One of my concerns about going vegan was the hit my pocketbook would take. It's suppose to be an expensive diet, right? Don't all those fancy specialty good add up quickly? How much is a vegan cupcake again?
I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong and it's starting to look like I owe veganism an apology. After picking up Robin Robertson's Vegan on the Cheap and incorporating some of her tips and recipes, I'm spending a fraction of what I expected on groceries this week. In a couple of days I'll have a post on exactly what I bought and how much I spent. For now I'll let you in on a few things I picked up from Vegan on the Cheap.
First, the key to going vegan is committing yourself to doing some old fashioned cooking at home. I don't mean heating up a meatless chicken patty in the oven. I'm talking about recipes that take a little bit of planning and time in the evening. When I went vegan for a weekend last March I relied on prepackaged food for most of my meals. As Robertson points out in her book, that's when things get expensive.
This time around my first step was planning out a menu for the week. I picked four recipes out of Vegan on the Cheap that added up to 18 meals. As a single girl that means eating the same thing for lunch and dinner a couple of days in a row while playing a little bit with how some of those leftovers are served. For example, today I had a tabbouleh chickpea salad with a side of hummus and carrots. Tomorrow I'll serve the salad with some frozen Olive Valley falafel sticks that I bought a couple of weeks ago. It helps I have no problem eating the same dish for several meals.
I'm also learning that combining a can of chickpeas or beans with a cup of couscous, bulgur, quinoa, or brown rice can go a long way in building a complete meal. All of those ingredients aren't expensive especially if you know where to look. The closest grocery store to me is a Whole Food. It's not a mecca for budget buys, but the store's generic 365 Organic line is an affordable option. A one pound bag of long grain brown rice runs $3.99 while a one pound bag of black beans runs $1.99.
My grocery list this week included bulgur and couscous. Now a 12 ounce box from one non 365 brand of couscous costs $3.19 and a 24 ounce bag under another brand runs $4.39. A 24 ounce bag of bulgur costs $3.69. Not as cheap as I thought until I checked out Whole Foods self serve bins. There among the granola and dried fruit I discovered a pound of couscous or bulgur runs $1.99. That meant I could save as much as 15 cents per ounce of couscous. It doesn't sound huge, but it adds up. I'm going to have to try another grocery store in the area to further compare prices.
Lets go back to my tabbouleh chickpea salad. A can of chickpeas, fresh parsley, a small onion, and cup of couscous cost me about $4.68. Thrown together with stuff I already had in my cupboard I'm going to get a starring element in four meals at a cost of $1.17 per serving. A container of my favorite brand of tabbouleh at Whole Food is on sale this week for $4.99 and I would get two servings out of it. It all adds up.
My next goal is to find a really good hummus recipe to make at home. My biggest splurge this week was a 15 ounce container of my favorite hummus. And with the way I can go through hummus that could be huge.