September 25, 2007

Since some people are visiting this site looking for exactly how to eat cheap as a vegan, I’d like to post some general tips.

– Buy in bulk.
In the bulk section, get spices, dried fruit, beans (dried beans are WAY cheaper), and lentils, and get big bags of rice.. which leads me to my next tip..

– Rice and beans!
This should be your mantra. Do I even need to mention the protein?

– Make your own.
Bread(!), baked goods, salad, etc. Make oatmeal (with water), varying what you put in it (sugar, fruit, etc.), instead of buying cereal. And don’t buy processed food, fake meats, any of that. (Although right now I have a coupon for $1 off Gardenburger products PLUS they’re on sale for 2 for $5…)

– Use frozen veggies.
They’re not as good, but often insanely inexpensive. I usually just buy corn, because I like to add it to–guess what–rice and beans and other Mexican food. You can also try going to farmer’s markets near the end and barter with them, since they often prefer to get rid of the produce rather than not sell it at all.

– Potatoes.
So filling, and so many ways to make ’em.

– Know where to shop.
Asian markets are often best, and of course choose Trader Joe’s (they have cheap tofu!) over a place like Whole Foods. Find a place with a good bulk section. Store-brand things (pasta–even whole wheat, frozen items, chocolate chips) are usually the most inexpensive.

Just have your basics (including spices), and mix and match.

My favorite super-cheap meals are:

– Mexican food. Obviously, beans and rice–eat ’em in a bowl with some salsa when you’ve got nothing else. Add corn, a nutritional yeast nacho sauce (the one from the Uncheese cookbook is great), peppers.. whatever. Buy corn tortillas or make your own if you dare. I make TVP tacos on special occasions–just add ketchup or tomato paste and spices to the cooked TVP.

– Soups, etc. Buy bouillon cubes instead of vegetable broth, or use water when you can. Make creamy with potatoes. I love lentil soup, split pea (pictured), chili with whatever veggies I have…

– Indian food. I love the chickpea [use frozen] spinach curry from Vegan with a Vengeance. Kittee has some great recipes at paku paku, too. Check out her Latina section and her Ethiopian section for some recipes with lentils, too. Lentils are so inexpensive, did I mention that?

– Stir fry. Combine a grain with any protein and whatever vegetables you have (along with some soy sauce or spices), and how could you go wrong?

I hope that helps!