Tag Archives: cheap vegetarian

Video of our $5 vegetarian food

I make silly videos of almost everything, so I pulled together this pummelvision video of photos Krista took for the $5/person/day project. Are you familiar with pummelvision? I love it because pummelvision does all the work. The only work I have to do is be organized with the photos, and mostly Krista does that for me. It’s great to watch this and re-live the whole month!

If the video moves too fast, you can click through to the photo set and walk down memory lane at your own pace here. And if you missed it when it was happening, you can read all the posts here. I’m still amazed by how the project turned out. We ate some really awesome food for >$5. And now I’m craving some gnocchi.


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day twenty-nine

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.78 yesterday, January 30, 2011.

Uh-oh, only one more day after this! Are you going to miss us?


8 ounces TJ’s organic plain yogurt $0.70
1/4 cup cocoa hazelnut granola $0.22
2/3 banana $0.17


tempeh & fried egg sandwich with sprouts & chipotle aioli $1.31
mineola $0.42


red bean chipotle burgers on multigrain buns $1.11
baked onion rings $0.85

total $4.78

Whoa, that cocoa hazelnut granola recipe rules! And bonus points for being cheap yet decadent. We wanted to make some homemade organic cane syrup, but it always seems to come down to time. Even though it was not advised, we subbed honey to keep things simple and it still tasted great. I was surprised this was so cheap, hazelnuts and all. We are keeping the serving size small to keep it healthy. If you’re curious about nutrition, Jess calculated the info.

Those burgers were pretty great, too. It is tough to find a good veggie burger recipe. We are trying not to get all of our protein from soy, and trying not to buy so much processed food. There is so much highly processed “health food” and vegetarian products on the market today. It’s great to have that option, but we’re trying to do better as much as we can. I used chickpea flour as my flour of choice for the recipe. They definitely tasted like bean burgers, but they were good, flavorful bean burgers. Good thing we liked them, because I made a double recipe which will be four dinners for our family. At 22 cents a pop, they sure do make Boca Burgers seem like something we won’t need to buy for a very long time.

And holy crap, BAKED ONION RINGS! Those were the highlight of the meal. Maybe not as good as the real deal, but unbelievably close. Thanks, Martha.


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fifteen down, fifteen to go!

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.30 yesterday, January 16, 2011.


overnight steel cut oats with raw apple and toasted pecans $0.59


2 large organic carrots $0.16
4 butternut stuffed shells with tomato porcini sauce $1.28


chickpea of the sea sandwich on day-old whole grain bread $0.92
blueberry pineapple smoothies $0.86


banana $0.25
1 tablespoon organic peanut butter $0.11
½ cup almond milk (Levi) $0.13

total $4.30

It’s vegan week over at the kitchn, so tonight’s dinner (linked above) and tomorrow’s will both feature recipes from some of the wonderful things they are posting. The chickpea of the sea sandwiches* were simple and everyone agreed it’s a dinner we’d eat again. We added a little kombu seaweed to give it a fishier flavor.

Last time we ate steel cut oats, Caitlin mentioned in the comments that she prepares them the night before by just bringing them to a boil and then covering and letting the oats soak overnight. That reminded me that my friend Emma had posted about her soaked oatmeal, although that version involves adding a bit of yogurt (or other acid medium like kefir, lemon juice, etc.). Apparently people have been soaking oatmeal as long as they’ve been eating it, and the fermentation breaks down the phytic acid that can prevent the absorption of nutrients.

This time we tried the overnight soak where you bring it to a boil the night before, and it was so much easier than the last time we cooked them. I also preferred the texture. I think we’ll try the lemon juice method next time.

*Somehow I misread the recipe and used half as much filling per sandwich, which tasted great as it was! But the price was based on half a serving per sandwich.


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day thirteen

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $3.05 yesterday, January 14, 2011.


whole grapefruit $0.25
2 hard boiled eggs $0.34


whole wheat bagel $0.42
4 tablespoons hummus $0.24
3 clementines $0.66


1 cup green beans (frozen) $0.26
generous portion homemade potato gnocchi with tomato-porcini sauce $0.70
fresh grated parmesan $0.14

6 ounces stovetop espresso with 1 tablespoon markdown cream $0.04
(We keep sucking at snacks – we are going to try harder to plan and fit in enough snacks.)

total $3.05

We have been talking about making homemade gnocchi for awhile, but I finally got inspired one day when I started watching CHOW’s charming Cooking with Grandma videos. The Cooking with Grandma Paola video had her and her granddaughter making gnocchi together complete with homemade sauce.

I thought perhaps buying porcini mushrooms would break the bank. I headed downtown to Buck’s in search of mushrooms. God, I just love that place. There is always something amazing to discover. Not only did they have my mushrooms, but they showed me all these dried mushroom powders you can buy to add flavor to dishes and threw in a free sample of the espresso salt I was oohing and ahhing over. Can’t wait to try that!

The porcinis were the most expensive thing I’ve bought since we started this, but the $6.30 was for a triple batch of sauce, so after a momentary “Whoa!” I realized everything would be okay. It is funny how quickly my perspective of what is expensive for food has dramatically changed.

I knew this recipe was going to be cheap, but I can’t believe how cheap it turned out. We are now almost through that $1.98 10-pound bag of potatoes. I think the richness of this cheap meal comes from all the time and love that goes into making it, and those amazing porcini mushrooms. Even if you buy gnocchi, I highly recommend making that sauce.



4 pounds russet potatoes $0.79
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour $0.50
2 cups Tomato-Porcini Sauce $2.74
2 tablespoons unsalted butter $0.16

We froze half the gnocchi (uncooked) for another night, and split the other half between the 3 of us.

total = $4.19
for the half we ate = $2.10
split between 3 people = $0.70 each


2 cups loosely packed dried porcini mushrooms $6.30
1/2 bunch Italian parsley $0.50
6 large garlic cloves $0.06
1/2 small yellow onion $0.10
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil $0.52
2 tablespoons unsalted butter $0.16
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste $0.60

total $8.24
makes 6 cups
$1.37 per cup

washing the mushrooms

chopping the Italian parsley, onion, and garlic

ricing the potatoes

adding flour


the hardest part = rolling out, cutting, and shaping the dough

when they are almost done, they pop up and float on the top

Now to plan another dinner featuring the sauce, since we have 5 more cups!


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day twelve

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $3.85 yesterday, January 13, 2011.


1 cup cooked organic quinoa $0.36
1/4 cup almond milk $0.06
1 tablespoon brown sugar $0.02


whole wheat bagel $0.42
3 tablespoons hummus $0.18
2 clementines $0.44


2 slices whole wheat pizza with artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, feta, red onion $1.12


root beer float $0.75


8 ounces plain yogurt with peach lavender butter $0.50

total $3.85

Day twelve was the first day breakfast wasn’t so delicious. Over time I’ve come to really enjoy quinoa as part of a dinner, when topped with other delicious ingredients. But I guess doctoring it up as a breakfast with a little cinnamon, brown sugar, and non-dairy milk isn’t going to cut it. I think we will have to try, try again with raisins and nuts for a little more texture. Or perhaps a poached egg.

And happy Friday to all you Monday through Friday-ers. Yesterday was the beginning of my weekend, which meant we had run out of our planned meals. Dinner ended up being after 9pm. I guarantee you we would have ordered a pizza tonight if it weren’t for the project. We had some pizza sauce and mozzarella in the fridge that were about to spoil, so we decided to count those as freebies and see what we could come up with between Trader Joe’s (home of the pre-made pizza dough) and Grocery Outlet (hoping for more cheap almond milk). We had $9.10 left for the day.

Our really decadent, under budget pizza:

whole wheat Trader Joe’s pizza dough $1.29
leftover sauce and mozzarella
1/6 a red onion $0.05
4 ounces grape tomatoes $0.62
1/2 can artichoke hearts $0.99
1/4 of a $1.62 hunk of reduced fat feta $0.41

That works out to be $3.36 total or $1.12 per person for a third a pie! Even if we had purchased mozzarella and sauce, this could have been a cheap gourmet pizza.

