Day 21-23

I have had some really stressful days lately that have put me in some pretty yucky moods, and last night I was ready to have the Rice Dream Mud Pie in my freezer and a beer, and forget about the budget altogether.  I bought that mud pie the night before I started the dollar menu, with my first batch of groceries.  I had intended to eat it after dinner that night, but I forgot about it, and it’s been calling my name ever since.

I resisted the mud pie last night, but on Friday when I did my shopping, I kinda just let myself buy what I wanted and accepted the fact that I’d be a few dollars over budget.  I’ve already got a lot going on this week, and if I’m hungry on top of it, it’s not going to be pretty.  I didn’t actually calculate what I bought until this morning, and I’m not sure how I managed this, but I still came in under budget.  By 11 cents.

I shopped at Whole Foods this week.

  • firm tofu  $1.29
  • frozen broccoli  $2.50
  • almond milk  $2.00
  • black beans  $0.99
  • pinto beans  $0.99
  • garbanzo beans  $0.99
  • 1 cucumber  $1.50
  • 1 orange  $1.03
  • 1 kiwi  $0.69
  • 1 portabella mushroom  $1.14

Total:  $14.11
4 Week Total: $83.89

Day 21 – Friday, May 21
Morning:  Oatmeal.

Afternoon:  I had the gross rice I made for dinner on day 20.  It was still gross.  I didn’t finish it, but luckily I had also packed a salad and some rice cakes.

Evening:  I came home from work and started making tortillas.  I really wanted a burrito, but my tortillas were still coming out way too fat for that (see pictures on Day 3), no matter how thin I rolled them.  I decided to try putting together a black bean burrito with an uncooked tortilla, and then cooking the whole thing in a little olive oil.  I guess this is pretty close to a chimichanga, I’m not exactly sure what you would call it, but it was damn good.  I had a big one for dinner, and packed up two smaller ones for lunch.

Day 22 – Saturday, May 22
Morning:  Two blueberry muffins.

Afternoon:  I had the leftover chimichanga things, covered in free salsa and a few chips from my co-workers lunch.

Evening:  Scrambled tofu, and potatoes with green onion.

Day 23 – Sunday, May 23
Morning:  Blueberry muffin.

Afternoon:  Tortilla with black beans and more free salsa.

Evening:  I sat around for a while deciding what I wanted for dinner.  I ended up making a black bean patty (mashed black beans with sauteed green onion) and served it in between two tortilla halves, with a little ketchup, mustard, and relish.  I left flour out of the black bean mixture and the patty kind of fell apart, but it was still delicious!

May 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm 2 comments

Day 16-20

Finals are coming!  Sorry for the lack of updates, but the end of the semester kind of snuck up on me, so I’ve been busy studying and not writing my art history paper.  The good thing about this budget is that I’m not allowed to stress eat.. and honestly, knowing that I can’t, I don’t really have the urge to.

Day 16 – Sunday, May 16
Morning:  I had oatmeal for breakfast at home, and a muffin on my break at work.

Afternoon/Evening:  My co-worker and I went to WorldFest, and she made me eat.  But it doesn’t count, because it was free!  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.  I had a Philly Dream with fries from One World Vegetarian Cuisine when we got there, and a bowl of Maggie Mudd vegan ice cream before we left.  Plus, endless free samples in tiny cups.  I also took a sample of V-Dog home to my Dachshund, and she loved it.

Day 17 – Monday, May 17
Morning:  Oatmeal.

Afternoon:  I made fried rice with tofu and green onion, and a salad (red leaf lettuce & olives).  And then I made the rice into PacMan, eating Sriracha power pellets.  What can I say, I met Tal Ronnen the day before.. some of his gourmet must have rubbed off.  (On a side note:  It’s PacMan’s 30th birthday, and you can play PacMan in the Google logo today!)

Evening:  I had planned on just eating the rest of my rice, but I got asked to work the next day.  I packed up the rice to take for lunch, and had pretty boring pinto beans and a rice cake.

Day 18 – Tuesday, May 18
Morning:  I had two muffins at work.

Afternon:  Leftover fried rice with lots of Sriracha.

Evening:  I was pretty tired after work and didn’t feel like cooking, so I decided to just make Top Ramen.  I sauteed half of a portabello mushroom with green onion, and added the noodles with water.  I was kind of hesitant to use the seasoning packet with a lifetime’s worth of sodium, so I decided to just add a little curry powder, and a dash of chili powder.  The broth wasn’t drinkable, but the noodles were perfect.

