$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

Breakfast

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.

Lunch

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. 

Dinner

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.

Snacks

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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$60 Meal Plan (with Hello Fresh)

Cooking

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).

Breakfast

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. 

Lunch

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. 

Dinner

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!

Snacks

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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Five Days of At Home Online Workouts

Alright, my friends. It is already December 23 and things are about to get cozy. The weather in Calgary has actually improved (slightly), but I don’t really think that matters. Ultimately, the weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful. So instead of going to the gym or pilates studio, we are all dying for ways we can stay active at home. And, as your non-fitness girl who wants to talk to you about fitness things, I took a hit for the team. I did at home workouts for a week so that I could tell you what was worth it and what you should be doing in your living room.

A few little comments – all the workouts I did were free, youtube videos. There are tons of subscription services out there, especially after COVID where all studios had to pivot to online offerings, but I decided to focus this post on free stuff. I am sure so many of you have passes to your regular studios… but you’re looking for something different to fill your time right now. Maybe you’re out of town. Maybe it’s just too much to drive somewhere away from home. Don’t worry. I got you!

Generally speaking, I tried to do a 45-min to 1-hr long workout. This meant I usually ended up doing more than one video per channel. If I did more than one, I usually tried to do something more cardio-heavy and then something more strength-heavy so that I had a range of workouts. 

And, without further ado, here are my thoughts on the five channels I interacted with during my week of at home workouts.

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Moveology

Moveology Front Entrance

Two days late, not on a Friday, but I am so excited to write a few words that I never thought I’d say again a year and a half ago. 

I’m working at the front desk at a fitness studio! 

Since May 14, I’ve been spending my Saturday mornings at Moveology, housed in the gorgeous historic building that once was Barre Body Studio’s home. I’ve been creating training documents, strengthening my core in Pilates classes, and trying to figure out how to put into words how excited I am to be back home. If you follow my instagram stories, you may have picked up on the fact that my last couple of weeks have been very… full and complicated, to put it kindly. It’s been a lot. And through that “a lot”, I’ve also been spending a ton of time at Moveology, training new karma staff, which has absolutely given me a place to ground myself. Moveology brands itself as “not your average gym” and that is completely on point.

But you’re not here to read about my emotions! (At least not in this post… trust me, that will be coming, in a delightfully vague yet inspiring format. Hopefully. OMG, Erin, get back on track.) You’re also not here for a professional, well organized, objective review of the studio. You go to places like Fit-City Guide for that. You come here for me to gush about things I love and hope that some of the love rubs off on you. So, without further ado, here is my non-expert wrap up on all the things that makes Moveology great – fitness from a non-fitness girl.

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I Went on a Walk Every Day For a Month

Walk Every Day for a Month

Hello my beautiful friends! I know you’ve been wondering where I’ve been… what I’ve been doing when I’m not writing in this space… well, if you’re on my instagram, you already know. I’ve gone for a walk every day, for at least 30 minutes, for a month.

I have to give credit where credit is due – I absolutely got this idea from Kayla Nelson. She described walking for 30 minutes as the key to health and, hey, I was done my barre challenge so why not take something else on? (Sidebar: I discovered Kayla’s youtube channel just over a month ago and I’m officially obsessed. I love her realistic approach to fitness, food and wellness.)

I think we’ve all read about the cardiovascular and muscular benefits of walking, so I’m not going to belabor that here, I’m just going to do what I do best – talk about my own experiences!

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Consistency: The Other C-Word

barre headshot

I know, I know. No one is thrilled that I am writing this Fitness Friday post. I’m not even thrilled that I’m writing this Fitness Friday post. Consistency sucks. Our lives are inconsistent and nothing is worse than when things feel busy or out of control and then someone starts preaching the value of consistency in your face. You just want to shout “I’m doing the best I can!”

I know you are, babe.

But when you get into a consistent habit, it does actually feel so good. This is an anecdote that I share a lot, but several years ago I decided to prove to myself that I could build a habit… so I started making my bed every morning. And now, while parts of my morning routine will vary, making my bed is always a part of it. (Though I haven’t really taken this lesson forward to building other habits… maybe that’s a goal for this year!)

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My Fitness Routine (as a non-fitness girl)

Fitness Routine equipment

I have to admit that I didn’t exactly set out to brand myself as a non-fitness girl, but the more I think about it, the more accurate it seems. I’m just a girl who likes to move her body sometimes. (And always feels better when I do, as much as I don’t want to a medium percentage of the time.) And speaking of liking to move my body… I feel like a solid second Fitness Friday post is an old classic – my Fitness Routine.

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Fitness Life as a Non-Fitness Girl

talking about fitness as a non-fitness girl

Well well well, my friends. Here we are, two weeks into January, and I return to my blog, full of inspiration and 24 spam comments to delete. What else is new?

I didn’t intend to take a break after Blogmas, but it was super nice and refreshing. Plus I probably should have expected it… the first two weeks back at work after the holidays are always crazy for me and this year was extra crazy, with the Omicron of it all. No matter how hard I work before the break to get ahead, there are always things that come up that I have to deal with when I get back. And I’m somehow always a little bit surprised by it.

Joey from Friends shocked gif
Shocking.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about…

Fitness!

Yes. I am, like so many bloggers before me, going to do Fitness Fridays. It’s going to be a limited run for now, until the end of February, but who knows where the inspiration will take me!

It might seem like a misstep that I haven’t done this before. After all, “Fitness” is one of the five categories I picked when I first started this blog six years ago. (Oh dear… I don’t love that math.) The number of fitness posts I’ve actually written can fit on one hand, if you don’t count the one about my barre studio closing down. However, there is a very good reason for this…

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