Plant Based on a Budget Challenge – 2 people – Week 1

By : | 38 Comments | On : November 8, 2013 | Category : Blog, Meal Plans

[Some disclaimers]

I went vegan for ethical reasons. I bring this up, because while I do care about my health as well, I do not beat myself up about using oil, salt, sugar etc.

We are not really people who eat breakfast. For this challenge, we ate oatmeal every day except one for breakfast. It was filling, but to be honest…boring.

Most of these recipes are made to have left overs or to feed my boyfriend who eats more than most humans. I did not take this into account when originally making my list, so I do have quite a few recipes you could omit, if you just eat leftovers and in return, saving you more money.

We also had my sister visiting, and so most of the dinners and the lunches on the weekend were split with her.

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Items I’m hoping you already have:

Flour
Sugar
Spices
Oil
Vegetable shortening
Basic condiments
Non-dairy milk
Non-dairy butter

Shopping List:

1 lb green/brown lentils: .83
1 cup white rice: .28
.5 lb pearled barley: .31
1 cup cornmeal: .30
.5 lb quinoa: 2.50
2 tomatoes: 1.23
About 6 onions (I bought a 5 lb bag as it was on sale, and at a different store saw a bag of onions for just a little more money): 1.98
1 bunch celery: 1.48
2 lbs of oats: 2.42
2 packages extra firm tofu: 2.96
1 sm lemon juice bottle: 1.00
2 sweet potatoes: 3.78
1 large butternut squash: 1.56
2 lb bags of whole carrots: .98
(2) 28oz can whole tomatoes: 1.16
2 packages bouillon cubes: 2.00
(2) cans tomato paste: .84
2 garlic heads: .96
(3) 15oz can diced tomatoes: 1.74
(1) 8 oz can tomato sauce: .18
(2) 15 oz can red kidney bean:  1.78
(1) 15 oz can cannellini (white) bean: .89
(5) 15 oz can chickpeas: 3.56
(2) 15 oz can black beans: 1.78
1 jar of marina sauce: 1.79
1 lb ziti or penne: .99
1 bag frozen fruit: 2.99
1 sm bag frozen spinach: 1.19
1 bag of 3 head romaine: 1.99
1 bag of sliced sourdough: 2.99
Total:  $48.14
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Friday, November 1st, 2013
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Chickpea tacos
Dinner: Lentil soup
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Breakfast: We ate very simple, but healthy oatmeal! There are 16 grams of protein in just one cup of oats. Cook according to directions and add 1.5 tbsp of brown sugarphoto 1(8)

Lunch: I used this recipe for chickpea tacos, and this recipe for tortillas.
To make this a recipe for two, I used a whole 15 oz can of chickpeas. I also added onion for a topping and a few more spices while cooking the chickpeas. This made about 4 small tacos each.

Preparation:

Recipe above. My modifications:
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
1/5 tsp cumin
1/5 tsp salt
Pinch of cayenne
1/5 tsp salt
1/3 cup diced onion (as topping)
1 15 oz can of chickpeas

Dinner: Lentils are magical. They pack 3.1 grams of protein in just 1 Tbsp!  They are very high in fiber which helps lower cholesterol and helps the body to maintain blood sugar. These legumes help reduce the risk of heart disease and even prostate cancer.  In addition, they are a great source of iron, potassium, and are packed with vitamins.

photo 2(8)

Delicious Lentil Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
2-3 peeled carrots, chopped
1 14-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
2 Bouillon cubes
1 cup dry lentils
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, adding the onions, garlic and celery once hot. Stirring often, cook until the onion is fragrant and tender, about 4-6 minutes. Add the carrots, crushed tomatoes, water, bouillon cubes and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the lentils are soft but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot!
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Saturday, November 2, 2013
Breakfast: Oatmeal with brown sugar and frozen fruit
Lunch: Chickpea salad sandwiches with two small bowls of leftover lentil soup
Dinner: Creamy-without the cream-tomato soup
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Breakfast: Oatmeal with brown sugar and frozen fruit, cook according to directions

photo 3(9)

Lunch: A great source of protein, potassium, and fiber- chickpeas are easily my favorite bean. Or legume. Whichever they are.

