The Delectable Dime
by Faith Escher
I began my journey as a Vegan my freshman year of high school, and would have been so consistently had I not been disheartened by two common myths that prevented me from carrying my plant based diet into my college experience. The first myth I believed was that being a healthy vegan was too expensive, and the second was that it took too much time to plan and prepare delicious plant based meals.
Over the last couple years, I have reminisced over the cookbooks and recipes of my vegan lifestyle of prior years, and in my ponderings I have realized that my non-vegan self of recent years was not saving money or time by using animal based products. Further, I was surprised to learn that by eliminating meat and animal products (as well as white flour, white sugar) from my shopping list, I wasted no time and added no extra cost; conversely, it saved me time and added nothing but joy to my already full and happy life.
My primary goal in creating this weekly blog is to empower you to create affordable and healthy meal options and to dispel the myths that eating healthy is expensive and that it is labor intensive. I will do this by providing you with the tools you need to flourish on a dime and in no extra time.
As a college student one of my highest priorities is to rest within a modest budget. Given this parameter, the base budget for the blog will be $60-80 a week and will never exceed $100. The shopping list and recipes will be easily accessible so that you can simply copy the ingredients, shop at your favorite local market, and enjoy the recipes that I provide. These weekly blogs will be designed for families of four, with five key dinner entrée recipes, and a few additional ingredients for extra savings on breakfast and lunch. I will also put aside a portion of the budget for an optional luxury, so that you can buy that one specialty item you just don’t want to live without! This, for me, is coffee (and yes you can drink coffee as a vegan).
In addition, the weeks will have a theme so that you do not have to buy 10 different kinds of spices, vinegars or oils. For me, as a vegan, there was nothing more discouraging than buying a tub of tahini for $10.79, using a tablespoon of it for one salad dressing and then watching it sit lonely on the shelf…so I will spare you the tahini trauma. Each week will use a fresh herb or two, some kind of seasoning or spice and one type of natural oil. This way, you purchase only what is necessary and can consider each week as an opportunity to slowly expand your spice cabinet. Not all of the recipes in this blog are original; rather, they will be collected to form a weekly mosaic of my favorite recipes from cookbooks, blogs, vegan websites and a few creations from my own kitchen.
I am excited to step back into a world of vegan recipes with a transparent budget and authentic lifestyle; thank you for joining me on this quest.
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
- 1 Large or 2 small garlic bulbs – $1 at 50 cents each (3)
- Small stub of ginger root – 50 cents at $3.99/lb (2)
- Real maple syrup or agave – $3.99 for small bottle (3)
- Soy sauce or Tamari – $1.99 *GF version is usually more expensive (3)
- 1 Bag of Jasmine rice – $1.99-$3.49 a bag (3)
- Crushed red pepper flakes – $2.99-$3.79 for spice container (2)
- Olive oil – $3.99-$6.99 for 12 oz container (4)
- 1 Lime $0.39 cents each (1)
- 2 Portobello mushrooms – 2 for $3.99 (1)
- 2 Red bell pepper – $2 at $1 each (2)
- 2 Bunches of broccolini – $4.58 for 2 bunches at $2.29 a bunch (2)
- Green onion – $1 per bunch (2)
- 1 White onion – $1 each (1)
- 1 Purple onion $1 each (1)
- White vinegar or rice vinegar – $1.99-3.49 per bottle (2)
- Fresh basil leaves – $3-$4 per large value pack or 2 small boxes (4)
- 4-6 Ripe tomatoes – $5 (1)
- 6 Ripe avocados – $5 (1)
- 1 Lemon – $0.39 cents each (1)
- 1 Box living butter lettuce – $2.99 each (1)
- 3 Baby egg plants or 2 medium – $5.98 at $2.99 each (1)
- 1 Carton of baby bella mushrooms – $2.29 (1)
- 2 Carrots – $0.50 cents at $1/ lb (1)
- 1 Cucumber – $0.99 cents each (1)
- 1 Bin or bag of your favorite greens – $5.00 (1)
$65-$75 *Prices may fluctuate depending on tax, store, sale and season. I paid $65.35 this week.
- Quick Cook Steal Cut Oats – $3.99
- Bananas – $0.39 cents each at $1.95 a bunch
- Popcorn Kernels – $1.99 per bag
- Loaf of bread – $2.49
- Hummus – $2.50
- Note: Use your extra veggies to make a Hummus, avocado and tomato sandwich on the run.
- Coffee – $5 bag
- Almond milk – $2.50 per carton
Increases the necessity budget by $20.42
*Tax not included, prices may fluctuate depending on store, sale and season.
