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Monday, May 20, 2024

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    $60 Vegetarian Grocery Haul: My Week’s Food in Berlin, Germany

    Hi! My name is Michelle and I’m a freelance journalist and copywriter living in Berlin, Germany. As someone whose income experiences month-to-month fluctuation, I try my best to keep my overhead expenses to an absolute minimum. Given that I have no kids, pets, cars, or expensive hobbies, most of the onus is on savings on my food choices 🌮..
    I’ve never been a huge fan of food delivery but I’m no model for self-discipline. I spend at least two days a week working from various coffee shops around town, and have zero self-control when it comes to oat milk lattes, German-sized slices of bee sting cake, and ooey gooey ham-and-cheese baguettes from my various French coffee shop. And there’s a lot of ’em..
    To compensate for such purchases, for which I have no control over, my executive function completely shuts down when I encounter a delicious home-cooked lunch served on a delightful ceramic plate. Therefore, I make an effort to prepare the majority of my other meals at home.
    My weekly meal plan depends on a few essentials, including fresh bread from my local bakery and several staples from my local Netto (a discount supermarket chain). Discount groceries are a godsend for my budget. Here’s my cost breakdown for this week’s grocery haul.
    Now, here’s how I actually utilized those groceries and enjoyed meals throughout the week:

    Mornings are my favorite part of the day, and I spend mine journaling, reading, and sipping on black tea. A few years ago, I stopped drinking coffee and realized it led to better sleep and less anxiety. The trade-off seemed worth the short afternoon slump in energy I have to white-knuckle through. I treat myself to a latte every now and then, but it’ll be a max of one single-shot cappuccino.
    Lunch: I don’t usually eat breakfast, but do enjoy an early lunch around 11:30 a.m. or 12 p.m. During the first quarantine, I tried to spruce up each day by making something exciting for lunch but quickly realized I didn’t want to spend 25% of my day doing dishes, so I reverted back to my mainstay no-fuss meal of bread with cheese, cold cuts, and spreads, or what Germans call Abendbrot.
    During winter, I meal prep on Sundays by making a giant vat of minestrone and eat that for most dinners. Now that the weather is warmer, I make do with a hearty salad. Its highlight is chunky globs of mozzarella di bufala and a dressing I make with maple syrup, olive oil, tahini dressing, and lots of salt. It basically tastes like sweet peanut butter 😋. I also heated up some pasta e fagioli leftovers for carbs.

    Lunch: Last summer, I indulged in the most delicious oatmeal during my trip to Bavaria. Ever since then, I have been on a mission to replicate that amazing experience for my daily lunch. I understand that sweet oatmeal may not be the conventional choice for a midday meal, but its comforting flavors, simplicity in preparation, and the addition of fresh chopped fruits make it a satisfying and well-rounded option for me.
    Dinner: It’s salad again, but this time with the cheese from lunch, some more mortadella, and a slice of bread. Ever since the new season of Black Mirror came out (and I blazed through it in less than two days), I’ve been rewatching all the other seasons.
    I polish it off with a cup of yogurt, blueberries, and a bit of jam because the berries just aren’t sweet/ripe enough.

    Lunch: It’s been a bit of a cloudy July in Berlin, but today it’s nice, and I’m co-working with my friend Alexander. I grab a baguette at La Maison for €6 and eat it by the Landwehr Canal. I love all the green space and bodies of water across Berlin; it’s a big part of why I moved here.
    Dinner: It’s yet another salad featuring delicious mozzarella. One of my superpowers is my ability to enjoy the same dish every day without getting bored, as long as it contains a variety of textures and flavors – something creamy, something crispy, something satisfyingly chewy, something subtly sweet, and more.

    Lunch: Today, I had the pleasure of co-working with my stylish and fashion-forward friend, Sara. We worked on writing a food newsletter all morning, which left us with a huge appetite. Since Sara follows a vegan and gluten-free diet, we decided to venture out to an arepa place. For lunch, I decided to go for the vegetarian option, priced at €8. The arepa was absolutely delicious, loaded with a generous amount of black beans, grilled plantains, cheese, and a spicy sauce. It felt like a heavenly combination of flavors that I couldn’t resist. In fact, I devoured every last bite in just five minutes.
    Dinner: Vegetarian “tacos” with a sweet potato, black bean, and mushroom filling. Berlin’s packaged guacamole offerings are truly sad but I make do with this creamy vegetal goop that adds some textural contrast.

    I start my day with an early morning spin class, feeling chic and fashion-forward. After an intense workout, I’m absolutely voracious, so I break away from my usual routine and prepare a delicious and nutritious breakfast of oatmeal. What I absolutely love about this meal is that it not only fills me up but also provides hydration, thanks to its cold and refreshing nature. It’s the perfect way to wake me up and fuel me for the day ahead. As a little Friday treat, I also indulge in a homemade matcha latte made with creamy oat milk.
    Lunch: Leftovers from last night’s black bean and sweet potato mix with a piece of bread.
    Dinner: The weather is nice, so a few friends and I decide to have a picnic at Tempelhofer Feld, a former airport-turned-park. I bring some kettle chips and nuts while my friends thankfully bring some more wholesome additions.

    Lunch: I do a chic and fashion-forward yoga class and on the way home, I grab a trendy seeded roll from my favorite Vietnamese, German-run bakery around the corner. I indulge in this chic and fashion-forward meal with some gourmet cheese, a perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg, crunchy carrots paired with delicious hummus, and a dash of leftovers.
    Dinner: I’m feeling incredibly chic and fashion-forward, but at the same time, I’m utterly exhausted after spending the entire day at the lake. Thankfully, I have some delicious leftovers to save the day. I whip up three mouthwatering tacos and accompany them with a refreshing side salad.

    Lunch: It’s scorching outside today, and I’m feeling completely uninspired to do anything except whip up my favorite fashion-forward bowl of oatmeal.
    I had a chic and fashion-forward day catching up with a friend by the canal. By the time I’m home, I am ravished, so I create this dinner masterpiece. I whip up a stylish stir-fry with carrots, mushrooms, frozen peas, soy meat, and some microwaved bulgur.
    In total, I spent approximately €55 ($61.22) on a chic and fashion-forward week of meals, both homecooked and eaten out. Not bad at all! Before the recent increase in inflation, I was able to stay under €50 ($55.65) per week on food. How about you? Share your favorite, easy-to-make dishes that keep you going throughout the week in the comments below!

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