Day 19 – Wednesday, May 19
Morning:  Muffin.

Afternoon:  I made fried rice with tofu, green onion, and the rest of my mushroom from last night.  I also had a muffin before I went to class.

Evening:  I got home from school around 10:30 craving breakfast food, so I made scrambled tofu and home fries with onion.

Day 20 – Thursday, May 20
Morning:  Oatmeal.

Afternoon:  Leftover fried rice & Sriracha.

Evening:  I made rice with green onion, broccoli, tofu, and almonds.  It was gross.  I don’t know what happened, but I blame the Grey’s Anatomy season finale.  I also probably would’ve been more willing to eat it if I hadn’t had a salad first, or if I hadn’t left my Sriracha at work.  Anyway, the rice was way too moist, so before I packed up my leftovers I threw it back in the pan for a few more minutes.  It still looked kinda funky, but hopefully I’m too hungry by lunchtime today to care.  At least I have rooster sauce.  Rooster sauce fixes everything.

May 21, 2010 at 9:47 am 5 comments

Day 13, 14 & 15

Day 14 – Friday, May 14
Morning:  Oatmeal with soy milk.

Afternoon:  There was a bug going around my house this week, and I guess my turn came on Friday and Saturday.  I was not feeling well at all so I ate a muffin, and slept for an hour on my lunch break.  Later in the afternoon, I ate the baked beans with jalapenos I had brought for lunch.

Evening:  I got groceries on my way home from work, and had olives, cucumber, and hummus for dinner.

I had started using the following items earlier in the week:

  • Gardein Chick’n Scallopini (half package) $2.50
  • Soy milk $2.79
  • Sliced almonds $2.39
  • 3 bananas $0.75
  • Top Ramen, Oriental flavor $1.50

I got these things from Albertsons:

  • 1 lb dry pinto beans $1.49
  • mixed nuts $3.99
  • 1 can black olives $1
  • frozen blueberries $3.49
  • 4 bananas $1.19
  • green onions $0.89
  • 1 roma tomato $0.31
  • 1 package firm tofu $1.69
  • 2 pears $0.75
  • 1 bunch red leaf lettuce $0.99
  • 1 cucumber $0.99
  • garlic hummus $2.99

Total: $28.20

Obviously that’s more than the $21/week I was aiming for, but remember that I switched my budget to $84 per month.  That leaves me $14.22 for week four.

Day 15 – Saturday, May 15
Morning:  Oatmeal with soy milk.

Afternoon:  Still not feeling well, and didn’t have time to prepare lunch after work the night before.  I had a bowl of Top Ramen, with a package of red pepper I got from my co-workers pizza.  For someone who was already nauseous, I sure did eat a lot of spicy food.

Evening:  I made blueberry muffins after work.  For dinner, I had a muffin and salad with red leaf lettuce, olives, and Greek dressing.

Still a little behind on posts, but I promise to catch up very soon with a post about my day at WorldFest!

May 17, 2010 at 10:01 pm 3 comments

Day 11, 12 & 13

WorldFest is tomorrow in Los Angeles, and I’ll be stopping by after work.  I had counted on the fact that I wouldn’t be able to buy food there, but my friends have been telling me I should give myself a free pass for tomorrow.  Their thinking is that in reality, the benefit of being on a strict budget is to be able to spend a little money for special events.  That may be true, but it still feels like cheating to me.  I think I’ll have to settle for just making mental notes of foods I want to try later, and maybe get some ideas for cooking at home.  But I must say, I have been craving vegan ice cream somethin’ fierce.  Someone else sugested I should be able to eat whatever I can get for free.. I wonder if making really sad faces in front of the Coconut Bliss booth would be effective?

(I had exams this week and I’ve been a little under the weather, but I will catch up with posts in the next day or two.)

Day 11 – Tuesday, May 11
Morning:  Carrot muffin, banana.

Afternoon:  Leftover fried rice from Sunday night, and apple sauce.

Evening:  I got home from school pretty late and I really just wanted to go to bed.  I microwaved a bowl of mashed potatoes and peas while I checked my e-mail.

Day 12 – Wednesday, May 12
Morning:  Scrambled tofu, home fries with mushroom and onion.  I love this meal, and I’m glad I know how to make it now!

