For those of you who missed the first few posts, you can read about my goal for the Vegan Budget Project here and the week 1 recap here. All of these posts are also being submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays so you can check them out there too!
I am so excited that week two of this project was a success! I had no doubts that I could make it work for one week but I knew that two weeks in a row would be a little harder. I know that it is definitely possible to follow a healthy plant-based way of eating on a smaller budget than what Ross and I have set. For me this project is more about changing my habits, my ways of thinking about food costs (as in I never used to think about them at all and now I do), and what I feel we need versus what we actually need.
Total spending for Week 2: $91.43
- 2 boxes of Cheerios – $5.52
- 2 boxes of Raisin Bran – $7.48
- Clif Kids Bars – $10.45
- 2 lbs Brussels Sprouts – $3.99
- Organic Spring Mix – $3.99
- 2 jars organic salsa – $7.49
Total – $38.92
Ross eats cereal for breakfast everyday so it makes sense for me to buy it at Costco. The only thing from this pictures that we’re completely out of one week later (I went shopping last Monday) is the Organic Spring Mix but we’re also really low on the Clif Bars so I’ll need to get more of those this week too. Ross eats those in between training sessions when he needs some energy but doesn’t have enough time to eat some real food.
Here’s what we got from HEB:
- 1 bunch of kale – $0.98
- 5 lbs bananas – $2.39
- 1 sweet potato – $0.57
- 1 bulb of garlic – $0.67
- 4 pears – $1.60
- 6 lemons – $2.22
- 2 avocados – $1.00
- 1 lb collard greens – $2.50
- 1.5 lbs organic raisins – $4.34
- 5 organic pink lady apples – $6.71
- 2 boxes popcorn – $3.36
- PB2 – $4.97
- 2 bags Gardein crispy tenders – $7.30
- XL tortillas – $2.84
- Multigrain bread – $2.14
- 2 beets – $0.74
- 2 turnips – $0.72
Total – $45.05
We ate the sweet potato, pears, apples, bananas, Gardein crispy tenders, popcorn, and almost all of the bread and tortillas. We still have half or more of everything else.
Here’s what I got from Sprouts:
- 1/4 lb coffee beans – $2.61
- 1.75 lbs turbinado sugar – $2.92
- 2.8 lbs whole wheat flour – $1.93
Total – $7.46
Sorry, I don’t have a picture of the items from Sprouts. We buy whole coffee beans and grind them ourselves and this was the perfect amount to fill our little coffee canister at home. I’m going to track how long it is before we run out again so I know how long coffee lasts us. Ross prefers unrefined turbinado sugar in his coffee, which we used to buy at HEB. It’s ridiculously expensive there so we buy it in bulk now from Sprouts.
I also bought 3 bottles of Banana Boat SPF 30 (Ross is a redhead so we go through a lot of sunscreen) and a box of tampons. I had $7 in coupons for the non-food items so it only came to $19 something for those. We also bought some cat food bringing our total to $24 and change. (click chart to enlarge)
Tips for eating on the cheap:
- Survey what’s in your pantry and try to think of what you can make with it. I saw that I had some jasmine rice, coconut milk, and chickpeas. One of my favorite curry dishes is made with a sweet potato, some chickpeas, coconut milk, and basil. I usually serve this over brown basmati rice since it packs more of a nutritional punch than white jasmine rice, but I knew that a substitution like that isn’t “bad for me” and it would allow me to use things on hand without much additional spending. All I had to buy was the sweet potato. In hindsight I wish I would have also bought some fresh basil rather than using dried. Oh well.
- Cook large batches! I had about 2 cups of dried chickpeas in the pantry and knew I really only needed about 3/4 cup for this particular recipe. I cooked them all anyway and then made a point of using them in other meals throughout the week. I added about 1/2 a cup of chickpeas to my salad one day to make it a little heartier and I loved it. I also had a little bit of quinoa in the pantry and decided to make a quinoa and chickpea dish (recipe at the end of this post).
