Today, for breakfast, we had homemade cinnamon rolls. Not to be outdone, dinner said, “hold my beer,” and came around with colcannon and corn on the cob. Yum!
If you don’t know colcannon, this old Irish recipe traditionally contains cabbage, but here kale is substituted because why not? This makes a great comfort food side dish with a little nutrition wrapped in! Everyone in the house likes it, even if they aren’t into greens.
5 lb chopped potatoes (peeled or not)
5 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
4 T olive oil
6-8 cups roughly chopped kale
3 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 T nutritional yeast (optional)
4 T unsweetened soy milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop potatoes (skins on or off) and put on to boil. Put olive oil and garlic in a large pan and sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add kale, soy sauce, and liquid smoke and toss to coat. Cook kale at medium high until tender. When potatoes are tender, drain. While potatoes are draining, add milk to kale mix to warm. Then combine ingredients and mash by hand or with an electric mixer. I leave these a little more solid than I would mashed potatoes, since the kale is in there. Salt and pepper to taste.
Instant Pot Corn on the Cob
6-8 ears of corn
2 cups of water
Shuck and clean corn as usual. Add 1 cup of water into the instant pot. Place corn on top of the rack/trivet. Cook at high pressure 2 minutes. Allow to cool for 3 minutes then quick release.
This is one of the most searched for posts on The VeganAsana, so it is always good for a repost, and we had it last night for dinner!
It’s an easy recipe, but it does take about 2 hours to cook. I use a half-steamer disposable foil tray for cooking this, just because it is a little hard to clean out of a pan.
If you want to be extra, you can use fresh potatoes, shredded, but we like it with tater tots. We are just classy like that.
2 blocks firm or extra firm tofu, drained
¼ cup unsweetened soy milk
1 package of your favorite faux sausage (this time I used Lightlife)
1 package frozen hash browns or tater tots
1 medium onion, diced
Other veggies to taste: red pepper, spinach, kale, mushrooms
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp black salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
Daiya or other cheese (yesterday, I used Follow Your Heart)
Depending on the form of your fauxsage, you may want to fry it first. Most of the “patties” don’t require that.
Place tofu in food processor or blender with the soy milk. Pulse until fully broken up and liquidy. You actually *can* stop earlier if you want your tofu to be more chunky and to sit on top of the potatoes. We like ours to sink between the tater tots, but that does require additional baking time to wait on it to set up.
Fold in nutritional yeast, turmeric, cumin, and salt.
If you are using a standard baking dish, cover the bottom with parchment paper. Add veggies (except spinach/kale – that you would place in a layer on top of the tofu) to hash browns or tater tots. Add tofu mixture and spread evenly. Sprinkle on or place sausage. Cover with vegan cheese.
Cover with foil and cook at 375* for an hour. Remove foil and continue cooking until heated through and the tofu has mostly firm back up.
Remove from oven and allow to settle (covered) for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.
Sometimes, like Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, you’re broke. We all either have been or will be there. And when there is a worldwide pandemic that has decreased income and increase prices, more than just a few folks have ended up broke.
A limited budget can be a deterrent to making the choice to go vegan, or sometimes people believe that you can’t do it – or maintain it – on a budget. It’s true that there are rarely amazing sales, loss leaders, or coupons for fresh nutritious food. But, eating vegan and maintaining a budget-friendly diet are not an impossible combination. You don’t have to live on ramen noodles!
Some general thoughts to decrease costs and increase vegan goodness:
Eat in season when you can – If you can get to a farm stand or a farmers’ market that is open now, you’ll find the best deals on fruits and vegetables (unless you want to plant a garden, in which case the deals get better).
Plan your starches – Don’t eat white rice or white pasta every day, even though they are really inexpensive options. If you try that, you’ll get bored and unhappy and end up spending $20 on a Papa John’s pizza or binging on Doritos.
Cook ahead when you can – If you are cooking for 1 or 2, it’s far more cost effective to cook ahead and freeze or eat the item across the week. You can always repurpose or reseason things to make them seem different the second or third time. Waiting until the last moment will lead you to more pricey choices like ordering from DoorDash.
Protein is important, but we don’t need as much as the beef industry wants us to think we do. You’ll notice a lot of beans in the recipes below because beans are good, cheap, and I love them. But, you have other options. In fact, you will probably find it’s just not that difficult and you can even get it in your desserts and without eating soy or nuts.
Buy in bulk, and generic, where it makes sense, and, when you can’t, compare prices! That’s harder right now, but as stores begin to open up more fully, it will be available again.
When something that doesn’t go bad is on *super* sale (like dried spices, sea salt, or hot sauce), get a few. You’ll spend a little more now and save later. But, don’t let the 10 for $10 sales fool you into buying things you won’t use (or buying things that would actually be less on a daily basis).
Pick one “luxury” ingredient to buy each week. One week it might be a nice bottle of olive oil (not super pricey, maybe $8). One week it could be a container of dark cocoa for cooking and baking. You’ll build your pantry supplies without spending a fortune at once.
Skip the takeout or limit it to once a week. Even if you are splurging at a large fast food “inexpensive” national taco chain, you’ll spend more than you would making your food and you’ll get less nutrition out of it.
