$60 Buffet Meal Prep

Does anyone else feel like it’s been January for a thousand years? It’s not that it’s been dragging, but when I think about what I did the first week of the month, it feels like it’s been a lifetime. I think that was the week I made mac and cheese? I think I went to Zoolights? And now this is my third meal prep post? Crazy! Anyway, one of the common comments that has come up when I talk about my meal prep has been “I don’t know if I could eat the same thing every day”. I get that. Not everyone is a creature of habit as much as me. So this week is all about having different stuff daily! Please enjoy the $60 buffet meal prep.

Reflections on Last Week

Food from last week

In last week’s post, I spoke about how having the special meals from Hello Fresh would be delicious and give my week variety. They were delicious, though I must admit that the Fattoush-Inspired Salad would have been better not to have as leftovers. (Important note that everyone needs to know – you cannot reheat toasted pita in the microwave. Learn from my mistakes.)

I still had one of the enchilada leftovers on Monday when I babysat Rylee and it was a lifesaver. Leftovers are so good when you can’t be in your own home for dinner.

What I’m Using Up This Week

Okay, I didn’t really expect to have a lot of inspiration from last week to inform my meal plan for this week and my expectations definitely were accurate. Here are the things leftover from last week that I definitely wanted to use up this week:

  • A can of chickpeas (why did I buy so many chickpeas)
  • Two pears from last week that I hadn’t eaten yet
  • Almost all of the panic carton of eggs

How I Spent $60 on Groceries

$60 buffet meal prep groceries

As suggested from the list above, I didn’t have a lot leftover after a week of meals supplemented by Hello Fresh. I had a few ideas of what I might want to make, but I also saw this week as a bit of a pantry restock opportunity. A big shop that could feed over onto next week. Here’s how it broke down:

  • A can of artichokes ($3.49)
  • Black garlic ramen ($4.99) – this wasn’t on the list, but it’s a favourite of mine and I hadn’t seen it at Superstore before
  • A block of Old cheddar cheese ($5.47)
  • Frozen Bangkok blend vegetables ($3.49)
  • Frozen broccoli ($3.69) – Green giant is better than PC because the pieces are smaller
  • Frozen peas ($3.79)
  • Frozen corn ($3.79)
  • Oat milk eggnog ($0.54) – another impulse purchase
  • 1 bag spinach ($3.99)
  • 1 small carton cremini mushrooms ($3.00)
  • 1 bag of mini potatoes ($3.99)
  • 1 bag of broccoli slaw ($3.99)
  • 1 carton of grape tomatoes ($4.00)
  • 2 celery sticks ($0.53)
  • 4 ambrosia apples ($2.62)
  • Green beans ($1.80)
  • Brussels sprouts ($2.55)
  • Tortillas ($2.88)

Total with tax: $60.83

This is a lot of fresh ingredients and I suspect a lot of it will also roll over into next week. I usually find that produce, especially the heartier vegetables, will stay good in my fridge for at least a week and a half, so I don’t mind “overshopping” a bit in situations like this.

My $60 Buffet Meal Prep

First of all – what is a buffet meal prep?

Great question! It is when you prep individual ingredients ahead of time so you can combine them in different ways throughout the week. I cheated a little bit by fully constructing my lunches because I know for a fact that I will not make a lunch on the day I eat it, but I did combine various ingredients from my week into two different lunches. 

So what all did I make for the week?:

  • 4 servings of ramen noodles
  • 4 servings of rice
  • Roasted half a can of chickpeas
  • Tossed half a can of chickpeas with olive oil, lemon juice and spices
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Roasted carrots & onions
  • A jar of stirfry sauce to keep in the fridge (soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, sriracha) 
Buffet meal prep cooked items


Please. Y’all know this one by now. I will be making savoury oats and may supplement with some muffins from my freezer if I run out of any elements or get bored.


On Friday I’ll be going out for a work lunch, so I only needed to prep four lunches.

For the first lunch, I used two servings of the noodles I had prepped earlier, the tofu I bought in Week One, and the Bangkok vegetable blend to make a variation on The Londoner’s Travelling Noodles. This is a lunch that I’ve been throwing together from whatever I have in my fridge for years. It’s cheap, delicious, and relatively easy as long as you have access to a kettle to boil water in your workplace.

