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Friday, January 13, 2012
eating vegan doesn't have to break the bank
My hubby and I do not have high paying jobs (to say the least…), we work in human services, so we’ll never be rich! We’ve been talking a lot about budgeting and doing better with our money. One of the things we know that we spend money on is food. Obviously, we take food seriously. We are both vegan and both LOVE yummy food. We’re not the type of people that can eat PB&J for every meal and be happy, we like variety.
We tend to spend money at the grocery on food we like to eat; something being on sale usually isn’t much of a factor as to whether or not we buy it. White pasta, is way cheaper than whole-wheat and there is always some on sale, but… it’s junk food. We buy whole wheat and tend to eat way less than if when we eat white pasta, because it’s real food, not just empty calories. Actually most of the things I put in the cart, I don’t even really look at the price, I just know we like it and it’s real food, so we buy it. The exception would be produce; I tend to choose fruit that is on sale. I do try to pay attention to “the dirty dozen” and buy organic produce when I can. I would say that pretty much all the rest of the food we buy, we buy because we know it’s healthy, and we know we’ll eat it. We really don’t throw food out in our house, so I know I’m not wasting money. By the time we go grocery shopping each week, our fridge looks pretty sad, because we actually eat everything we buy!
I’m pretty good at coming up with ideas based on what is in the cabinet and fridge. Hmm… we have brown rice, some leftover BBQ kidney beans and some fresh breadcrumbs (that I make from ends of bread that I collect in the freezer)… I’ll make a bean loaf! Yum yum yum. I hear often from others “It’s so expensive to eat vegan!” Well… It can be. If we buy prepared foods (hummus, soups, frozen dinners, vegan ice cream, faux meat, faux cheese) a bunch of nuts and deli olives, yup that can add up quick. So those are the items I’ve been trying to cut back on, in order to be more economical. But if we buy cheap produce (huge bag of shredded kale for $2.79? yes please!), dried beans and lentils, tofu, tempeh and big bags of rice, we can be nice and frugal and the meals are just as delicious.
My hubby definitely craves “meaty” foods more than I do. With a lil planning and cooking on the weekends, it’s totally possible to have homemade faux meats way cheaper (and yummier) than the store bought ones. We really enjoy the faux meats recipes that I have tried from vegandad’s blog, I like to make up a double batch of sausages and throw most in the freezer for future meals. Chickpea cutlets from the Veganonmicon are pretty amazing and come together quick. I tried to cook a pot of beans every weekend and keep some in the fridge for a variety of recipes, and the rest go in the freezer for future deliciousness.
I’ve also been looking at discount stores (Ocean State Job Lot) for cheap specialty items. I’ve found organic extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar in big bottles for 3$ each, also organic cereal for ½ the price of the co-op or grocery store. They even have a full section of Bob’s Red Mill products, including vital wheat gluten (an ingredient in lots of faux meat recipes). One of our favorite meaty items is Tempeh, it’s super versatile and satisfying. We regularly have tempeh bacon marinating the fridge; it takes 5 minutes to put together, is super cheap and only gets more flavorful after a couple days in the fridge. Throw a couple slices in the cast-iron skillet in the morning, cook til crispy; add to some toast, and you gave a quick, super filling and satisfying breakfast sandwich.
We’re definitely not always frugal.. I still can’t resist buying stuffed grape leaves and tabouli salad, especially when I go shopping hungry. But overall.. I think we do a pretty good job, my hubby and me J