In this time of financial strain, here is the place to let us all know how you are coping with your veg*n diet. I've been seeing more and more posts on the trials and tribulations of being a broke vegan or vegetarian, a college student, or just plain budget-conscious and thought this would be a great place for everyone to come to for some tips and some amazing recipes.
By answering some of these questions, you might give others lots of budget-friendly ideas for recipes, shopping, where to get the best deals, etc.
What's on your grocery list and what stores in your area have the best prices? What is your favorite budget-friendly recipe? What are some kid-friendly recipes that won't break the bank? Etc.
With all of the upcoming holidays and parties, what delicious-yet-easy-on-the-wallet party menu's have you come up with?
Please share! :)
The cheapest things that I usually get are..
lean cuisines (on sale)
My dad taught me how to make this and it's great.
Saute onions until golden. Add 1 cup of lentils and stir around. Add 1 cup brown rice and enough water to cover and allow rice and lentils to cook. You may have to add more, but make it to your liking for thickness. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Oh, and make your own yogurt. It's so good and fresh and easy and cheap.
I have what I'd almost call a hobby--when traveling or exploring a "new" grocery or market, I look for dried beans or interesting rice(s) or grains. I have learned it's not so hard to cook "beans-from-scratch" or beans from "dry" and it's REALLY inexpensive and meat-free.
I check over and rinse my dry beans, first of all, then put them in a pan with water and turn on the heat. I bring it to a boil and let it boil for a good 3-5 minutes, then cover it, turn off the heat and let the pan sit, covered, for at least an hour. After that, I turn the heat up and bring the beans back to a boil, then reduce it to a nice simmer, checking it and adding water as needed. It usually doesn't take a great long time for the beans to cook to the tender, edible stage!
Some folks won't do this, but I do. Whether or not it "works" is subject to debate, but I also add about 1/2 tsp. baking soda to the cooking beans at some point before they are completely done and after they've boiled a little bit.
(It's supposed to help reduce the sugars or enzymes in the beans that many people find undigestible and "gas-forming". I don't notice that I have all that much "trouble with gas" from eating beans, but I do this as a matter of course and maybe it helps...)
I also often cook a grain (usually a whole-grain rice, but sometimes a different grain or perhaps a pasta) to have with our beans. I season the beans differently each time I make a batch--some have a spicy, "chili" like flavor from cumin, peppers, a little oregano and basil, some paprika and onions...and some have other herbs or spices (I try new things now and then--let the nose guide me and maybe a taste after I gently season the food--and add more if it tastes good.
Beans are the stuff we make most of our vegetarian meals around, here at our house. My husband doesn't "like" lima beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas (garbanzo beans)--but he's had them cooked like "barbecue" flavored beans in a sauce and actually LIKES it. (He won't admit it, but it was SECONDS he asked for when he had them last time!)
When it comes to vegetables, I look for in-season sources, like a farmers' market or produce stand where there is a LOT of the same vegetables and fruits for that time of year and the prices can be reasonable. I try to buy FRESH when I can, and sometimes, I'm fortunate enough to be able to get organic produce. Not always, though. I prefer fresh over canned or frozen, but I make do with canned tomatoes in winter and often open a can of beans if I am by myself and want a fast meal.
I like vegetarian eating, as it seems more cost-economical than when we had meat for our meals. I don't buy or cook meat/fish/poultry/pork...but we are not purely vegetarian. If we are INVITED or served a meal at someone's home, we don't expect the others to cook us vegetarian only, so we occasionally do eat non-vegetarian, away from home. It seems so much healthier and cost-effective, however, to not have to worry about "spoiling" meats in the fridge or about the high(er) expense of adding meat/fish/poultry into the food budget equation!
Calorie-counting with only vegetarian food can be just as challenging as with any other dietary practices--I am working on that and find the calories and fat in non-meat foods can be reasonably low, yet the food is very filling, tasty and satisfying!