For lunch, I made a version of this chickpea salad for a sandwich. We both also ate a small bowl of lentil soup leftover from the night before. I used only 1 can of chickpeas, did without the red pepper, added diced onion, and a small amount of diced tomato that I had left over from yesterday’s chickpea tacos, and used only 1 celery stick. The recipe calls for 1 dill pickle which I did not have, so I added a half tsp of dill.

I toasted 4 pieces of sliced sourdough, piled on the salad, and added a small amount of lettuce that I also had left over from yesterday’s fixin’s.

photo 4(3)

Dinner: Bread in the base of soup?!  I know, it’s weird. And delicious. It’s the best tomato soup I’ve made, and it literally takes all of 15 minutes to make!
Creamy-without the cream-Tomato Soup
2 large cans (28-ounce) whole tomatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 small to medium yellow onion
1.5 tsp dried oregano (optional)
2 slices white bread (I use a sliced sourdough) crusts removed as well as you can manage, torn or cut into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation:

  1. Heat about 2 table spoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat until hot.
  2. Add garlic, onions, and (optional) oregano. Stir frequently until onions are translucent.
  3. Add ripped bread and tomatoes. Roughly mash tomatoes with a potato masher if you have one.
  4. Add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.

For a handheld immersion blender: Begin to blend the soup taking the rest of the ½ cup of olive oil and slowly pouring it directly in the flow of the blender.

For a regular blender: Transfer half of soup to the blender. Blend soup, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high. With blender running on high, slowly trickle in half of remaining olive oil. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining half of soup and olive oil.
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Sunday, November 3, 2013
Breakfast:  Pancakes with mixed berry syrup
Lunch: Sweet Potato and black bean tacos with Mexican rice
Dinner: Ziti marinara with tofu ricotta
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photo 5(4)
Breakfast: I used this recipe without banana because I had all of these ingredients and consider them to be staples one would have stocked!
For the fruit syrup, I used just over a half a cup of frozen mixed berries mixed with a tablespoon of brown sugar heated in a pan on low.

photo 3(10)
Lunch: I used this recipe for sweet potato burritos, and this recipe for tortillas.
I used one sweet potato which made just over two cups shredded, which was plenty.  I added (1) 15 oz can of black beans (rinsed and drained) to the pan with the sweet potatoes in the last few minutes of cooking. As a side, I made mexican rice.

photo 4(4)
Dinner: I usually do a version of this to stuff large shells or manicotti, but it is much cheaper to use ziti. Outside of the weekly challenge, I will also sometimes add  sautéed minced mushrooms, and/or cooked soy crumbles to the tofu mixture.
Ziti Marinara with Tofu Ricotta
1 lb ziti/penne
1 jar marinara
¼ cup oil for ricotta plus 1 tbsp for sauteing
1 tsp lemon juice
1 package extra firm tofu
1.5 tbsp oregano
½ tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, mined
1 cup frozen spinach
Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cook pasta according to directions.
  3. Crumble tofu in a large bowl with your hands to resemble feta. Mix in ¼ cup oil and lemon juice and stir to distribute evenly. Add garlic, salt, and oregano- one by one, mixing after each is incorporated.  Set aside.
  4. Heat tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add onion, spincah, and garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add onions and garlic to tofu mixture. Mix well.
  6. Pour enough marinara sauce to cover bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan. Add cooked pasta, and remaining sauce on top.
  7. Top pasta with tofu mixture, spreading evenly.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes

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Monday, November 4, 2013
Breakfast: Oatmeal with brown sugar and frozen mixed berries
Lunch: Leftover pasta
Dinner: Ginger-y Butternut Squash Soup
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Breakfast: See above

Lunch: See above

photo 1(9)

Dinner: This is one of my favorite things to eat in the fall. It is spicy enough to clear your sinuses, but not overwhelming in the slightest.

Ginger-y Butternut Squash Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp dry ginger
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4-6 cups of water with 1-2 bouillon cubes(depending on how thick you like your soup)
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
Dash of cayenne (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1.  In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes, until onions have started to cook.
  2. Add the squash and ginger, stir, and cover for three to five minutes.
  3. Add water with bouillon, herbs, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Blend soup until smooth, salt and pepper to taste and stir in a dash of cayenne (optional).

