serious produce fixation

So I’m on a big budget and it’s been difficult with this whole new vegan diet thing. I’m happy to spend money on fresh food because fresh food means healthy me, but damn if it’s not expensive. I was reading this the other day when I was bored at work and even though it made me feel better about my situation, I didn’t find the tips too helpful. One of them was to stock up on frozen veggies rather than relying on fresh but ughhh I hate frozen veggies. Growing up we lived off of frozen broccoli but it is SO not the same as fresh. And frozen stir fry veggies? Forget about it! Call me a veggie snob but I really need them fresh. Organic would be ideal but that pushes my budget, too.

Part of this transition is a complete overhaul restock of the kitchen, too: agave nectar to substitute for the (poisonous) Splenda I was putting in my coffee every morning, wholegrain bulk products to replace the white rice and rolled oats I used to buy in bulk…and let’s not forget that I’m heading to the store 2-3 times a week to pick up fresh produce, and every time I’m there, I find myself picking up a new package of tofu or soy crumbles or a pizza crust to make homemade pizza…or all the baking ingredients I really don’t NEED to buy. And let’s also not forget that my boyfriend is a big snacker and every time he finds something that is “accidentally vegan” he buys it thinking I’ll be pleased. But really, I don’t need a reason to eat oreos or nutter butters or kettle chips. Or the three dark chocolate bars he’s brought home at various times in the past few weeks. Stop with the junk food! I’m the kind of person who can’t turn it down, so it’s best to just not keep it in the house, period.

I intended to stop at the store to pick up a few necessities and to keep it under $25 but I wound up spending $65. Yikes! Part of this was due to the paper towels, toilet paper and a new book of stamps I desperately needed so I can, y’know, pay my bills on time, but it’s discouraging to spend so much when I already have so little to spend.

My saving grace is that canned beans are super inexpensive and I feel like they’ve become a staple. Kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, oh my! I also have a pretty decent stock of oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and lentils that shouldn’t need restocking for a couple of weeks yet. The problem is my constant recipe-surfing, which leads to more buying. What I need is a vegan recipe generator where I can plug in the ingredients I already have in my kitchen and it will spit out suggestions. Does such a thing exist? What do you do to combat the vegan expense problem?

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3 thoughts on “serious produce fixation

  1. Do you live near a farmer’s market? Produce is usually cheaper there. For beans and such, try buying things in bulk. Our local co-op has a great bulk section where I buy nuts, grains, beans, TVP, wheat gluten (to make homemade seitan) in bulk.

    I am trying to improve my spending habits as well b/c like your boyfriend I’m a big time snacker. I don’t know of a vegan recipe generator (which would be awesome) , but I think omni versions exist on the Internet that could at least be used for cooking inspiration. You could try googling “in the cupboard recipes”.

    • We do have a farmer’s market not one block from my apartment, but wouldn’t you know it’s only Friday mornings from 7-11 am and I leave for work at 7 every morning. There has to be something nearby on the weekends–that’s something for me to look into! The closest vegan recipe generator I could come up with was the PPK–you can select an ingredient and a ton of recipes including that ingredient pop up. Most of them with ingredients I don’t have, of course! 😉

  2. Melissa says:

    If you ever find a vegan recipe generator like that, you MUST let me know! I think the Whole Foods app has something -like- that, but everytime I’ve used it, it gives me gross or weird or just plain wrong recipes. As in, it will take the stuff I have at home and turn it into a recipe, but the recipe will also call for 3-4 more things that I DON’T have. Fail. If someone could make an app like that, pretty sure I’d pay like 5 bucks for it! It would be worth it!

    Have you looked into a CSA? Community Supporter/Shared Agriculture, or something like that. From what I understand of the CSAs around here in Denver, they either deliver your CSA box of produce (veggies, fruit, whatever is in season) to your house OR they have a pick up time that’s after work for a couple hours twice a week so everyone can come get their stuff. I’d look into it if I were you… I’m going to do it when I get back to Phoenix w/ the BF. Unfortunately, for 1 person, it doesn’t make sense to do it (food goes bad too quickly)

    Other than that, I honestly just pick up the coupons/sales ads (they’re delivered to our apt.) and -only- let myself buy produce that is on sale. I will use frozen veggies in a pinch, but I don’t enjoy it either. Hence, only sales produce. It forces me to get creative… and sometimes the stuff is gross (red cabbage is going DIRECTLY into my blender for a smoothie), but you know… you learn 🙂

    Good luck!

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