Tag Archives: cheap vegetarian

day five

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.35 yesterday, January 6, 2011.


seconds of peanut butter & banana baked oatmeal $0.43
dollop of homemade blackberry jam (from our preserves)


vegan chipotle corn chowder $0.72
organic cameo apple $0.52


3 pinto bean tacos with cabbage, avocado, pico de gallo, cotija & lime $1.21

DESSERT (crazy, right?)

a Cadbury Caramello bar split 3 ways $0.42

8 ounces yogurt $0.72
banana $0.25
coffee with 1/3 cup almond milk $0.08 for the milk (and the coffee was free)

total: $4.35


Dessert, OMG. It is kind of embarrassing how excited everyone was to have dessert just 5 days in. I mean I basically took an artsy still life photo of a Caramello bar, right? Levi was in one of his hysterical moods, and had us cracking up with, “This must have MDMA in it because I’m feeling severe bursts of euphoria.”

Gee, do you think we eat too much sugar? I think one of the missions of the project is well on its way to being accomplished.

And DINNER. We eat tacos pretty regularly around here. I know it to be a cheap dinner. And still, we were all pretty amazed that it was just over a dollar for 3 tacos that tasted that good. Here is the cost breakdown:

9 small corn tortillas $0.45
1 clove garlic $0.01
¼ onion $0.05
beans $0.69
4 oz cabbage $0.15
avocado $0.79
pico de gallo freebie
2 oz cotija cheese $1.25
1/2 lime $0.25

total: $3.64
per serving (3 tacos): $1.21

The pico de gallo was the only thing I couldn’t calculate a price on. You may have noticed I’ve started to try to calculate many of our staples and even the leftover stuff we need to use up. We got that pico from Grocery Outlet, and it was cheap. My best guess is we each used less than a quarter’s worth, so that still makes 3 delicious tacos for under a buck-fifty.

Canned refried beans are nasty. I’m just going to put that out there. I am forever indebted to my friends Jordan and Melanie for teaching me how to doctor up beans for tacos. It makes all the difference in the world. So I am going to pass that wisdom on to you, dear readers, and tell you what we do with a plain old can o’ pinto beans.

Rinse the beans and set aside. Finely dice 1/4 of an onion and a clove of garlic. Heat a small pot over medium high heat and add a couple teaspoons of canola oil. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, then add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Add the beans, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, Goya Adobo or salt to taste, and enough water so that the water is just a bit below the top of the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook at a low boil. Use a masher on the beans as they cook. They are ready when the beans are soft and creamy, but leave some texture.

Yes, this is a lot more work than opening a can, but it is pretty simple and so worth it. One can is enough for 2 or 3 people, so make larger batches accordingly. Often we do a can of black beans and a can of pinto beans and save the leftovers for another meal.

Also, can I just note that it took me five days to realize I can use my kitchen scale to portion out ingredients and calculate their cost a lot more easily? We finally caved and bought a kitchen scale this year for canning, and it is proving to be a really handy tool to have around.

Oh, and extra points to Levi for peeling apart and counting the cloves in the giant head of garlic we bought for 33 cents. He got 28. So a penny a clove.


Filed under food

vegan chipotle corn chowder

This is one of the standby dinners we make once or twice a month. Apparently I haven’t made it in awhile because Levi announced that he couldn’t wait to eat it as he pestered me to get cracking on dinner.

Makes 8 servings

one recipe creamy vegan base, below
1 tablespoon olive oil
large onion, chopped
large red or orange bell pepper, chopped
4 cups water
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
32 ounces frozen corn
1 – 2 tablespoons pureed chipotles in adobo, to taste*

Prepare the creamy vegan base.

Heat a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and once hot saute the onions until they are golden and soft, 7-10 minutes. Add the bell pepper and saute another minute. Next, add the water and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.

Add the corn, chipotle, and creamy vegan base to the stockpot. Return to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, about 10-15 minutes.

Use a potato masher to break up the potatoes some. Transfer about half the chowder into a blender. Remove the center of the lid to vent, covering with a folded towel. Puree until smooth, and return to the stockpot. (An immersion blender doesn’t work as well for this step.) Stir to combine and serve.

creamy vegan base

2 cups water
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons corn starch

Place all ingredients in a blender and allow to soak while you prepare the rest of your recipe. Just before adding the base, blend until smooth. No chunks of almond should remain. This may take up to two minutes.

* You can puree cans of chipotles in adobo in a food processor and store in a jar for an extended period of time. If you don’t want to puree them for other uses, just blend 1 – 3 peppers from a can of chipotles in adobo along with the creamy base.

Full nutrition information here, calculated via the sparkpeople.com recipe calculator.

This cost us 72 cents per serving based on our purchase of a 20 cent onion, a $1.50 orange bell pepper, 38 cents for the potatoes (an ultra cheap 10 pound bag), $1.89 for corn, $1.56 for bulk almonds, and 25 cents for fresh lime juice. The tomato paste was leftover from our chili, and everything else we keep on hand.

As I’m analyzing this, I discovered our checker must have messed up when weighing our bulk almonds. This quarter of a cup said it was .39 pounds and $1.56. The ones we bought for a previous recipe were 50 cents for twice as much.


Filed under food, recipes

day three

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.86 yesterday, January 4, 2011.


pumpkin & caramelized banana baked oatmeal again, that’s the last of it! $0.37


seitan mole chili $1.30
2 large organic carrots, $0.19


faux Philly cheesesteaks on poppyseed kaiser rolls $2.19

giant serving of coleslaw $0.33


banana $0.25
hard boiled egg $0.17
leftover coffee with ¼ cup almond milk $0.06

Can we just say that night 3 was rough? This was one of those nights when we definitely would have gotten take-out if we could have. We were both running on sleep deficits and I’m pretty sure we’re all going through a little sugar withdrawal from switching over from holiday eating to very little extra sugar in our diets. We may just have to find room for dessert in the budget before the week is out.

I asked Levi his thoughts after eating on the cheap for 3 days. Did he feel deprived? He laughed at the idea. We have been eating pretty damn good for $5/person/day. So far.

And here is a visual of his reaction to our faux cheesesteak dinner:

Let’s see if this is any good.

Ohhhh yeah, that’s good.


– We are all sad to see that amazing pumpkin oatmeal run out, but we came up with our own baked oatmeal recipe to share with you tomorrow.
– I realized we are generally pretty good about making enough food for 6 people for dinner and saving it for lunch.
– The faux Philly cheesesteaks were inspired by one of our other scores from our trip to Grocery Outlet:

Yves brand fake deli slices are probably the only fake meat product we buy on a regular basis because they make really easy sandwiches to send in school lunches. We’d never tried this fake beef, and while they weren’t all that great on their own the dinner was a huge hit. The cost breaks down to 80 cents for four slices of that, kaiser rolls from the Fred Meyer bakery at 3 for a dollar, 2 ounces of discounted smoked cheese for 62 cents, and 18 cents worth of onion and 26 worth of green bell pepper on each sandwich. We planned on using red bell pepper but couldn’t afford it. We did not miss the red bell pepper.

Look at us, really pushing the limit of our budget. I hope to hit exactly $5 before the month is out.


Filed under food