Author Topic: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...  (Read 6269 times)

FuckRx

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Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« on: September 30, 2014, 08:27:49 PM »

I don't mind cooking but would be nice to have things that I can consume with less work. I wanted to get suggestions on what sort of things to buy and have in the house in order to cook with. I'm still hovering around $500/mo. A good portion of that is eating out. I'm vegan which might or might not make things simpler. I'm single and weight about 180 lbs. No food allergies. I have done veggie stir fries a lot and they stay good in the fridge for about 3-4 days so I can take it to work usually. I tend to eat every 2-3 hours though so I gotta have some snacks. If someone has similar diet/appetite/situation would love to hear suggestions or from anyone for that matter.

windypig

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 08:51:51 PM »
There is a subreddit devoted to this topic: http://www.reddit.com/r/eatcheapandhealthy

I am sure you will get some good advice here but the above is a treasure trove

FuckRx

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2014, 09:20:00 PM »
that's a really good link, thank you.
here is a what I jotted down:

brown rice/spinach/tofu
apples with peanut butter
chickpeas with avocados mixed in
yogurt mixed with oats for a snack
wholewheat wraps with lettuce/onion/tomato
make granola to snack on, mix with peanut butter or yogurt
quesadillas with refired beans/cheese/corn

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2014, 09:27:11 PM »
Thanks for asking this! I am commenting mostly to follow. I am also vegan and am trying to reduce food costs.

But speaking of things that are tasty and take less work - I just found this and it is delicious, and so easy. I am going to try to find more one pot vegan meals.

http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/09/one-pan-mexican-quinoa/

Quinoa is a little on the expensive side, so I tried it with brown rice and it worked fine...I just added a little more water.

Heart of Tin

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2014, 10:09:08 PM »
It's Fall. Winter squash should be well priced right now. Cut lengthwise, and lay on a pan cut side down. Bake at 350 for 1 - 1.5 hours until the shell dents easily when poked.clean the flesh from the skin, and mash with oil, salt, and flavor (can include herbs, aromatics, spices, or anything else). Thyme and garlic are good.

Most vegetables are good roasted. Cut them down to about 1" wide if necessary, toss in oil, salt, and flavor, and roast at 450 for 20 - 60 minutes depending on the vegetable. Make sure not to crowd the pan. If it won't fit in a single layer, then use a larger pan.

Sichuan green beans are wonderful. Use either fresh or thawed and drained frozen green beans. Heat about 1/4 cup peanut oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Once shimmering add the green beans. Keep them constantly moving so that they cook evenly. Cook for about five to seven minutes until the outsides blister. Add red chiles if you like it spicy, some minced garlic, and fresh ground pepper (Sichuan if available). Cook about a minute. Add a touch of sesame oil and soy sauce. Cook another minute, then serve.

Many Indian dishes are vegetarian, and can be made vegan very easily.

Noodle

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 10:14:10 PM »
I notice you mention cheese and yogurt...are you using non-dairy versions of those, or are you not a strict vegan (asking because a lot of my quick and easy go-tos are vegetarian but do involve dairy.)

You can add...baked potatoes w. toppings like salsa; tofu salad (like egg salad but sub in crumbled tofu for the hard-boiled eggs); diced potatoes and onions sauteed in olive oil (boil or nuke them first so they don't take forever); vegan chili in the crockpot (there are plenty of recipes that mostly involve opening cans), pasta with sauce and soy crumbles or meatballs; veggie and baked tofu sandwiches on baguette

sunnyca

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 10:53:28 PM »
Crockpots are great for bulk cooking. I soak some beans overnight, and put them in the crockpot with an onion and whatever veggies are handy, and you can have meals for 3-4 days, at least.  I think my crockpot was $10 or so. 

Ethnic supermarkets are great for purchasing cheap produce.  Find out what days the sales are (for example, the local Korean supermarket near me has sales Thursday-Sunday) and purchase stuff then.

Also, I would consider checking online for snacks.  I sometimes use Slickdeals, which can alert you to some great sales.   I got a box of 12 all-organic fruit/nut/seed bars for $3 that way.   

Astatine

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2014, 04:04:01 AM »
I'm an omnivore but do have a fairly good repertoire of vegan legume based meals. Things like lentil dahl, various bean and vegie stews, minestrone soup with beans and pasta, lentil spaghetti bolognese and so on. Dried lentils and beans are pretty cheap!

lakemom

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2014, 04:57:43 AM »
I am a big fan of the cook once, eat twice method of cooking. Since you are single its more of a cook once eat multiple times scenario.  Day one cook up a big batch of favorite meal, eat.  Let the rest cool to room temp then package in meal size portions and freeze (label and date each package). 

Another idea is to make up a big tossed salad and eat from it for a few days, the trick is to not use veggies that will go bad too fast (or add those to your daily serving).  If you have a foodsaver look into the salad in a jar technique.