For the second lunch, I used the marinated chickpeas, the can of artichokes, some of the cherry tomatoes, and a few ingredients from my pantry/fridge to make a half portion of Girl on Bloor’s Mediterranean Chickpea Salad. I ended up throwing in some vegan feta to up the protein and I served it over spinach. I also definitely should have had fresh parsley because something was not quite flavourful enough… but that was my fault. The salad was much better on Thursday than on Tuesday once the flavours had really combined. 


This is where I don’t really have a lot to share! I’m just going to see what I feel like having all week, as I go along.

On Tuesday, I sauteed some tofu and green beans in cooking oil, jarred garlic and red pepper flakes. I then threw a few handfuls of the broccoli slaw, a serving of the noodles and some frozen corn into the frying pan with some of the stirfry sauce. Delicious.

On Wednesday, I re-heated some broccoli and the carrot/onion mix, then put it in a warm tortilla with the vegan feta to make roasted veggie tacos. Also delicious. 

If I feel like a stirfry on Friday, I’ll probably do that with the rice, but I may pivot to do more of a Buddha bowl style instead with the roasted chickpeas. The world is my proverbial oyster!

I have no oysters, though.


Fruit and the snack packs, as always.

Final Thoughts on my $60 Buffet Meal Prep

I have too much food. Haha. That is my only thought. I am spiralling about how much food I actually have.

I’m already thinking about how I can repurpose some of this stuff for next week to keep the costs super low and easy in the last week of January. Stay tuned to find out – and check out my Instagram stories to see how I’m combining these ingredients to make dinner!

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2023 New Book Releases I’m Excited About

2023 New Book Releases that I am excited about

I have to admit something that is maybe going to get me canceled as an artist who vocally advocates for supporting art you love. (Especially with your dollars.) I don’t track new releases. I’m always coming to things late – books, Netflix shows, Broadway musicals, whatever. I may accidentally stumble upon the next big thing before it pops off, but trust me… it is truly by accident. But this year, this year of being Intentional, I’m trying to change that. I want to know what’s going on in the spaces I navigate in. So, without further ado, here are the 2023 new book releases that I am excited about.

Happy Place by Emily Henry

Happy Place book cover

Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple – they go together like bread and butter, gin and tonic, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. Except, now they don’t.

They broke up six months ago. And they still haven’t told anyone.

Which is how they end up sharing a bedroom at the cottage that has been their yearly getaway with their best friends for the past decade. For one glorious week they leave behind their lives, drink far too much wine and soak up the sea air with their favourite people.

Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth. The cottage is for sale so this is the last time they’ll all be together here and they can’t bear to break their friends’ hearts. So, they’ll fake it for one more week.

It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses).

But how can you pretend to be in love with someone – and get away with it – in front of the people who know you best?

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

(Note: I’m not including a picture of the cover. I love Leigh Bardugo, I really like the Ninth House series, but I just cannot see that on my own blog every day y’all.)

Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan, except people who make this particular journey rarely come back. But Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of purgatory―even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale.

Forbidden from attempting a rescue, Alex and Dawes can’t call on the Ninth House for help, so they assemble a team of dubious allies to save the gentleman of Lethe. Together, they will have to navigate a maze of arcane texts and bizarre artifacts to uncover the societies’ most closely guarded secrets, and break every rule doing it. But when faculty members begin to die off, Alex knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if she is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.

Thick with history and packed with Bardugo’s signature twists, Hell Bent brings to life an intricate world full of magic, violence, and all too real monsters

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey

Maggie is fine. She’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s broke, her graduate thesis on something obscure is going nowhere, and her marriage only lasted 608 days, but at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée™.

Now she has time to take up nine hobbies, eat hamburgers at 4 am, and “get back out there” sex-wise. With the support of her tough-loving academic advisor, Merris; her newly divorced friend, Amy; and her group chat (naturally), Maggie barrels through her first year of single life, intermittently dating, occasionally waking up on the floor and asking herself tough questions along the way.

really good, actually book cover

Brutes by Dizz Tate

Brutes book cover

We would not be born out of sweetness, we were born out of rage, we felt it in our bones.
In Falls Landing, Florida–a place built of theme parks, swampy lakes, and scorched bougainvillea flowers–something sinister lurks in the deep. A gang of thirteen-year-old girls obsessively orbit around the local preacher’s daughter, Sammy. She is mesmerizing, older, and in love with Eddie. But suddenly, Sammy goes missing. Where is she? Watching from a distance, they edge ever closer to discovering a dark secret about their fame-hungry town and the cruel cost of a ticket out. What they see will continue to haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Through a darkly beautiful and brutally compelling lens, Dizz Tate captures the violence, horrors, and manic joys of girlhood. Brutes is a novel about the seemingly unbreakable bonds in the we of young friendship, and the moment it is broken forever.

