Vegetarian Challenge Week 1 Recap

Welcome to the first Vegetarian Challenge Weekly Recap! Buckle up because it’s going to be a looooong post!

TL;DR: This week was full of the unexpected, but I rolled with the punches and made adjustments where necessary. I really enjoyed the benefits of planning ahead, like only grocery shopping once, reducing my food waste, and only having to “cook” a couple of times. I got a little too ambitious with my attempt to reduce my dependency on cheese and carbs, and will probably scale it back a bit next week. This week’s main lesson: It’s all about baby steps!!

Vegetarian Challenge Week 1 Recap

Jump to: What I Bought  – What I Cooked – What I Ate – Leftovers – How I Feel


What I Bought

After picking a few recipes to make for the week, I wrote down all the ingredients I needed and doubled check that list against what was in my pantry. To my delight, I already had at least half of those ingredients on hand, which meant my grocery list was pretty short this week. Here is my grocery list and the two receipts from the stores where I shopped:

Grocery List and Receipts

Total Expense: $32.76 – Not bad!

Aldi Haul Week 1

Aldi Haul Week 1 – $16.67


Kroger Haul Week 1

Kroger Haul Week 1 – $16.09

Here is what I already had in my kitchen that I used this week: butter, frozen blueberries, sliced almonds, cheddar, mozzarella cheese stick, eggs, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, sriracha, carrots, cornmeal, brown sugar, flour, onion, vegetable broth (Better Than Bouillon), and several herbs and spices.

As I move through the challenge I’ll need to replenish some of these pantry items, so you’ll see how they add a little to the expense of each week.

The Unexpected

When I got to Aldi I was surprised to see the shelves nearly empty. They didn’t have a few of the items that I was planning to purchase, so I had to pivot and get them at Kroger for a higher price. But I did score a big bag of oranges for $1.99, which wasn’t on my plan but made an excellent snack throughout the week, and even into week 2.

What I Cooked

The recipes I had planned for the week were:

Meal prepped Sweet and Spicy Tempeh Bowls in round glass bowls

What I Ate

Since I work from home and my meal times aren’t restricted by a work schedule, I tend to be an intuitive eater. This means that I eat when I get hungry, not when I have a scheduled meal time. Because of this, I tend to eat two larger meals per day (a late breakfast and late lunch) and then just have a couple light snacks later in the evening. So you won’t see a distinct breakfast-lunch-dinner pattern in my meal log.

Okay, here it is. The detailed day-by-day food diary, with price breakdown!

Tuesday 1-1-19 Daily Total: $4.79

  • 2 cups coffee $0.42
  • 2/3 cup milk $0.22
  • 1/4 oat bran (=1 cup cooked with water) $0.18
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter $0.03
  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries $0.40
  • 1 Tbsp sliced almonds $0.11
  • 1 large tortilla $0.24
  • 2 Tbsp Scallion Herb Cream Cheese Spread $0.20
  • Spinach, bell pepper, carrot, grape tomatoes $1.07
  • 1 serving Sweet and Spicy Tempeh Bowls $1.48
  •  1 orange $0.25
  • 1 mozzarella cheese stick $0.19

Wednesday 1-2-19 Daily Total: $4.44

  • 2 cups coffee $0.42
  • 2/3 cup milk $0.22
  • 1 large tortilla: $0.24
  • 1 large egg: $0.25
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter: $0.03
  • 2 cups fresh spinach: $0.50
  • 1/4 cup Homemade Hummus: $0.37
  • 1 tsp sriracha: $0.03
  • 1 serving Sweet and Spicy Tempeh Bowls $1.48
  • 1 orange $0.25
  • 1/4 cup Homemade Hummus: $0.37
  • 3 celery sticks $0.06
  • 5 carrot sticks $0.06
  • 2 Tbsp peanut Butter $0.16

Thursday 1-3-19 Daily Total: $4.61

Friday 1-4-19 Daily Total: $4.37

Saturday 1-5-19 Daily Total: $4.99

  • 2 cups coffee $0.42
  • 2/3 cup milk $0.22
  • 1/4 oat bran (=1 cup cooked with water) $0.18
  • 1/2 Tbsp peanut butter $0.16
  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries $0.40
  • 2 Tbsps sliced almonds $0.22
  • 1 Sriracha Chickpea Salad Wrap $1.69
  • 1 orange $0.25
  • 1 large flour tortilla $0.24
  • 1 large egg: $0.25
  • 1/4 cup Homemade Hummus: $0.37
  • 1 cup fresh spinach: $0.25
  • 6 grape tomatoes: $0.34

Sunday 1-6-19 Daily Total: $2.67

  • 2 cups coffee $0.42
  • 2/3 cup milk $0.22
  • 1/4 oat bran (=1 cup cooked with water) $0.18
  • 1/2 Tbsp peanut butter $0.16
  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries $0.40
  • 2 Tbsps sliced almonds $0.22
  • 1/4 cup Homemade Hummus: $0.37
  • 3 celery sticks $0.06
  • 5 carrot sticks $0.06
  • 1/4 bell pepper (yellow) $0.38
  • 2 Tbsp Scallion Herb Cream Cheese Spread $0.20
  • DATE NIGHT! We ate a late lunch at The Southern V and I was so full afterward that I didn’t want dinner.