--L.B., in Illinois
elbee577 you make a lot of good points & I love the way you eat. My favorite "go-to" meal is sauteed corn, squash,tomatoes & black beans. I may also add garlic and/or onions. I'll make a big batch on the weekend and have lunch or dinner all week.
That's a great idea, especially if one calculates the calories-per-serving for one's recipe "meal". We do this, as well...I make something early in the week for myself and my husband, but he eats noon meals (our main meal of the day is noon) away from home 2-3 times per week. &nbs p; & nbsp; &nbs p; & nbsp; &nbs p; & nbsp; &nbs p; & nbsp; &nbs p; & nbsp; &nbs p; & nbsp; &nbs p; & nbsp; &nbs p;
I LIKE having the "main dish" already made, so my "quick-grab" lunches have substantial nutrition (usually) and I KNOW the serving size and calorie value that I am eating. When the "Monday food" is used up, I start something else (usually Thursday, Friday or Saturday) for us to have and THAT lasts 2-4 days, as well, unless we are both eating it and it gets "gone" faster!
We eat a lot of beans-and-grain dishes, soups (when it's cold), meal-salads when it's hot, and I often also cut up a lot of DIFFERENT vegetables (fresh ones, whenever possible) and steam them together in a steamer. My husband will eat many "strange" (to him) veggies if they are chopped up and mixed in with vegetables he knows and likes.
Steamed vegetables are usually low-calorie and very high in nutritional elements--vitamins, minerals, flavinoids, etc.
Only "raw" is nutritionally superior to steamed, but some veggies actually are improved by lightly steaming them.
Vegan of six years here. I find that people who think veg(etari)anism expensive are those who don't really make a lifestyle change when transitioning- they just eat faux meat this or faux dairy that.
I try to have a glass of unsweetened plain vanilla almond milk as often as I can, but it's not hard to see that spending five bucks for vegan shredded "cheese" and nearly three for four pitifully-sized bean "burgers" is gonna get expensive, if those things dominate your diet... A PINT of the "cheap" vegan ice cream (chock full of sugar, mind you) is five bucks, at my local grocery. A GALLON of dairy ice cream can be had for that price.
I tell people to actually go vegan- change their lifestyle. Vegetables are to be had, fresh, canned, and frozen, if need be, for dirt cheap at off-the-beaten-path Asian and Mexian supermarkets, and are often marked down in a lot of groceries. For spices, I frequent a dollar store for smaller amounts, and Sam's Club or GFS (restaurant supplier) for bulk stuff.
My absolute favorite "recipe" is likely spaghetti squash, ventilated with a knife a few times, cooked @ 475 for an hour. The innards just fall out of the shell when sliced (allow to cool first, it will save you a roasted thumb, in my experience) and can be eaten with any spice/condiment you prefer. It's 67 cents a pound @ my Kroger, and provides a hearty meal for relatively few calories. Seeds can be roasted, too- I'm obsessed with chipotle-cinnamon blend on them at the moment.
Just thought I'd jump in here with a note! Talking about food that's inexpensive and vegetarian (I spell the word out! LOL!), I had a neat experience recently.
Husband and I drove over to visit my sister and her family in the next state for Thanksgiving last week. We had a great time and got to see my brother and my parents while there, as well.
Before we left to drive home that evening, my Sis took me to the small "garden" space she made this year in her backyard. Not a big space, mind you--a small, "raised-bed" vegetable patch, as she was trying her hand at it for the first time.
Sis had a few (maybe a dozen or so) healthy multi-colored chard plants, still heartily producing lovely leaves in her "garden". She wanted me to cut off as much as I wanted of the chard to take home, so I did. (WE eat "greens" of every kind at our house!)
As I was cutting chard-leaves, Sis made the remark that she was about to "pull them all up and clear out the [garden] space, once and for all, that very evening. I could not resist--I have a composter in my back-yard, no "garden" as yet, but I hope to get one next year... I asked to take home all the "pulled up plants and "dead leaves" in a second bag, along with the huge bag of fresh chard leaves I'd just cut for myself and my husband.