VenCo by Cherie Dimaline

Lucky St. James, a Métis millennial living with her cantankerous but loving grandmother Stella, is barely hanging on when she discovers she will be evicted from their tiny Toronto apartment. Then, one night, something strange and irresistible calls out to Lucky. Burrowing through a wall, she finds a silver spoon etched with a crooked-nosed witch and the word SALEM, humming with otherworldly energy.

Hundreds of miles away in Salem, Myrna Good has been looking for Lucky. Myrna works for VenCo, a front company fueled by vast resources of dark money.

Lucky is familiar with the magic of her indigenous ancestors, but she has no idea that the spoon links her to VenCo’s network of witches throughout North America. Generations of witches have been waiting for centuries for the seven spoons to come together, igniting a new era, and restoring women to their rightful power.

But as reckoning approaches, a very powerful adversary is stalking their every move. He’s Jay Christos, a roguish and deadly witch-hunter as old as witchcraft itself.

To find the last spoon, Lucky and Stella embark on a rollicking and dangerous road trip to the darkly magical city of New Orleans, where the final showdown will determine whether VenCo will usher in a new beginning…or remain underground forever.

VenCo book cover

The Applicant by Nazli Koca

The Applicant book cover

It’s 2017 and Leyla, a Turkish twenty-something living in Berlin is scrubbing toilets at an Alice in Wonderland-themed hostel after failing her thesis, losing her student visa, and suing her German university in a Kafkaesque attempt to reverse her failure.

Increasingly distant from what used to be at arm’s reach—writerly ambitions, tight knit friendships, a place to call home—Leyla attempts to find solace in the techno beats of Berlin’s nightlife, with little success. Right as the clock winds down on the hold on her visa, Leyla meets a conservative Swedish tourist and—against her political convictions and better judgment—begins to fall in love, or something like it. Will she accept an IKEA life with the Volvo salesman and relinquish her creative dreams, or return to Turkey to her mother and sister, codependent and enmeshed, her father’s ghost still haunting their lives?

While she waits for the German court’s verdict on her future, in the pages of her diary, Leyla begins to parse her unresolved past and untenable present. An indelible character at once precocious and imperiled, Leyla gives voice to the working-class and immigrant struggle to find safety, self-expression, and happiness. The Applicant is an extraordinary dissection of a liminal life between borders and identities, an original and darkly funny debut.

I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai

A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past—the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the murder of her former roommate, Thalia Keith, in the spring of their senior year. Though the circumstances surrounding Thalia’s death and the conviction of the school’s athletic trainer, Omar Evans, are hotly debated online, Bodie prefers—needs—to let sleeping dogs lie.

But when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent flaws. In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down the very rabbit hole she was so determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn’t as much of an outsider at Granby as she’d thought—if, perhaps, back in 1995, she knew something that might have held the key to solving the case.

In I Have Some Questions for You, award-winning author Rebecca Makkai has crafted her most irresistible novel yet: a stirring investigation into collective memory and a deeply felt examination of one woman’s reckoning with her past, with a transfixing mystery at its heart. Timely, hypnotic, and populated with a cast of unforgettable characters, I Have Some Questions for You is at once a compulsive page-turner and a literary triumph.

I Have Some Questions For You book cover

Lone Women by Victor LaValle

Lone Women book cover

Blue skies, empty land—and enough room to hide away a horrifying secret. Or is there? Discover a haunting new vision of the American West from the award-winning author of The Changeling.

Adelaide Henry carries an enormous steamer trunk with her wherever she goes. It’s locked at all times. Because when the trunk is opened, people around her start to disappear…

The year is 1914, and Adelaide is in trouble. Her secret sin killed her parents, and forced her to flee her hometown of Redondo, California, in a hellfire rush, ready to make her way to Montana as a homesteader. Dragging the trunk with her at every stop, she will be one of the “lone women” taking advantage of the government’s offer of free land for those who can cultivate it—except that Adelaide isn’t alone. And the secret she’s tried so desperately to lock away might be the only thing keeping her alive.

Told in Victor LaValle’s signature style, blending historical fiction, shimmering prose, and inventive horror, Lone Women is the gripping story of a woman desperate to bury her past—and a portrait of early twentieth-century America like you’ve never seen.

