

1t white miso (optional)

Whisk all ingredients except kelp noodles together.  Pour sauce over noodles and let sit while you prepare the veggies:

2 leaves red cabbage, left whole

1-2 carrots (I used one julienned orange carrot and one yellow carrot cut into slices)

3 stalks celery, cut on the diagonal

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

1/2 an avocado, cut into thin slices

Thai basil and cilantro, as much as desire, roughly chopped

Green onion.

Raw sesame seeds

Mix all veggies except avocado with the kelp noodle mixture, reserving some veggies to garnish the plate if desired.  Divide kelp noodle and veggie mixture evenly between the two cabbage cups.  Arrange avocados on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Now devour and be happy!

My husband and I will be doing FullyRawKristina’s 21 day raw vegan challenge so instead of a meal plan this week I will just post our grocery list.  Why 21 days?  It takes 21 days to make a habit.

165 bananas@.19cents ea=31.35

1 case young coconuts@8.99ea

2 pineapples@2.99ea=5.98

4 pounds of medjool dates @7.99/2lbs=15.98

3 (3 lb) bags of a peach-strawberry-mango frozen fruit blend@6.50ea=19.5

1 (3 lb) bag frozen mixed berry blend@9.99

10 hachiya persimmons=3.00

1 case pomegranates@12.50/case

10 pounds braeburn apples@1.63/lb=16.13

1 large bag baby kale=4.50

21 heads assorted lettuce @ 2.00 each=42

9 cases mangoes @ 3.99 each=35.91

2 pounds baby spinach @3.50/lb=7.00

2 heads celery@1.25ea=2.50

10 cucumbers@2.99/5=5.98

10 zucchini @.85/lb=5.32

20 kiwis=3.00

2 jicamas=3.00

2 dragonfruit@4.99/lb=10.00

2 large red bell peppers=4.25

unlimited oranges from our orange tree in the backyard=FREE

TOTAL=247.28!  About 100 more than my regular cooked vegan food budget but I would say worth it.  All quality produce and the mangos, apples, and bananas should last into next week too.  I could have cut down the budget by not buying the extras like dragonfruit and pomegranates, but I wanted to have something fun to look forward to.

It sounds like a lot but raw foods are lower in CALORIES and higher in WATER than cooked foods.  That is why they digest faster and easier!  That means you have to eat a much larger volume of them to get enough calories/nutrition.

This morning I made a apple cranberry pomegranate orange juice that was unbelievably delicious.  I usually make smoothies because I like to eat whole foods and create less waste, but fresh cranberry juice?  Yes please!  Link to recipe HERE.fully raw kristina wine apple cranberry pomegranate orange juice

Another week, another meal plan.

I haven’t meal planned in about 2 weeks and as a result I’ve spent way more on food than normal!  So to get back into it, I’m posting my meal plan for this week.  This will feed my family of 2 adults + 2 kids for a week.  Breakfasts are smoothies around here 9 times out of ten so I wont bore you with those details.  I keep a big variety of frozen fruit in the freezer for smoothies and we are still getting fresh oranges from our tree.  Thankfully my little garden has recovered from the frost and is producing double time:

winter gardenLOTS of citrus, greens, and radishes.
pak choi swiss chard kale spinach

Mon: Butternut squash soup with cinnamon croutons and fried sage leaves + green salad

Tues: Pistachio-herb quinoa + roasted garlic broccoli + caviar lentils (little black ones that cook very fast)

Wedns: Bibimbap (maybe going to sub tofu for beef in this recipe, or just omit)

Thurs: Citrus-black bean veggie chili

Fri: Green burgers from milking almonds and celine eats avocados (been drooling for a week over these babies)

Sat: leftovers (chili or burgers or both!)

Sun: working!

Along with all the stuff for dinner I will be getting lots of veggies and fruits too.  On my to-cook list is also banana bread, chocolate chip-fresh cranberry cookies, and maybe a raw dessert…cant forget the sweets!  So fun to make with the littles, too.  Also have my eye on this collection of vegan sushi recipes.  Does anyone else have this problem of wanting to make and devour every recipe you see!!!?  Fat kid problems.  Anyways…hope everyone had a great holiday filled with love and good food.

Love, A.

