21-Day Vegan Kickstart

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Forums: April 2012 Kickstart Forum: on a budget
Created on: 04/01/12 12:49 PM Views: 4011 Replies: 22
on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Could you publish a menu plan that will be adequate for someone on a very limited budget? Please consider fuel costs, time, storage requirements and the cost of ingredients. This plan is very good but also very expensive and labor intensive. Great if you have a cook, not so much for some of us. I would just like a menu plan that is a little more appropriate for us 99%.

Janeoverton

Edited 04/01/12 1:04 PM
RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Any major change is expensive because of the startup costs. I was on a supermarket tour with a new vegan group here earlier today, and the same question came up. A general comment I would like to give is that the expense does not carry through to the long term. You are buying new things, like setting up a new kitchen, and that is the root of most of the expense.

Also, there is a balance which must be struck between time and money. Our supermarkets have us spoiled, offering us so much really cheap K-dinner kind of meals, but they are very bad for your health, will cost you a bundle in health care in the long run (unless you are in Canada!), and more importantly, don't fill you up as much as a home made variety. Even with bread, one slice of a very expensive dense bread will fill you up when you need four slices of the cheap version.

Do you remember the "hamburger helper" era? Once you make your transition you will realize that you can make a big batch of something like that, with TVP or veggie ground for now, or even beans to be healthier, and freeze it. Just leave the pasta al dente, or leave it out and boil it fresh.

One of the major health food providers has a product line which includes black bean burritos, which are low fat and vegan. I was buying them at first. They are perfect for those busy days. Then I realized that if I bought a package of Tortillas, a can of beans, a bottle of salsa, a few veggies to add, I could produce six burritos for the price of three, and it really didn't take very long.

We also eat too much. When we are eating more expensive but whole foods many of us find that the cost balances out when we start to eat a reasonable amount.

You can also find friends who are interested in good food and share the cost of a bulk purchase of some of these basics, like brown rice, quinoa... they are much cheaper if you buy a sack. Again, it is expensive at first, so sharing is a good option.

I hope you find a solution. I am very passionate about this kind of diet and lifestyle for the real income level family.

- madeline

madeline yakimchuk
Director: MEET IRENE - An Unlikely Vegan
GRYPHON media productions

www
RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Any major change is expensive because of the startup costs. I was on a supermarket tour with a new vegan group here earlier today, and the same question came up. A general comment I would like to give is that the expense does not carry through to the long term. You are buying new things, like setting up a new kitchen, and that is the root of most of the expense.

Also, there is a balance which must be struck between time and money. Our supermarkets have us spoiled, offering us so much really cheap K-dinner kind of meals, but they are very bad for your health, will cost you a bundle in health care in the long run (unless you are in Canada!), and more importantly, don't fill you up as much as a home made variety. Even with bread, one slice of a very expensive dense bread will fill you up when you need four slices of the cheap version.

Do you remember the "hamburger helper" era? Once you make your transition you will realize that you can make a big batch of something like that, with TVP or veggie ground for now, or even beans to be healthier, and freeze it. Just leave the pasta al dente, or leave it out and boil it fresh.

One of the major health food providers has a product line which includes black bean burritos, which are low fat and vegan. I was buying them at first. They are perfect for those busy days. Then I realized that if I bought a package of Tortillas, a can of beans, a bottle of salsa, a few veggies to add, I could produce six burritos for the price of three, and it really didn't take very long.

We also eat too much. When we are eating more expensive but whole foods many of us find that the cost balances out when we start to eat a reasonable amount.

You can also find friends who are interested in good food and share the cost of a bulk purchase of some of these basics, like brown rice, quinoa... they are much cheaper if you buy a sack. Again, it is expensive at first, so sharing is a good option.

I hope you find a solution. I am very passionate about this kind of diet and lifestyle for the real income level family.

- madeline

madeline yakimchuk
Director: MEET IRENE - An Unlikely Vegan
GRYPHON media productions

www
RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Like you, I live on a very tight budget. I have found that some things are worth the price, some things are not. Some brand names are better, some are not. You have to do what you can in your budget. And keep in mind that you "can pay the grocer now, or pay the doctor later". If you have a place that sells spices in bulk bins, go that way. If not (I don't), try Vitacost.com. You can find a LOT of stuff at discount prices. And they have discounted shipping as well. You can get almost everything you need from them, and then just go buy your veggies and "freshies" from a local grocery store. That could seriously reduce your gas usage too! Smile

Nutrition: Makes a lot of sense, but not a lot of dollars!

RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Good point about start up costs. Additionally, following the menu we provide is not required or expected. To save money, time, and my health, I'm a big fan of keeping a variety of small dried beans and grains in the freezer. Meals from these food groups literally cost pennies and are as about as healthful as you can get. I throw in whatever greens are on sale - collards, kale, broccoli.

This really is one of the least expensive ways to eat if you keep it simple.

Susan Levin, MS, RD
PCRM Director of Nutrition Education

RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Thanks for the kind suggestions. We all know that beans and rice are cheap. Spices are not a problem either, because one uses so little. What about shitake mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and some of the other ingredients that figure heavily in the first week of menus? Asparagus, Mango, artichoke hearts and fennel? These are the kinds of things that are bought fresh every week and are beyond the reach of most people on a tight budget.
For instance in my local grocery for blue corn chip salad which serves two:
Blue corn chips: 2.19
leaf lettuce: 1.29
black beans: .99
red peppers: 3.50 these are pretty expensive here
roma tomato .25
Total: 8.22
This is for one meal for two people. A considerable investment for a tight budget for one lunch, even one healthy lunch, unless you have the available cash.
Some of the ingredients can be substituted, like dried beans for canned, though fuel cost to cook would have to be considered. Cheaper corn or tortilla chips could be substituted but would not be a really huge savings, or one could make them cheaply for a higher fuel and time cost. A lot of the meals on this menu plan are like this. I would like to see a breakdown of average costs to produce it. I may do this myself to find a way to have a varied vegan diet. I am convinced that vegan is the way to go, not only ethically, but because meat, in this country, is probably not safe to eat anymore. Additives and preservatives have made most processed foods unsafe as well. I sound like a radical, lol. I have a number of medical problems that make a vegan lifestyle an actual necessity. I just wish it were more simple and less expensive to just follow someone else's menu plan.

Janeoverton

RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 4:18 PM

There are many excellent blogs on the web with great idea for cooking cheap and healthy. One of my favorites is Susan Voisin's "Fat Free Vegan" her dirty little secret soup is frozen veggies and broth or MelomealS:vegan for $3.33 a day. I agree with you certain produce items are expensive, especially if you don't have a farmer's market or access to grow your own. I've never followed the meal plan,even on my first kickstart in 2010. I eat what's in season or frozen veggies. I eat tons of lentils, especially the red ones, so creamy and so good. I do agree with the other posters. "pay the grocer or pay the doctor" and it is hard in the beginning, because you have to cook and read labels, etc. I really encourage you to stay vegan. You are not going to believe how good you are going to feel if you give it a try and stick with it. I can't believe how much my own health has improved!

RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 4:33 PM

FYI

Book "Vegan on $4 Dollars a Day"

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1570672571/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=9307142288&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6549218481045606807&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_8ioxgm3i2o_b

http://www.vegcoach.com/

Craftycat - Southern, CA
~Isaiah 43: 18 & 19 - "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!"

RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 4:36 PM

graet idea! better yet, go to the library and get this book. in fact check out a bunch of vegan cookbooks to get ideas.

Edited 04/01/12 4:38 PM
RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 4:36 PM

graet idea! better yet, go to the library and get this book. in fact check out a bunch of vegan cookbooks to get ideas.

RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Thanks i checked it out. was much more realistic for me. am doing grocery list for tomorrows shopping trip. Most of the stuff is pretty familiar. Beans and greens have been a favorite around here for years.
Will probably order the book next week. Starting a lifestyle requires an education.

Janeoverton

RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 10:01 PM

Now that i have been doing this a while i do find myself short of time, needing something quick and easy. Less expensive is good too.

let me give you another reasource. I follow Jeff Novick MS, RD on facebook. He has a couple of dvd's out on fast & easy vegan food. I notice a lot of his recipes are based on a can of low salt tomato product, frozen vegetables (again look for no-salt content) a can of low salt beans, a type of starch..(brown rice, whole wheat noodles, etc) and spices. You would be surprised at the flavor combinations.

https://www.facebook.com/JeffNovickRD#!/JeffNovickRD

Another quick & easy is tacos.. just use the no-fat refried beans.. a small tomato, lettuce.. salsa. easy & quick..

I love rice and beans... add any veggies.. one day it can be italian w/garlic & onion & oregano & basil. . another day it can be w/curry & ginger.. another it could be mexican w/cumin .. another kung pao...

Some staple spices are very inexpensive.. I know around here they are always on sale at local pharmacies.. for 1.00 or less.