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: Caesar Salad with Sourdough Croutons and Smoked Tofu

Dinner: Minestrone Soup with leftover salad

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Breakfast: See above

photo 2(9)

Lunch: This is a recipe I adapted from Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook, Chloe’s Kitchen. It’s a huge favorite in my household!

Caesar Salad with Sourdough Croutons and Smoked Tofu

In addition to the following ingredients if I have them,  I add sliced cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber.

For dressing:

¼ cup tofu (I bought extra firm)
¼ cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tblsp lemon juice
1 tbs white vinegar
½ tblsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1-2 head romaine (depending on how hungry you are!)

For croutons:

2-3 slices sourdough, sliced into cubes
2 tblsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For tofu:

Rest of block of tofu
1 tbsp oil for cooking
3 tbsp soy sauce
1.5   tsp liquid smoke

To make the sourdough croutons:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with oil and salt and pepper. Spread the bread cubes in just one layer onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or so, checking on them periodically and turning at least once. They should be lightly golden.

To make the dressing:

In a blender add tofu, oil, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

To make the smoked tofu:

Mix 3 tbsp soy sauce and 1.5 tsp liquid smoke in small bowl and set aside.

I sometimes cut the tofu into strips and other times into bite-size pieces. Either way you decided to do it, slice tofu about a little more than a 1/4 inch thick.

Heat tbsp oil on medium heat. Add single layer of tofu, and browning one side for about 3 minutes. Pour on soy sauce/smoke mixture and toss tofu to make sure all are coated. Continue to cook until all liquid has been absorbed and tofu is a dark brown.

Toss lettuce with dressing, add croutons and smoked tofu on top.

 Dinner:  If you haven’t noticed by now. We love soup.

Minestrone Soup

2 Tbs oil
1 can red beans, rinsed  and drained
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 peeled carrots, chopped,
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, mined
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced or crushed or diced tomatos
6 cups water
2 bouillon cubes
1/3 cup barley
1 tsp oregano (optional)
Salt and pepper to tast

Preparation:

Heat 2 table spoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat until hot.

Add garlic, onions, and (optional) oregano.

Stir frequently until onions are translucent.

Add carrots and celery and stir for another  2-3 minutes.

Add water, bouillon cubes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and bring to a boil.

Add grain of choice , cover, and reduce heat to low. Set timer for 10 minutes, adding beans and  cover.  Depending on the type of grain used, it can range from another 15 minutes to an additional 30. Check periodically and season with salt and pepper!

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes

Dinner: Lentil Tacos

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Dinner: See above

Lunch: I made this delicious recipe! I omitted the cilantro because I didn’t have it, and used just 1 large sweet potato. Quinoa is a little on the pricey side when trying to stay with in a fixed budget, so if I made this again I would probably use millet or cous cous.

Dinner: These are one of our favorite things to eat! The only change I made was that I omitted the pepper because I didn’t have it. I made these tortillas.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner:4 Bean Chilli

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Breakfast: See above

Lunch: See above

Dinner: This chili is very easy to make and will warm you right up on a cold night! It freezes well too, so you could always double the batch and save some for later!

4 Bean Chilli

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3  celery stalks, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed nd drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 1/2 tblsp cumin
2 tblsp chile powder
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook about 3 minutes.  Add carrots and celery Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

2. Stir in diced tomatoes, beans, and water. Season chili with cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder salt, and pepper. Stir and let chili simmer for 30 minutes. Stir chili frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Serve hot.

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Comments (38)

  1. posted by Tegan on November 8, 2013

    The recipes look great, but where on earth do you shop to get prices like that??

      Reply
    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 8, 2013

      Thank you! I am lucky enough to have a WinCo in my town. It is a really great low-priced grocery store, with one of the largest bulk sections I’ve seen. There may be one in your area: http://www.wincofoods.com/about/locations/

      I also did a portion of my shopping at Trader Joes. Part of saving money on food is scouting out the grocery stores with the best deals and trying to do majority of your shopping there!

        Reply
      • posted by Tegan on November 8, 2013

        I was just floored by some of your prices! Canned tomatoes, 2 for $1.16? I’m lucky to see $.99 each. I live in Michigan, so I don’t have either of those stores. I do shop around a lot (Aldi!). We eat pretty well for about $50 a week, for 5 of us. But, boy, if I could find some of those deals!

