Day 2, Week 1

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Good morning!

I have to work the night shift tonight so I wanted to post a bit, and then edit it tomorrow to account for everything I ate later at night.

I made my highly controversial smoothie ($1.55) with bee pollen this morning. ( CONTROVERSY HERE) Also I made a delicious espresso (my BF gave me an espresso maker for Christmas) with steamed coconut milk ($.50). Its a slight chilly morning here, but I heard that on Friday it will get up to almost 70 degrees! Wowza, the weather in NC is crazy.

Anyway, I’ve spent all morning/afternoon putting around my house, catching up on e-mails, interwebbing, and cleaning. My boyfriend left this morning for three days to go to Memphis for work. It will be weird to sleep by myself, but absence makes the heart grow fonder. (HA I misspelled absence and the first spell check option was abstinence! That makes my heart grow fonder too!) I love having the “house to myself” though, and since this may be my last year as a non-married childless woman these days may become few and far between.

I’ll delve off subject to input one thing. My boyfriend and I have talked about having kids and getting married (definitely more about my thoughts on marriage later) for the last two years, and have slowly been working towards that goal. We’ve been saving money, preparing ourselves mentally and strengthening our relationship. Everything’s been going great, but preparing my body and his is next. I wanted to detox for at least a year before getting pregnant, and then have the most nutritious  stress-free, healthy pregnancy possible. So this is the year before, and this is me detoxing and getting healthy. I.cant.wait.to.be.a.mother. But more about that later.

Anyway, I made a bowl of steel-cut oats with coconut milk, agave nectar and bananas, with a dash of cinnamon ($1.00/made two servings). Yummy. I had forgotten how much I loved oatmeal until I read this recipe for apple pie oatmeal perusing blogs last night. Also a great blog!

I’m still doing good on cleaning my fridge and cabinets out, but am compiling a list of groceries that is added onto every time I see an amazing recipe or get a craving.

Projects for the future:

  • BAKING! I need to overcome my fear of baking, esp. vegan baking. I think its my experimental side, and my disdain for exact measurements that cause so many baking disasters in my kitchen. But inspired by my roommates awesome breadmaker sitting in the closet and a plethora of great recipes I’ve found, I think I will conquer this fear. I would love to make my own bread on the regular, if I can hone my skills at this. And also I’d love to make some healthy muffins to snack on at work and delve into special occasion/dessert baking after I’ve mastered the basics. I’ve always wanted to be a woman who always had someone fresh-baked and healthy on hand. Also, as the heady whole wheat bread I buy costs about 4 bucks I think that baking it myself will be more economical.
  • Chia seeds! A handful of my co-workers religiously drink Kamboucha teas with chia seeds in them everyday. I’m not going to say much on this subject, but they like to think this makes them the healthiest people in the world even though they eat junk the rest of the day. Anyway, I’d never heard of chia seeds until then. I saw some at Whole Foods the other day but was definitely deterred by the $10 for like 12oz price-tag. I remembered one of my co-workers mentioning he’d found some at a Mexican grocery store for a bargain; I might check that out. Easy Chia seed pudding recipe I found, also from a blogger with similar goals and challenges as I.
  • Veg broth and then amazing soup- still searching for the right soup recipe (preferably a crockpot one) to use my homemade broth with but preferably has tons of beans, some sort of ancient grain, and tons of veggies. Yum.
  • Vegan burgers of some sort, I’m a sucker for a patty with ample amounts of veggies piled on and maybe some homemade ranch sauce? Or if baking is going well, on homemade buns? Anyway, I’m looking into recipes for this.

So I’m going to pack up some pita wedges and hummus to take to work again ($1.00), and take my orange from yesterday ($.30) didn’t eat it again, but blended it up in the morning in my smoothie. 

Oh, and I also started soaking some black beans last night and cooked them for about a half hour today and put them back in the fridge. I have visions of black bean and black japonica rice stuffed green peppers to eat tomorrow. Never had black Japonica rice before? Its pretty amazing, its nutty and really flavorful. I got it from a health food store a while back under recommendation from the owner was raving about how it has more antioxidants than blueberries.

Wish me fun times at work!

TOTAL FOOD COST FOR TODAY: $4.30 $4.00

Have a blessed, healthy, and positive day!

TheFrugalVegan

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Day 1, Week 1

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Bueno!

I ended up feeling better last night. I took this amazing Epsom salt bath, which I swear drew the sickness right out of me. It was a great hour. I scrubbed my whole body really well, and I’m not going to lie, the water got pretty gross. I had no idea that my skin was so dirty, or perhaps it was residue from my soap or from my lotion.  I got out, made a bomb smoothie and chugged a few glasses of water and I feel 90% better. And my skin is so soft! I will try to do a soak/scrub at least once a week from now on.

