The Food and Budget Experiment

Hey there! Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been busy with the yoga training and practice, and my mind’s been all over the place as I’m trying to figure out the next phase. Lots of different, but exciting, things to think about, for sure.

meal planningMy husband and I have decided to try out a little food experiment this month. I’m not going to lie: We’ve been eating out quite a bit these past few months, which is both bad for your health and bad for your pocketbook. And not to come up with excuses, but a big part of it is that our schedules have been thrown out of whack between my trips to Cincinnati for yoga training, and our frequent trips to visit my husband’s mom, who is very sick.

So, in an effort to save money and to also reduce the amount of visits to the grocery store (I feel like we go a few times a week), we’re going to buy the bulk of our groceries once during the month and then hit the farmers’ market every Saturday for produce. I’m hoping that having more food on hand will keep us from grabbing Chinese takeout so often. We can stock up on things like tofu, almond milk,  and dried bulk goods such as beans, lentils, rice and so on. And then we can use the produce we find at the market to determine our menu for that week. I’m also hoping that having everything in front of us will make it easier to stretch the groceries out for even longer to save money.

The biggest challenge will be finding room for everything since we’re pretty tight on space. But I think we can make it work.

That being said, it’ll also be easier for me to post weekly meals plans on here, which I really want to get back to doing on a regular basis.

I hope you all are well! I’ll have a food post up soon.

Advertisements

Vegan Food Happenings: Barley Bliss Casserole and Avocado Toast

Barley Bliss Casserole

Barley Bliss Casserole

We’re having to rein in our food budget and have been searching for healthy and budget-friendly recipes. We definitely found it in this Barley Bliss Casserole from Chloe’s Kitchen. (You can find the recipe here.) I had never cooked with barley before, but have had it in soups and stews. The casserole does take a while to cook, but it comes together very quickly. Simply cook the onions, green peppers and mushrooms. Add the seasonings, and then combine everything into your baking dish and cook. That’s it. I served mine with a simple salad of mixed greens on the side.

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast

I love, love avocado and will eat it on anything (or by itself). I’ve seen various avocado toast recipes around the Web, including some that use a dash of hot sauce. But I love the idea of sprinkling turmeric on it since it has lots of healing benefits. I just toast two slices of sprouted wheat bread, spread half an avocado on both slices, and then sprinkle with a little sea salt, cracked pepper and turmeric. That’s it. It makes for a light lunch (add some fruit or fresh veggies) or a great afternoon snack before heading to yoga or the gym.

I hope you all are well!

Lunch: Tomato Soup and Chickpea of the Sea Salad

Tomato Soup and Chickpea Salad

Neither the soup nor the salad you see here are new recipes; I’ve blogged about them before. But this is kind of where we are right now with our food: sticking to tried-and-true favorites for the sake of saving both time and money. We’re trying our best to get our food budget down as much as possible so that we can reach specific goals we’ve planned for this year. We’ve stumbled a few times, but we’re getting there, slowly but surely. And hey, I got to try out my new (old) soup and sandwich set. I’m just amazed at how much smaller the portions were 50+ years ago. I have coffee mugs larger than the soup bowl.

I hope 2013 is going well for you so far!

Yes, It’s Vegan: Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust

Veggie PIzza

A couple of months ago, we were invited over to our friends’ house for dinner. They made these wonderful little vegan pizzas on a thin, whole-wheat crust. I thought for sure that the crust was homemade, but I was surprised to learn that it was actually Pillsbury’s Artisan Pizza Crust.

Now, flash forward to this past weekend and we finally remembered to pick some up from the grocery to make at home. Our friends had divided the dough into smaller pizzas, which made for a thinner, crispier crust. We decided to just leave the crust as-is, which made for a thicker, chewier crust. We topped ours with a simple tomato sauce, Daiya Mozzarella Cheese, green olives, cremini muchrooms, onion and mixed greens.

The final result was way better and way cheaper than any kind of vegan pizza we could get around town (sadly, Louisville has a lack of vegan pizza options unless you want to just get it without cheese). And it took about 20 minutes total to make, which is less time than it would take to pick up a pizza or have it delivered. I still love to make homemade pizza dough, but this is a great option if you don’t have the time to spend waiting for the dough to rise.

