For the month of February, I’ve decided to eat and coupon as a vegan. My goal is to learn how one might best save on a specialty diet. I hope whether or not you follow a specialty diet, you’ll find this adventure to be useful. And I promise – I’m not going to get preachy on you. (So take a deep breath, and relax.)
Today I wanted to share with you some of the steps I’ve taken to prepare for my adventure. OH! And I wanted to tell you – my husband has decided to join me.
The first thing I did was to assess my current food supply. It’s so easy when we start something new to want to go out and spend a bunch of money, isn’t it? I’m not sure why this is, but it’s definitely something I struggle with! Instead, I resisted that urge by seeing what kinds of vegan-loving foods I already had in my pantry. To my delight, I had quite a few: goji berries, nuts, canned tomatoes, canned soups, flax seeds, couscous, lentils, millet, panko, dried fruit, cereals, beans, and coconut milk.
Some of my cans even had “vegan” noted in the ingredients list!
Consulting my cookbooks, I set out to make a menu plan. I don’t think eating vegan is something that will happen without quite a bit of planning on my part (at least at first, while I navigate the waters).
Ready to see what I came up with to eat this week? Here are my dinners.
Wed (today): Black Bean & Sweet Potato Burritos
Thursday: Butternut Lentil Soup with Field Roast
Saturday: Coconut Curry Soup & Salad
Monday: Beans with Bulgur
Tuesday: Lentil Soup with Kale Ribbons and Field Roast
Breakfast Ideas: Cereal with Almond Milk, Oatmeal with Goji Berries and Coconut, Millet with Apple and Flax Seeds
Lunch Ideas: Soups, leftovers, bean burritos, Thai noodle salad, Hummus & Vegetable sandwich
I also found a recipe for banana pudding with coconut milk that sounds very tasty! I plan on making that. For snacks I have nuts, fruit (both fresh & dried), chips & salsa.
As you can tell from my menu, most of what I’ll be making will be from scratch using whole foods. I’m a believer you can eat bad on any number of diets, and my goal is to do this as healthfully as possibly. Plus that, I’m not exactly sure how I feel about all the packages of vegan “cheese” and “meats” (with the exception of Field Roast grain meat which I’ve tried, and seen how they made and it’s delicious).
I decided to check out Fred Meyer to see what I could find for healthy, low-cost vegan options.
To my surprise, they had a pretty fantastic bulk section! Oh of course I knew they had bulk. But I had never hunted it for things like bulgur, wheat berries, vital wheat gluten, TVP, or nutritional yeast. They had all of those.
So right off the bat I would say: CHECK THE BULK SECTION. It may be far less expensive to go this route than buy tiny packages. In many cases, the bulk items at Fred Meyer were from Bob’s Red Mill and/or organic. Not a bad route to go. Many of these items (and then some!) may also be at WinCo. You can see a full list of their bulk items A-Z on their website.
Here’s what I bought at Fred Meyer for the menu outlined above:
All told, I spent $85 and that includes $7 for pure maple syrup (purists don’t eat honey and often use it for sweetener), and $4.99 for dried organic porcini mushrooms (more on that in a minute). With a few exceptions, most of the produce was organic. While that might sound like a lot of money, when I look back at my first shopping trip for January at Fred Meyer guess how much I spent? Yes, $85. And we managed to *mostly* stay on budget.
While I like to think of myself as an avid buyer of produce, this was a bit….insane. My fruit and vegetable baskets are literally spilling out all over the counter and I had to use both bins in my fridge to store all these goodies.
So is this more expensive? I’m not necessarily convinced yet. $2.99 is a decent price for the leanest cut of ground beef, so you’d pay $8.97 for a 3-lb roll. For roughly the same amount, I bought:
- A bag of dried lentils at Whole Foods ($1.19)
- An eggplant ($1.79)
- A head of cauliflower ($1.63)
- 2 lbs of navel oranges ($2.26)
- 2.5 lbs of bananas ($1.36)
- 1.21 lbs of onions ($0.71)
Maybe these things are all about perspective, you know?
Today’s goal will be to create a homemade roasted vegetable stock in my slow cooker. The cartons were $3.29 at Fred Meyer, and I thought I could make my own tastier version and then freeze the portions for later.
Watch for future updates on my vegan adventures here on the blog!