Vegetarian Challenge Week 3 Recap

January is flying by! I honestly can’t believe I’ve been doing this Vegetarian Challenge for almost a month already. Week three went by quickly, as my attention was focused on chaos elsewhere, but I feel like I’m finally getting into a groove with the meal planning. Here’s the week 3 recap!

Quick Summary: I’m finally getting a feel for how much food I need to buy and prepare to match my appetite, and I have developed a core group of ingredients that I like to keep on hand for impromptu meals. I’ve had a strong craving for sushi all week, fatty salmon in particular! I battled some pretty extreme stress this week, which made me really want to order take out, but I overcame the temptation. And I feel like a champion because I repurposed a LOT of leftovers this week!

Vegetarian Challenge Week 3 Recap

What I bought, cooked, ate, and how I felt throughout week 3 of the Vegetarian Challenge. Using up leftovers, battling stress cravings, and more! Budgetbytes.com

What I Bought

The first two weeks of the Vegetarian Challenge I did my grocery shopping on Monday, and was met with ransacked grocery stores and nearly bare shelves. So this week I waited until Tuesday and had much better luck! I had so much food left over from weeks one and two that my grocery shopping list was super short this week, so I decided to take this opportunity to stock up on some things, like blueberries, chia seeds, and flax seeds. I had a few higher ticket items this week, which led to my highest grocery shopping total for the challenge thus far.

Week 3 Grocery List and Receipts

Total Weekly Expense: $40.06

Week 3 Aldi Haul

Week 3 Aldi Haul: $25.57

Week 3 Kroger Haul

Week 3 Kroger Haul: $14.49

 

What I Cooked

Here is what I cooked in week 3:

What I Cooked Week 3

What I Ate

As I get into a groove and learn what I like to eat and what is convenient for me to prepare, my diet is beginning to look a little repetitive. I suspect that if I were to do this challenge longer than 31 days, I would need to start switching up my breakfast and snack options. Here is what I ate in Week 3:

Tuesday 1-15-19 / Daily Total: $4.70

  • Breakfast: 2 cups coffee ($0.42), 2/3 cup milk ($0.22), 1/2 Tbsp butter ($0.04), 2 eggs ($0.50), 2 cups spinach ($0.30), 1/4 bell pepper ($0.25), 6 grape tomatoes ($0.34), 1/4 tsp seasoning salt ($0.03)
  • Lunch: large flour tortilla ($0.24), 1 cup spinach ($0.15), Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad (from freezer, $1.41), 2 Tbsp ranch dressing ($0.16)
  • Dinner: Vegan Winter Lentil Stew ($0.64)

Wednesday 1-16-19 / Daily Total: $4.89

  • Breakfast: 2 cups coffee ($0.42), 2/3 cup milk ($0.22), 1/4 cup oat bran ($0.18), 2 Tbsp sliced almonds ($0.22), 2 Tbsp peanut butter ($0.16), 1 Tbsp chia seeds ($0.16), 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed ($0.03), 1/3 cup frozen blueberries ($0.36)
  • Lunch: Sun Dried Tomato, Kale, and White Bean Skillet ($1.40), 2 slices Freezer Garlic Bread ($0.37)
  • “Dinner”: 1/2 cup yogurt ($0.29), 1 banana ($0.19), 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed ($0.03)
  • Snacks: 1/4 bell pepper ($0.25), 1 serving Hummus ($0.37), 1 large flour tortilla ($0.24)
Hummus and Vegetables

Homemade Hummus with Bell Peppers and Carrot Sticks

Thursday 1-17-19 / Daily Total: $5.02

  • Breakfast: 2 cups coffee ($0.42), 2/3 cup milk ($0.22), 1/4 cup oat bran ($0.18), 2 Tbsp walnuts ($0.29), 2 Tbsp peanut butter ($0.16), 1 Tbsp chia seeds ($0.16), 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed ($0.03), 1 banana ($0.19), 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.02)
  • Lunch: large flour tortilla ($0.24), 1 cup spinach ($0.15), 2 cups spinach ($0.30), 1/4 bell pepper ($0.25), 1 serving Hummus ($0.37), 1 egg ($0.25)
  • Dinner: Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms with Herby Kale Mashed Potatoes ($1.79)

