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Plant-Based Meal Plans Save You Time and Money

Plant-Based Meal Plan

This is one of our first meal plans after transitioning to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

Plant-based meal plans are an effective way to control your schedule and food budget.  Never a big planner myself, I have learned to embrace this practice more recently.  Planning your meals in advance can help give structure to your week and ensure that you go through all of your produce before it goes to waste. When you plan ahead, it’s easy to make meals that might otherwise have seemed too time consuming or complicated.

Our Best Plant-Based Meal Plan Tips

  • Be flexible.  Once you make a menu, you don’t need to rigidly adhere to it every night of the week.  Stuff happens; you just need to have a general idea of what you’ll be making.
  • Start small.  Just plan a few days ahead.  The most I ever plan for in advance is one week.
  • Inventory your fridge and pantry as you write your list.  Use what you have so you don’t need to make any special shopping trips.  Keep in mind what you need to go through before it goes bad.
  • Plan for a leftover night. Or two!  It’s like giving yourself a night off from the kitchen!
  • Make it fun!  Josh and I like to write our meal plans on Sunday nights before we start a new week.  Believe it or not, it is actually a really nice way to wind down at the end of the day and bond.  Since cooking is one of our favorite things to do together, we keep our menus interesting with some old standards and a few new ones to try for the first time.
  • Always shop with a list.  Without one, it’s really east to end up with too much — or too little — of what you need.

Our Plant-Based Meal Plan From This Week

DayMealFoods to go through
SundayRoot Vegetable Buddha Bowlbeets, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, carrots
MondaySwiss Chard Pastaswiss chard, lemons
TuesdayCaribbean Quinoa Bowlkale, mango, avocado
WednesdayJosh's Five Minute Saladavocado, tomatoes, green onions, mixed greens
ThursdayCollard-ritoscollard greens, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro
FridayCold Soba Noodle Saladcucumber, red bell pepper, mango, avocado
SaturdayBuddha Bowlzucchini (yellow and green), green onions, carrots, left-over rice
Plant-based meal plans make everyday life so much easier!

This was Sunday’s dinner, a root vegetable Buddha Bowl with sugar snap peas, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers and corn, topped with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar.

If you’re in need of meal-planning ideas, a great resource is The China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook by Del Sroufe.  A plant-based cookbook with several sample meal plans and shopping lists, it also gives you instructions on making a week’s worth of food at once to enjoy throughout the week!

Budget-friendly, Lifestyle, Shopping

Bulk Up!

Bulking up on rolled oats, "nootch," cashews, and sesame seeds.

Bulking up on rolled oats, “nootch,” cashews, and sesame seeds.

One of the most common misconceptions about eating a plant-based diet is that it is more expensive than eating a “standard” diet.  Our experience with plant-based eating has been quite the opposite. Our monthly grocery bill is lower now than ever, and buying in bulk is a huge help.  We may buy things that are uncommon and some might consider costly, like miso paste or nutritional yeast, but when you spread the price across the number of meals you can prepare with this one ingredient, you are still getting a bargain.

When we first became plant-based, we had to learn to navigate the bulk aisles of our local grocery stores and co-ops.  We had never really spent any time shopping in this section and had no idea what was available to us.  Now, there are days when we come home with nothing but twist-tied baggies and reusable containers!  Here are a few things you should know about buying in bulk:

One side of the abundant bulk aisle at Lakewinds Co-op.

One side of the abundant bulk aisle at Lakewinds Co-op.

  • The bulk aisle is the best for buying spices, grains, legumes, oats, and other dry goods.  We avoid things like trail mixes and candy.  Even pasta and rice can usually be found cheaper prepackaged.
  • You can sometimes find organic ingredients for cheaper than the conventional versions.  We have found this to be true for things like rolled oats and lentils, so be sure to compare prices.
  • Shopping the bulk aisle is great for trying new ingredients for the first time.  You can buy as much or as little as you would like.
  • Don’t forget storage!  We hate to waste things, so we save our spice jars and bring them to the co-op when we are ready for a refill.  We even save things like rubber bands and plastic bread bag closures so we can cinch our bulk bags up!  If you bring your own container, make sure to tare if before filling.  This will save you some time at the checkout.

