Welcome to Part Deux of our Vegan MoFo contribution today. My husband, The Literate Zombie, has written all about our journey into budgeted grocery shopping so far. We’re ahead…for now. We also have an absolutely delectable potato salad recipe that Chaz came up with today. It really is PHENOMENAL! There are some words of wisdom and a new tip I’ll share as well, but first:
Chaz and I weren’t really convinced that my revisit to making seitan from scratch was a success. But, tonight proved it wasn’t a fluke. In fact, I would venture to say it was BETTER than last time. The consistency was firmer, giving the seitan a good chew but not so much that it was rubbery. The batch I made was portioned into thirds: one for tonight and the other two for meals later in the week.
Chaz threw the setian, cut up into bite-sized chunks, into the cast iron skillet with salt, fresh cracked pepper, cumin and chili powder [all to taste]. This was all cooked using no oil but the broth the seitan had simmered in earlier. It turned out beautifully!
We each had two tacos with no salt chips and salsa. I am STUFFED full of some seitan goodness and I declared this meal as a must-eat-again in the future.
I would also like to share something that Chaz and I were talking about over dinner. He mentions below in the piece he wrote about our grocery store trips that he bought tortilla shells that have hydrogenated oil in them. Although this is vegan, it means the oil has been chemically altered and basically turned into trans fat. This happened because he was only scanning the ingredient list, not fully reading it. So as easy as it is to get into the habit of scanning ingredient lists for keywords like cheese, dairy, eggs, milk, etc. taking the time to fully read the ingredient list pays off in the long run.
As promised a new Budget Tip:
Tip #2: Portion Control! Anyone who has ever read a weight loss article or book has probably read about this. Not only does cutting your portion size possibly lower your weight but it can also keep your wallet fat. It’s easy for us to lay waste to an entire bag of chips between the two of us in one sitting. But since we can’t afford to do that, we take what we want, put it on our plate and put the bag away. Out of sight really is out of mind. Less food=money saved.
You Say Potato, I Say Pahtahto Salad
Makes 2 Large Servings
2 medium red potatoes
1 leaf Kale, cut as small as you can with a knife
1 Tbsp yellow onion, minced
2 Tbsp Vegenaise
2 tsp Nutritional Yeast
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
Wash and cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Boil until soft, drain and rinse in cold water until cool. BE GENTLE! You don’t want them to break apart. If you’re nervous about being too rough, just let them hang out in the colander and cool off by themselves. It will take longer, but having those potato pieces intact really makes a difference.
After potatoes have completely cooled, transfer from the colander to a large bowl. Add in the rest of the ingredients and MIX WELL. Season to taste using the salt and fresh cracked pepper. This potato salad to me does what it’s supposed to: TASTE LIKE MOTHER-FORKIN’ POTATOES!
Prelude and Introduction :
Picking senseless fights, talking about nothing and many obstacles that I’d lain has amounted to the plan. The process of setting up a budget took a little over an hour, though we weren’t timing ourselves or rushing through it. We started with planning the dishes we thought were price-reduced enough to fit in the budget. But we were already over budget and hadn’t included any other meals beside dinner. We started to take away little parts of each dish ( you don’t need asparagus AND mushroom in one meal).
Now comes the sad part: we asked each other how are we going to buy organic and local produce? We had to decide what foods were important to eat organic. We decided to get our greens and most fresh fruits and vegetables from the local co-op, Ocean Beach People’s Co-op, we just call People’s.
$hopping: Our $45 budget goal for the two of us per week. Away we go !!!
Food 4 Less –$13.86 & a -$6.83 re-up on chips and bananas
This was our cheapest option without reverting to diving. Here we got our packaged beans, noodles and what produce we were willing to buy and was on sale. We found the sales by checking the weekly ads available online. I’m sure if you type the name of your area grocery stores, you can view their sale papers online too with no waste. We have done this in Colorado and North Carolina.
I had planned on getting a few things there but while in-person, I couldn’t. These items included bbq sauce; we planned on getting a bottle for a dollar or two, but even the expensive stuff was laden with chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. I couldn’t do it. So standing about a foot away from the eye-level shelf, bouncing to Outkast, there were six different brands and flavors of sauce lined up with me just shaking my head: back and forth, back and forth thinking “Are you forkin serious?!?”
In the restaurant, how can you cut food cost and gain flavor? Increase labor! Sounds scary but I will make a BBQ sauce using the recognizable ingredients off the label with a little patience. We’ll find out when we make it if we succeed or take a gamble and have to call an audible. Oh and the cilantro was not approachable here.
We choose Ralph’s over Vons (our two supermarket options) just because of the side of the street we were on. This is a typical grocery store. They have an organic section that was more expensive than People’s, but it’s good to see it’s available.
For a source of healthy fat and for snacking, we choose nuts. With 6 grams of monounsaturated and 4 grams of polunsaturated fat per serving, peanuts were our choice. We spent 5 dollars on 2 lbs of dry roasted unsalted peanuts. I feel like I can find a better solution.
The cilantro was much better looking here so we picked up a bunch along with fresh garlic.
The main money saver was the Eziekiel sprouted bread at 3.29 a loaf. We only need to buy one loaf of this bread per week and it lasts because it’s so filling.
OB Peoples Co-Op -$11.05 & -$1.99 for second bunch of greens
This is the spot for us. Prior to the $45/week budget challenge we set for ourselves, there was very little we didn’t purchase from here. The store is on the closest cross street making for a good morning walk that always ended in wiping peach, plum, or pluot juice from my chin. The Co-op’s organic local produce department breathes inspiration. Backed with a solid bulk foods section often stuffed with fair trade and organic grains, trail mixes and other dry goods, you can just buy as much as you need for the next day or two.
Agreeing with the fact that these issues are important to us, we need to loosen up a bit for monetary reasons, but I refuse to completely kill myself with pesticides, chemicals, additives and more. And doing the best we can, we get what we can afford from People’s- definitely fruit and greens and as time and our learning progresses, I’m sure we can successfully limit our budget and still support local organic farmers.
Money left from what we’ve spent already on dry beans, bread, pasta, etc. will be spent at People’s.
Moving Forward $8.89
The Co-op will be visited throughout the week for fresh fruit and greens. We like to leave the fruit decisions of the day up to the day. And there’s no sense having two bunches of greens at the beginning of the week so one can wilt in the fridge while you eat the other. I’m feeling really good about our planning. We are already looking into balance. We saved $1.50 on our tortilla shells and after further investigation (scanned right by it in the store) we have found there is partially-hydrogenated oil in the shells. So we already know they are worth the $1.50 because this is the only hydrogenated-oil we will consume this week.
From that I looked at everything that is pre-packaged and pending further research, we can do more DIY. I made the BBQ sauce since starting this post and it is amazing! This was a huge triumph and confidence booster. I am ready to make it happen and will continue to share my progress and ideas so we can all get better together.
Finishing the week .07¢ under
This gave us the confidence to prepare for week two. Learning where to cut some cost we look forward to next week.