Bean are another food that is super cheap when done in bulk batches.  Buy and cook dry beans according to package directions.  Let cool, portion out into recipe (or meal) size portions then freeze.  Rice can be done this way too.

MayDay

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2014, 05:02:38 AM »
I make a big pot of soup or stew (favorites are a veggie chili and plain old minestrone with no meat) and freeze it in wide mouth pint canning jars.  Then you can take the jar out of the freezer, put it in your lunch bag, let it start to thaw, and microwave it the rest if the way at lunch time.  Then eat straight out of the jar. 

I often do a big pan of roasted veggies (last night I did fennel, carrots, cabbage, and potatoes) and then throw some chickpeas or chunks of tofu or tempeh on right at the end.  Complete meal, lasts a week in the fridge. 

If you eat eggs (I know you said vegan but you mentioned a few things with cheese) make a quiche or other egg bake and eat all week.  Or freeze and pull out and thaw as wanted. 

Pretty much any Indian food (curry, etc) you can make vegan and make a big pot of, then either freeze in small portions, or eat it all week with brown rice. 

Basically, whatever you make, once you try the recipe and like it, make a double or triple batch, and freeze in small portions, so you can grab one from the freezer easily.

Johnez

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2014, 08:20:03 AM »
My current go-to is simple.  Rice and beans topped with whatever meat is currently on sale.  I suppose you can use tofu or certain veggies, heck I might try that one of these days. 

For healthy and fresh flavor add a dollop of pico de gallo (chopped up tomato, onion, jalepeno, cilantro and a squeeze of lime).  I prepare mine twice a week, stays good about 4 days.  This makes plain old rice and beans pretty mouth watering to me.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 08:22:07 AM by Johnez »

2ndTimer

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2014, 08:21:49 AM »
I, too, am a big fan of the cook a big pot and then freeze small portions.  The only new thing I can add is that I find it gives us more variety which we enjoy.  You can do this even with only a fridge top freezer if you are careful with the shape of your containers.

ZiziPB

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2014, 08:32:10 AM »
My DD is vegan and when she is home from university I switch to vegan mode ;-)  Favorite things to cook: daal (red lentil stew - I usually add canned tomatoes, spinach and zuchini as well as coconut milk - not traditionally Indian but tastes delicious), aloo gobi, vegan chili, chana masala... I serve them all with rice (she is allergic to wheat) but they are also delicious with naan bread.  A big pot (I use my cast iron enamel dutch oven for these recipes) last a few days and reheats very well. 

JuSp02

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2014, 09:52:15 AM »
My go-to snack is oatmeal.  I always keep a bag of oatmeal mixed with dried fruit and nuts (I am currently doing cranberries, raisins, walnuts, and sesame seeds) at work.  Whenever I get hungry, I pour oatmeal into a cup, add hot water, and let it sit for a few minutes.  It ends up a little more watery than if I cooked it on the stove, but it's delicious and filling.

FuckRx

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2014, 11:15:44 AM »
I notice you mention cheese and yogurt...are you using non-dairy versions of those, or are you not a strict vegan (asking because a lot of my quick and easy go-tos are vegetarian but do involve dairy.)

You can add...baked potatoes w. toppings like salsa; tofu salad (like egg salad but sub in crumbled tofu for the hard-boiled eggs); diced potatoes and onions sauteed in olive oil (boil or nuke them first so they don't take forever); vegan chili in the crockpot (there are plenty of recipes that mostly involve opening cans), pasta with sauce and soy crumbles or meatballs; veggie and baked tofu sandwiches on baguette

I usually will substitute the vegan version of cheese/yogurt. Though they tend to be a little expensive and processed but it's ok every once in a while.

I love the baked potato idea/simple and easy to eat
Vegan chili, totally forgot about that one, made that a long time ago and came out halfway decent

Catbert

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2014, 12:12:45 PM »
Hummus with veggies is an easy, healthy snack.  If you want a traditional hummus flavor don't leave out the tahini (cheapest at a middle eastern grocery store like Vine Ripe near the La Mesa Costco).  Lots of other versions of bean dip also (white bean with spinach, pinto with cumin and cilantro, etc.)  Dead easy with canned beans.  Cheaper starting with dried beans.

mollyjade

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2014, 12:30:34 PM »
Look for Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson at your library. Each recipe comes with an estimated cost. Besides the actual recipes, there's a good section on reducing food costs specifically for vegans.

Tai

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2014, 02:12:14 PM »
I second Vegan on the Cheap. Some great and tasty frugal recipes!

NewbieFrugalUK

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Re: Looking to lower food expense and hoping to get suggestions...
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2014, 02:54:38 PM »
I've been vegan in the past, and a firm favourite was baked potatoes with hummus and roast veggies. The flavours go very well together. Obvs if you make your own hummus its even more frugal :)
Also risotto with roast peppers, roast garlic (squeeze out the skins once they are roasted and it adds extra creaminess to the risotto) and portobello mushrooms :)