Avoid prepared food, except for an occasional splurge on something you really love. Everything that is in a package and sold as super easy to grab and eat (breakfast pastries, protein bars), or “just reheat” (frozen dinners, meals in a can) is much more expensive than making it yourself and is often full of crap you don’t need.
When in doubt, “a grain, a green, a bean.” This idea, sometimes called a vegan bowl, and referred to by the No Meat Athlete as AGAGAB, is exactly what it sounds like. Cook a grain; add a green; add a bean; season. The end.
So, with that having been said, some ideas for cheap eats!
Oatmeal! Old fashioned oats can be had for about 20 cents a serving for the oats* and it’s so good for you. That’s cheap, right? Go ahead, add a banana for 20 cents, some almonds for 40 cents, or raisins for 20 cents. The choices of what to put in are almost endless and can depend on what you have a bunch of or what was cheap this week. If you make a pot of oats on Monday, you can mix it up however you want it all for several days. Oats are not only tasty, they are full of fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B1 and have a significant amount of protein, and if you add some blueberries, yogurt, chia, or walnuts, you’ll add an extra punch of goodness for gut and heart health.
Black beans and rice Cheap and delicious eats. A basic pan of black beans with some onion, jalapeño, celery, chili powder, and cumin, plus enough rice to have a cup for each serving of beans, can be pulled together for under 70 cents a serving. And, these are not little servings. I’m talking a cup of rice and a cup of beans! You can check out a full recipe here.
Pasta bake with protein Who does not love pasta? I don’t know anyone like that, actually. Buy pasta when it’s on sale and stick it in the freezer and it lasts a long time. Add some texturized vegetable protein (buy in bulk) or chickpeas for protein. Squashes, tomatoes, and maybe some kale give you your veggies. The carbs are obvious! And all of this is low in fat. A no-nonsense pasta bake with diced zucchini and summer squash, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, and texturized vegetable protein comes in at a whopping $1.50 per serving! You can find a couple of additional recipes here and here.
Bean and carrot soup We ate quite a bit of bean soup when I was a kid. It had ham in it, but I don’t miss that when I make it now. One bag of beans, a pound of carrots, an onion, a few celery stalks, and some vegan broth powder will set you back around $5-6, but provide at least 6 servings of hearty soup. Throw in a little corn or rice if you wish. And, it’s an easy meal to put on and let simmer and not need to fuss with.
Tofu wraps Tofu cooked slowly for a long period takes on an interesting chewy texture that really gives a good mouth feel, enhancing that sense of satiation. Make your tofu not-jerky ahead of time and slice it into narrow strips. Use burrito sized tortillas to wrap up the tofu, romaine lettuce, diced onions, shredded carrot, and diced tomatoes, with your choice of dressing or hot sauce. You can make 8 large wraps from 1 block of tofu for only about $1.50 per wrap.
Chili People have been making chili as a cheap and delicious meal for ages, and vegan chili is no exception. If you cook your chili starting with dried beans, it is darn inexpensive! A large pan of basic chili with pinto beans, jalapeños, onions, celery, tomatoes, and carrots can be cooked up for under $9 and will provide at least 8 servings (and those are servings for hungry people). Pull up some low-cost tortilla chips or store brand saltines and you are set. This recipe makes almost double that and reduces the cost even further!
Split pea soup Much like chili, split pea soup is inexpensive, filling, and goes a long way. It can also be frozen and reheated easily. This easy pressure cooker split pea soup comes in at between $8-9 and provides at least 10 servings of soup. You can certainly make it without the pressure cooker, but they are amazing, so it might be worth it to watch out for a super sale, put one on your list for Santa, or check out your local yard sales.
Tavoor dal (yellow lentil curry) and rice Lentils are really good and really good for you. Lentils are exceptionally high in protein and have good amounts of iron and potassium too. This yellow lentil curry recipe packs some flavor punch and is easy to pull together and very inexpensive. You can serve this over rice for less than 70 cents a serving!
Baked potatoes and all the things! Do you know how cheap a baked potato is? Seriously, DO YOU? You can buy 5 pounds of russet potatoes for $2.50. That’s a lot of food. Now, grab a roll of generic foil and bake the potatoes you want. And then throw whatever leftovers you have on top of that potato! Chili – yes! Lentils – indeed! Black beans – jump on it! Any green veggies you have handy to sauté – affirmative! Oatmeal – no, probably not. So many things go on a baked potato and taste good. Don’t forget about them when you are thinking about your starch options.
Spaghetti You know this one. I know you do. Go with it. Toss some al dente spaghetti with sesame oil, soy sauce, hot sauce, and edamame = dinner. Make a basic spaghetti with marinara sauce (in fact, go ahead and get a couple of jars when it’s on super sale for times you are really in a rush). Throw some olive oil and nutritional yeast into a bowl of spaghetti and toss it with some sea salt and have it with a little salad on the side. Easy peasy and wildly cheap.
These are just a few ideas for eating simple vegan on a budget. Of course there are many more! Here are some additional links to peruse at your leisure: