Three budget dinners

For this budget-themed Month of Food, I’ve been trying to keep track of the cost of my meals. It’s harder than I’d expected, though, especially when I cook recipes with a lot of different ingredients! Still, it’s interesting to compare recipes in terms of cost, and sometimes I’m surprised to find that certain ingredients can make a dish much more expensive than I’d thought. Below are a few meals I made this week.

Morroccan chickpeas & veggiesOn the left is a plate of the Morroccan chickpeas and zucchini from Appetite for Reduction with a few extra veggies thrown in. This type of recipe recipe is great for budget eating because you can use whatever cheap vegetables you have on hand—I made it to use up some spinach and cauliflower I still had in the freezer. The stew itself was around €0,50 per serving, and we had bread and hummus on the side.

PizzaOn the right: Pizza! I always use a mix of plain and wholemeal flour and make the dough from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen, which costs €0,35 for two large pizzas (we always make a few smaller ones). My toppings weren’t the cheapest, though, so my entire pizza was about €0,70. It was mostly the spinach that made it expensive – a big bag of it seems cheap, but when it all wilts down there’s not much of it left.

I topped the pizza with a sprinkle of the chickpea parmigiana topping from Vegan Eats World, a clever recipe that uses mainly chickpea flour, olive oil, and lemon juice. It costs around €0,35-€0,45 depending on the type of oil you use, but you’ll only use a little at a time so one batch will probably last a long time. This topping doesn’t taste very cheesy to me (mostly just salty and lemony) but it could work as a budget-friendly alternative to nut cheeses or nutritional yeast for sprinkling on top of soups and pastas. Maybe next time I’ll try to add some miso or herbs for a bit more flavour. For this pizza I added the topping just before serving, but I prefer to add it before baking.

Broccoli & potato mash with soy-tan cutlets and chickpea gravyMy boyfriend loooves potatoes, and I got 2,5 kilos of them for €1 so we made ourselves some mash. This plate has mashed potatoes & broccoli with the silky chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction and a soy-tan dream cutlet from 1000 Vegan Recipes. Cost: €0,55. Not bad!

Seitan

seitan
It’s brown food time! (I also made some simmered seitan, but decided to spare you the photos – it looked like brains)

I had planned to spend the first few days of MoFo cooking basic recipes to stock my freezer for the rest of the month, but after this weekend’s bean cooking spree there’s almost no room left! I did make a few seitan recipes today that I’ll be using throughout the month.

On the left are the Gobbler Slices from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day. I’d already posted about these on Saturday, but I made them more budget-friendly this time by replacing the wine with water, using sunflower seed oil instead of olive oil and replacing the nutritional yeast with more chickpea flour. These changes obviously impacted the flavour a little, but they also cut the cost of the recipe almost in half! With the wine and nutritional yeast, the recipe costs over €2, but without them it’s about €1. Of course this depends on where you get your ingredients and I can’t be bothered to calculate the exact price of all the herbs, but it’s pretty cheap! You can get a lot of sandwiches out of one of these loaves.

The Soy-tan Dream Cutlets from 1000 Vegan Recipes in the middle picture are a little more expensive because they’re made with tofu rather than beans, but at about €0,15 a cutlet they’re still quite budget-friendly. I always like the texture of blended tofu in seitan recipes, but I think the tofu I used this time was a little too firm because I could only add half a cup of gluten flour before the dough got too dry. Apart from that, these were very easy to prepare, as there’s no boiling or steaming—you just roll the dough into cutlets and fry them in a pan! They were a bit bland on their own but I think they’ll be great to use in other recipes. I don’t have this cookbook (yet?), but I was able to find the recipe through the Amazon preview.

On the right are the Chorizo Sausages from Vegan Brunch, which cost about €0,30 per sausage. This recipe calls for a few pricier ingredients like smoked paprika and lemon zest (I used some preserved lemon that I had in the fridge), but these do provide a lot of the flavour and I happened to have them on hand so I think they were worth it. The flavour possibilities for these sausages are endless, though, so you could definitely make them cheaper by using whatever herbs and spices you have on hand. If you don’t have the book (I highly recommend it!), you can find the recipe in the Google Books preview (page 139).