Back in January, we released our long-awaited Meal Prepping blog series which outlined how we plan, shop, and prep one week’s worth of food in our house. Using this method, we have cut our grocery budget in half, and have zero food waste at the end of each week.
Remember, don’t try to tackle everything at once; a little at a time will make a huge difference. Check back to our meal prepping series for a full breakdown of how we plan, prep, and store our meals.
This week we’re sharing a 7-day example menu, as part of our new DINING IN series. As a reminder, our family is 100% vegan and mostly gluten-free. Feel free to try our menu or adjust as you need.
This week, we are making one huge pot of steel cut oatmeal. I will add chia seeds, flax seeds, homemade* almond milk, and a little brown sugar to the whole pot as our base. Then, I will portion it out into 8 oz. ball jars and store in the fridge. You can enjoy cold or microwave (be sure to remove the lid first). Some of our favorite topping combos are:
- almond butter + bananas
- blueberries + shredded coconut
- dried cherries + pecans
- cacao nibs + strawberries
- cinnamon + (cooked) apples
PRO-TIP: Our homemade almond milk is made using an Almond Cow. Use code URBANOREGANICS for $15 off. By making our own plant milk, we can control what ingredients are in there, avoid added fillers and sweeteners, and this method is zero waste. We even use the pulp (this is the stuff that is leftover) in other recipes, like cookies, bars, pancakes, granola, and more! Check out our Pinterest board for more ideas.
Those of you who have been following along for awhile know that we meal prep a little different than most. On Saturdays, we sit down as a family and choose 7 different recipes for the week. These are usually a combination of 5-6 of our faves plus 1-2 new recipes - we like to switch it up a little bit each week so we don’t get bored! We make approximately six servings of each of these recipes for our family of 4 (1 serving per adult, 1/2 serving per kiddo, for two meals) - for dinner, and then the leftovers are portioned out for lunch the next day. If your recipe allows, consider making extra servings and freezing for future weeks that you might be too busy to prep for. We always have a backup meal in the freezer in case we need extra food.
Meals out are planned ahead before we grocery shop for the week - we very rarely impulsively go out to eat - since we have food prepped and ready to cook in the fridge. This helps us eat healthier, save money, and waste less food.
If we happen to have extra leftovers (after dinner + lunch), we typically freeze them or give them to a neighbor or friend.
PRO-TIP: I use doTERRA essential oils instead of certain ingredients to reduce my shopping list; our faves are citruses (orange, lemon, lime), lemongrass, ginger, and clove.
Try to eat more raw meals in the warmer months. They require less time (allows you to spend more fun time with family), and by not using the oven/stove it will keep your home cooler. Or consider utilizing an outdoor grill or BBQ if you have one.
Here is our dinner/lunch menu for the upcoming week:
- Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad (this makes a really yummy lettuce wrap mix too!)
- Chipotle Sweet Potato Noodle Salad
- Garden Veggie Chickpea Salad Sandwiches (we sub gluten-free bread, and smashed avocado is a healthy/zero waste alternative to store-bought vegan mayo)
- Spinach Avocado Salad w/ Berries
- Mango Black Bean Rice Bowl
- Kale caesar w/ crispy smoked chickpeas
- Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes
We adapt our recipes slightly for the kids; for example, we turn salads into wraps for them and leave any spicy ingredients out.
I also adjust recipes depending on if I will have extra ingredients leftover from another recipe that I need to use, or if I don't want to buy a bunch of something just to use a little bit of it for one recipe.
Healthy snacks that are ready to go are so important, especially if you have hungry kiddos! We usually prep three different snack varieties each week so the kids don't get tired of having the same thing. Here is what we have planned for this week:
- Veggies + hummus
- almond butter + apples
- Gluten-free crackers + nut cheese
- Smoothies (we use Daily Harvest for ours - use code URBANOREGANICS for 3 free cups)
Now that our week is planned, it is time to shop! First, I write down all the ingredients I need for each recipe. Since we began meal planning and prepping, we don't have a lot of extra ingredients laying around (we typically only buy what we need for each week), but I still always "shop" my pantry and fridge before going to the store for the rest of the ingredients. After I have my final list, I enter it on the Any.Do app - it organizes my grocery list by department. This helps me shop efficiently and fast, plus makes sure I don't accidentally skip anything.
We try to shop seasonally and locally as much as possible. Farmer’s markets are a great way to do this! By shopping local, you are supporting your farmers (small, family-run businesses), reducing your carbon footprint, and it can be a fun family activity. Whether you are headed to the market or your grocery store, don’t forget to bring your own bags and containers.
We get most of our produce at the Farmer’s market on Saturdays, then go to the grocery store on Sundays for the rest of our grocery list. We try to shop package-free as much as possible. If we can’t find a certain fruit or veggie without packaging, we try to substitute something else. For example, if we can only find blueberries in the plastic clamshells, we will buy package-free strawberries for the recipe instead. Also, depending on the recipe, we usually choose only 1-2 leafy greens to use for all meals (arugula, kale, spinach, or romaine), one color of cabbage, one color of bell peppers, etc. This way we cut down on the amount we have to buy, thus preventing any food spoilage and excess costs. The following list includes ALL produce needed for the meals planned above; by altering our recipes slightly, we won’t actually end up needing to purchase all of these items.
Depending on your store, a lot of these items may need to be purchased on the shelf instead. Check our zero waste grocery blog post for tips. When purchasing bulk ingredients I typically fill my reusable jars up with staples (instead of just buying what I need for that week), so I already have quite a few of these in my pantry.
DRY (SHELF) & COLD:
When shopping, we try to avoid the middle aisles as much as possible - 90% of our groceries are from the produce department and bulk bins. There are occasionally some items we need to grab pre-made or cold. Here are the dry (shelf) and cold items you will need if you are following our menu this week:
By using this method and only buying what we need each week, our family saves hundreds of dollars each month. The next step is to prep the food! Check out all our tips and tricks with our Meal Prepping post here.
Follow along for our weekly meal plan updates HERE.