This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small portion of sales for compensation, at no cost to you. All opinions about any products and/or companies are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting Gentle Vine!
Do you follow me on Facebook? For the past month or so, we have transitioned to getting most of our food from the local farmer’s market, and I have been posting pictures each week of what we buy – what catches everyone’s attention is how inexpensive it is!
Our weekly grocery budget is now $100/week, and I allot approximately $40-60 on fresh produce from the farmer’s market. Our diet is primarily whole food, plant based, and I love the variety we can find of seasonal produce.
The boys and I have come to love this weekly routine of shopping together. They don their little masks and dutifully stay with me. They help me pick out specific items (and I love that this gives us the opportunities to learn about different fruits and vegetables, as well as practicing their counting). It gives them more ownership over their food through the week, because they helped pick it out. At the exit as we head back to our car, there is a musician playing a myriad of instruments, and the boys each get a dollar to put in the tip basket. The musician says “welcome to the wolf pack – ahoOOO!” The boys look forward to it every week.
This week, we spent $48 total at the farmer’s market – $46 on groceries, and $2 on the tip for the musician. We were able to get so much good produce, and it dawned on me that I should probably share our weekly meal plans to share how easy it is to eat a whole food, plant based diet – even if you work full time and don’t have a ton of spare time for gourmet meals.
I do buy our dry and packaged goods from Aldi, typically, and the combination of the farmer’s market and Aldi makes sticking to a $100/week budget pretty easy.
In honesty, this week I went about $13 over, but that was because this week I had to restock on grapeseed oil, maple syrup, and cashews. Typically I can stagger those (relatively) more expensive purchases to one a week or one every several weeks. I’m also completely out of nutritional yeast, but considering I have to stop at a different store for that, looks like I will not be making anything with nutritional yeast this week.
My meal plans are pretty basic. Breakfasts and lunches don’t typically change much, but the dinners are where I have the time to be creative and have fun with flavors (honestly, food is one of my favorite mediums of creativity!).
On Our Menu This Week:
Breakfasts: smoothies, oatmeal, banana muffins
I also like to start my mornings with a giant glass of freshly made juice (green juice: apple, celery, cucumber, kiwi; red juice: apples, beets, carrots, fresh ginger). I have a masticating juicer, which extracts more nutrients from the plants without disrupting the more delicate enzymes, so the juice holds nutrition a couple days longer than juice from a centrifugal juicer. Each juice made a half gallon, and this will be gone in about 4 days.
I usually make a big smoothie for myself and the kids almost every morning (and by big I mean, about 64 ounces). I take advantage of the blending to load up my boys with tons of fresh nutrients and supplement powders for extra antioxidant boosts. I wrote an entire blog post about what I put in my smoothies because if I wrote it here this post would be entirely too long for anyone’s attention span.
I don’t usually have baked goods as an option for breakfasts, but this week I bought 2 boxes of bananas at the farmer’s market (for $3/box), so I’m freezing a bunch for smoothies and “nice cream” and making a lot of banana muffins.
Lunches: I usually bring leftovers for my own lunches at work. I make sure the boys have a good variety of options to be fed while I’m at work, including vegan hotdogs from Aldi (they’re delicious, yo), peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and banana, avocado toast, and hummus and Aldi’s vegan “cheez-it” style crackers. And fruit. Loads and loads of fruit. My two kids can take down berries like no one’s business. I bought a cantaloupe and have learned from previous experience that if I don’t cut it up right away and prepare it for the future, it will go bad.
Side note: See that white paper in the bag of spinach? That’s FreshPaper, an absorbent, compostable material made of spices that keeps your foods fresher longer. I love them!
Sunday: Dinner with family
Monday: Pineapple fried rice. The boys adore fried rice, and we got little personal-sized pineapples for $1 each at the farmer’s market. I plan to slice the pineapple and use it as a bowl. I’m not sure how to do that, but it looks cute on Pinterest, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I’ll add peas (they love peas, and I won’t question it), cashews, pineapple, and tofu.
Tuesday: Cowboy Caviar guacamole and tortilla chips. Cowboy caviar is a mixture of black beans, corn, red onions, and lime. I’m going to roughly smash some avocado and mix it all together and eat it with tortilla chips. I also have some leftover prepared rice and a couple tortillas still in the cabinet, so I might make burritos. It depends on where the mood takes me on Tuesday.
Wednesday: Lasagna. I use this recipe for tofu ricotta, which is just phenomenal. I also sneak in extra veggies for my kids by using a “hidden veggie” homemade sauce (blended sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, garlic, spinach, and fire-roasted tomatoes).
Thursday: Avocado toast. I keep it pretty simple, usually just tomatoes, cucumber, and the Aldi Everything But The Bagel seasoning or balsamic vinegar.
Friday: Spaghetti and “meat”balls, salad, steamed edamame. Using extra hidden veggie spaghetti sauce, Aldi vegan meatballs, and a mixture of the leftover spaghetti and fettuccine noodles currently open in my pantry cabinet.
Saturday: Deconstructed stuffed peppers. Neither of my boys are big pepper fans, but they do love flavored rice. I will add some soyrizo crumbles I have in the freezer, onion, and more edamame or broccoli as a side.
Desserts: Banana peanut butter nice cream, “Summer juice” (blended watermelon and pineapple).
Shout out to my friend Jenni at The Pretentious Vegan for teaching me to keep carrots in water to keep them fresh, berries in jars, and bunches of greens like bouquets in water.
My basic meal plan philosophy is to find the best-looking produce at the farmer’s market, add in what I already have at home, and fill in the rest at the grocery store. I try to start off our mornings with as much nutrition as possible to begin the day on the right track. I encourage the boys to eat fruit with breakfast and lunch, and we have at least one veggie at dinner. It is also a goal to have at least one green thing in each dinner. I am lucky that my oldest currently obsessed with broccoli, so I often grab those $0.89 bags of frozen broccoli at Aldi for a quick side dish. I make sure I monitor our meals for protein and healthy fats as well, to make sure we have a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet.
What are you having for dinner this week?