          Reply
        • posted by chelle on December 16, 2014

          I only buy canned tomatoes once per year (usually around August) because that is when they go on sale for 50 cents per can).
          I would love to see how you feed 5 people for $50/week (I could do it….it would just suck…box of pasta and can of spaghetti sauce = supper for all, that or rice and beans nightly).

          BTW, thank you for this. I am not a good cook or meal planner and have been struggling with it more since I realized my daughter has egg and dairy allergies (even when eating them in breastmilk). I also love that you use food that I usually have anyway, and nothing that I can’t but from my local grocery store. I also like that you aren’t using too much tofu (I can get it, but it is roughly twice your price).

          Thank you!

            Reply
      • posted by Karen on November 8, 2013

        Absolutely terrific job. You’re an inspiration & a huge idea helper for my 2-person family!

          Reply
        • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 8, 2013

          Thanks Karen! Be sure to check back next week– I got a better sense of how much things cost, and am pretty proud of my list!

            Reply
  2. posted by Liz on November 8, 2013

    Thanks, Grace! Nice job! And thanks for including Bella in the photos. I think I will be making the chickpea tacos tonight!

      Reply
    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 8, 2013

      You’re the best! Bella is always where the food is 🙂

        Reply
  3. posted by Jane on November 8, 2013

    It all looks good, I can’t wait to get started! Thank you.

      Reply
    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 8, 2013

      Thanks so much!

        Reply
  4. posted by Audrey's Mamma on November 8, 2013

    This is a great menu. That Ziti recipe might just be enough to win over the omnivores in the house. Always looking for more main dishes that wow. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 8, 2013

      Let me know how it goes over!

        Reply
  5. posted by Naomi on November 8, 2013

    I might be able to fix your dull oats situation-I eat them every day. I started making “Chinese oats”-I microwave them if I’m at work (don’t have a microwave at home-they are a better texture nuked) with = parts oats and water – then I season them with soy sauce, a tiny bit of toasted sesame oil and chili oil, and something from the Asian market called “spicy chilli crisp” (a sort of crunchy chili paste that maybe has a few peanuts in it). I dream about them now…no reason they can’t be savory! Thanks for the meal plan-I’m jealous of this crazy cheap grocery store you have!

      Reply
    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 9, 2013

      Oh that’s fancy! We’ll have to try that! Thanks for the suggestion

        Reply
  6. posted by Venetia Kelley on November 9, 2013

    How did you make your tortilla’s?

      Reply
  7. posted by whitenebula on November 9, 2013

    This is great, thanks. I’m not going to be able to follow it exactly, because we both work, and I’m not sure the lunches are feasible for making in advance and taking to work… I would love some great to-go lunch ideas, though, because our fallback right now is $5 Amy’s frozen meals.

      Reply
    • posted by Lindsay on November 16, 2013

      Where do you live? I live near Raleigh, NC and I have seen Amy’s meals for $5 at some stores, but others (WalMart & Target) have them for $3.50 regularly and on sale for $3 or less from time to time! 🙂 I love them and I usually end up going what that for lunches too because of the convenience factor, but I’m going to try to incorporate more “home cooked” meals (from this website!) into my weekly lunch routine.

        Reply
  8. posted by Jess Hollows on November 10, 2013

    Thank you for taking the time to make and share this menu! I’m working towards vegan ism in my life, so any help that I can get on my budget is amazing! Since I am cooking for one ( my boyfriend is supportive, but doesn’t usually eat more than one serving of vegan food), I am going to make certain dishes and eat the left overs for other meals.

      Reply
  9. posted by Leslie Inman on November 10, 2013

    Just curious .. Are you adding fresh fruit to your meals, or at least a couple snacks a day? There seems to be an absence of fruit, with the exception of the frozen fruit for the pancakes.
    I’m going to do this challenge, but we’ll definitely be supplementing our meals with fruit and some extra vegetables.

      Reply
  10. posted by Melissa Rod on November 13, 2013

    This is great! Thanks so much! I have been looking for ways to save money. This is perfect. Thanks for all your hard work on this. I am using it so please don’t stop. 🙂

      Reply
  11. posted by Caroline on November 19, 2013

    I just made the tomato soup and it’s super acidic. I didn’t miss any ingredients but it turned on me. Do you have any suggestions to make it taste a little better please?

