It’s a well-known fact that the thing I spend the most money on (outside of rent, because Vancouver), is food.
Some girls are into expensive handbags, but me? I prefer cheese (okay, and Fluevogs).
I buy a lot of food. I sometimes am at the grocery store every day. A well-stoked pantry makes me happy. Options for dinner make me happy. Being able to satisfy my cravings without leaving the house? Happy.
I have a few tricks I’ve learned over the years to help keep my food budget under control, but I’m always happy to accept a little help from the experts.
One cookbook I’ve really relied on in this area is Good and Cheap, but it’s not vegetarian, so my use of it is somewhat limited.
I made a bunch of recipes from the book: Seitan, Lasagne Soup, Chocolate Lava Pancakes, Cinnamon Rolls, and Chocolate Walnut Cookie Bars.
My favourite of all the recipes were the Chocolate Walnut Cookie Bars. They were basically brownies, though the texture of them was perhaps a bit firmer than I usually make my brownies. They were chocolatey, soft in the middle, with the crispy bits on the sides… and I loved the addition of walnuts for crunch. I will definitely make this recipe again.
I was quite pleasantly surprised by the Lasagne Soup. I was a bit on the fence about it when I read the recipe. It seemed really simple and I wasn’t sure that it would be hearty and fulfilling, but it totally was. I made it when I had a cold and it really hit the spot. Michael tried it and he liked it. It made a big batch, so I have frozen the rest to bring to one of my mama friends. I’ll share this recipe with you later in the week.
The Cinnamon Buns were also good. This recipe was for quick cinnamon buns, meaning they were unyeasted and didn’t have to rise. I made them on a weekend morning for brunch. They were good out of the oven, still warm. I added a quick glaze to them to finish.
The Seitan was good, basic. Much like many seitan recipes I’ve made before. Seitan is a tough one to include in a budget cookbook, as vital wheat gluten can be expensive, though it goes a long way.
Finally, as it was Pancake Day, I made the Chocolate Lava Pancakes. I maybe did them wrong? Cooked them too long? As they weren’t lava-y enough for me. I also thought they could have been more chocolatey-er.
There’s a section in the front of the book for money-saving tips, and also a few sample menus, which I appreciated.
But I think I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a discussion about budgets and how to eat well for less. I realize this is somewhat challenging to do when you are trying to sell a cookbook that is going out to different parts of the country, or even in the world. Prices for veg and other staples vary wildly based on where you live, where you shop, and what time of the year it is. But sample meal plans with dollar figures would have been cool, or perhaps an estimation of how much each dish would cost per serving.
All in all, Vegan on a Budget contains recipes that are simple, and mostly contain a few basic ingredients that shouldn’t be difficult to find. I would recommend this book for college students, or those just striking out on their own and learning to cook, who may also be on a smaller, fixed budget.
It would also be great for new vegans who want easy, accessible recipes.