During my fantastic soak, I watched “Vegucated” on Netflix. It was mildly informative, but I felt like the host was far more concerned about animal rights than health benefits. Which is okay, but she barely took note of how great her experiment participants looked at the end of their 6 week vegan trial.  Being vegan must have taken 10 years off the older woman, and completely cleared up the college aged girls acne and made her positively glowing. I’d recommend it for a light watch, perhaps a background view while surfing the interwebz or reddit or something.

After the fantastic bath, I got to concocting a delicious meal. I wasn’t feeling up to a grocery store run, so I assessed my stock at home and created a pretty great dish.

I’ve told my friend before that we should collaborate and make a recipe book one day. Not only is she my food-soulmate and likes everything I do, she talks and write like I do. When we share recipes with each other in our own words, this is how they are. We don’t usually use standard measurement forms, but for my readers sake and for cost analysis I’m going to start recording my recipes in cups, tablespoons, ect. And in bold next to all the ingredients I’ve added a estimate for about how much it cost.

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Cheap Curry with Veggies and Chickpeas

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas (more about the preparation below) $.30
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, washed and diced into 1 inch pieces  $.50
  • 2 spoonfuls of coconut oil $.25…or something like that
  • 1 red onion, a quarter of it diced finely for the sauce, and the rest sliced into uh, strips? like you’d slice it for fajitas $.50
  • a few splashes of white wine (optional, I just had it lying around)
  • 1/8 cup of curry powder $.40….I’d say all these spices were about this much total
  • 1 tbsp. of turmeric
  • 1 tsp, or a few shakes of cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (would have used fresh garlic but I am out)
  • Unsweetened coconut milk, like about 2 cups of it $1.00
  • About 20 green beans, with the ends snipped off $.50
  • 1/4 of an eggplant, diced in about 1 inch pieces (not necessary to this dish, just had it lying around and wanted to use it up) $.30
  • 1/2 cup yellow raisins (again, not necessary to this dish, but have them in my cupboard) $.25
  • 4 leaves of kale, rinsed and torn into pieces without the stem $.30
  • 2 cups couscous $1.25
  1.  Dried beans rock. Not only are they way more cost efficient then canned beans, you can season them just how you like. I soaked about a cup of dried garbanzos for about 18 hours, then rinsed them and boiled them for about 20 minutes. I kept them in my fridge for about a day until making this dish. I decided to boil both the potatoes and chickpeas (which were at this point tender, but still not quite done enough) for about 20 minutes. I put in saucepan with water to cover plus about 2 inches more. I added a shake of turmeric and a shake of garlic powder, which was amazing because it really went a long way in pre-seasoning the potatoes and chickpeas. So which this was boiling I started on the sauce. Oh don’t forget to stir and all that.
  2. Okay, sauce. First I melted a spoonful of coconut oil (if you don’t use coconut oil yet, buy some, its amazing) over like medium heat and then added my diced onions. I let them brown slightly before adding just a splash of wine to them to sort of caramelize them. Then I added all my powders to toast for a few minutes. If you haven’t done this before, this is a great way to really enhance the flavors of your spices. Make sure you stir around to keep them from burning. You’ll notice them getting really fragrant. Then add about a cup of coconut milk. I used a carton of “SO Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk”. I use this stuff in my coffee and as a milk substitute of all sorts, usually I have this and a sweetened carton of coconut milk in my fridge at all times. So stir, bring to a slight boil, and then add the rest of the milk. I left this simmering on a low temperature while I started with my veggies.                                                                                                                                                  
  3. Big stir-fry pan, started heating another dollop of coconut oil on med-high heat. Added green beans and eggplant to fry first, then after a few minutes added onion. This is where I take the potatoes and chickpeas off the heat, drain BUT reserve the water from boiling in a separate bowl. Then I add the chickpeas and potatoes to the veggies, stir around, and start to add spoonfuls of the sauce one at a time to the mix. It absorbs quickly and I don’t want anything to burn so I make sure there’s adequate sauce and I’m stirring everything around enough. After I’ve spooned in almost all the sauce, I added the raisins and kale. Cooked for a few more minutes, added the rest of the sauce and then switched on a super low heat.
  4. Couscous is my favorite grain. “The food so nice they named it twice”, as I always giggle while I’m cooking it. It’s easy to make, quick and delish. So I took 1 cup of water and then 1 cup of the reserved chickpea and potato broth and boiled it, then added 2 cups of dried couscous, flipped off the heat and covered. 5 minutes later, I flipped off my veggie heat, ladled into my bowl and enjoyed a tidbit of my tasty vittles. Topped with nutritional yeast, (which again if you don’t use, check it out) it was amazing.

The end result, yum 🙂

Cost analysis: $5.55

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This dish made about 5 portions. I’m sharing with my roommate and my boyfriend so I’ll update how much of it I will factor into my weekly calculations as it goes. I have to note that this is a great use-all-the-leftover-veggies-in-the-fridge recipe, the curry sauce goes great with anything. And I pretty much always have the sauce ingredients on hand, as I’m sure a lot of vegan households do too.

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Breakfast Smoothie

  • About 8 whole frozen strawberries $.35
  • About uh, 2/3 of a cup of frozen pineapple tidbits from Trader Joes $.35
  • 2/3 cup sweetened coconut milk $.35
  • 1/2 grapefruit, peeled and torn up into about 4 chunks $.25
  • A tsp. of flax oil $.15
  • A tsp. of bee pollen

Cost analysis $1.55

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I made this smoothie along with my morning coffee and packed both up into to-go containers to take to work. I also brought along an orange ($.30, never ate it, brought it home)and pita bread quarters with some awesome garlic hummus I picked up at Whole Foods the other day ($1.00) . I added some tomatoes and onions from my work to eat them as little sammies, and snacked while I counted money. I brought a to-go container of curry, but didn’t ever really get a chance to eat it. My smoothie had me pretty revved up all morning, and I stayed busy until the end of my shift where I ate a late lunch of pita bread and hummus.

When I got home, I heated up some of my curry and devoured it, then heated up some more. I added some Tapatio for a kick this time, along with nutritional yeast. Yummy. I ate about 2 portions, about $2 worth.

I feel pretty darned good. My cold is about 90% better, I coughed and blew my nose considerably less than I did yesterday. My energy levels have been great today, and I never felt a crash. I came home from work not feeling exhausted which rarely happens.

I wanted to post this early, but I might add some food later, as I’m trying to stay up as late as I can tonight (I work 5pm-4am tomorrow night). Super messed up sleep schedule. I’ll add it in as an edit if I end up late night snacking.

Also, I probably might forgo getting new food for the next few days and try to use up my food stock at home. I like getting creative with what I got. I love going grocery shopping, so the longer I wait the more excited I’ll be. Fridge and pantry (and my body :p) clean-out week.

But anyway, I think I might like this vegan thing. 🙂

TOTAL FOOD COST FOR TODAY: $4.55  after late night snacks $6.05

EDIT: I did eat about one more portion of my curry ($1.00) and a Kashi pumpkin flax granola bar ($.50) because I was really craving something sweet. I knew I would get late night munchies.

Have a blessed and healthy day 🙂

TheFrugalVegal

I’m ready, Freddy!

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Hola, homies.

The past few days have really been very good motivation for my project.  I mentioned before that I’ve been chronically sick since I started my job, for the past month now. I had the flu, and then had a nasty cough, and now I have an even nastier cough and a horrible head cold. Like mucus is draining out everywhere. YUCK.

Tomorrow, I’m starting my 100% vegan diet. I have to work long shifts the next two days, so I have to be very thoughtful of cooking in advance and taking stuff to work. I am so active at my job that I get hungry often and need lots of constant energy. I’m hoping to get one hearty portable meal and some snacks to bring everyday.

I’m going to attempt to prepare meals and snacks for the next two days, and make sure I have everything I need until Wednesday, my next day off. I say “attempt” because I’m really feeling terrible, I’m in bed with hot tea and Netflix at the moment.

So to combat my illness, and pump myself immune system up, I’m going to make myself a good fruit smoothie tomorrow, and snack on lots of fresh fruit. I’ll make some hearty veg dish, and drink lots of chamomile tea.

Have a blessed and healthy day, will post tomorrow!

TheFrugalVegan

Intro to the “Frugal Vegan Experiment”

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Greetings everyone!

My goal for this blog is to document my journey of both converting to veganism (reasons why discussed below) and my mission to keep my food costs under $50 dollars a week EDIT:CHANGED TO $30/WEEK. I’m writing the intro to give you a little understanding to my motivations behind this project, and the principles I’ll be abiding by.