- Make substitutions. I already mentioned that I subbed in jasmine rice and dried basil for the curry dish because that’s what I had on hand. In order to use all of the chickpeas that I had from batch cooking I had to make more substitutions. In week 1 I made a taco filling using brown rice, black beans, and mushrooms, which is my typical way of making it (it also usually has tomatoes but I haven’t bought any in a while). This week I had mushrooms like I needed but instead of brown rice I had leftover wild rice in the fridge and instead of black beans I had chickpeas. I made the substitutions and it still tasted just as good!
- Keep it simple. I find that it’s cheaper for me to throw together simple meals than it is for me to make elaborate dishes. It’s not that recipes from my cookbooks call for more expensive ingredients it’s just that I lack some willpower. If I browse my cookbooks to find some good recipes for the week that call for reasonable ingredients, two things happen: 1. I end up selecting more recipes than we can eat our way through in a week and end up buying more food than I need. We don’t need a different recipe for each day of the week. We’re just two people and most recipes feed four. Plus, Ross doesn’t even like most of the foods that I do so he usually doesn’t help me eat them and that’s even more food that I have to eat on my own. I love leftovers and am not afraid of freezing a few servings so I can have that dish again the following week or two weeks later, but it still results in me buying too much food. 2. Buying foods for new recipes doesn’t allow me to use up all the extra food I already have in my pantry. Until I have all of my extra food used up (which should be in the next week or two) I am going to avoid new recipes and just throw together things that I think taste good based on what I have on hand. Or I’ll make recipes I’ve already made before that I know I have most of the ingredients for.
My pantry is starting to look more bare lately which I actually see as a good thing! I’ll keep sharing with you the things that I’m cooking that come from my pantry but I’m really excited to attempt to buy things for recipes and keep myself in check, and also to be able to really test my budget when I don’t have a full-ish pantry to rely on.
Here’s what we ate last week:
* Monday: Breakfast: Cereal (3/4 cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup granola, ½ cup rolled oats, 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 2 tbsp slivered almonds, ¾ cup soy milk). Lunch: leftover lentil dal and a salad. Dinner: Me – sauteed black beans, mushrooms, and brown rice with seasonings, salsa, and avocado, burrito style. Ross – Gardein crispy tender wrap and a salad.
* Tuesday: Breakfast: green smoothie. Lunch: leftover rice/bean/mushroom mix topped with salsa and ½ an avocado, no tortilla, and a salad. Dinner: Me – tofu sandwich and a bowl of raisin bran, Ross – wild rice and fish.
* Wednesday: Breakfast: my favorite cereal (same as Monday but with raisins and no almonds), Lunch: leftover wild rice and a salad, Dinner: Me – sweet potato and chickpea curry served over jasmine rice, Ross – two bowls of raisin bran and a salad.
* Thursday: Breakfast: green smoothie, Lunch leftover curry and a salad, Dinner: Me – Gardein crispy tender wrap, Ross: leftover fish and wild rice
* Friday: Breakfast: I have no idea… I had the day off of work so I can’t remember. Lunch: Green smoothie. Dinner: Zorba’s Greek Restaurant and spent $24 including tip for both of us.
* Saturday: Breakfast: my same go-to cereal that I love! Lunch: Shredded Brussels sprouts and kale topped with pumpkin seeds, raisins and honey mustard dressing. Dinner: Chickpea and quinoa salad (recipe below).
* Sunday: Breakfast: sauteed chickpeas, mushrooms and wild rice with Mexican seasonings, topped with an avocado and salsa on a tortilla. Lunch: Leftover chickpea and quinoa salad. Dinner: farro, sauteed cabbage, and roasted veggies with blackberry-apple crisp for dessert (at my parent’s house for Easter).
I’m a little nervous about this week’s shopping. I feel like there’s a lot that I need and it’s going to take some real will-power to not buy extra things and stay on budget! Stay tuned for next week’s update.
If you want to see how Week 3 went (spoiler: it was harder!) then go to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday and scroll down to my submission!
CHICKPEA AND QUINOA SALAD RECIPE – serves 4
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 and 1/2 cups of water
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1/4 chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1. Add the quinoa and water to a pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Combine quinoa and chickpeas in a bowl.
3. Combine all other ingredients and whisk together. Pour over chickpeas and quinoa and stir well.
I like this dish best when it’s slightly warm – not hot and not cold.