Most soup is fairly inexpensive, and it cleans out the leftovers, so you don't throw away the little bits of veggies that are extras from a recipe. MY favorite fast food is left overs or made ahead food.

Believe it or not i get a good value from vietnamese or chinese take out. I buy it really for the sauces, something quick. Why i say it is a good value is i easily get at least 2 meals from a dish. I eat the day i buy it,there always seems to be a lot of sauce... so i add a few veggies, make a little more brown rice (or use leftover) I did that with the last curry dish i bought and got two dinners and a lunch for 9.25... with hardly any cooking at all. I always just buy the mixed veggies in whatever sauce i want at the time.. i add a can of low salt chick peas or my own tofu when i get home.

Edited 04/01/12 10:03 PM
RE: on a budget
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 11:49 PM

Janeo....we are in the same boat financially. Last weekend we had the chance to see Dr. Barnard speak at our local Vegfest here in Seattle and while we were there I bought a copy of Eat Vegan On $4.00 A Day and even got it signed by the author.

One other thing I did to make it a bit more affordable was taking the time to check out as many little local produce shops that I could. I found a small Asian/Middle eastern market in a kind of shady part of town that sells absurdly cheap vegetables as well as all manner of beans, grains and spices. Because it caters to recent immigrants who don't have much money and these are cultures that still eat primarily unprocessed foods it works out great for us. And we've been able to try all kinds of foods we never would find at a grocery store.

RE: on a budget
Posted Monday, April 2, 2012 at 8:41 AM

As far as time, money, and fuel goes, we plan out two weeks of menus so we can get pretty much everything needed in one grocery trip. We deliberately plan for the heartier foods (such as sweet potatoes) in week 2 and the more perishable items (like kale) for shortly after the grocery trip. We'll use frozen veg (like broccoli) to fill in the greenery for week 2. Then, we'll soak a batch of beans (black, white, garbanzo, whatever) in large portion (not just enough for one meal but about a lb at a time, which is multiple meals worth). We then cook them in the pressure cooker which minimizes the cooking fuel required - instead of a couple hours of simmering, it takes less than half an hour to get up to pressure then cook (soaked beans cook in under 5 minutes at pressure). Yes, if you don't have a pressure cooker there is an initial outlay there but the decrease in costs on fuel and beans (dry are typically cheaper than canned, especially if you can buy them in bulk - we buy black beans in 25# sacks and save somewhere in the 10%-15% range off the shelf price because we purchase them through our co-op market). Cooking up several meals' worth, then portioning them into fridge containers, also saves time - cook once, eat several times. We can have soup, chili, burritos, etc plus we'll toss some beans into pasta sauces, stir fry, etc. Beans and/or lentils figure into just about every dinner in some way. And, the leftovers make a lunch or three - we don't just make one meals' worth of chili, for example, we make a pot full and that serves 4 for dinner to start then up to 6 or 8 more servings after that. We generally use frozen bell peppers for chili most of the year. When they hit peak season and are priced inexpensively, we'll buy a bunch, clean and slice them, and freeze them ourselves. We also don't follow the meal plan explicitly - it's been a great way to figure out new foods, spices, combinations but after that we so more freeform meals. I do look for seasonal items and things on special at the market and we'll adjust recipes accordingly - for example, recipes that call for kale might be done with kale, chard, spinach, or other greens (there's usually one type that's cheaper than the others but it varies). Sometimes, if it's a cooked application, we'll just use some frozen spinach if that's the least expensive at the time - or if it's in week #2 of the menu and the fresh would have gotten icky by then.

--Deb R

RE: on a budget
Posted Monday, April 2, 2012 at 9:18 AM

For tortillas, instead of buying a bag of chips, I make my own. I buy a big pack of corn tortillas which I can sometimes get a bag of about 40 for a little over a buck if they are on sale. Keep them in the fridge and I bake them up on a cookie sheet till crisp and save them in a ziploc. I would use that for the blue corn salad. I have also been moving to making my own corn tortillas as were posted a long time ago. I actually made them once and they were really pretty good. Again, an investment with the press, but this was over time before I made that purchase. I am also on a budget and have to watch my spending. Any time you see something at a good price, get it. Like most have said lots of us don't follow the kickstart to the letter. I'm very happy for the new recipes, but I do have to mix and match some of the meals which is fine. As long as I'm eating low fat and vegan I'm happy.. Just look for bulk and you don't have to buy a ton at a time if you can't. I like my coop because they have the spices in bulk and I can just buy a tablespoon if that's all I need for a certain spice. We also have some nice Amish stores around here that sell all bulk stuff. I get really good deals on steel cut oats, flours, spices, pretty much everything I would use on a vegan diet. I just store everything in the fridge or freezer. And as far as beans go, you don't need a pressure cooker. I have found you can make them in a slow cooker and they come out just fine. You just have to figure out your time frame, some take longer. Sometimes I cook them overnight, but sometimes that's too long, so during the day works out well too. Freeze extras so they are on hand. You can freeze cooked rice and grains too.

