How to cook and eat for cheaper at home

I normally hate doing these posts because I always think that as a reader, I’d never want to read it.

This is my reaction to cheaper and “healthier” frugal eating: Ugh, people give me advice like eat oatmeal or go vegetarian but if you are a omnivore foodie, it is TORTURE.

I HATE eating oatmeal when I don’t feel like it, I don’t like super frugal cooking and sometimes a girl just wants a big ol’ slice of bacon.

So here I am.

An omnivore foodie who only has 3-4 tricks up her sleeve to show you some vegetarian/vegan recipes that even an omnivore like myself absolutely loves.

1. Eat LESS meat

Note I didn’t say don’t eat meat at all, or give up meat. I’m asking you to try to eat less of it.

I used to eat a big chicken leg for almost every meal (no kidding!), but ever since I split that chicken leg into 2 meals, it’s actually been better for my wallet and my waistline.

2. Pad your meals with rice, pasta or more veggies

I -love- white rice.

I think if I was told to eat wild or brown rice forever, and to never look at a single rice grain again, I would go to a corner and cry.

That said, rice is one of those major staples in my diet.

If I have a meal of a small half-palm sized piece of meat and a full palm of veggies, I’m going to need rice with that, or else I will be hungry in another hour.

Rice also soaks up the flavour of any meat or veggie dish, and makes the meal doubly filling. Imagine having to just eat steak and veggies — I’d need a whole 16 ounce steak to be full!

However, if I eat it with white rice, I could make that 16 ounce steak turn into 4 full meals.

3. Shop in ethnic shops

They usually have not-so-pretty produce for cheaper.

Sometimes they have new veggies you have never even heard of, so why not buy some and experiment?

I find a lot of stuff is cheaper in “low end” grocery stores, or your local bodega.

I am not against using canned vegetables either, but I don’t find them as fresh or as tasty as the real thing.

4. Come up with your hodge podge of what sounds delicious

Here are some vegan/vegetarian ones I’ve just recently experimented with and I actually enjoy eating.

You will notice a trend, and that trend is I love miso paste and chickpeas. πŸ™‚

NOT-HUMMUS


The only thing my not-hummus has in common with hummus is that it uses chickpeas.

This is an almost completely raw vegan dish.

1. Soak dried chickpeas overnight

2. The next day, cook chickpeas with a teaspoon of baking soda and some raw garlic.

Bring the water to a boil, add in the baking soda and the raw garlic.

Throw in the chickpeas and then turn it down to a low simmer.

Let it go for about 30 minutes to an hour. I usually manage to cook all of mine in 30 minutes without having it go into a creamy hummus-texture

3. After the chickpeas are cooked, drain and throw them into a food processor or masher along with the boiled garlic.

I don’t like wasting anything, so I don’t “peel” the chickpeas nor do I throw away the garlic.

4. Add sliced raw zucchini, raw garlic, raw onion, half a lemon’s juice, a teaspoon of miso paste, salt to taste, pepper and a some olive oil if you really want.

You can omit anything you want. I like the bite of raw onions and garlic, but you might not.

It isn’t as creamy as hummus, but with the amount of oil in hummus and the tahini (sesame paste) my face breaks out like mad. I just can’t handle that amount of oil and fat, so I just don’t use it.

Then cut up some baguettes, spread on some non-hummus, top it with a slice of raw tomato and maybe a coriander sprig and you have a delicious, filling meal.

CHICKPEAS AND EGGS

1. Soak dried chickpeas overnight

2. The next day, cook chickpeas with a teaspoon of baking soda and some raw garlic.

Bring the water to a boil, add in the baking soda and the raw garlic.

Throw in the chickpeas and then turn it down to a low simmer.

Let it go for about 30 minutes to an hour. I usually manage to cook all of mine in 30 minutes without having it go into a creamy hummus-texture

3. After the chickpeas are cooked, drain and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs

4. Boil a couple of eggs

Bring the water up to a full rolling boil, drop in the eggs gently with a spoon, turn it down to high, but not super high, and boil for 3 minutes.

Then turn off the stove completely and let the eggs continue to cook for 2 more minutes.

Hard white outside, but a perfect, half cooked runny yolk inside every time.

It’s a bit like having a poached egg without the mess that comes with making poached eggs.

5. Grab a teaspoon of miso paste (keep it cold) and eat with the above meal.

I ate the above for breakfast at 8am and I wasn’t hungry until 4pm.

Oh, the power of chickpeas.. πŸ™‚

I know it sounds weird but damn it was good.

I just thought: Hey what would chickpeas and a nice runny hardboiled egg taste like?

I don’t know. It sounds good in my head, let’s try it.

And that’s how the magic happens. πŸ™‚

MISO NOODLE SOUP WITH MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS


1. Prep sliced mushrooms and green onions and whatever veggies you want

Sometimes I slice in green beans, like above.

2. Bring some water to a boil, add in a good tablespoon of miso paste (depending on how strong you like it, taste as you go along).

3. Throw in the sliced mushrooms and half the green onions.

If you want to make this even heartier, cook some noodles in the broth with the mushrooms.

Or to turn it vegetarian from vegan, crack in an egg or two.

Just before the mushrooms are cooked, add the rest of the green onions.

Stop when you think everything is at the texture you want and eat.

And for a “dessert”, my favourite thing to do is pretty easy.

BANANA “SMOOTHIE” / ICE CREAM

No ice cream involved. Just a bit of milk, soy milk or vanilla yoghurt a tablespoon of honey (if you want, I usually leave it out), and some bananas.

It’s sweet, filling, and great as a quick snack, treat or even a dessert.

You could also put it in the freezer, and pull it out after it’s frozen to have an “ice cream”. πŸ™‚

MAKE SUSHI!

If you are really adventourous, why not make your own sushi at home?

I’m talking about avocado or cucumber sushi.

I eat sushi at home on occasion (BF makes it, mostly), but my favourite dish is simply fresh and raw salmon sashimi on top of white rice with some soy sauce or miso paste, which is not vegan or vegetarian at all, but it takes no time to make.

That’s it.

I know these recipes don’t sound amazing…

But they are cheap, they are filling and they’re most importantly, tasty for anyone who can’t seem to really get into vegan/vegetarian meals and stay there.

These are just some of the tried and true recipes I’ve liked over the past year or so, and will continue to keep making as part of my cuisine.

The keys are to:

  • Find filling items you like to eat — white rice, chickpeas, pasta
  • Find ways to use fillers in your meals more — eat them as sides, put them in meals
  • Eat less meat — or at least consider how much you are eating
  • Experiment without a recipe

You will also notice that a lot of my recipes in general don’t have a lot of oil, fat, mayonnaise or cheese in them, mostly because it makes my face break out a lot, but also because you don’t really need cheese to cover vegetables or dishes to make it taste good.

It will taste bland at first, but you’ll get used to the natural taste of food, without a cover up and you might even prefer it πŸ™‚

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.