Compliant vegetarian meal plan for $52 a week


Veggie Girl

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I've noticed many comments in the non-vegetarian forums about how costly the whole 30 is.  Even with the vegetarian options, it's possible to spend a lot (avocado as a frequent fat source, pre-chopped veggies for convenience, raspberries for the daily fruit, organic eggs, etc). If you choose only the “best†items, even the vegetarian plan can be out of reach for many people.

I challenged myself to come up with a (hypothetical) compliant vegetarian meal plan that would cost $50 per person per week, and consist of items that can be found at your typical grocery store year-round.  Since some people don't have the time or resources for multiple grocery trips a week, it had to be doable in a single shopping trip (no highly perishable produce).  Finally, all the meals needed to be things that could be prepared in advance and heated up as necessary.  

I couldn't do for $50, but I have a proposed plan (which I think is compliant) for $51.63.  PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVEN'T MADE OR TESTED THESE RECIPES.  THIS IS JUST A HYPOTHETICAL PLAN.

 

SHOPPING LIST:

 

All prices are from Wegman's supermarket in Northern VA.  I don't have any connection to Wegman's; their store is convenient for me and I generally find their prices are good.

 

Protein:  total  $14.06

2 boxes Wegman's brand organic extra firm tofu  total $3.59

2   one-pound bags Goya brand dried lentils total $3.00

1 large container (4 cups) Stonyfield farms organic full fat plain yogurt $3.69

2 cartons of 12 large eggs each (regular eggs, not the more expensive organic)  total $3.78

 

Fruits: Total $4.89

1 large can (20 oz) pineapple chunks in pineapple juice  $0.99

2 medium bananas total $0.50

1 large apple (about 8 oz) total $1.00

3 medium oranges (at 5 for $4) total $2.40

 

Vegetables:  Total $25.38

2 pounds sweet potatoes total $ 2.40

Pre-bagged onions (2 pounds, about 6 medium)  $2.00

Pre-bagged carrots (5 pounds, about 35 carrots) $4.99

2.5 pounds of broccoli crowns total $4.48

2.5 pounds medium green peppers (about 5 medium) total $4.97

1 pound green beans (1.99)

1 bag of FROZEN spinach, 16 oz, $0.99

2 bags of FROZEN broccoli cuts, 16 oz, total $1.98

2 cans (14 oz each) Wegman's brand diced tomatoes, total $1.58

 

Fat:  Total $7.30

34 oz bottle Wegman's brand extra virgin olive oil  $5.99

3 oz nuts (approximately 3 closed handfuls).  bulk almond bin- $7 per pound so  total for 3 oz is $1.31

Total for shopping trip:  $51.63

 

Note on spices:  For these recipes to taste their best, you will need salt and pepper and 5 different dry spices—garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder.  I have not included them in the shopping list in hopes that most people have these on hand already.  If not, look for “no-name†brands at ethnic markets, supermarkets (try the ethnic aisle first as they may be cheaper there than the spice aisle), drug stores, or Target.  Typically you can find them for $1- $2 each.

 

Most of the 6 recipes can be prepared in advance and reheated if needed.  You will get 21 meals out of the 6 recipes.  AGAIN, PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVEN'T MADE OR TESTED THESE RECIPES.  THIS IS JUST A HYPOTHETICAL PLAN.

The 21 meals consist of the following:

Recipe 1.  Cinnamon yogurt with apples and almonds, served with roasted sweet potatoes and green beans (3 meals worth):  Cut up the apple, cook in microwave until tender (about 1 minute).  Mix yogurt (all 32 ounces) with cinnamon and stir in apple.  Roast 1 pound of sweet potatoes in at least 2 Tbs olive oil (reserve 1 lb sweet potatoes for sweet potato hash recipe below).  Roast the green beans in at least 2 Tbs. olive oil.  Divide in 3.  Serve each portion with 1 oz of almonds, either chopped and put in yogurt or just eaten whole on the side.

 

Recipe 2.  Tofu stir fry (5 meals worth).  Press and drain both containers of tofu.  Cut into cubes. Brown in 5 Tbs olive oil (let sear for best flavor before turning).  Stir fry with 2 of the onions, 2.5 lbs broccoli, 10 carrots, 20 ounce can pineapple with its juice,  ginger, garlic, and salt.  Divide in 5.

 

Recipe 3.  Vegetable omelettes (4 meals worth).  This is the only meal I think has to be made at the last minute (except you must defrost the broccoli in advance).  Defrost, drain, and chop 2 lbs of frozen broccoli.  Open and drain a can of diced tomatoes.  When you are ready to eat, to make one omelet, sauté ¼ of the can of drained tomatoes, 1/4 onion, and ½ lb defrosted broccoli in 1 Tbs olive oil.  Make your omlette using 1 Tbs olive oil and 3 eggs and fill with vegetables.    Serve each omelet with ½ banana.