Our 75 cent root beer floats were made possible by Grocery Outlet and their $1.49 pint of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla. And also their 25 cent cans of Barq’s. Sure, we could have gotten a cheap 2 liter somewhere else, but then we’d have a lot more leftover root beer tempting us from the fridge.

We did plan on eating less sugar this month, but didn’t specify exact restrictions. Dessert only once a week makes us appreciate it so much more we’ll leave you with a root beer float photo essay.

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cheap & easy hummus

Hummus is popular stuff around these parts. We usually eat it on sandwiches, bagels, or as a dip for cut up veggies. Awhile back I had someone tell me they priced it out and it was cheaper to buy it at the store. I didn’t believe it for a second, but I have always made hummus by dumping a little of this and a little of that until it tastes just right. So I measured it out this time. Well, you tell me, can you get 3 cups of hummus for cheaper than $2.72 at your local store?

Make 3 cups or 48 tablespoons.

one clove garlic, minced $0.01
2 (15.5 ounce) cans chickpeas $1.60
1/4 cup tahini $0.80
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons lemon juice $0.05 (price for bottled)
2 tablespoons olive oil $0.26
salt to taste

Total cost $2.72 or 6 cents per tablespoon.

Directions, puree in a food processor until smooth. If your canned beans are especially dry, you may need to add more water or lemon juice to get the right consistency.

Favorite variations: fold in chopped roasted red bell pepper or your favorite olives.

Of course, my version is designed to be a little lighter and a little cheaper by using water in place of some of the fat. Tahini will be your most expensive ingredient. This price was based on a 16 ounce jar of tahini I found on sale for $5.59. I can usually find it here in Olympia for $6 to $8 for a 16 ounce jar. What’s a jar of tahini run you? Or do you make your own?

Wow, a 6 cent gram of protein? Here’s the complete nutrition breakdown per tablespoon.


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day ten

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Ten days down! That means we’re one-third into our 30 day project. I can already tell I’m going to miss this when it’s over.

Here’s what we ate for $4.24 yesterday, January 11, 2011.


banana & steel cut oatmeal brulee $0.22


leftover blue cheese & pear grilled mini sandwiches $1.44
3 clementines $0.66


shaksouka* split 3-ways $1.12
3 small pieces raisin bread $0.57


2 large organic carrots $0.16
6 ounces stove top espresso with 1/3 cup frothed soy milk $0.07 (still using free coffee beans)

total $4.24

I can’t believe that fancified breakfast was possibly our cheapest yet. If I had known it was only going to come in at 22 cents a serving, I would have thrown in some pecans or walnuts. I got the idea from two peas and their pod. In the evening, Jess doubled that recipe and portioned it into seven ramekins. In the morning I sliced up some banana, layering a third a banana over each ramekin. Then I sprinkled 2 teaspoons of brown sugar on top and put them under the broiler for a couple minutes, watching carefully to pull them out before they burn. We recommend doing this right before serving as the bananas don’t hold up well in the fridge.

At 86 cents a pound bulk, steel cut oats cost 30 cents per dry cup.

And then there was dinner. Ahhh, dinner.

There seems to be a lot of different ways to spell this food: shaksouka, shaksuka, shakshuka, shakshouka. Everyone seems to agree it is Middle Eastern dish primarily made of tomato and egg, and it is cheap. Other than spices, the costs were:

1 tablespoon olive oil $0.13
1 small onion, diced small $0.20
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped $0.03
1 28-ounce can organic diced tomatoes $1.99
6 eggs $1.02

total: $3.37 or $1.12 per serving when split between the three of us.

I really think it could use some heat, and we had even purchased some peppers and forgot to use them. We did remember to add a little parsley from our own plant.

* Somehow Serious Eats left the tomatoes off the recipe. A little googling and I figured out it takes a 28 ounce can of tomatoes. We splurged on organic, the whole meal was so cheap.


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