      Reply
  12. posted by Cara on November 20, 2013

    We’re a week behind in the challenge because I was out of town the first week. At first I was a little disappointed because we were definitely over $50 in our grocery bill (we live in a rural area, so there aren’t many opportunities to shop around for better prices), and I was really worried about how we were going to prepare all of this food (I work 60+ hours a week and my husband is in med school so time is pretty short here!). But- I prepped as much as I could on my day off, which ended up being about 3 recipes- and we haven’t had to make anything else yet! It looks like Week 1 is going to end up lasting us for 2 weeks, so even though we spent closer to $70, it’s really only like $35 a week for 2 people. And we’ve even managed to freeze a few services of the recipes for later. PLUS IT’S DELICIOUS. The chickpea salad is PHENOMENAL!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! It looks like this is the first month we’ll be UNDER budget on groceries!

      Reply
  13. posted by Amy on November 22, 2013

    I just noticed that salt is listed twice in the recipe for chickpea tacos. Should it only be used once?

      Reply
  14. posted by Amy on November 23, 2013

    I’ve got the tofu ricotta with pasta and marinara in the oven now! I used spirals instead, since I already had those in my cupboards. I did use more than one jar of marinara though (about 1 and 3/4 actually). There are only 5 servings in a jar of marinara sauce, but there are 8 servings in a 1 lb package of pasta. I tend to like more sauce vs. less, so my suggestion is to decrease the amount of pasta used, or increase the amount of sauce.

      Reply
  15. posted by David Musgrave on December 4, 2013

    This is awesome, I can’t wait to try this. My wife and I used to eat so healthily, but we have fallen far off the wagon. Time to get it together, and this is so helpful.

      Reply
  16. posted by Erin on December 6, 2013

    This is a wonderful resource you’re providing. I am a dietitian working with a client who has been using your weekly meal plans and it has helped her stay on track.

    One discrepancy about the amount of protein in regular dry oats (and I’m only being picky because I know it’s hard for vegans/vegetarians to get their protein): A cup of dry oats (which weighs 80 grams) has about 10-10.5 grams of protein per cup of dry oats. Definitely not 16 grams of protein. I worked with food labels and nutrient databases for two years. Sometimes manufacturers make glaring errors. Maybe this is so in this case.

    Again, just pointing it out so that anyone counting their protein grams knows the difference. Not a big deal overall.

    Congrats on providing such useful and nutrient-dense recipes for your readers!

      Reply
  17. posted by Neecie on January 12, 2014

    Not sure if anyone else has tried this with oatmeal. I heat some almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk (whatever I have in the frig) with coconut oil, once it starts to come to a slight boil, I add my oatmeal (quick). Lower the heat and stir in 1 mashed banana, and one heaping sized tablespoon of peanut butter, sprinkle some cocoa powder and stir together. turn heat off and cover. Top your oatmeal with toasted coconut, and any kind of toasted nuts (my favorite is toasted slivered almonds), and finally if you want more yummy goodness, add with a few blueberries or your favorite fruit dried or fresh!

      Reply
  18. posted by Shanno on March 14, 2016

    I know this is an old post but I am going to try it. I am so trying to reduce the prices of being healthy. I know later in medical bill I will benefit but right now. Ouch.

      Reply
    • posted by Grace Kuhn on May 2, 2016

      I hope this is going well and has helped you!

        Reply
  19. posted by Colleen on May 1, 2016

    I love your budget-friendly meal plans. This is my third month following and I’ve cut my grocery bill nearly in half! I have family members that are also giving it a go 🙂 Thank you!

      Reply
  20. posted by Aimee on September 3, 2016

    I’m so excited to try this with my boyfriend – our grocery bill is already pretty low but we’d love to save even more – as we’re students and both away during the day we’ve decided to stick with the dinners, which will give us plenty for lunch the next day. I can’t wait to try the pasta though! Just a quick question, as we buy our tofu from an Asian grocer and one container has two big blocks in it, how big are the packages that you use for these recipes? Thank you so much for all the hard work you’ve put into this resource!

      Reply

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