Barbecue Jackfruit Sandwiches with Coleslaw

I had never heard of jackfruit until just a few weeks ago, and then, all of a sudden, all kinds of jackfruit recipes came out of the woodwork. Intrigued, I decided to pick up a couple of cans during a recent trip to Jungle Jim’s.

When I got home, I wasn’t sure how to use it; that is, until I came across this BBQ Jackfruit recipe from Luminous Vegans. I like the idea of making your own barbecue sauce, but being a weekday, I opted for a little help and used Annie’s Original BBQ Sauce, which worked out just fine. And, I have to say, these sandwiches were delicious. Though I think we were a little weirded out at first, the flavor soon won out and we were hooked. The texture of the jackfruit isn’t like real meat; it’s really its own thing. It’s hard to put into words, so you’ll just have to try it for yourself.

For a side, I made homemade coleslaw. I used my food processor to shred a couple of carrots, and then I used my knife to shred half of a head of savoy cabbage. For the dressing, I used 2/3 cup of Vegenaise, and to that I added a 1/4 cup white vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar, a teaspoon of salt and lots of cracked black pepper.

This is a great weeknight meal that is fast and easy on the budget. If you haven’t already tried it, it’s worth the trip to the nearest international food market to pick up a few cans.

Meal Plan Experiment

For those of you who have been patient enough to follow this blog since its inception, you know my goal has been to create budget-friendly meal plans. As you all know, working full time has a way of interfering with the fun stuff, so it kind of got put on the back burner. I also have been kind of paralyzed with too many details of how, exactly, I wanted to present a meal plan to serve you all.

Well, I woke up this morning and decided to create one based on my recent grocery trip and to just put it out there, warts and all. It’s not perfect, but it’ll give me something to work with for future posts. And I really hope that you all will offer me feedback in terms of what works and what doesn’t. I fully anticipate that the format will change several times in the weeks and months ahead, but I want to get it right. Eventually, I’d love to have a printable and downloadable version so that you can easily bring it with you to the store. (Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have my own app!)

Please keep in mind that I am not a nutritionist; I am just a regular person who is trying to do her best to adhere to a vegan diet in a fairly healthy and budget-friendly way. And if I can help a few readers do the same, then I’ll be a very happy camper.

A few notes: You’ll notice that my meal plan is expected to cover 6 to 7 days. I make my meals with the expectation that we will have leftovers to eat off of for a few days. Also, my meal plans will always be for two people, so you’ll have to adjust according to your household. And, obviously, your total will be different from mine based on where you live, where you buy your food and what you have on hand, but I’m including it to give you a rough estimate. Finally, you’ll notice a list of items that I already have on hand. I cannot stress the importance of keeping your pantry stocked. This will save you money in the long run because I like to create lists based on items that I already have in the pantry/fridge.

So, without further ado, here is my very first meal plan:

Budget: $70
Money spent:
$79.29
Time:
6-7 days

Menu

Breakfast
bagels and cream cheese
cereal
Blackberry East Coast Coffee Cake (from “Vegan Brunch”)

Lunch
Classic Broccoli Quiche ( from “Vegan Brunch”) with kale salad
soup and crackers

Dinner
Tofu, mushroom, carrot and edamame stir-fry and gyoza
Italian sausages with sautéed onions and peppers over polenta
Split Pea and Lentil Soup (from “The Vegan Slow Cooker”) and cornbread

Snacks
popcorn
almonds
apples and peanut butter
yogurt and granola
carrots, cucumber and hummus

List
Silk vanilla soy yogurt (large container)
almond milk
Tofutti cream cheese
(2 packages) extra-firm tofu
(1 package) Field Roast Italian Sausage
(1 bunch) kale
sprouted cinnamon-raisin bagels
(2) broccoli crowns
(3) Fuji apples
2lb bag of carrots
baby spinach
almonds
(4) prepackaged soups
wheat crackers
(1 lb) popcorn
(1/2 lb) granola
(1 lb) split peas
(1) yellow onion
(1) bulb garlic
Dijon mustard
(2) red bell peppers
(1 package) frozen vegetable gyoza
raisin bran cereal
shelled edamame
(1 package) sliced white mushrooms
(1) cucumber