Friday 1-18-19 / Daily Total: $4.89

  • Breakfast: 2 cups coffee ($0.42), 2/3 cup milk ($0.22), 1/2 Tbsp butter ($0.04), 2 eggs ($0.50), 2 cups spinach ($0.30), 1/4 bell pepper ($0.25), 6 grape tomatoes ($0.34), 1/4 tsp seasoning salt ($0.03)
  • Lunch: 1 cup milk ($0.33), 1 banana ($0.19), 2 Tbsp peanut butter ($0.16), 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed ($0.03), 1/2 tsp honey ($0.04)
  • Dinner: Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms with Herby Kale Mashed Potatoes ($1.79), 1 orange ($0.25)

Saturday 1-19-19 / Daily Total: $5.39

Dutch Baby Slice

Slice of Dutch Baby Pancake with sweetened ricotta, banana slices, and maple syrup

Sunday 1-20-19 / Daily Total: $3.13

  • Breakfast: 2 cups coffee ($0.42), 2/3 cup milk ($0.22), 1/2 Dutch Baby (no almonds or jam $1.16), 1/2 banana ($0.10)
  • Snacks: 1 serving Hummus ($0.37), 2 Tbsp ranch dressing ($0.16), 1/4 bell pepper ($0.25), 6 grape tomatoes ($0.34), 1 carrot ($0.11)
  • Dinner: DATE NIGHT! We went to Five Points Cocina Mexicana and I got a vegetarian platter (and a margarita!)

Monday 1-21-19 / Daily Total: $5.34

  • Breakfast: 2 cups coffee ($0.42), 2/3 cup milk ($0.22), 1/4 cup oat bran ($0.18), 2 Tbsp walnuts ($0.29), 2 Tbsp peanut butter ($0.16), 1 Tbsp chia seeds ($0.16), 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed ($0.03), 1 banana ($0.19), 1 Tbsp maple syrup ($0.30)
  • Lunch: large flour tortilla ($0.24), 1 cup spinach ($0.15), 2 cups spinach ($0.30), 1 serving Hummus ($0.37), 1 egg ($0.25), 1/2 Tbsp butter ($0.04)
  • Dinner: Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms with Herby Kale Mashed Potatoes ($1.79), 1 orange ($0.25)
Breakfast Oat Bran Week 3

Oat bran with seeds, bananas, peanut butter, and maple syrup

Total Weekly Meal Cost (not include restaurant meal): $33.36

Leftovers

What got frozen: I had one serving of the Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms and Herby Kale Mashed Potatoes and two servings of the Sun Dried Tomato, Kale, and White Bean Skillet left, so I froze all three of those with hopes that I would eat them later rather than have them land in the compost bin. I had one banana I didn’t get to either, so I sliced it up and froze that as well (for use in smoothies or adding to my oat bran). I have plenty of Freezer Garlic Bread left and that will help carry me through the next month or two. I find one slice of that goes a long way toward squashing my stress food cravings!

What’s carrying over to week four: I have a couple scoops of hummus left, a few grape tomatoes, and some carrot sticks that I can still chomp on for a few days into week four. I have a little bit of yogurt leftover that is still good, and miraculously I still have an orange or two!

What’s going into the compost bin: I had a few slices of bell pepper that I didn’t eat and unfortunately they got a bit slimy, so those have to go into the compost.

How I Feel

I’m really happy that I was able to make use of the last two pounds of potatoes that I bought in week one, and the remaining ricotta cheese that I had bought in week two. Using things up instead of throwing them out makes me feel like such a champion!

I’m still not really craving meat, but I am strongly craving sushi or a poke bowl with fresh salmon. Like, I can’t get it out of my mind. I have to admit that I’m starting to daydream a little about the freedom I’ll feel come February and what I’ll eat first, but I think half of that might just be the relief of not having to log my meals anymore. :)

I’m still really enjoying the freedom that comes as a result of planning ahead. Grocery shopping just once per week and knowing exactly what recipes I’ll cook and when has freed up so much of my time. I know the first few days of my week will be super busy with shopping, cooking, and photographing, but the remainder of my week will be pretty chill, and that feels SO GOOD.

I’ve also begun to really enjoy being super strict about eating out only once per week. I have to admit that I’ve gotten really lax with that over the last year or so, but when I limit myself to just one meal out per week I enjoy it so much more. It becomes more of an event and is just way more fun. :) I definitely plan to carry this out past January.

Goals for Week 4

I don’t have anything from week 3 that I feel needs altering (that means I’m finding my groove!), so I plan to just keep on truckin’ in week 4. As always, using up leftovers is a high priority!

How’s it going for you? What have you learned through your Vegetarian Challenge? I’d love to hear your reflections and lessons, so drop them in the comments section below!