I’ll start by telling you a tidbit about me and my lifestyle. I’m 25, residing in North Carolina. I’ve been a vegetarian on and off for over 10 years, dabbled slightly in veganism at points, but have always been a conscious eater. I strongly believe in the old saying “You are what you eat.” Our food is our medicine. Good, nutritious, whole foods make our body happy and chemical-ridden, ultra processed and fakey foods obviously doesn’t. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite though, as I will admit to developing a weakness for biscuits and gravy over the past year. And I will indulge in French fries, dark chocolate and Mountain Dew, my occasional go-to splurge foods. The worst lifestyle habit I have had though is my weakness for American Spirit cancer sticks. I am three weeks smoke free, however! *pats self on back*

But anyway, the past 4 months have been ultra stressful and I definitely feel it taking its toll. My BF and I remodeled a rental house we bought top to bottom, moved out of our cozy house in Michigan and relocated to NC to start our lives (—again, this is our 6th move together in the fifth state). I was stress smoking a ton and eating lots of fast food and snackie food as I was kitchenless for a great deal of the time. I found a job quickly upon moving here, managing a restaurant, and this has only exacerbated my bodies abuse. The biggest culprit: the long and erratic hours I work. Sometimes I’ll work 5pm-5am, sometimes 6am-6pm, with little recovery time to bounce back. 60 hours a week on my feet has made my body just ache every day. I’ve been nursing a nasty cough for the past month as well. I don’t eat a lot of food from my job, as it is all unhealthy. I do love my job though, which I am feel very fortunate for.

I know I need a change, I can feel my body screaming to get my attention. The fatigue, achiness, prolonged cold, foggy brain and my recent breakouts on my face are the cries for help. I’ve decided to eliminate dairy and what little meat I eat from my diet. I may also cut gluten in the future if I’m still feeling slightly toxic. I’ve only recently discovered that I’m allergic, or possibly just sensitive to eggs. Apparently this is a very common allergy that a lot of people aren’t aware  they might have. I would get cystic acne on my body, my face and especially my chin line a few days after consuming a whole egg. I just wish I would have known about my sensitivity in high school, as it may have helped my battle against acne. I’m entertaining the notion that I may also be sensitive to milk based products as well. Possibly gluten? I must do more research on that front though.

Principles of the “Frugal Vegan Experiment”

  1. Obviously, I will cut dairy (cheese, milk, butter and eggs) out of my diet and all meat (land and sea creatures). Gluten may be next to follow.
  2. Processed foods will be kept to an absolute minimum. Most of the vegan dairy and meat alternatives I’ve seen are so heavily processed with lots of ingredients I’ve never heard of. As a basic rule of thumb, if I can’t pronounce and ingredient, if it’s chemically sounding, or there’s a laundry list of components to my food I’m considering purchasing, I abstain. I might indulge in some vegan sausage at one point, or try some heady alternatives at readers suggestions or if I discover something at whole foods.
  3. I’m determined to spend less than $50 (EDIT:$30) dollars a week. I’ve always been a frugal shopper, buying what’s on sale, in season, from bulk bins, ect., and spend about that amount currently a week. I know buying more fruits and veggies may up my food cost, but if I manage to keep the extras (komboucha teas, pricey granola bars, über expensive fruits and veggies- anything over 2-2.50 a lb is my general max) cut out I believe I should be fine. Also, as 200/month is the allotment of food stamps given to most people, I’m also doing this to prove that eating healthy on a fixed budget is possible. EDIT: THE AVERAGE FOOD STAMP ALLOWANCE IS $4/DAY OR $120/MONTH. I’ve always heard people complain that eating healthy and vegan especially is expensive, but I’m out to prove that wrong.
  4.  My diet will be diverse with mostly whole ingredients. I will be vigilant to consume adequate amount of protein, will take a multivitamin to fill and nutrition gaps I may have, and will consume a wide variety of foods. I’ll attempt to get as many organic ingredients and budgetarily possible.
  5. Water, water, water!! At least 120 oz a day.
  6. I’ll try to be as accurate and diligent as possible with food costs, recording of what I consumed, ect. I’ll share all recipes I will use, and take suggestions for recipes to use up things I have sitting in the fridge. I cannot waste any food, I will even save veggie scraps to make broth. I work a lot, and might not be able to update every day but I will always account for every day. I’ll also document my energy levels and any physical effects I feel (or stop feeling) from changing diets.
  7.  I will make a concerted effort to do yoga, mediate and exercise. I’m hoping my extra energy boost will give me the motivation to do this, currently I’m so exhausted from work to fathom exercising.

I’m getting myself organized, purging my kitchen of dairy ingredients (not throwing them away, just separating them for my BF to consume) and gathering ingredients and compiling shopping lists. I’ll start the experiment on Monday! As always, I urge feedback of all kinds, as well as recipe suggestions or questions. This is my first blog attempt, BTW, so ill be experimenting with formatting and whatnot.

Have a blessed and healthy weekend!

TheFrugalVegan