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!

Gobbler slices and homemade ciabatta

We spent some time house-sitting for my parents this summer, which was pretty great—we got to hang out with the cats and rabbits, enjoy the sun in the garden, and prepare summer meals in my parents’ kitchen. I love our kitchen in The Hague, but it’s always good to be cooking back home. I especially enjoyed trying out my parents’ bread machine, so we ate a lot of sandwiches. This one was my favourite:
Gobbler sandwich It’s a basic wheat bread from the machine’s instruction booklet with rocket, tomatoes, red onion, the gobbler slices from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day (recipe online here), and a herb dressing from the same book. This was the first time I’d made seitan specifically to slice into sandwiches, and I really like how it turned out. It took me a while to try the recipe because I couldn’t find the instant tapioca it calls for, but I ended up using dried sago, which seems to be very similar if not the same thing. The little balls provide an extra textural element that other seitan recipe don’t have, so I’m glad I gave them a try, but if you can’t find the tapioca I’m sure the slices will still be delicious without it. The seitan recipe makes a lot and freezes well, so it’s good to keep on hand for quick sandwich making. It also seems like the kind of recipe that lends itself well to variations and substitutions, so I’d like to try it with other herbs and spices as well.
I also enlisted the help of the bread maker for my first homemade ciabatta. I’d been meaning to make this bread for a while, but knowing how sticky the dough can be I decided to let the machine do most of the work. I used the method from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen which includes a biga (pre-ferment) recipe that makes enough for several batches of ciabatta. The loaf pictured above was my second try. The first batch was good, but not as airy as I would’ve liked, so I left the dough to rise a little longer the second time. This batch was pretty much perfect, although I should have taken it out of the oven a little earlier—the top was almost burnt! This bread was much chewier and crustier than the shop-bought ciabatta I’ve had, and much cheaper as well, so I definitely want to see whether I can make it without the bread machine at home.

Speaking of inexpensive food, VeganMoFo is coming up, and I’m doing a budget theme. More on that tomorrow!

Salad & Pizza in the Garden

I think I already mentioned on here that we had a pretty crappy summer with loads of rain and not nearly enough sunshine. Needless to say, it was a welcome surprise that the first days of autumn actually turned out to be very pleasant; yesterday my boyfriend and I even spent the afternoon at the beach (No swimming, though; too many jellyfish :( I did bring a cookbook to do some MoFo planning and it turns out my boyfriend would like me to try out all pancake and waffle recipes from 500 Vegan Recipes this month. Not a bad idea…) Today was equally gorgeous, so my parents and I decided to have dinner outside in the garden. I made the pizza dough from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen and the tofu ricotta from Veganomicon, so all we needed were a few fresh veggies to make a yummy summery meal.

My pizza had fresh tomato slices, tofu ricotta, sautéed oyster mushrooms, marinated artichokes (I found these at Xenos and they’re so much better than the canned artichoke hearts I usually get!), sliced red onion and arugula. I know I’ve said it before, but this pizza dough is the best! It’s easy to work with and makes for a delicious chewy/crispy crust. I haven’t always had good results with whole wheat pizza crusts, but I always use a cup of whole wheat flour in this recipe and it works beautifully! I actually prefer the crunchy texture it give the crust. Now all we need is a pizza stone and I’ll never want restaurant pizzas again!

We’d made salads while waiting for the pizzas to arrive, and they were almost as delicious as the pizzas themselves. My plate had mixed lettuce, fresh tomato, red onion, tofu ricotta, some of those delicious artichoke hearts, and the Classic French Vinaigrette from the Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen. The dressing was quick to whip up and made a tasty addition to our salads. We also drizzled a little onto our pizzas.

I hope to  be back with more summery eats tomorrow. Got to enjoy those sunny days while they last!

Rainy Days


It’s been raining for a week now and it’s starting to feel like it’s never going to stop. I usually don’t mind rain, but I have to say this is not what I hoped summer would be like. At least the lousy weather allows me to spend most of my day in the kitchen, which leads to delicious treats such as these:

Ravioli, waiting to be cooked


Homemade stuffed pasta! I’d planned on making ravioli, but I think the shapes I made are technically called agnolotti? In any case, they were quite a success. I made the pasta dough recipe from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen, which was surprisingly simple to assemble and easy to work with, and I used the cashew ricotta from Veganomicon for the filling. We had these with a very simple tomato sauce, which was actually perfect; they’re already so tasty on their own that they don’t need much become a lovely meal. It’s a little sad that the dish took me a few hours to make yet it took us mere minutes to scarf it all down, but these little pasta pillows are definitely worth the trouble! I imagine making fresh pasta also gets easier once you get used to it, so I’d love to use the recipe again in the future.

Chickpea cutlet, fennel risotto, herb-roasted cauliflower

Today’s dinner is a bit too brown to make for a pretty food picture, but it sure was tasty: a chickpea cutlet from Veganomicon (I made a double batch), the fennel breakfast risotto from Vegan Brunch, and the herb-roasted cauliflower and bread crumbs from Appetite for Reduction. All of these recipes are excellent! My boyfriend wasn’t too keen on the roasted cauliflower, though – he prefers to have this vegetable boiled and mashed into potatoes. I guess I’ll make him the Caulipots from AFR next time!

We’ve been cooking from our pantry a lot lately, mainly because we don’t feel like going out in the rain to get groceries and also because it’s a good way to save money. Pizzas are especially pantry-friendly, since you can top them with whatever you have on hand:

Potato pizza

This pizza has cashew ricotta, thinly sliced potatoes, rosemary, and olive oil. Perfectly crispy and flavourful!

Hopefully my next post will be about breakfast on the balcony and picnics on the beach… but it looks as though the rain isn’t going away anytime soon. I guess I’ll go make myself another cup of tea!

Sunny Picnic Food

Last Thursday, we decided it was a perfect sunny day to spend relaxing at the park. It was a little last minute so I didn’t have the time to put together a real picnic, but we had some leftover pizza dough which was just enough for two yummy focaccias.

Muffins & Focaccia

I topped mine with garlic, herbs, onions, olives, and a new (to me) vegan pizza cheese  – Wilmersburger Pizzaschmelz – which I’ll write more about in a later post. We used the dough recipe from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen and it is absolutely the best pizza dough I’ve ever made. I’m going to try to have a batch of the dough around as often as possible, because I love being able to whip up pizza or focaccia whenever the need arises!

Along with the bread, I also made us a batch of muffins. I wanted something summery and fresh, so a lemon flavour was perfect. I made the muffins using this recipe for Lemon Thyme Quickbread, which I’d made and loved before a few years ago. Apart from changing the recipe to turn it into muffins, I also used this clever shortcut to replace the soy yoghurt in the recipe. They turned out just as delicious as I remembered! Hopefully it won’t take me another three years to make the recipe again.

Lemon Thyme Muffin

Here’s a closeup of my muffin! That first bite was as much as I could eat before I was confronted by a big white goose who really wanted me to share. He almost scared me off with his loud hissing, but we decided to stay and watch the little goslings. Cute!

Baby geese!

Apart from eating, reading, and lying in the grass, we also managed to explore the park a little. We paid a visit to the Japanese garden, which is apparently only open to public during a few weeks each year. It was very pretty, so I’m glad we were able to see it before it closed!