Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Under Thirty Dollars at Whole Foods!

Cilantro,pinto beans,Basmati rice and nooch in bulk, lemons, jalapeno,frozen strawberries,bananas,brown rice tortillas,spinach,tofu, sea salt caramel pops
Although thirty dollars was my budget at Whole Foods yesterday I somehow only spent twenty almost twenty one dollars! The gluten free tortillas I got were cheaper at Whole Foods than anywhere else I've seen, and their frozen strawberries and tofu are the same price as Trader Joe's. And I've mentioned before that their bananas are the best bananas I've ever had in my life.
My hemp bags also worked great for my bulk items! I was worried that I would have nooch dust everywhere but my groceries were dust free when I got home.
I stumbled across J.L Fields newest cookbook. I've been reading her blog for quite some time, I felt a little rush of pride like wow I know this person even though I only know her blog! Air Fryers are super trendy right now. They're the new Instant Pot!
I picked up gluten free pasta, potatoes and salsa at work which were the three things I forgot at Whole Foods.
I lucked out at work and found gluten free pasta on sale, our store made salsa is on sale and our potatoes are always pretty affordable. I actually spent $6.19 on food, the extra dollar was cash back so I could get quarters for laundry. So I have like two fifty or so I can use if I need something this week.
Once again I feel pretty good about my haul and I have some ideas of meals I'm going to make with what I got and a few pantry staples. I'm excited to have quesadillas and burritos again. I haven't had a burrito since going gluten free. Burritos are essential to anyone on a budget!!
I have today off thank the universe so I'm going to attempt another gluten free lasagna. I have one other package of those noodles I tried before. This time I'm going to assemble it right before baking instead of hours before. Hopefully that will make a big difference in the texture. If not I'm done with no bake noodles. I have odds and ends of stuff that will be put to delicious use!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Vegan Cookies Make Everyone Happy!

As I've been doing this budget eating and going through my pantry I notice I have a lot of oatmeal. I do this every so often where I'll see a bunch of gorgeous oatmeal pictures and I'll decide I'm going to eat more oatmeal. The problem is I'm more of a savory breakfast gal and I think I only like to look at oatmeal. So I decided I wanted to make some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to take to work and leave out for my coworkers. I did buy chocolate chips which were not in my budget, but I only tested one cookie to make sure they were good so I don't feel like I super cheated. And I cheated for the animals anyway. I believe good food speaks for itself and I wanted to open some minds. And weirdly enough I actually wanted to bake!!
I  just made the cookies with no real recipe. I  made some oat flour out of some of the oats, and combined that with whole oatmeal and then just added the usual suspects like brown sugar, coconut oil, vanilla and two flax eggs. I tasted the batter and when it tasted like delicious cookie dough I knew it was ready to be baked! I have a coworker who doesn't like oatmeal and chocolate together(??!!) so I took out some plain dough an added frozen blueberries for her.
The cookies to the right are the oatmeal blueberry cookies. These were a HUGE hit!! I saw some looks when I said the cookies were gluten free and vegan. We all know the look of "these are going to suck" An I love the look of surprise when it doesn't suck!! I heard people saying to each other "wow, these aren't bad!" I have to admit the pride was real because baking is not my specialty! I joked with one of the supervisors that I was ready to start the vegan division of the bakery. He said all the bakery stuff comes frozen and they just bake and decorate. LOL. Why do they even have all those huge expensive ovens??
This was about forty five minutes after I set them out. Crumbs! Vegan cookies make everyone happy!
Then on my first ten minute break I noticed they had all but licked the foil of all crumbs, meanwhile the samples of the non vegan chocolate chip cookies from the bakery still had quite a few in the bag!!
This proves that vegan and homemade are always going to win!!
This was my budget dinner last night. I had like three different sauces in my fridge that were almost empty so I combined them all and hoped for the best. I mixed a little spicy peanut sauce, a little Kung Pao sauce and some other kind of garlic-y hoisin sauce with some sriracha, a dash of soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil. I poured it over my rice, tofu and avocado bowl and savored every bite. And even though I have this meal often, different sauces always change it up and keep it interesting.
The squirrels and birds were out enjoying the beautiful weather we had yesterday and so of course that gave the girls hours of entertainment! Etta is on the table waiting her turn. Usually all five can fit on the windowsill but Roxy was wanting to constantly lay down and take up extra space. Just her usual diva antics

Sunday, January 28, 2018

What I Ate On a Budget

I made some potato lentil soup for breakfast/lunch yesterday. I seasoned it with Italian seasoning, fennel seed, crushed red pepper and a little cumin. Simple and delicious and of course filling.

