Delectable Dime

meal planning on a budget

A+ Eating

Delectable Dime

A+ Eating by Faith Escher

Whether you are in high school, college, or grad school, finals week can be a challenge. During finals the stakes are high, the calendar is full, the pressure is on, and yet we are still expected to be performing at our very best. It’s not uncommon for students to skip meals, stay up all night, or drink a lot of caffeine.Yet, In order to function at our best and meet the demands we have for our bodies and minds, we need energy, brain power and healthy bodies to get us through the trying week to the rewarding finish line. The problem is that sometimes we are so tired or focused that we do our “finals run” shopping, and grab anything and everything that looks good, feeds our cravings, or motivates us. The problem is the things that look good, feed our cravings, and motivate us are not often the kinds of foods that are going to provide our bodies with the most effective energy.

There was a time when finals season was a time where I would “reward” myself with food, maybe buying a mocha and a pastry at the library to give me some “motivation.” The problem is, what I thought I was doing for my body wasn’t really working, and I wasn’t seeing a correlation between my performance and energy levels and the way I was fueling my body. I was optimistically loading sugar, caffeine, dairy and gluten into my body and expecting an outcome of energy and alertness.

But the good news is there are foods that do motivate our bodies and minds, and we can learn to crave them too! These foods don’t have to be challenging to make or take a lot of time, but we need to anticipate what our bodies will want and need and be ready with a healthy and delicious option. So now, I make sure that I have easy recipes and shop ahead of time to make all the things that I will need for the week. In addition to the recipes I have selected to help you during your finals week, I would like to tell you about some of my favorite go to snacks for finals week.

During finals week, I love to keep clementines and pomegranates on hand. When I am working on a paper, the tart fruit keeps me alert and allows me to focus. I also like to keep bananas and blueberries on hand, I usually freeze the bananas and keep the blueberries fresh so I can make a blended brain power smoothie. I add some almond milk and maybe some healthy vegan protein powder. Another thing I do is make small bags with almonds and cranberries in them. These have a nice crunch and delicious flavor to help you get through class. Finally, I like to keep protein on hand, so I always stock my fridge with peanut butter and hummus that I can quickly access if I need a mental boost.

I understand that with finals, sometimes we just don’t have the time to think about preparing a healthy and affordable option for ourselves. This is why I have collected a myriad of recipes that will promote energy and health in your body during finals week. I hope these healthful foods support you as you work to achieve your goals!

A+ Eating

A+ Eating

Total Budget: $100 or less

All recipes serve 4

NOTE: Garlic (2) = how many recipes the ingredient garlic is used in. For example, “Garlic (2)” means we will be using garlic in two of our recipes for this week.

The Shopping List For All 5 Dinners

  • 2 Limes – $0.38 (1)
  • 1 Can of vegetable broth – $1.29 (1)
  • Hummus – $2.50 (1)
  • 4 Vegan friendly pieces of pita – $1.69 (1)
  • 1 Container of maple syrup – $7.99 (2)
  • 1 Lemon – $0.39 (1)
  • 2 Heads of romaine lettuce – $2.00 (2)
  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas – $0.99 (1)
  • 12 oz Jar of louisiana’s pure crystal hot sauce or other – $1.32 (1)
  • 1 Block of tofu – $1.99 (1)
  • Soy sauce or Tamari – $1.99 *GF version is usually more expensive (2)
  • 2 Red chillies – $0.99
  • 1 Carton of shiitake mushrooms – $4.99 (1)
  • 1 Carton of button mushrooms – $3.49 (1)
  • 1 Small carrot – $0.50 (1)
  • 1 Small white cabbage – $0.99 (1)
  • 1 Cup of bean sprouts – $0.99 a bag (1)
  • 4 spring onions – $0.99 (1)
  • Smooth natural peanut butter – $2.49 (2)
  • 1 Small garlic bulb – $0.50 each (1)
  • 2-4 oz snow peas – $2.29
  • 1 Jar of rice vinegar – $1.99 per bottle (2)
  • 1 Box or bag of farfalle pasta – $0.99 (1)
  • 12 oz Bunch of asparagus – $2.29 (1)
  • 1 Red onion – $0.79 (1)
  • 1 Yellow onion – $0.89 (1)
  • 16 oz. Cherry tomatoes – $2.29  (2)
  • 12 oz Jar kalamata olives (pitted!) – $2.99 (1)
  • Balsamic vinegar – $2.59 per bottle (2)
  • 1 jar Dijon mustard – $1.79 (1)
  • 2 Sweet potatoes – $2.00 (1)
  • 1 Bag of brussel sprouts – $2.49 (1)
  • 1 Bag of dried cranberries – $1.79 (1 + Snacks)
  • 1 lb Almonds – $5.99 (1 + Snacks)
  • 2 oz Container of ground coriander spice – $3.99 (1)
  • 2 oz Container of ground ginger spice – $4.99 (1)
  • 2 oz Container of garam masala – $5.99
  • 1 Bag of quinoa – $3.99 (1)

$80.00 – $100.00  *Prices may fluctuate depending on tax, store, sale and season. I paid $90.65 this week.