Locally, there are a lot of choices for your bulk food shopping.  We like Lakewinds and Seward Co-op for the best variety and prices.

Plant-Based Pantry Basics, Recipes, Shopping

Chickpeas: Not Just For Hummus

This is how much we love the mighty chickpea!

Keeping your pantry stocked with basic items can make meal preparation quick, easy, and fun!  We will regularly be featuring our favorite common pantry items (Plant-Based Pantry Basics or PB2 for short) with several recipe ideas to try.  We want to bring you out of the ordinary recipes to help you think about these ingredients in new and exciting ways.

Where better to start than the mighty chickpea (or garbanzo bean, if you’re nasty)?  A must for any plant-based pantry, it can be used in so many things besides hummus.  Here are a few of our favorite recipes that include chickpeas:

  • Chickpea Broccoli Buddha Bowl from Hummus Sapien:  We’ve made this recipe several times and have started adding onion and red pepper to give it more volume (love our leftovers!) and flavor.  Roasting chickpeas is an unexpected way to prepare them and they develop a great taste and texture.
  • Sneaky Chickpea Burger found on Forks Over Knives: Serve it with baked sweet potato fries for a fun and family-friendly dinner that’s more wholesome and delicious than anything you will find at a burger joint!
  • Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tagine from Whole Foods Market: Make it Moroccan!  The raisins and green olives give this dish a sweet and tangy flavor.  A favorite at our house, we like to serve this dish with couscous.
Our Moroccan Feast: Sweet Potato Tagine with Couscous

Our Moroccan Feast: Sweet Potato Tagine with Couscous

Thanks for reading our first PB2 post!  We hope you’ve been inspired to get out of your hummus rut and try a new way to prepare chickpeas!

Budget-friendly, Lifestyle, Shopping

My Favorite Farmers Market Tips

Farmers Market Haul 7/2016

Here’s what $10 bought us at the market last Saturday: collard greens, summer squash, broccoli, and 5 lbs of potatoes!

For me, eating plant-based isn’t just a diet, it’s a lifestyle.  When I changed the way I was eating, it had an effect on nearly every part of my life, and I mean that in the best way possible.  I started to change my perspective on many things and open myself up to new ideas and activities.

One of the things I started to appreciate much more after becoming plant-based was the farmers market.  Once a casual observer of going to the market, it became a near-necessity after switching to a plant-based diet.  With farmers market season just getting underway here in Minnesota, I thought this would be a perfect time to share my favorite farmers market shopping tips:

Midtown Farmers Market in Minneapolis on a perfect June day.

Midtown Farmers Market in Minneapolis on a perfect June day.

  • Walk the entire market before buying anything.  Get a feel for the variety, pricing, and quality of what’s available before committing to your purchase.
  • Go later in the day.  This seems counter-intuitive, but this is a tip that has worked well for me.  At the end of the market day, I’ve had an extra squash or two thrown in my bag or a 2 for 1 deal on bunches of kale.  I find that the produce is just as fresh as it was in the morning and very rarely miss out on the variety.  And bonus–you get to sleep in!
  • Get to know your growers!  Not only does this make going to the market more fun, but developing a relationship with the people who grow your veggies makes it even more likely you can get some of the deals I just mentioned!
  • Go as often as possible!  At the height of the summer, our local market meets twice a week and we make it count!  Market season is the best time of year to buy produce that is fresh, affordable and local.  Buying in-season fruits and vegetables ensures the best taste and pricing.

Where we live in Minneapolis, there are tons of neighborhood farmers markets. Many not only offer fresh, local produce, but also live music, games, and food trucks!  I’m a big fan of the Midtown Farmers Market close to our home, which is open every Saturday (and Tuesday starting in June).  Visit this link to find your neighborhood farmers market!