Still working on keeping the sick away so I had some more carrot orange juice before work. Look at those gorgeous discount flowers!
Dinner was a real treat. I made some brown rice spaghetti and tossed it with some of this delicious olive tapenade from Trader Joe's. It's only $1.99 a jar and has such great flavor! And because the flavor is so strong this jar will last you awhile. I also baked some tofu and had that on the side. Great combo.
I'm definitely feeling satisfied and content as far as my meals go. I  don't feel hungry or stressed about food. And I haven't had to spend hours planning or hours in the kitchen. It definitely hasn't been complicated. Or expensive.                                                                                                                                                                                          
So Joan and Roxy are the regulators for meal time. They both jump on me in the morning as soon as they see me even move a little. But Kanye is the treat regulator. Our routine is they have breakfast, I have some tea and lemon water while perusing the interwebz. When I'm one with my tea they get treats. So Kanye starts bugging me about halfway through my tea. This morning she was laying under my table/desk rolling around and looking at me with the cutest faces. Of course as soon as I took this picture she looked away!! But I mean showing me her belly is an effective trick!!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Budget Week Marches On

I had to take a picture of my morning smoothie by my twenty nine cent flowers! A week and a day later they are still prettying up my counter! Best twenty nine cents ever! My smoothie ha half an avocado, frozen cherries, flax meal, maca powder and banana. I learned not to add too much flax to a smoothie or it gets a thick egg replacer quality I don't care for.
I also had some more enchilada casserole which I forgot to snap. Again I had it cold and on it's third day it definitely wasn't the prettiest.
For dinner I had some mashed potatoes and gravy. I made my potatoes with lite coconut milk and I also added some grated horseradish and nooch. Adding horseradish to mashed potatoes is one of my favorite things in the world! When you add just the right amount it just gives this little hint in the background. Delicious!
Yesterday I mentioned sauces and condiments are your best friend when you're on a budget. I also wanted to mention fresh herbs and scallions. Usually stores have scallions for two for a dollar, and same with fresh cilantro so spend a dollar and get one of both. They do a lot to not only liven up the flavor, but a little extra green can make a super plain meal look a little fancier and we eat with our eyes too right? I actually forgot both this week and I'm feeling that void.
It's another Caturday morning and of course bird and squirrel watching is going on! You can't see her but Kanye is waiting patiently for her turn! Roxy can't be bothered and is sleeping on the couch in the living room!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Saucy Spicy Budget Vegan

I had another delicious smoothie yesterday morning. This had frozen cherries, flax meal, half an avocado, maca powder and banana. This kept me full for awhile thanks to the avocado. Later in the day I had some leftover enchilada casserole. I forgot to take a picture, but it wasn't pretty. I didn't even heat it up!! But it's kind of like spaghetti and pizza, good hot or cold!
I've had a jar of tandoori spice paste in my fridge for a super long time. Last night I decided to use it on some potatoes and tofu. First I rubbed it on some potato and tofu chunks and let that marinate for about an hour. Then I added a can of coconut milk in place of plain yogurt, put foil over the baking dish and baked for about an hour. It came out tangy and delicious!
I served it with some Jasmine rice an enjoyed every last bite! I don't think I've ever had tandoori anything to be honest!
If you are on a budget, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to have a decent spice, sauce and condiment collection. It can change up your meals and keep simple foods interesting. I eat a lot of the same things. Tofu, potatoes rice and beans because they are inexpensive, and also I like them of course! But I'm able to not get bored because I make different things and add different seasonings and sauces. Look for places that sell bulk spices because you can get as little or much as you want and it's sooooo much cheaper. And look for sauces and condiments everywhere. Dollar stores and places like Big Lots are great places to find cheap condiments.
This is definitely not on the budget challenge, but I've had this for awhile now in my chocolate drawer and last night I had to have a couple of squares. It's soooooo good! The chocolate is creamy and melts easily on your tongue and it has just the right amount of salt. Delicious!
Kanye was laying on her favorite heat vent and as soon as she saw me looking at her she started to pose and show her belly which she knows I cannot resist. Notice her little mouse is nearby for those lazy plays!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Easy Peasy Budget Days

