Thursday, February 17, 2011

Week 6: Project Food Budget

Week 6 of Reluctant Vegetarian's Project: Food Budget

Goal: $100
Actual: $94.81

Six weeks in to this food budget project, I've learned I can save a lot of money by
  • Buying some produce (lemons, limes, bananas, and garlic especially) and basic staples (chocolate chips, cocoa powder, whole-wheat pasta, frozen strawberries, maple syrup, and olive oil) at Trader Joe's. Is there anywhere else where you can get a quart of olive oil for $5.99?!
  • Stocking up on produce on sale at Giant Eagle.
  • Stocking up on sale items at Right By Nature. When they put stuff on sale, it's usually a huge discount--$5 off tahini, $6 off whole-wheat flour, etc.
  • Taking measuring cups to the bulk bins and buying only what I need. (This was another blogger's suggestion--thanks to whomever it was!)
  • Buying spices, dried beans, and rice from Indian groceries.
  • Baking my own bread (and pitas, pizza dough, and other breads) and cooking my own veg stock. I did the cost analysis, and baking my own bread saves me $16.34.
  • Cooking my own beans. Yes, canned beans are inexpensive, especially at Trader Joe's. But it's ridiculously cheap to buy a bag (especially at an Indian grocery) and cook your own. I'd like to do the cost comparison, but I know it's a lot cheaper.
  • Planning meals in greater detail. I've always planned my meals for the week, but I now have a daily planner devoted just to meals, ensuring that I can use leftover ingredients in other recipes before they go bad.
  • Mixing my weekly meal plan up with simple meals like scrambled tofu and sauteed greens and more complex meals that use more ingredients.
  • Reducing the amount of desserts I make. After I got Isa and Terry's Vegan Cupcakes and Vegan Cookies cookbooks, I went crazy making either cupcakes or cookies every single weekend...and then giving them away to neighbors or coworkers so that I didn't eat them all. Obvious waste of money!
In addition to fruit and veggies and other staples, the budget for this week goes to:
As I do every week, I baked my own whole-wheat bread. I also made veg stock and baked sesame pita pockets.

Check out the other participants:


  1. This is genius: "Taking measuring cups to the bulk bins and buying only what I need." I would like to thank the person who said that, too! I'm perpetually left with 1/4 cup of Israeli couscous or some other thing.

    Beans: I know a lot of vegan chef people are big advocates of using a pressure cooker for beans and making batches for the week. The new person on the budget blog roll this week (Melody @ Vegan for $3.33 a Day) does this with her grains and beans and even sauces:

    Pressure cookers are expensive, but I'm wondering if it will end up paying for itself if I stop buying canned beans so much.

  2. you're awesome!

    i love the list of what you've learned so far. we used the bulk bins on vacation for pine nuts. spent $3 for what we needed vs $13 on a box that will just sit.

    i also wonder at what point do pressure cookers become worth the cost.

  3. Oh, here's her thing on the sauces. Forgot to post:

  4. Great idea--I'm going to look into a pressure cooker! I slow cook my beans when I have time because they come out really well. They can come out broken when I cook them in a pot if I'm not diligent about watching to make sure the simmer is just right & doesn't boil. I'm going to check out what Melody does. Thanks!