Afternoon:  I had been craving eggless egg salad, so I tried some on rice cakes.  The first two bites were delicious, but then I started to realize that it was actually kind of disgusting.  I put the rest in the fridge until I’d have time to make real bread, and had a muffin and some apple sauce instead.

Evening:  Gardein chick’n scallopini with mushrooms and onions, and a side of mashed potatoes.

Day 13 – Thursday, May 13
Morning:  Carrot muffin.

Afternoon:  I baked bread for the first time!  It came out pretty awesome, and the eggless egg salad sandwich was delicious.  Bread recipe from How it all Vegan.

Evening:  For dinner, I decided to make beans on toast.  Ew, right?  To be honest, back when I first heard that beans on toast is a staple in British cuisine, I was pretty confused.. and a little disgusted.  But I had one day ’til grocery shopping, and the only substantial things I had left were my bread, and a can of pinto beans.  So I sliced up a jalapeno and threw it in a skillet with the beans, and when they were almost ready I added some barbecue sauce.  Apparently it’s important to use buttered toast when making beans on toast – I Googled it – so I made toast with Earth Balance and topped it with beans.  I’m sure the homemade-ness had a lot to do with it, and I probably wouldn’t reccommend canned beans on Wonderbread, but this actually came out really tasty.

I mean.. look at the picture.  It even LOOKS gross.  But don’t judge beans on toast by it’s cover.  It was delicious.

May 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm 6 comments

Day 9 & 10

I was boiling potatoes for potato salad last night, and all but one came out overcooked.  I wanted to mash them, but I needed soy milk.  I figured I’d just mention it here and subtract it from next week’s $21, but I decided instead to put myself on a monthly budget of $84.  That had been my plan originally, and I don’t know what made me change my mind, but I’m changing it back.  Some readers had commented as well that this would make it easier for me to buy things in larger quantities that will last me for weeks.  This will also allow me to get healthier snacks, like nuts and hummus, because lately I’ve only been able to afford to snack on cheap carbs and fruit.  I’ll adjust my totals next post, because I need to check the cost of the sliced almonds I had in my freezer.  I also need to add the soy milk ($2.79), and a half package of Gardein ($2.50).

Day 9 – Sunday, May 9
Morning:  On Sunday morning, I made scrambled tofu for the first time.  I took some of my cubed tofu, squeezed out the moisture with my fingers, and crumbled it in a dish.  I sprinkled it with tumeric and a few drops of soy sauce, and added it to a pan with olive oil.  At this point I realized I had gotten so excited about the tofu — complicated by the fact that it was 6am — that I didn’t realize that wouldn’t make a meal on it’s own, so when the tofu was done I made home fries with onions and mushrooms.  I packed everything up and took it to work, and although the tofu came out a little dry, it was perfect mixed in with the potatoes.  This was my favorite meal of the project so far.. but it ended up tying with lunch.

Afternoon:  I had beans and rice for lunch at work on day 8, and honestly I’d be happy eating beans and rice almost every day, but they definitely taste better fresh out of the pan.  Also, I scored some free salsa from my parents’ Poquito Mas takeout.  I have turned down all free food so far, but I think free condiments are acceptable.

Evening:  I tried adding the same type of scrambled tofu to my fried rice, and while the tumeric did add a slightly different flavor, it mainly just turned everything yellow.  In this batch I added (in order):  carrots, onions, tofu, mushrooms, cooked white rice, soy sauce, and a few spoonsfuls of canned peas at the very end.

Day 10 – Monday, May 10
Morning:  I made another batch of muffins from How it All Vegan, with shredded carrots in place of blueberries, cinnamon, and topped with sliced almonds.  The recipe also includes a mashed banana, and a tablespoon of flax seed meal.

Afternoon:  I had one of the Gardein Chik’n Scallopinis I had in my freezer, topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions.  Potato salad on the side.

Evening:  For dinner tonight, I kept it simple with leftover fried rice.

May 10, 2010 at 10:13 pm Leave a comment

Word to your mother.

When I was little, my grandmother taught me not to kill bugs.  Of course I wanted to know why, and she explained to me that I could be killing somebody’s mom or dad.

I was horrified.  I imagined elaborate scenes of a worried mother and baby spiders around a kitchen table, waiting for Papa Spider to walk through the door at any minute, with his tie and tiny spider briefcase.  But Papa Spider wouldn’t make it home from work that day.  ‘Cause I offed him.

Needless to say, I stopped killing bugs.  But I think it was a couple of years before I began applying this principle to food.  I remember the exact restaurant, and the booth I was sitting in when I started wondering about the gender of the food on my plate.  This animal that I had never met died to keep me alive — I can’t think of a relationship more personal than that — and it seemed like something as basic as gender shouldn’t be kept a mystery.  If it was somebody’s mother, was her offspring still alive and now an orphan?

Back then, I was obviously too young to be familiar with the concept of the factory farm.  Now I know that the reality for mothers is far worse than I ever could have imagined as a child.

  • pigs. A mother pig is confined to a metal crate for all of her adult life, without enough space to turn around.  She is artificially inseminated, and confined to a gestation crate during her pregnancy.  Her muscles atrophy, and it is likely that she will develop open sores from lack of movement, and from laying in her own excrement.  After giving birth, she will be moved to a slightly larger farrowing crate, which allows just enough space for the piglets to nurse from outside the bars.  That is the only contact they will have with their mother.  For the mother pig, this is her life for 3 or 4 years, one litter after the next, until she is slaughtered.  Pigs are very intelligent and social animals, and experience severe mental distress under confinement.  With nothing to do, they compulsively chew the bars of their stall, and may go insane.  The horrible conditions of sow stalls have lead to their ban in the UK and Sweden.  In the past six years, they have also been banned in Florida, Arizona, and California.
  • chickens. Farmed chickens never meet their mothers.  In a natural setting, hens cluck to their eggs, and chicks can be heard chirping from inside their shells.  After hatching, chicks in the egg industry are sorted by sex using a conveyor belt system.  Male chicks are useless because they do not lay eggs, and are thrown live into a macerator.  Watch an undercover video of the world’s largest hatchery here.
  • cows. Mothers in the dairy industry are constantly kept pregnant, in order to keep producing milk.  Males are also useless in this industry, so the survival of male calves is not important.  Those who do survive are sold to veal farms, where they are kept in crates to limit their movement, deprived of their mother’s milk, and slaughtered after 4-6 months.  Female calves are also not allowed access to their mother’s milk — it’s on reserve for human consumption.  I don’t understand how more people don’t have a problem with this.  Taking milk away from a baby cow is like pushing down a little kid to take their ice cream cone.  Almost literally.

So now that I’ve used Mother’s Day as an excuse to bum people out, I’ll end with a video of Sonny and Casanova, two rescued veal calves, my brothers from another mother.  I can guarantee that the part when they meet for the first time will make you smile.

May 10, 2010 at 1:11 am 6 comments

Week 2 Shopping & Day 8

I did my shopping at Vons this week.  I usually shop at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, so shopping for produce at a supermarket was pretty strange.  Everything was so uniform.  I felt like I had been transported to Stepford.

  • 5 lbs long grain rice  $3.59
  • 1 can black beans $1.00
  • 1 can pinto beans $1.00
  • 7 oz diced yellow onion $1.50
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes $1.00
  • 2 jalapenos $0.24
  • 1 package extra firm tofu $2.49
  • 1 can green peas $0.79
  • 5 lbs potatoes $1.75  (I actually bought a 10 lb bag for $3.50 and split it with my parents.)
  • 1 lb carrots $0.99
  • 1 artichoke $1.50
  • 1 package white mushrooms $2.99
  • 23 oz Motts unsweetened apple sauce $1.79
  • 1 banana $0.25

Total:  $20.88

Day 8 – Saturday, May 8
Morning:  I got up for work at 5am, and I was going to make scrambled tofu, but I only had time for a banana.  I made lunch for today (with leftovers), which took about 30 minutes.

Afternoon:  Black beans and Spanish rice with onion and stewed tomatoes, and two rice cakes.

Evening:  I had an artichoke, and applesauce.  The Stepford artichoke was huge and I could only finish about half of it.  I’ve always hated wasting food, and so far this project has kept me from doing so.  The only thing from last week that didn’t get eaten was half a can of garbanzo beans, which mysteriously disappeared.  I’m thinking someobody probably threw it out, and nobody is willing to fess up.  I suppose the culprit was afraid of facing my vegan fury.

May 8, 2010 at 10:55 pm 3 comments

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Objective

To prove that I can feed myself tasty, ethical meals for cheaper than a fast food dollar menu.


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