Quality food on the cheap: part II

So last time I laid out some guidelines for buying food on a budget.  Now its time to break down in detail the method I shared in the last post.  This example is for the week of 12/2 – 12/8 (Mon-Sun)

First, I pull up the ads for this week on my computer.  I check a handful of local stores to see if any sales are worth getting excited about.  This week, there wasn’t.  Then I figure out how many meals I need to prepare that week. This week its 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 6 dinners.  I don’t plan lunches as I always have plenty of leftovers from dinner/ingredients to whip up something quick.  For breakfasts I roughly approximate what I will eat and how much fruit I will need (fruit = breakfast of choice.  I am a smoothie QUEEN)

Next I look in my fridge/pantry and see what is languishing around needing to be used asap.  This week I had russet potatoes, spinach, a sweet potato, lettuce, sprouted tofu and sugar snap peas.  I had seen @veggiephile (on instagram) make stuffed sweet potatoes with kale and cannellini beans that looked fantastic; therefore stuffed sweet potatoes with spinach+white beans and a salad is one dinner.  The tofu was begging to be stir fried with the snap peas; buy a few more veggies + rice.  2/6 dinners complete!  For the rest, I flipped through some cookbooks (Cooks Illustrated is my fave!  NOT vegan but very adaptable and recipes always come out amazing) and online to gather inspiration.  This is what I came up with:

MON 

BREAKFAST: OJ smoothie (fresh oj and whatever frozen fruit from the freezer)

DINNER: Stuffed sweet potatoes (celery, onions, dried cherries, pecans, spinach) + large salad

TUES

BREAKFAST:  Tangerine + Raspberry smoothie

DINNER:  visiting family

WEDNS

BREAKFAST:  Green juice (apple + carrot + spinach + lemon)

DINNER: Tofu stir fry (snap peas, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, onion, sprouted tofu, tangerine sauce) + rice

THURS

BREAKFAST:  OJ smoothie

DINNER: Veggie chili + salad

FRI

BREAKFAST:  pomegrate juice + chia pudding

DINNER:  oven fries with chimichurri + large salad

SAT

BREAKFAST: grapefruit juice + oatmeal w berries and flax

DINNER:  polenta with rosemary mushrooms + salad

SUN

BREAKFAST: miso soup + rice

DINNER: Pasta bolognese (obviously I omit dairy from this recipe) + salad

Depending on how I feel that day, I definitely switch up my breakfasts, but I like to roughly figure out how much food to get.  I almost always stick dinner plans, which makes it so much easier to plan and prep ahead.  Although to be honest sometimes there’s a “I’m so sick of cooking im going to scream if I have to step foot in the kitchen again” kind of night.  Being a mom can burn you out sometimes!  Anyways…Sunday and Thursday dinners get made ahead in the morning or even the day before.  I love veggie chili as it is so warm, filling and easy to make ahead.  Plus it lasts for days in the fridge, scoop out some and reheat at any time.

Then I compile my list, first writing down ingredients I need for my recipes and then giving my fridge and pantry a once over to see if there is anything else I need to stock back up on.  At this point you may or may not have a baby who enjoys pulling things out of the fridge and causing general mayhem at your feet.

caught in the act

Mmmm hmmm.  Caught red-handed.

Here’s the list for this week, and the cost of everything on it.  Everything is organic except for a few items which are denoted by a *.  Prices are in the ( ).

IMG_0126

FARMERS MARKET (39)

(5) crimini mushrooms x 1 lb

(6) oranges x 10 lbs

(2) purple broccoli x 1 large head

(2) sweet potatoes x 2

(1) zucchini x 4

(1) green bell peppers x 3 small

(.50) parsley x 1 head

(.50) cilantro x 1 head

(.50) green onions x 1 bunch

(2) carrots x 5 large

(4.50) apples x 6

(2) grapes x 2 lbs

(3) pomegranates x 3

(2) cucumbers x 4 small

(3) hachiya persimmons x 4 (ooey gooey and great baby food)

(6) lettuce x 3 large heads

COSTCO (29.50)

(3.50) *onions x 5 lbs

(14) quinoa, kale, almond veggie patties x 1 large box

(5) edamame x 1 huge box (for snacks)

(7) frozen peaches/mango/strawberry blend

(4) *garlic x 1 big bag

TRADER JOES (9.68)

(2) bananas x 1 large hand

(3) *coconut milk x 3 cans

(1.69) *red lentils

(2.99) *Candy Cane Joes O’s x 1 box… uhh, obviously NOT healthy but they are only here once a year and they’re soooo good.  YOLO!

yum

nom nom nom…I need to make my own!  I saw a few recipes floating around….