Items already on-hand:
frozen blackberries
all-purpose flour
sugar
apple-cider vinegar
vanilla extract
cinnamon
nutmeg
canola oil
baking powder
sea salt
pepper
olive oil
green lentils
chicken-flavored bouillon
bay leaves
tarragon
thyme
turmeric
marjoram
rosemary
(2) yellow onions
tahini
(2) lemons
(1 can) chickpeas
raw cashews
Earth Balance
cornmeal
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Sriracha

Books used:
“Vegan Brunch”
“The Vegan Slow Cooker”

Vegan Food Happenings

When you’re on a tight budget, it’s hard to break out of your food comfort zone. That’s definitely been the case for us lately. Our weekly meals have been a rotation of stir-fry, pasta dishes, soups and basic sandwiches. And not that that’s a bad thing; it just doesn’t make for an interesting blog. But every now and then we make something kind of new (I’ve made them one other time), as is the case with these banana biscuits (with veggie sausage and blackberry jam — not the prettiest picture, but delicious) from “Vegan Diner.” And I say “we” because my husband has become quite the baker lately. He’s been knocking out cookies, muffins, cupcakes and quick breads like it’s nobody’s business. I came home on Friday to find a fresh batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.” They were so delicious that we ate them (with a little help from my parents) before I had the chance to take pictures.

We did manage to pick up Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s and Terry Hope Romero’s latest dessert cookbook, “Vegan Pie in the Sky.”

According to Amazon, the book isn’t due out until October 25th, but we found it at our local bookstore. We’re planning on making an apple pie today, so hopefully I’ll have something a little more exciting to post here very soon.

I hope everyone is well!!

Pizza, Pizza!

In addition to making sushi, I wanted to use my time off to make homemade pizza dough. And like the sushi, it was a lot easier than I thought. For the pizza dough recipe, I looked to “Vegan with a Vengeance” from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, so I won’t post it on here. The dough is super-easy to make and freezes easily. The only thing it requires is time because, like anything dealing with yeast, you have to let it sit in order to rise.

For the pizza you see above, I made a simple sauce using a can of diced tomatoes (I was out of crushed tomatoes), olive oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. For the toppings, I used cremini mushrooms, green pepper and onion. I topped it with Daiya Mozzarella-style Shreds, and a little dried basil. I then brushed the edges with a little olive oil.

The final result tasted way better than the takeout pizza we’re used to and was way cheaper. I was able to get two large pizzas out of the pizza dough recipe. Because I had most of the dough ingredients in my pantry, I’d say both pizzas cost less than $10 to make.

Quick Bowtie Pasta With Peas

Hello everyone! Sorry the lack of posts. I’m not gonna lie: money’s been a little tight this past week, so we’ve been eating cheap and not very blog-worthy food. And really, this pasta dish isn’t the most interesting dish I’ve blogged about, but I wanted to show you what you can throw together on the fly with a well-stocked pantry.

Pasta is my go-to meal whenever I don’t have a lot of funds. I made a quick marinara sauce last night and had some left over. To the leftover marinara, I added some frozen peas, a little non-dairy cream cheese, nutritional yeast, and cooked bowtie pasta. The cream cheese took the sauce up a few notches from a basic tomato sauce to something a little richer. I served it with some baby arugula drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar (I ran out of olive oil!).

Enjoy!

Welcome To The Peaceful Pantry

Welcome to The Peaceful Pantry. My goal for this blog is to show just how easy it is to make delicious, budget-friendly vegan food. Whether you’re a full-fledged vegan, a vegetarian, or just someone interested in adding a few vegan meals to your diet, you’re welcome here. This is not a place for judgment, or for having heated discussions. It’s a place for people who enjoy good food that also happens to be vegan.

For the time being, I’ll be posting pictures and recipes much like I have been doing on my other blog, Happy Introvert. But once I get a few kinks worked out, my plan is to take the guesswork and intimidation out of vegan meal planning by posting a weekly meal plan and a grocery list that you can follow and adapt to your lifestyle. Throughout the week, I’ll write about, and post pictures of, each meal as I make it along with you. I also plan on including pages that offer guidance for keeping your pantry stocked with vegan staples, as well as helpful resources for finding recipes.

Since becoming a vegan nearly three years ago, I have discovered my passion for cooking and for writing about food. I hope this blog will offer you some inspiration for creating delicious vegan meals at home.