I started my day yesterday with green tea and then when I got hungry I had this smoothie with frozen cherries, spinach, hemp seeds, banana, and maca powder. It was actually pretty filling!
As I was cleaning and making black beans and potato queso I whipped up a carrot orange juice. I'm still drinking airborne and kombucha and carrot orange juice when I can to keep the sickness away.
Notice the flowers are still going strong! Tomorrow it will be a week since I bought them for twenty nine cents!!
I whipped up an enchilada casserole with black beans, rice, homemade enchilada sauce and potato queso for dinner. This meal was around two dollars to make and would be a great meal if you have a family or other people you're cooking for. It's a budget meal that definitely doesn't taste it! For me I will have the leftovers for lunch/breakfast for the next couple of days.
Here it is fresh out of the oven. Hot and bubbly and dying to be eaten! Even though it's made with super simple ingredients it tastes decadent.
I had a little bit of leftover queso so I added it on top of my serving along with some Cholula hot sauce.
I will definitely be eating more food than this on other days. I just wasn't all that hungry early in the day yesterday and so I listened to my body.
So far so good. Not only am I eating well, but I'm able to have juices and smoothies. I've said it a million times, you don't have to live on Top Ramen or spend hours in the kitchen if you're on a budget!
And here is Joan in all her napping glory yesterday. She of course got extra cute when she noticed I was taking her picture. She was born to be a star!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Budget Vegan Haul

Today is day one of my budget vegan challenge. I will be eating all of my meals for the next week on thirty dollars. Well I did go thirty five cents over but I decided to allow it. I also will be using spices and pantry items that I already have. I don't feel like that is cheating because I've been on a tight budget my whole life and that's how you live. I also have some produce like spinach and green onions that I will be using up in the next couple of days. I took a picture of my pantry to show that I don't really have a lot of food, just a few things. More condiments than anything else.

A lot of what yo see to the right is empty glass jars. I always keep glass jars to reuse an I have a lot right now. I also have a million kombucha bottles.
Carrots, gold potatoes,bananas,russet potatoes,lemons,olive tapenade,black beans,oranges,gluten free spaghetti,corn tortillas,tomato paste, frozen cherries, Jasmine rice,tofu 
I also got an avocado that didn't make it in the picture. I think I did pretty great, and I'm excited for what I'll make. I've mentioned a million times I am not a meal planner. I've tried and it just doesn't work for me. I feel like if you are a meal planner eating on a budget would be even easier. But for me I just bought what I like and I will figure it out as I go. My favorite way to cook is to just see what I have and make something out of it.
I also had to compromise with myself a little bit. One of my goals for this year is to reduce my waste. I see so so so much waste at work and I'm horrified. I've been buying the high protein tofu at Trader Joe's because it's vacuum sealed instead of packed in water in a plastic tub. But it's also a dollar more than the tofu in a tub. It was a dilemma and I chose the cheaper version. But I use old hummus containers to feed the feral cats, so I will reuse the tofu tubs in the same way. It's not perfect but it's something.

Kanye is also super excited to see what I come up with in the kitchen. She's also excited to help/be in the way!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Random Monday

I wanted to show the hand sanitizer that I've been using. The company is EO and this is organic and vegan and they never test on animals. This was like $1.69 and it's a spray which I personally like much better than gel. It also doesn't have a super strong scent and it doesn't leave your skin feeling weird. I noticed they also have deodorant wipes that could really come in handy during the summer!
I made these delicious breakfast/lunch potatoes yesterday. I seasoned them with garlic powder, salt, pepper and of course nooch. I dipped them in ketchup and this delicious BBQ sauce. Super good stuff!
I was going to make a sushi bowl for dinner, but I was so drained when I got home from work that seemed like too much work. So gluten free spaghetti with marinara to the rescue! Topped with nooch and crushed red pepper. Sometimes you need a noodle hug!
Tomorrow before work I'm going to shop for my budget week. I think I might do a different store each week to show that it really is easier than some people may think. I think I might even do a week at Whole Foods because they have lowered their prices and also they have a great bulk section.
Speaking of  bulk items, I was gifted these hemp produce bags! A customer gave them to me because I asked him where he got them, and he said they were gifted to him but he never uses them so he gave them to me. I tried to argue but he seriously insisted. He said he'd rather see someone actually use them. What a score right! I told him they would be lovingly used until they fall apart!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Immune Boosting Day!

