Thursday, February 05, 2009

Vegan eating for $3.33 a day: Some thoughts


Tuesday night I was alone in the house for dinner and not really in the mood to cook. I still have a stocked freezer with 2 cup portions of frozen soups and other easy ingredients I could throw together, but nothing sounded good. Last week (before I started the $3.33 a day) I scored 6 green avocados for 66 cents a piece! What a deal. As soon as they were JUST soft, I put them in the fridge. I pulled two of them out and made this delicious guacamole with garlic, shallots, lime juice, cilantro, jalapenos and chili powder. I toasted up a pita bread and ate the entire batch on the 60 calorie pita along with an apple. Now, this was quite the decadent dinner.. I must have needed something in the avocados.
Veggies and ranch dressing stuffed inside of tortilla/pancake

Yesterday morning, used up the rest of the leftover savory pancake/tortilla batter and stuffed it with sauteed zucchini, radishes and carrots. I topped this with some tofu based ranch dressing. I had an apple several hours later. I love Granny Smith apples and at $.99/lb they definitely fit my budget!
Navy Beans, soaking

I soaked a bunch of Navy Beans and they are cooking on the stove as I type this. 1 paid $.99 for the pound of beans. After cooking, these beans will yield 13 1/2 cup servings. At 120 calories, .5 g fat, 11 grams fiber and 8 grams of protein, these are a GREAT protein source. I will probably freeze half the cooked beans and use the rest in dishes this week. Stay tuned this week to see the fun ways I will use them!
I really do not want this blog to turn into a rice/bean and veggie blog due to my finances, so I will be really trying to put a spin on these classic ingredients.

Speaking of finances, I have received several email asking me WHY I am doing this? One person even had an opinion that I was being a "martyr" by CHOOSING to do this.

I should clarify. While, I am very excited to be doing this, it was born out of NECESSITY. I LOST MY JOB IN DECEMBER. I AM LIVING OFF OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND CHILD SUPPORT. I literally can BARELY AFFORD the $100 dollars a month for food.

That being said, even if I found a great paying job tomorrow, I might still do this because it is forcing me to think outside of the box. For instance, I went to the store today and spent another $4.50 on arugula and 2 lbs brussels sprouts! The organic baby arugula was on sale for $2.50 for 5 oz. The non-organic was also $2.50, but yielded 7 oz. I debated for a minute in my head, but decided on the organic arugula. I am not just jumping to the cheapest thing out there. There were some gorgeous collards for $1.29/bunch but I passed on them because I have spinach and kale at home. This is more than enough for us. In the past, I definitely would have bought those collards. It felt really good just to walk out of there with two items.
Chef's Salad with Homemade Ranch

This was my lunch today. Very delicious. I used some of the seitan from the other day (I can tolerate it SMALL amounts) along with 1 piece of tofutti cheese. I am so thrilled that my store carries non-hydrogenated tofutti cheese. 1 package lasts me a month usually. I love raw brussels sprouts almost as much as roasted.. but really, cabbage is just as tasty.

I'm jumping all over the place here, but last nights dinner (no pic) was leftover dahl and veggies from the freezer. I spent the night at my old house cuz my ex was out of town (had to be there for the dog instead of the kids being here).. I also brought over some brown rice and 1 cup of leftover black beans from the freezer. I used leftover brown rice and the black beans along with some spices and oats to made 4 large burgers to leave in their fridge. I also brought 2 avocados over since I want them to goto use.
Steel Cut Oat Pudding with Blueberries

This is an old pic, but I made a batch of steel cut oats, mixed it with some soy yogurt, frozen blueberries, stevia, cinnamon and flax meal. I had this for breakfast today and have enough for several more days. It keeps so well in the fridge. Of course, it would be better hot, but since I mixed the flax in I don't want to heat it (and destroy all those amazing omega-3's)..

Just a reminder: This week and next week, I am only spending $10.00 a week because I have such a stocked pantry.
Spent this week: $6.08
$3.92 left.
New week starts Monday.


  1. Great site. Good luck on the new job search.

    Is there a way to get your posts via email? (Instead of RSS.)


  2. Always delish!! :-)

    Best of luck, Mel!!

  3. I actually prefer my oats cold! But either way, it looks delish.

  4. I love all your photos! They are so fresh and colorful!

  5. It sounds like things are going great! Thanks again so much for chronicling this on your blog...son many people are in the same boat (me included!) and your ideas/posts are a great source of ideas and inspiration :o)

    Do you have a recipe for your tofu-based ranch dressing? Sounds wonderful!


  6. Great dishes, as usual! I love white beans so I will be looking forward to see what you do with them. I don't think you need to explain yourself at all. But I guess there's always a critic! :) Good luck!

    P.S. I posted you a message on Raw Fu..

  7. Oh my gosh, I hope my comment wasn't taken as one of those weird ones--what I meant to convey was that I admire how you take difficult circumstances and innovate, turning it into something thoughtful and helpful for your readers (and yourself, of course). I do think this frugal project (along with many of the other ideas you've had) would make for great books (not to mention your food recipes & photos are top-notch in the blogosphere. Seriously... I'd love to see a melomeals book on the shelves!)

  8. I think it's great that you're doing this- and I've been doing $25/week since the beginning of the year myself (though I haven't really blogged about it much). For me it's a way of cutting out some of the junk food that I've been eating, but I'm also on a pretty tight budget as a student.

    Everything in the post look delicious!

  9. I think it's amazing what you're doing with the foods you have and within your budget--your meals are just gorgeous looking and I'd love to try virtually everything on this page!

  10. wow, this is totally incredible. the food still looks great!

  11. Lindsay, I'm not sure if there's a way you can subscribe through email? I'm not the most tech savvy person..

    I'll try to find out.

  12. I love what you're posting now, Melody. We all need to budget and food is one of the biggest expenses, but it's also easy to pare down the costs. You are really helping in this way!

  13. Wow, wow, wow!

    All of this food looks AMAZING!

    That guacamole has me drooling, and that veggie tortilla/pancake sammie is to-die-for!

    Awesome stuff!

  14. Another delicious ost Mel! I've been trying to cook more from my pantry a lot more too, only buying fresh produce as I need it. It's amazing how much less I'm spending and how much little we actually need to make delicious (and nutritious) meals.

    Sorry about the negative emails. I hope you get an awesome job soon! Your
    food's always such an inspiration Mel.

  15. Anonymous5:53 PM

    Oh, I liked everything on this entry, except the oatmeal pudding. Never been much into puddings that included oatmeal, tapioca..etc. That avocado dip with pita bread sounded like a heavenly meal. And we all know that avocado's are very healthy for you. You sure make some of the best looking food ever!

    Traci Lynn

  16. Someone called you a martyr? That's a bit melodramatic. Even if you had tons of money, this would be a smart thing to do, especially these days. Even I, who can spend money on food, should really scale it back some. I shudder to think how much money I could save every month!!