If you followed us last week you already have the following; however, if this is your first week you will need to make these additional purchases (appx $13.15) or substitute with ingredients you have in your cupboard.

  • Crushed red pepper flakes – $2.99 for spice container (1)
  • Olive oil – $3.99 for 12 oz container (5)
  • Salt and Pepper shakers – $3.49 (3)
  • 3 oz Container of garlic powder – $2.64 (5)

Recipe No. 1

Sweet Potato Brussels Sprout Quinoa Bowl | Cook Time: 15-20

Source: Lauren Kelly Nutrition | Link to instructions

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1½ cups vegetable broth (can also use chicken broth)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, diced
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup sliced Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds

Note: I love this bowl! It’s so hearty and delicious! I put extra almonds and cranberries on the shopping list so that you can try one of my favorite snacks that I talked about in the introduction.

Recipe No. 2

Spicy Romaine Rolls with Peanut Sauce | Cook Time: 22 Minutes

Source: The Whole Ingredient | Link to instructions

  • 1 Head of romaine lettuce
  • 1 Container of tofu

Tofu marinade:

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • juice from 1.2 lime
  • 4 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar*
  • 1 red chili thinly sliced
  • 1 Carton of shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake marinade:

  • 1 tsp Olive oil
  • 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar*
  • 1 small carrot
  • ½ small white cabbage
  • 2 oz of bean sprouts
  • 3 tsp of fresh coriander
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 tsp Olive oil
  • For the Peanut Sauce:
  • 2 tsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp dark miso
  • juice from ½ lime
  • 3 tbsp water

Note: *Any time apple cider vinegar was noted I used rice vinegar because it’s on the shopping list for multiple recipes.

Recipe No. 3

Spicy Buffalo Chickpea Wraps | Cook Time: Under 30 Minutes

Source: Minimalist Baker | Link to instructions

  • 4 Vegan friendly pieces of pita

Dressing + Salad:

  • ¼ Cup and 2 Tbsp of hummus
  • 1 ½-2 Tbsp of maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp of lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 Tbsp of hot water
  • 1 Head of romaine lettuce
  • Buffalo Chickpeas
  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried
  • 1 Tbsp of coconut olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp of hot sauce *See note
  • ¼ tsp of garlic powder or 1 fresh minced garlic clove
  • Pinch of sea salt

Note: *The author used Louisiana’s Pure Crystal Hot Sauce but you can use your favorite brand!

Recipe No. 4

Veggie Chow Mein | Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Source: Amuse Your Bouche | Link to instructions

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 mild red chili deseeded, sliced
  • 4 medium mushrooms sliced
  • 2 ½ oz snow peas
  • 3 ½ oz bean sprouts
  • 3 ½ oz noodles
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar *Use agave

Note: This recipe serves two, so make sure you double the recipe if you are serving four or want leftovers, I have accounted for the doubling in the shopping list.

Recipe No. 5

15 Minute Vegan Pasta Salad | Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Source: The Fitchen | Link to instructions

  • 2 cups farfalle pasta + water for boiling
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced*
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces asparagus, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • ½ cup red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives


  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ Tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Note: I love having pasta on hand in the fridge during finals week, it just tastes more and more delicious as it marinades!

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF


           Becca. (2014, March 30). Veggie Chow Mein. Retrieved May 4, 2017, from www.amuse-

your-bouche.com website: http://www.amuse-your-bouche.com/veggie-chow-mein/

Cord, J. (2017, March 18). 15 Minute Vegan Pasta Salad. Retrieved May 4, 2017, from

thefitchen.com website: http://thefitchen.com/vegan-italian-pasta-salad/

Hemmington, L. (2015, February 17). Spicy Romaine Rolls with Peanut Sauce. Retrieved

May 4, 2017, from thewholeingredient.com website:


Kelly, L. (2015, September 17). Sweet Potato Brussels Sprouts Quinoa Bowl. Retrieved

May 4, 2017, from laurenkellynutrition.com website: http://laurenkellynutrition.com/sweet-potato-brussels-sprout-quinoa-bowl/

Shultz, D. (N.D.). Spicy Buffalo Chickpea Wraps. Retrieved May 4, 2017, from

minimalistbaker.com website: http://minimalistbaker.com/spicy-buffalo-chickpea-wraps/



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