So, I hauled home a bag of "good" leaves for greens and a bag of "plant junk" to put in my compost. When I got home, I dutifully sorted and re-bagged all the "good" chard leaves to store in the fridge. NEXT, I tackled the bag of what I essentially considered to be "only compost". The "compost" bag had some pulled-up-by-th-roots--still viable PLANTS, that had more "good" leaves on them--edible leaves!
In all, I had enough chard for probably FOUR good meals of it. We've not used it all up, and I just check it periodically in the fridge bags, to make sure there aren't any leaves "going bad" on me.
FREE FOOD--that's that I'm talking about! I did "compost" a lot of the plant debris, and then, the plants that seemed "viable" and still had all the roots--I stripped the stems and re-planted them in pots! I don't know if these "old" chard plants CAN "over-winter" in our cool-ish garage, but I'm going to experiment and see what's possible! If they life thru the winter, I'm planting them in MY "garden patch" and letting them take off HERE! HA-HA!!
The biggest expense I find is fresh fruits and veggies. Cooking skills are very useful in being able to buy whatever's cheapest and find a way to use it or use cheaper alternatives in recipes. Frozen fruits and veggies are good, too. You can stock up when they're on sale.
Cook up a bag of chickpeas and make a bunch of hummus. Freeze it in one cup containers. It's great for making hummus veggie wraps using whatever veggies are on sale. Bean soups, stews, etc are always good. Add a grain for a complete protein.
Breakfast is a great time to be frugal. If you eat eggs, they are a very cheap protein source. Sauté up some veggies; add 1 egg beaten with a big splash of water. Sprinkle cheese into egg. Cover and cook on low until set. Or scramble it all up and put into a couple of corn tortillas.
I admit I often skip breakfast, but when I do eat it, it's usually oatmeal with raisins and a splash of soy milk. Very cheap! Most homemade baked goods are frugal and they freeze well.
HI, WELCOME TO THIS FORUM SITE. I AM NOT ABLE TO GIVE YOU ANSWER RIGHT NOW BUT I SUGGEST YOU FOR FOLLOWING LINKS, HERE YOU CAN FIND LOTS OF THINGS.
Something yummy and easy: Hummus and crunchy garlic bread.
Ingredients for hummus: A 6oz can of garbanzo beans 1 Tsp of olive oil 2 garlic cloves 1 tsp cumin
Combine ingredients in a food processor. Mix until it becomes a paste. Scoop out and serve. Ingredients for bread: 1 loaf of Cuban or French bread 6 cloves of garlic 4 tsp of olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor mix garlic and oil. Let sit for 5 minutes. Slice bread into thin pieces. Press down to flatten. Place on a cookie sheet. Apply thin even layer of garlic oil. Bake in oven for 5-10 minutes depending on your preference of texture. I like mine to feel like pita chips.
Simply dip in hummus and enjoy. Makes a great snack for less than $3 and makes enough for a few days worth.
Also, for breakfast I love having fluffy scrambled cheesy eggs.
Use either eggs or egg substitute. I use about a cups worth of egg. Add 1/2 cup milk or milk substitute. Blend in a blender at high speed for 30 seconds.
Add some Pam to your preheated pan and on medium low heat pour out your eggs. With a rubber spatula slowly pull eggs into middle. They will take a while to cook but in the end it's so worth it. They will be the fluffiest and tastiest eggs and all with no butter or salt. When they're ready to take off the heat add some mozzarella or mozzarella substitute and toss for 10 seconds and serve. Very yummy and packed with protein and pretty cheap.
Anything can be substituted. The key to keeping it cheap is to watch your portions! We all get excited when we find yummy vegan friendly food and want to scarf it all down but we must watch our portions so we can enjoy it for longer and keep our wallet happy.
I very like to chickpea and coconut curry . Thanks to your advice and suggestion . I have learned A lots of info.
Do you drain and rinse the canned chick peas or just add it all to the pot??? Thanks!