Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Healthy, Fast, Affordable Vegetarian: B's Veggie Meal Plan

When I was 11 years old, my mom took me to a meat market. It was one of those kinds of dirty little stores that are located in “the valley somewhere” and make you wonder if anyone actually shops there. I remember they had a huge window where you could watch and see what cut of meat you were getting. And, at the ripe age of 11, I watched a pig getting butchered.

That night I had a dream that my dad cooked our cat for dinner as hamburger helper. Needless to say, the next day, meat just didn’t look appealing to me. I just didn’t like the idea or the taste of it. Kind of like people who don’t like broccoli—they just don’t like the taste. I have been a vegetarian for 13 years now. I'm living proof that you CAN survive (comfortably) without meat. Go ahead, meat eaters, gasp and get it out of your system :)

I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian (I eat dairy and eggs, but nothing that had a heartbeat, ewwww). I'm hesitant about posting about nutrition because there are SOOOOO many other nutrition blogs out there. What I can't find, however, are people blogging about healthy, fast, and affordable vegetarian food.

Being a recent graduate student on the job hunt, I need fast, cheap and healthy. Contrary to popular belief (and believe me, saying this could insinuate a debate for some people), even in this economy you can still eat well, get your protein, and feel fulfilled on the quick n' cheap.

Today I present to you an example of an affordable, 2-day, protein-packed, meal plan:

DAY ONE.....

1 CRUNCHY granola bar (I like Nature Valley and Kashi)
1 medium banana
1 cup milk

"Trail Mix"=1/2 oz Almonds mixed with 1/4c. dried pineapple

1 Veggie Burger (I LOVE LOVE LOVE Morningstar ones) on
2 pieces whole wheat bread or bun with
1 slice of cheese (your choice)
2 slices tomato
1tsp mustard and/or ketchup and/or fat-free mayo
1 orange
1 oz. baked chips
100 calories dessert (e.g. 100-cal pack cookies)

1 cup low-fat yogurt

B's Quick Mediterranean Pasta
(Makes 3 servings--I got home at 7:00 last night and this was done by 7:20!)
1/2 package of whole-wheat penne pasta
9 oz package of frozen chopped spinach (I like the kind you can cook in the bag, like Steamfresh or Green Giant)
14.5 oz can of basalmic, basil and olive oil diced tomatoes (or the "Italian kind"--I used Hunt's)
2 cloves of minced garlic (I buy a jar of pre-minced garlic)
1 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Feta cheese

1. Cook whole-wheat pasta to package directions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, cook frozen spinach in the microwave. Drain and pat dry. Set aside.
3. When the pasta is done cooking, drain into a colander.
4. In the same pot you were cooking the pasta, heat 1 TBSP.EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil). Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes or until garlic browned a little.
5. Add the tomatoes and spinach and mix throughly to break up the spinach. Heat through.
6. Add the pasta and mix.
7.Serve topped with Feta cheese (about 3 TBSP. per serving) and Salt and Pepper to taste.

1/2 cup frozen low-fat yogurt of choice (Edy's Slow Churned is the BOMB)
topped with 1/4 cup berries and
2 TBSP. chocolate syrup

DAY TWO.....

1 cup low-fat yogurt topped with
crushed granola bar and
1/2 cup berries of choice
1 cup milk

8 whole-wheat crackers
topped with peanut butter

One microwavable lean entrée (I personally enjoy Lean Cuisine and Lean Gourmet--hey they have gotten a LOT better recently! Affordable and Delicious!)
1 medium banana
100 calorie dessert (for example, sugar-free pudding)

One small bag of microwavable popcorn (they make 100 calorie bags of kettle korn now--YUM!)


B's Taco Salad
(serves 1-2--takes less than 20 minutes)
2 cups salad mix of choice (Romaine works well)
1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 a tomato, diced
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup canned corn, drained
1 veggie burger, microwave-heated and crumbled OR
1/2 an avocado diced
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Fat-free ranch dressing
1/4 cup salsa

1. Top salad mix with first six ingredients (through "burger or avocado").
2. Mix sour cream and ranch dressing--Dress salad with 2-3 tbsp. and save the rest for another salad.
3. Finally, top with salsa. Serve with baked or whole-grain tortilla chips.

Fat-free pudding cup topped with 2 TBSP. light whipped cream.
(I adore Jell-O's new Mousse cups--tastes decadent, but is only 60 calories)

Now, go and VEG! :) If you are thinking about trying out a vegetarian diet--for personal reasons or health, check out these resources:

My Pyramid: Gov't resource on vegetarian food sources and meal plans

Go Veg: Powered by PETA (so beware crazy bias) this site has lots of good info, tips and recipes.

Vegetarian Times: The vegetarian magazine. Great articles on healthy living!

Allrecipes (Vegetarian section): Lots and lots of veggie recipes. If you're interested in trying something meatless check out this website. Users rate their recipes by "stars" so you know if it's good before you try it!

(A glimpse into my [dirty] freezer! lol)

The Final Jeopardy Question o' The Day: Would you ever/have you ever tried out a vegetarian diet? Do you have any quick and affordable veggie recipes I can post in future meal plans? Leave a comment!


  1. You know that I love chicken WAY TOO MUCH to give it up!! lol. Since joining the gym, I have drastically changed my daily eating habits from about 3000ish calories a day (and not working out) to around 1500 calories a day (and going to the gym for at least an hour)!!!! I can tell a HUGE difference in the way I feel and the amt of energy I have (bye bye naps!!) So, with my new daily routines and eating habits, I need to eat 6 times a day (3 meals and 3 snacks). I need around 400 calories per meal and 100 calorie snacks. Do you recomend anything or know of any websites that cater to these needs (I would love to find some dif stuff to add to my meal plan!!) Thanks B!!

  2. Heeey, I actually switched to vegetarianism on March 1st, so I loved this post and hope you do lots more in the future! I like making hummus wraps with cucumber, tomato, roasted red peppers, black olives, and feta.

  3. Kristie, I'll have to write a post about that--you are on a very good eating plan! Samantha, that sounds so yummy! Wraps are definitely quick and delish! :)