GRAND TOTAL: 82.18

This feeds my family of 2 adults, a five-year old, and a one year old for a week.  Obviously some ingredients were already in my pantry, but a lot of things I got this week will stretch into other weeks too (frozen fruit, big bags of onion and garlic, lentils, and coco milk) so it evens out.  Buying in bulk helps to cut down my costs a lot.

Love, A.

Quality food on the cheap: part I

A statement that I hear quite often is, “I wish I could eat healthier.  But it’s just too expensive/I don’t have time to cook.”  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive, and cooking doesn’t require Master Chef skills and lengthy prep time.  This is especially true if you are blessed to live somewhere with a temperate climate where fresh fruits and veg are abundant.  (If you live in the tropics I’m extremely jealous.  *le sigh*)  All it takes is getting a little smarter and investing more time in budgeting and planning.

I know, I know, the word “budget” tends to elicit groans and headaches.  When I first started, I felt that way too.  But it’s not hard or time-consuming, especially after you’ve done it a few times.  I take about half an hour max on a Saturday and bust out my whole meal plan, grocery list, and budget for the week.

The guidelines (read: customize to your lifestyle/needs) below are really just a brief outline of simple tips that help me.  In the next post I’ll give an example of a week of planning and meals for my family of 2 adults+2 kids.

1.  Set aside a certain day or time every week that you can sit down and plan for the week.  This is key to actually following through.

2.  Figure out what places you can get quality produce on the cheap.  In my area, that’s my farmer’s market, Costco, Trader Joe’s, and local supermarket/coop.  Farmers markets offer the absolute lowest prices on quality organic produce 90% of the time.  You can often get deals from the farmer if you ask.  If you go about 30 mins before the market ends, there are often huge mark-downs from farmers trying to sell what they have left.

3.  Know your prices.  I’m not advocating keeping a binder with spreadsheets of price comparisons like the people on Extreme Couponing, but just have a general idea in your head of things that are ALWAYS cheaper at a specific store.  Ex: I always buy bananas at Trader Joes (19 cents each for conventional, 29 cents each for organic) and I always buy dates at Costco (8 dollars for 2 pounds).

4.  Look at the ads.  When I was first starting out I always looked at the grocery store ads before starting my meal planning.  Most places have online ads and by looking at them you can begin to shape what you are going to eat that week by whats on sale (which is also usually whats in season-a bonus because its healthier/fresher)  I keep a little notebook and jot down whats on sale and for what price.

5.  Find or think up recipes, and keep in mind whats on sale when you decide on which to use.  I write down a hard plan for dinner, and am looser with lunch and breakfast plans since I know I’ll usually have leftovers and will always have fruit and veg for a smoothie or juice.  Keep in mind the time window you’ll have to get dinner on the table and plan accordingly.  Ex: Tuesdays and Thursdays I get home late and just want to get something on the damn table and not wash a bazillion dishes.  I prep food the day before or in the morning so there’s minimal cleaning and prep.  A few fave food blogs: celineeatsavocados , puremamas , ohsheglows , minimalistbaker ,  onehungrymami .

6. Make your list.  Write down the ingredients that you’ll need for your recipes/plans and allow for some snacks.  Approximate how much money each item will cost, and add it up at the end to get a loose idea of how much you will be spending.

7.  Get shopping!  Usual days for me are Sundays and Wednesdays, whatever you prefer is great.  Also:  clean your fridge out before you go!  Easier to put away stuff when you get home and you might find something on your list that you forgot you had. (why hello carrots stuffed in the back drawer and forgotten)  Things that are easily seen will get used instead of rotting.

8.  Post your meal plan on the fridge for easy reference during the week.

9.  Whenever possible, grow your own food or find it!  Gardening cuts WAY down on my grocery expenses.  I grow lettuce, kale, radishes, carrots, herbs, and onions/garlic in the winter along with my orange and tangerine tree.  In the summer, I grow tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers and basil plus my plum and cherry tree.  All the things I grow are super easy and I grow most of them in pots (ie you don’t need a backyard to grow food!)  I also live near a bike path with fruit trees planted along it.  Check out fallingfruit.org to look in your area for public fruit trees that you can pick.

Hope this helps!  On Thursday I will post part 2 for an example meal plan + grocery list and what it cost for a week of food.  Please leave a comment if you have any questions/suggestions etc.

Much love, A.