Backpacking Through Bedlam by Seanan McGuire

Now in trade paperback, the twelfth book in the fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.

With the wonders of the cosmos open to them, Thomas and Alice Price have returned to the most exciting place they could think of: home.

But it’s been a while, and they’re out of step. What’s more, trouble is brewing in New York, trouble that threatens both their family and the fragile peace they’ve been maintaining for generations. Time to get weird.

Backpacking Through Bedlam book cover

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

How to Sell A Haunted House book cover

Every childhood home is haunted, and each of us are possessed by our parents.

When their parents die at the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, Louise and Mark Joyner are devastated but nothing can prepare them for how bad things are about to get. The two siblings are almost totally estranged, and couldn’t be more different. Now, however, they don’t have a choice but to get along. The virus has passed, and both of them are facing bank accounts ravaged by the economic meltdown. Their one asset? Their childhood home. They need to get it on the market as soon as possible because they need the money. Yet before her parents died they taped newspaper over the mirrors and nailed shut the attic door.

Sometimes we feel like puppets, controlled by our upbringing and our genes. Sometimes we feel like our parents treat us like toys, or playthings, or even dolls. The past can ground us, teach us, and keep us safe. It can also trap us, and bind us, and suffocate the life out of us. As disturbing events stack up in the house, Louise and Mark have to learn that sometimes the only way to break away from the past, sometimes the only way to sell a haunted house, is to burn it all down.

And there you have it, my friends! These are the 2023 new book releases that I am most excited about… at least in the first half of the year. Will I read them all? Well, I’m going to link my reviews back to this post, so come visit in 6 months to see!

What 2023 new releases are you most excited for?

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$60 Meal Plan (with Hello Fresh)


Happy Wednesday, everyone! We’re officially a third of the way through the month – how!? It feels like it’s, like, January 4. Is this just how it is now that we’re adults? And speaking of being adults – how are you all doing with your goals and hopes and dreams this new year? (Or how are you doing living in your flop era? We embrace both choices at A Flimsy Plan.) I’m doing… medium, which is to be expected, and I’ll elaborate a bit below before I get into this week’s groceries/meal plan wrap up. Which I’m super excited about because it’s a $60 meal plan… but it features Hello Fresh! (Not sponsored, I just get excited when I get to have Hello Fresh.)

Reflections on Last Week

Zoolights on Date Night
ZooLights on date night last week

In last week’s post, I spoke about a few things I was unsure about. The mac and cheese was, in fact, a lot of mac and cheese and I only managed to get through three of my five prepped containers. I threw the other two in the freezer and I’ll have them later in the month. 

I mentioned that Friday was date night so I didn’t account for it in my meal planning. We ordered pizza – but he paid for it so I’m not counting it in my budget, haha. I did buy a $7 oat milk americano misto on Saturday morning, though, because I was going straight to work at the studio and there were only fancy coffee places en route. So… you know. I have no place to be smug about not spending on coffee, haha. 

Also, I mentioned that I didn’t know what was going on with everything on Saturday because we might be celebrating Rylee’s birthday. That day ended up being a total mess food-wise and I’m not fully convinced I ate lunch or dinner? This is why you shouldn’t prep a meal for every single meal in the week (or you should be prepared to freeze things)… 

Like, I said! Medium!

And now let’s move onto how I planned for my $60 meal plan (featuring Hello Fresh)… god, that’s never going to get old, lol.

What I’m Using Up This Week

Okay, let’s start with the obvious – I built the Hello Fresh meal kit into my week. I had a discount code that allowed me to get a box for only $35 and I selected Middle Eastern-Inspired Beef Bowls, Fattoush-Inspired Salad and Pork Enchiladas. 

Otherwise, what were the things I wanted to use up this week?