Monday 1-7-19 Daily Total: $3.57

Total weekly meal total: $29.44 (not including one meal eaten out)

A large bowl of Vegetable Breakfast Scrambles about to be eaten with a fork.


As unfortunate as it is, not everything I bought or cooked got eaten this week. Despite having a few things that didn’t get eaten, my compost bin is a lot less full than normal, which means that planning ahead and sticking to that plan still helped reduce my food waste.

Here’s what is going into the compost bin:

  • 1 serving Sweet and Spicy Tempeh Bowls: I was a little disappointed that I didn’t eat all the portions of this, but the week went by quickly and some days I simply didn’t eat three full meals per day, so I had more food prepared than my appetite supported.
  • 1 serving Sriracha Chickpea Salad: Same reason as above. Too much food prepared, not enough appetite to eat it all. To avoid this in the future, I should lean more on freezer-friendly recipes.
  • 1/4 cup hummus: I ate almost all of the hummus! Hummus is so versatile that I found myself adding it to just about everything throughout the week. One little serving went uneaten, though.
  • 5 servings Scallion Herb Cream Cheese Spread: ouch, this one hurts. In a normal week, when I’m not trying to mitigate my cheese consumption, I could have killed that whole batch in two sittings. But I didn’t think this one through and there is no way I could have finished that whole thing in one week while trying to be conservative with cheese (or without the bread, bagels, or crackers to put it on). :( Poor planning, but I took note and won’t make that mistake again!
  • A few vegetable sticks: I was able to eat all my spinach and tomatoes, but not all the celery, carrots, and bell pepper. I ate about 3/4 of them, so I’m still happy with that. Especially since those carrots were leftover from a couple of weeks ago, so I was glad to use them at all. :)
  • Parsley, Cilantro, Green Onion: About half of each bunch will be going into the compost. Unfortunately they were in pretty sad shape when they were purchased, or else I would try to stretch their use into week 2.
  • 1/4 of an Avocado: Avocados were on sale for $0.50 last week so I couldn’t help buying two instead of the one planned. I ate most of the second one, so I feel pretty good about that extra purchase.

Here’s what is leftover, but can still be used in week 2 or beyond:

  • 4 servings Vegan Winter Lentil Stew (frozen)
  • 3 Rosemary Pepper Drop Biscuits (frozen)
  • Tortillas: These have a long refrigerator life and I KNOW I’ll eat them.
  • Potatoes: These have a pretty good shelf life, but I’ll try to use them in week 2 just so they don’t start to get soft. I’m thinking about indulging in oven fries one night!
  • Ranch Dressing: Super long refrigerator life, can be used on many different things
  • Oranges: These will be great snacks in week 2
  • Oat Bran: Indefinite shelf life

Oat Bran with Blueberries Almonds and Peanut Butter

How Do I Feel??

How was it eating no meat, trying to eat as many vegetables as possible, and trying to loosen my death grip on cheese and bread? I feel like that was too much to change all at once, and my body definitely let me know. The first three days I was hungry and all I could think about was bread and cheese (but no cravings for meat, LOL). The second half of the week I added a couple more eggs, ate some of those frozen biscuits, and even just melted some cheese in a tortilla one night. Adding back just a little more comfort food really made a difference in the way I felt, and by the end of the week I felt great. I reminded myself that I need to take baby steps. It can take a really long time for your body to adjust to a new way of eating, and going all-in at once isn’t always the best option (or at least not the best option for me). My Main goal is to eat more vegetables and I need to focus on that.

Calorie Full vs. Stomach Full

I experienced a new kind of “full” with this super vegetable heavy diet. Sometimes my stomach felt so full that I didn’t want to put anything else in it, but I could tell that I was still hungry for calories. When I felt this way I reached for calorie dense snacks, like a spoonful of peanut butter or a cheese stick, so my stomach wouldn’t feel any more full, but I could get a good dose of calories. I may need to incorporate more calorie dense ingredients in my meals during the upcoming weeks.

Eat Like Nobody is Watching… Yeah Right!

It’s a well known fact that you eat differently when you keep a food journal because it forces you to be more mindful. Well, when hundreds of thousands of people are also reading that food journal (Hi guys! 👋), the effect is even more dramatic. So how “real” is this challenge? I’m sure it’s really skewed, so take it all with a grain of salt. Don’t compare yourself to me or what I’m eating. The thought of a bazillion people watching is a HUGE motivator to stay on track. Who knows what would have happened by now if I wasn’t broadcasting it to the world. I don’t think I would have broken plan and eaten meat, but I sure as hell would have eaten more cheese, and probably some pasta. So my goal for next week is to try to eat more like nobody is watching. I don’t know how successful I’ll be, but I’m going to try.

Goals for Week 2:

  • Eat like nobody’s watching
  • Keep eating those vegetable heavy snacks!
  • Continue to use up pantry items
  • Try to eat all prepared portions of recipes
  • Aim for a sensible amount of comfort foods. Don’t be too restrictive, don’t go overboard.

So that’s how week one went! Not too bad, but I definitely learned a thing or two about myself and how I need to adjust my meal planning for my current lifestyle. What did you learn in your first week? Share you experiences in the comments below so we can all learn from each other! :)