I had the Monday blues yesterday morning so I made myself some green juice with spinach, tangelos and carrot and watched some Young Turks.
Since I'm working on keeping my immune system strong, I made a miso broth with garlic, jalapeno and green onion and added rice noodles and baked tofu. An sriracha on top because sriracha. This was so soothing. And I'm glad that I'm working on my immune system because several sickies came through my line. One guy even admitted that he had the flu. The maddening thing is that he was with his husband. You kind of understand when people live alone, but couldn't/shouldn't he have stayed home and let DH do the shopping alone? And he paid with cash so I had to touch his dirty money!! I have never been a huge hand sanitizing person, but since I can't leave and wash my hands I have joined the sanitation crew!!
I had some oven fries and baked tofu after work. Dipped in sweet heat BBQ sauce and a little ollop of garlic just mayo.
This was Kanye lounging right before I left for work. She really loves to show off her belly, and I am only too happy to rub it!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Vegan Hauls and Tahini Saves The Day!

I got some groceries yesterday and I couldn't resist these flowers that were on clearance for twenty nine cents!!! It's been five million years since I've gotten flowers for any reason so I coughed up the change and treated myself!
Here's my little Natural Grocers haul. I also got a bag of Epsom salts that didn't make it in the picture. The Cliff bar and the Hail Merry are treats for a coworker.
Lemons, seaweed snacks,potatoes, Tangelos,frozen blueberries, tofu, salsa
red and yellow onion, coconut milk, gold potatoes,avocado,spinach,green onions,bananas
Starting next week I'm going to be doing some more vegan on a budget posts. My haul from Trader Joe's was like thirty five dollars so I'm not too far off. And for me my whole life has been on a budget so I can't really call it a challenge because it's kind of just life for me. But more than the protein question I get questions about the cost and complications of a vegan diet. So I'm going to do a few weeks or maybe a whole month of eating on thirty dollars a week. I hope to show some tasty, simple and interesting meals. I love it when people who are coming through my lane at work tell me they could never be vegan because it's "so expensive" I wonder how much money they think a cashier makes?
Several people at work and tons of customers have been sick and breathing on me and yesterday I had some sniffles and felt a little weak and headache-y. So when I got home from getting groceries I made this tangelo and carrot juice. I also had a huge green smoothie and several doses of Airborne. I capped all that off with a ginger detox bath and I'm happy to report that I scared that cold out of my body. I feel much better today. I'll still be drinking lots of Airborne today because it's back to work.
I made more potato queso yesterday. I recently watched a video on YouTube and they were making this and they insisted that tahini was super important to this recipe so I added some tahini to this batch and man they were right!! The fattiness makes a huge difference, and I think it's better than adding cashews. Tahini is in a lot of vegan cheese recipes and I think it's not only the fattiness but the bitterness too. I've always thought my potato cheese sauce was good, but needed something and now I know what it needed!
For dinner I had a bowl with roasted potatoes, lentils, lots of the queso, extra salsa and Cholula sauce, avocado and green onions an a little diced jalapeno. This was so delicious I want another bowl of it right now!!
I saw a new vegan cheese sauce at Natural Grocers, and it was pretty dang expensive and when I read the ingredients, they were potato, carrot onion and some spices!! It was Miyokos expensive, and at least she uses nuts!! Anyway, this is super easy to make. Most of the time involved is downtime while the potato and carrot cook. Other than that it takes minutes to whiz together.
I can't let a Caturday go by without showing my little lady Roxy. She loves to lay like this and it gets me every time!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday

I forgot I had a few slices of gluten free bread in the freezer from Thanksliving and I also had half an avocado so it seemed like time for some avocado toast! It's been so long and this was sooooooooo tasty! The other two slices have a little coconut oil and nooch.
The other half of the avocado was in this smoothie which also had strawberries, mango, hemp seeds banana an a few walnuts. It also had a few frozen blueberries too. Really tasty and filling.Since I'm trying to lower my waste and we don't have recycling at work anyway(!!??) I haven't been buying cashewgurt so I've been experimenting with more fats early in the day to tide me over. I'm okay until around nine or ten P.M. and then I start feeling pretty dang hungry. But adding a little avocado to smoothies definitely makes more filling!
I marinated some extra firm tofu in Kung Pao sauce while I was at work and just popped it in the oven while I made some rice. The tofu was so delicious. Taking those few extra minutes before work to do a little meal prep makes such a difference. I see lots of people at work buying frozen meals and I assume they're single because they're buying lean cuisine meals for one and things like that. It always makes me feel a little sad for them. I've heard single people say they have no one to cook for so they just don't. They forget about themselves. You don't have to get super fancy but I think cooking for yourself is very important. It's an act of self love. But a lot of those people are also buying cigarettes, energy drinks and tons of soda so I assume self love/care isn't a priority. I know it wasn't for me when I was unhealthy. Anyway, this was delicious and just about as effortless as any packaged food!
I was also looking forward to coming home to this little sweet thing! She loves my bed in the afternoon because that's when the sun hits!