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mangia: a grocery list for a grad school budget!


Ahhhh, I’m so excited to get back to being a vegetarian! Although I am as Italian as the sky is blue; when I’m on a vegetarian diet, I rarely eat pasta or soy products. I really want to eat from scratch as much as I can, especially since when I was on my job assignment, I ate take out all of the time.

P.S. If you ever find yourself in Titusville, Florida, (it’s the home of NASA) you will find yourself in the land of amazing restaurants. Kloiber’s Cobbler for lunch, Sunrise Bread Company for coffee and the most delicious bread you’ll ever find, and El Leoncito for Mexican Food and the best Margaritas in Brevard County. 

I feel that when I became a vegetarian, I truly discovered a love for cooking. When I was an omnivore, my dinners were mindless. Somehow, grilled chicken and bacon always found a way into my recipes. I’m not saying that cooking with meat suppresses your creativity in the kitchen, but cooking without it opens the door to so many possibilities that you may have not considered before. For example, I wondered what I could substitute bacon or ham for in a meat, egg, and cheese sandwich. I’ve found out that roasted mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, or avocado are satisfying substitutes and give me that savory, fatty taste I’m craving.

When cooking on a budget, I like to plan my meals out at least a week in advance. This enables me to keep an eye out for deals and see what’s on sale. This is also helpful for vegetarians because you tend to buy a lot of fresh produce and you’re going to waste your money if you buy all these different types of produce, only to have them rot in your refrigerator. Lastly, I plan because I need to keep track of my nutrients. I can’t stress how important it is to take a multivitamin but it can’t solve all of your problems. Take some time to study the nutritional chart and pay attention to your nutrient intake. To make this fun and eliminate waste, I like to do themed weeks, according to what’s on sale.

This week’s theme: Sweet Potato, Chick Peas, and Kale! 


(for some reason, I totally felt like the Iron Chef Chairman when I wrote that)

If it’s winter, it’s sweet potato season. This vegetable and I have such a troubled history. When I was little, I was obsessed with sweet potatoes and I would beg my grandmother to make them. She was always happy to and so proud that I would beg for vegetables. Then, when I was a teenager, I stopped eating them. The thought of them made me gag and I only ate them if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas. Those were the dark days.

Thankfully, sweet potatoes and I are back on good terms. Which is good, because they’re a vegetarian’s best friend. They are rich in iron, which is a nutrient that you may lack once you take meat out of your diet. There are two types of iron, heme which is found in meat, and non-heme which is found in plants. You can absorb up to 30% of heme iron, however, you absorb anywhere between 2% and 10% from non-heme foods. We need iron to carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of your body and if you lack it, you may become lethargic. To better absorb non-heme iron, it’s recommended to have a diet rich in Vitamin C.

Kale is another food that is rich in iron and is my go-to green. Why? Check out what WebMD has to say:

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

::drops mic::

Chick peas, and other beans, are high in protein. 1/2 cup of chickpeas has 7 out of the required 56 grams of protein you need everyday.

Recipes and the Grocery List

For breakfast, I am going to switch between broiled grapefruit and kale, egg, and cheese on toast. Both dishes will be accompanied by either Fage or Chobani greek yogurt because their plain yogurts have 18g of protein per 6oz serving. I’ll drizzle a little honey or serve it with seasonal fruit to make it tastier. Add that to the days in which I eat an egg for breakfast (6g) and I’m in good shape for meeting my daily protein value.

As for lunch, I will eat the leftovers from the night before with seasonal fruit.  Breakfast is going to be very filling.

For dinner, I will make my favorite Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea Soup (serves 6), Braised Coconut Chickpeas and Kale with Lemon  (serves 4), and Sweet Potato Burrito Smothered in Avocado Salsa Verde (serves 4).

  • A gallon of Olive Oil. Buy with coupon
    • It’s not worth the money nor the waste to buy the little bottles of olive oil. You’re better off buying the gallon that will last you forever and a day. 
    • We bought it the other day at Sam’s Club.
  • The big carton of Fage or Chobani plain yogurt, whichever is on sale.
  • Honey
  • 2 Grapefruits
  • Seasonal fruit
  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 small red onion
  • Cage-Free eggs
  • Pepperjack Cheese
  • Bread
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • Frank’s Red Hot
  • Bunch of Kale
  • 2 Red Peppers
  • 1 jalopeno
  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 6 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
  • Cayenne Pepper Powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 3 inch knob of ginger
  • Lime juice
  • Lemon juice
  • tortillas
  • 2 avocados
  • Coconut Milk
  • Cilantro
  • Orange Juice
  • Almond Milk
  • Freezer safe bags

It’s going to be a little expensive this time around because I’m beginning to stock up on the essentials. How come it always feels like it takes a year to stock up a kitchen? Thankfully spices, oil, lemon juice, lime juice, freezer bags,  and my beloved Frank’s Red Hot are purchases that will last a while. The freezer bags will be used for collecting vegetable scraps because I will be making my own vegetable broth.

There you have it- 21 meals for a fraction of a cost compared to a meal plan.

Author: Alex

Hello! My name is Alex but you can call me Alexandra if you're feeling fancy. Here you'll find my adventures about exploring my new city of Hoboken, NJ, scurrying over the Hudson River to NYC, my bicycle excursions, and how I'm learning to embrace in medias res.

4 thoughts on “mangia: a grocery list for a grad school budget!

  1. We have been avoiding all of those restaurants as much as possible, but its very hard! 🙂 You need to ask Robbie about her kale chips.

  2. wow! This is an ambitious agenda. I try to plan for the week like this too – it never seems to quite work out right. 🙂 Good Luck Alex! That budget is brutal…$40 a week for groceries? I know you can do it though.

    We tried a recipe you posted the other night – Portabello & Poblano Fajitas – YUMM!! I couldn’t find poblanos so we used anaheim peppers. It was really good. Have you tried it? The marinade smells wonderful as you’re making it.

    • ahhh yes, $40. It’s hard but doable. Ahhh I’m so happy they turned out so well! I hope to make them soon! I haven’t been able to go out to the grocery store because the shuttle only comes on the weekends but tomorrow I plan to make them =D

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