Kathy

RE: on a budget
Posted Monday, April 2, 2012 at 9:18 AM

For tortillas, instead of buying a bag of chips, I make my own. I buy a big pack of corn tortillas which I can sometimes get a bag of about 40 for a little over a buck if they are on sale. Keep them in the fridge and I bake them up on a cookie sheet till crisp and save them in a ziploc. I would use that for the blue corn salad. I have also been moving to making my own corn tortillas as were posted a long time ago. I actually made them once and they were really pretty good. Again, an investment with the press, but this was over time before I made that purchase. I am also on a budget and have to watch my spending. Any time you see something at a good price, get it. Like most have said lots of us don't follow the kickstart to the letter. I'm very happy for the new recipes, but I do have to mix and match some of the meals which is fine. As long as I'm eating low fat and vegan I'm happy.. Just look for bulk and you don't have to buy a ton at a time if you can't. I like my coop because they have the spices in bulk and I can just buy a tablespoon if that's all I need for a certain spice. We also have some nice Amish stores around here that sell all bulk stuff. I get really good deals on steel cut oats, flours, spices, pretty much everything I would use on a vegan diet. I just store everything in the fridge or freezer. And as far as beans go, you don't need a pressure cooker. I have found you can make them in a slow cooker and they come out just fine. You just have to figure out your time frame, some take longer. Sometimes I cook them overnight, but sometimes that's too long, so during the day works out well too. Freeze extras so they are on hand. You can freeze cooked rice and grains too.

Kathy

RE: on a budget
Posted Monday, April 2, 2012 at 9:23 AM

vegangirl65 wrote:

And as far as beans go, you don't need a pressure cooker. I have found you can make them in a slow cooker and they come out just fine. You just have to figure out your time frame, some take longer. Sometimes I cook them overnight, but sometimes that's too long, so during the day works out well too. Freeze extras so they are on hand. You can freeze cooked rice and grains too.

Very true - a slow cooker, a regular old pot on the stovetop or a pressure cooker can all cook beans. It's just a matter of time, energy usage, preference. What we like is that we can use the same equipment (pressure cooker) to also can foods in season for year round use (like buying bushels of the 'thirds' at the apple orchard to make apple sauce, apple butter, and pie filling -much less expensive that way; making our own pumpkin pie filling; etc. Pickles don't need the pressure but the size of the pot - since it's a pressure cooker/canner - is good for that as well.)

--Deb R

RE: on a budget
Posted Monday, April 2, 2012 at 2:48 PM

I find it is actually cheaper to eat a vegan diet. You just need to be careful when buying the processed packaged stuff.
I keep dried beans on hand and buy whatever produce is on sale. There are some basics pantry items and spices to keep on hand that are most frequently used.
The start up cost is definitely going to be more and you might have to substitute or leave out some ingredients if you won't use them very often.

RE: on a budget
Posted Monday, April 2, 2012 at 3:47 PM

ThriftyVeggieMama wrote:

I find it is actually cheaper to eat a vegan diet. You just need to be careful when buying the processed packaged stuff.
I keep dried beans on hand and buy whatever produce is on sale. There are some basics pantry items and spices to keep on hand that are most frequently used.
The start up cost is definitely going to be more and you might have to substitute or leave out some ingredients if you won't use them very often.

That's one reason we like shopping places where we can buy from bulk bins - I can buy a tablespoon of garam masala or I can buy a salsa jar full of salt free chili powder. Ditto for beans, lentils, quinoa, etc. Some things like quinoa we use regularly but a cup goes a long way. Other things we use infrequently so I can just buy a small amount when we intend to use it.

--Deb R

RE: on a budget
Posted Monday, April 2, 2012 at 7:25 PM

I found these videos on youtube.com by EcoVeganGal . Just last night I saw a video by her where she talks about cheap but healthy vegan meals.

It is easy to be mankind,
Difficult to be human
Striving to become human!


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