 

Recipe 4.  ISWF Spinach frittata served with Melissa Jouwan's cumin roasted carrot coins (3 meals worth).  Roast 8 carrots per Melissa Joulwan's recipe http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2011/01/13/cumin-roasted-carrot-coins/ .  Use master frittata recipe from ISWF but omit meat.  Use 9 eggs, 1 onion, the bag of frozen spinach (defrosted and drained before use), and 3- 5 Tbs olive oil.  Divide in 3 servings.   Serve each portion with 1/2 orange and 1/3 of the carrots.

 

Note:  Prior to making Recipes 5 and 6, cook 2 lbs lentils properly.  For the correct techinique, see this helpful reply from SpinSpin to my earlier post.  http://forum.whole9life.com/topic/13321-correct-prep-procedure-for-lentils-and-various-beans/  You should end up with 10 cups cooked lentils total.

 

Recipe 5.  ISWF Sweet potato hash (3 meals):  Use master ground beef recipe from ISWF but substitute COOKED lentils for ground beef (Obviously you don't need to sauté the lentils as long as you would beef).  For entire recipe use 5 cups cooked lentils, 1 onion, 2 green pepper, the remaining 1 lb of roasted sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and 3-5 Tbs olive oil.  (omit paprika due to budget constraints).   Divide in 3.  Serve each meal with 1/2 of an orange.

 

Recipe 6.  ISWF 10-minute chili (3 meals).  Use master ground beef recipe from ISWF but substitute COOKED lentils for ground beef.  (Again, obviously you don't need to sauté the lentils as long as you would beef).  For entire recipe, use 5 cups cooked lentils,  1 onion, 1 can diced tomatoes (including juice), 3 green peppers, 3 carrots (which you are substituting for the red pepper called for in the recipe due to budget constraints) cumin, chili, and 3-5 Tbs olive oil.  Divide in 3.

 

Unused food: You will have the following left over for next week:  some oil, 3 eggs, and about 13 carrots.  You could also roast the carrots in the oil, use spices, and have an egg and some carrots for a snack.

 

Three money saving tips: 

1. Frozen veggies are cheaper than fresh, but they can be mushy.  Use the frozen ones in recipes where texture doesn't matter as much (omlette, frittata) and save the fresh for things like stir fry.  When defrosting frozen vegetables, take them out of the bag and let them sit in a single layer on a clean dishtowel until completely defrosted.  This allows any excess water to drain into the towel.  Don't defrost in the microwave—you don't want to cook them any extra time.  But if you really need to cut costs, you can substitute more frozen veggies as needed.

 

2. These prices are the regular prices for my grocery store.  You can find individual items, particularly produce, more cheaply in weekly sale circulars from various grocery stores.  However, if you're going to shop at multiple stores, don't forget to factor in gas and your driving/shopping time.

 

3.  If you can plan two weeks of meals in advance, or you are doing whole 30 with a partner, you can take advantage of larger packages which can be less expensive. 

 

Hope this contains some helpful ideas.

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  • 6 months later...

Hi. Thanks for this! This is awesome and has given me great meal ideas. I noticed the use of eggs in your meal plan (frittata, omelet).  I'm a vegetarian for religious reasons and don't eat eggs because it is considered "possible meat". I am having a really hard time with this program because eggs is a big energy source for many vegetarians on this program.  Cutting out legumes (which were my big source of protein pre program) has made it really hard me. Any suggestions on other foods I can eat? How can I replace this lack of eggs in my diet?

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Hi. Thanks for this! This is awesome and has given me great meal ideas. I noticed the use of eggs in your meal plan (frittata, omelet).  I'm a vegetarian for religious reasons and don't eat eggs because it is considered "possible meat". I am having a really hard time with this program because eggs is a big energy source for many vegetarians on this program.  Cutting out legumes (which were my big source of protein pre program) has made it really hard me. Any suggestions on other foods I can eat? How can I replace this lack of eggs in my diet?

There is a Whole30 shopping list for vegetarians. Properly prepared legumes are allowed for folks who do a vegetarian Whole30.

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Good stuff!

 

It is definitely possible to go on the cheap (and save time and effort!) by incorporating lots of frozen veggies, and you're not compromising nutrition - because the veggies are frozen immediately, they retain even more good nutrients than fresh. They're also really convenient - no chopping or peeling required, and you can microwave them at work easily.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi. Thanks for this! This is awesome and has given me great meal ideas. I noticed the use of eggs in your meal plan (frittata, omelet).  I'm a vegetarian for religious reasons and don't eat eggs because it is considered "possible meat". I am having a really hard time with this program because eggs is a big energy source for many vegetarians on this program.  Cutting out legumes (which were my big source of protein pre program) has made it really hard me. Any suggestions on other foods I can eat? How can I replace this lack of eggs in my diet?

 

Why did you cut out legumes? Aren't legumes like lentils and edamame ok?

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Good stuff!

 

It is definitely possible to go on the cheap (and save time and effort!) by incorporating lots of frozen veggies, and you're not compromising nutrition - because the veggies are frozen immediately, they retain even more good nutrients than fresh. They're also really convenient - no chopping or peeling required, and you can microwave them at work easily.

 

Yes, I rely heavily on frozen veggies and they are just as good, in my opinion! :)

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