$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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