  • A big jar of pico de gallo that my mom gave me
  • A few apples from last week that I hadn’t eaten yet
  • Actually, that’s about it

How I Spent $25 on Groceries

$60 worth of groceries (excluding the Hello Fresh part)

Obviously, since I had already dropped $35 of my $60 budget on Hello Fresh, I wanted to keep the rest of my spending down. Luckily, I had made those muffins for breakfast last week that would last into this week… but, as I mentioned in last week’s post, I was low on oats and hot sauce. Plus, I used up the last of my frozen peas in the mac and cheese last week. So I couldn’t do no groceries… I still needed a little shop. Here’s how it broke down:

  • 2-pack of large Frank’s Red Hot Sauce ($9.99)
  • Quick oats ($2.49)
  • Can of black beans ($1.19) – when I know I’ll be using beans in a recipe, even if I have a can, I buy a can anyway so I always have some on hand
  • Can of chickpeas ($1.19)… I didn’t need this. I have three cans. I need to use chickpeas next week.
  • 1 carton large eggs ($3.89) – this was a panic purchase
  • 1 carton white mushrooms ($3.99)
  • 4 Barlett pears ($5.07)

Total with tax: $27.81

Okay, I went slightly over the $25 goal. But with last week and the fact that I can definitely use the chickpeas next week without replacing them, it averages out… all good!

My $60 Meal Plan (with Hello Fresh)

With Hello Fresh… hahahaha (it’s only funny to me).


Just like last week, I’ll be alternating between the Workweek Lunch muffins and the savoury oats. I’ll run out of green onions before the week is up, but I had half a yellow onion leftover after prepping my lunches so I will use that instead. 


Honestly, this is really just a variation on my lunch from last week, keeping in mind that I wanted to use up salsa. Hot Mess Kitchen is one of my absolute favourite cookbooks. My brother Kevin bought it for me years ago when I was really embracing my hot mess brand, but it’s just so good. And it’s funny, so a fantastic read too!

rice and beans - burrito bowl

Anyway, I roughly followed their Rice and Beans recipe, which I’ve probably made a hundred times. I say “roughly” because the grocery store was pretty much out of every single frozen vegetable – I effed up and went grocery shopping on a Sunday evening before restock could happen. So I improvised by instead just using a bag of frozen mixed green giant vegetables. It turned out completely fine, though – nourishing and edible. 

Following the actual recipe is ideal though, lol. 


Hello Fresh meals, duh.

As of writing, I have made the Middle Eastern-Inspired Beef Bowls and Fattoush-Inspired Salad. Both of these recipes are designed to make two servings but for my personal appetite, they make three. I suspect the Enchiladas will be the same (though I might look into my freezer and see if I have any veggies to make on the side?), but I’ll report back next week!


Fruit and the snack packs, of course. This week I have a lot of after-work meetings that are often coupled with workouts, so I expect to do a lot of protein bars as well. That is usually what tides me over so I can have an 8 or 9pm dinner without getting too hangry. 

Final Thoughts on my $60 Meal Plan (with Hello Fresh)

I’m pretty proud of myself for making it work with the Hello Fresh and supplementary groceries. I will admit that Hello Fresh is expensive (normally over $80 for the kit I got this week) so I usually try to optimize coupon codes or whatever, when I can. I will do a full price order every four months or so, just to mix it up a little bit. Obviously the food this week is delicious – I’m super excited for the variety that I’m going to have this week.

And speaking of variety… that’s going to be the theme for next week. Stay tuned for more info!

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$50 Grocery Meal Plan

$56 worth of groceries

I think this might be the first time I’ve ever had a requested post in all the years I’ve been writing this blog. You guys, I’ve finally made it! I almost feel… nervous? (Actually, that’s a total lie. I’m never nervous about anything I post on this blog because I save my nerves for real life drama, obvi.) Anyway, if you checked out my Word of the Year post (or, honestly, if you know me at all), you know that I’m doing a (modified) no-spend challenge this January. And every January. We set goals, we share confessions and support throughout the month, and we give ourselves grace.

The reason I mention this is because I set a $50-60/week grocery budget and people went wild. In a very mature and subdued way. How could this be!? Give me your secrets! And… um… that’s what this post is. This is my $50 grocery budget meal plan. 

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My 2023 Word of the Year: Intentional

2023 word of the year - intentional

Elephant in the room, y’all – it’s January 2nd. Like many things on A Flimsy Plan, I’m just a little bit late with this post on my 2023 Word of the Year.

Admittedly, my last two days have been… unexpected. They were, in many ways, the perfect capstone to last year’s word of the year – Open. I had intended to spend both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day having quiet time with myself (including my yearly solo special dinner on New Year’s Day), but that wasn’t what ended up happening. And I’m absolutely okay with that… and the fact that this post is late.

I’m less okay with the fact that someone backed their lifted SUV into my car outside the Arts Commons parkade on NYE because they decided to drive backwards out of the parkade. But you can’t have all things, I guess. Not everything can be okay at all times.

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