Recipe No. 1
30 Minute Portobello Mushroom Stir Fry | Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Source: The Minimalist Baker | Instructions in link:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp)
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 3-4 Tbsp agave
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flake (more or less to taste)
- 3-4 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten free)
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil (*Substitute for Olive oil)
- 3 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 Tbsp water
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chopped broccolini
- optional: 1 cup chopped green onion
Cook 2 cups of rice with dish to serve on the side.
Note: A junior botanist at heart, I love veggies and plants! I love to go to the farmers market and ask a million questions about the buddha’s hand fruit and taste every variety of leafy green; however, I understand that not everyone is obsessed with raw foods like me, so for this blog I will share recipes that the whole family will enjoy. However, if there is something you just can’t stand—like cilantro, for instance—have no fear! Try substituting the recipe for one in an earlier week that was a family favorite, or simply omit or substitute the one ingredient you are not particularly fond of.
Recipe No. 2
Thai Spicy Eggplant with Sweet Basil | Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Source: Vegetarian Times | Instructions in link:
- 1 Cup Rice (*I doubled rice to serve 4)
- 2 Tablespoons Oil (*Use olive oil)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper to taste
- 3 baby eggplants, cubed into bite-sized chunks (*I used two large eggplants)
- 1 medium sized onion diced
- 1 medium sized red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons dark soy such as tamari
- 2 tablespoons agave (*brown sugar used in original recipe)
- 20 fresh basil leaves
Recipe No. 3
Avocado Caprese Salad | Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Source: Crushing Cancer Kitchen by Dana McIntyre | Instructions in link:
- 4 Fresh tomatoes
- 2 Ripe avocados
- ¼ Red onion
- 1 Handful of fresh basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (*use affordable olive oil)
- Optional salt
- Optional Fresh greens
Note: I brought extra avocados and tomatoes to stretch the recipe, but you if you stick to the recipe you can use your extra purchased avocados and tomatoes from the list for a lunch sandwich later.
Recipe No. 4
Broccolini and Mushroom Stir Fry | Cook Time: 30 minutes
Source: The Collegiate Vegan | Instructions in link:
- 10z baby bella mushrooms (standard carton size) sliced
- 1 bunch broccolini, stems trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Recipe No. 5
Thai Spring Rolls with Simple Dipping Sauce | Cook Time: 20 minutes
Source: “Students Go Vegan Cookbook” by Carole Raymond link to book | See Instructions Below ingredients list
Note: Recipe is for 1 serving size, quadruple the recipe for 4 people.
- 1 ½ Cups shredded lettuce (inner leaves of butter lettuce)
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced carrots (lengthwise)
- ½ avocado, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced cucumber
- 2-4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Use the larger outside leaves of butter lettuce as a wrap. (Note: if you prefer another kind of wrap such as a coconut wrap or rice wrap feel free to be creative!)
Simple Dipping Sauce:
- 2 teaspoons agave
- 2 tablespoons soy
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Arrange thinly sliced veggies in your lettuce wrap, as desired, carefully. Once the wraps are assembled you can dip them in the sauce or sprinkle the sauce on each wrap.
At times I will save my leftovers for lunches throughout the week, but often, as a household of one, I love to invite a friend to cook and eat with me so that we can share in the pleasure of cooking and feasting together. One of my very favorite things about cooking is sharing it with others.
I recently stumbled upon a statement that Shauna Niequist made in her book “Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way,” and it resonated with me. She said, “I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.”
Whether you eat by yourself or with your family, roommate, significant other, or friend; whether you decide to use cooking these recipes as an opportunity to get to know someone who shares an interest with you; or whether you use it to make your life just a little bit more convenient, I hope that in reading, shopping, preparing and eating, this blog gives you the tools to crave the creativity, savor the simple, and to invest in what is most important to you.
Heising, M. (2015, January 21). Broccolini and Mushroom Stir Fry. Retrieved February 3, 2017,
from TheCollegiateVegan.com website:
McIntyre, D. (2016, May 22). Avocado Caprese Salad. Retrieved February 3, 2017,
from TheCrushingCancerKitchen.com website:
Avocado Caprese Salad
Raymond, C. (2006). Thai Spring Rolls with Simple Dipping Sauce. In C. Raymond (Author),
Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook (pp. 41-43). New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
Schultz, D. (2012, N/A). 30-Minute Portobello Mushroom Stir Fry. Retrieved February 3, 2017,
from MinimalistBaker.com website:
30-Minute Portobello Mushroom Stir-Fry
The Vegetarian Times. (N/A). Thai Spicy Eggplant with Sweet Basil. Retrieved February 3, 2017,
from TheVegetarianTimes.com website: