No Substitute

Delectable Dime

by Faith Escher

With all the trends and diets that fade in and out of the mainstream light, we see a lot of new recipes and some wonderfully healthful tips. Some trends are super easy and accessible like avocado toast, while other trends are quite involved and require a lifestyle transformation and acabinet makeover. The interesting thing about this is that some recipes catch on like wildfire and then quickly leave the center stage, while other foods are unique and aesthetically pleasing and we make them once for guests and then forget about them forever. So few of these recipes actually make it into our recipe boxes, and so few of them become apart of our what is it about a recipe that makes us want to make it again and again?

What I have found is that there is no substitute for an amazing recipe that has been tried and tested over the course of many years, experimented with and perfected by chefs who add a little of this and a little of that, but stay true to the classic dish in its most authentic form. Classic recipes that have been perfected throughout the years are those gems that we love to keep for a “comfort food” kind of day, or a homemade meal with our families.

This week, I have collected several recipes that are time tested favorites! These are plant based foods that I have loved since I was a kid, before I even thought or cared about whether something was healthy or plant based--these kinds of dishes won me over! While these are not the original recipes that I ate at home in my childhood, they were collected as an ode to some of my all time favorite meals growing up, and even now! I hope you love them as much as I do!

Vegan Falafels with Tahini Dressing

Total Budget: $100 or less

All recipes serve 4

NOTE: Garlic (2) = how many recipes the ingredient garlic is used in. For example, “Garlic (2)” means we will be using garlic in two of our recipes for this week.

The Shopping List For All 5 Dinners

  • 17 oz Container of grapeseed oil - $3.79 (1)
  • 1 Small carrot - $0.50 (1)
  • 1 Small garlic bulb - $0.50 each (3)
  • 3 Yellow onions - $2.67 (3)
  • 1 Bunch of fresh parsley - $1.00 (1)
  • 1 Bunch of fresh cilantro - $1.00 (1)
  • 1 Bunch of spinach - $1.00 (2)
  • 1 Bunch of fresh basil - $2.99 (3)
  • 2 15 oz Cans of garbanzo beans - $2.00 (1)
  • 2 oz Container of chili powder - $2.57 (1)
  • 2 oz Container of cumin powder - $4.00 (1)
  • 2 oz Container of oregano - $3.45 (2)
  • 2 oz Container of thyme - $4.12 (1)
  • 1 Stalk of celery - $2.29 (1)
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes - $1.68 (1)
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans - $1.00 (1)
  • 1 Zucchini - $1.00 (1)
  • 16 oz bag of gluten free pasta - $2.99 (2)
  • 4 Large portobello mushrooms - $5.00 (1)
  • 8 oz Bottle of balsamic vinegar - $3.99 (3)
  • 1 Large tomato - $0.89 (1)
  • 4 Hamburger buns - $2.69 (1)
  • 5 oz Container of nutritional yeast - $5.98 (1)
  • 8 oz of Walnuts - $4.68 (1)
  • 2 16 oz Cans of whole tomatoes - $3.54 (1)
  • 1 Large eggplant - $2.00 (1)
  • 1 16 oz Log of pre cooked polenta - $1.99 (1)

$65 - $75.00  *Prices may fluctuate depending on tax, store, sale and season. I paid $69.31 this week.

If you followed us last week you already have the following; however, if this is your first week you will need to make these additional purchases (appx $11.47) or substitute with ingredients you have in your cupboard.

  • Olive oil - $3.99 for 12 oz container (4)
  • Salt and Pepper shakers - $3.49 (5)
  • 2 oz Container of ground coriander spice - $3.99 (1)

Recipe No. 1

Vegan Falafels with Tahini Dressing | Cook Time: 15-20 Minutes (Requires 1 hour of refrigeration time)

Source: Jenna Garcia of | Link to instructions

  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans*
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ½ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour**

Note: This recipe is from one of our own Foodie bloggers at Trendeing! I highly recommend following Jenna’s foodie blog, it's a fantastic read and the recipes are always amazing! **You can use any kind of flour that you have on hand, the flour is not on the shopping list.

Recipe No. 2

Vegan Minestrone | Cook Time: 50 Minutes

Source: Vegan Richa | Link to instructions

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ¾ cup chopped carrots
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomato
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup elbows or other pasta (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 3 tbsp chopped basil

Note: Minestrone has always been one of my favorite dishes! I just love it. This recipe is especially great because it is so hearty! With the beans, the noodles, the chunky tomatoes and the fresh veggies, it is so satisfying. If you like your soup chunky like I do, you can cut your veggies into large pieces, but if you like the soup to be thinner you can cut your veggies into very small pieces too!

Recipe No. 3

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger | Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Source: Well Vegan | Link to instructions

  • 4 large portobello mushrooms, wiped clean with dampened paper towels
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tomato, cut crosswise into ½-inch slices
  • *1 bunch arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Note: *Since spinach was on the shopping list already, I used spinach instead of arugula, but I’m sure that the arugula is delicious as well! This recipe also contains an additional recipe for vegan basil aioli. I have not included the recipe in the shopping list or on the ingredients list, but if you want to try the aioli the only additional purchases you would need to make are vegan mayonnaise and a lemon and you can find the recipe in the same link.

Recipe No. 4

Vegan Basil Pesto | Cook Time: 15-20 Minutes

Source: A Couple Cooks | Link to instructions

  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • ⅓ cup walnuts
  • ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Note: This recipe is incredibly easy! Just boil some pasta (on shopping list) and throw this sauce on top and you have a delicious dinner!

Recipe No. 5

Layered Eggplant and Polenta Casserole | Cook Time: 1 Hour

Source: Martha Stewart | Link to instructions

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 lbs canned tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh oregano*
  • ¾ cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ¼ lb medium eggplant, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 16 oz log of pre cooked polenta sliced into ¼-inch rounds

Note: This recipe calls for fresh oregano, but I used dried oregano because it was already on the shopping list.

Hello, World!

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With all of my experimenting in the kitchen, there is something to be said about a solid recipe that is predictable, authentic, classic and comforting. Sometimes there is no substitute for a classic plant based meal.


A Couple Cooks, & Sonja. (N.D.). Vegan Basil Pesto. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from



Garcia, J. (2017, February 20). Vegan Falafels with Tahini Dressing. Retrieved May

           11, 2017, from website:


Stewart, M. (2002, September). Layered Eggplant and Polenta Casserole. Retrieved

           May 11, 2017, from website:


Vegan Richa. (2016, December 5). Vegan Minestrone - Veggies Pasta & White Bean

           Soup. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from website:


Well Vegan. (2017, March 6). Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger with Basil Aioli.

           Retrieved May 11, 2017, from website:  



Faith Escher

Faith is passionate about pursuing ways to simplify life in order to help people find the adequate time and resources to cherish and invest in what is important to them. Whether it be traveling, cooking, adventuring, or studying, she desires to treasure the present, while daring to dream big for her future, and the futures of those around her. Faith is an enthusiastic practitioner of American Sign Language and Education.