Vegan Cooking: Eating Creatively on a Budget

Vegan Cooking: Eating Creatively on a Budget

Have you ever opened your refrigerator and thought to yourself..."I literally have nothing to eat".

When I'm hungry and I don't want to cook, I often have these thoughts. I wish I had an in-house cook. Oh wait, I forgot that person's supposed to be me.


Since I'm not working, I've made a concerted effort to reduce my expenses and stick to a monthly budget. To achieve this goal, I try not to eat out or order takeout. In sticking to this plan, I have to get creative with food and remind myself that I have food to eat; so don't go out and spend money unnecessarily.

What's In Your Pantry?

Two cool things about being a vegan: 1) it's an inexpensive lifestyle and 2) keeping essentials in your pantry ensures you'll always have something to eat. Since becoming vegan, I've come to realize I can make a tasty meal using ingredients the average person often overlooks. 

Did you know that can of beans can become a veggie burger? Or that by keeping flour in your pantry you can make homemade bread instead of running to the supermarket?

Before you utter the phrase, "I have nothing to eat", take a look in your pantry.  

My Go-To Recipes

Below are a few of the vegan recipes I've made recently that reduced my grocery bill while ensuring that I achieve my larger goal of sticking to my budget. 

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

I got this recipe from the Happy Herbivore cookbook and website.

This is my nonvegan daughter's favorite veggie burger. I make these after school for my daughter with homemade potatoe wedges.

These black bean veggie patties can be made using ingredients you already have in your pantry or cupboard. Ingredients include: 15 ounce can of black beans, ketchup, mustard, oats, onion and garlic powder.

Click here for recipe and instructions

I'm sure you already have ketchup mustard, garlic powder and oats in your cupboard; so go grab a can of black beans and onion powder; and you too will be on the road to deliciousness. 

A can of black beans ranges from $0.79 to $1.19; depending on where you shop. A bottle of onion powder cost as little as $2.96; again that depends on where you shop. This meal usually costs me $0.79 cents for the can of black beans; I consistently have the other ingredients in my pantry but the beans must be replenished weekly. 

Johnny Cake

This is my go-to recipe when I'm out of bread. I'm actually going to make it right now. The recipe hails from Belize, my mother's birth country, it's a Belizean staple. 

I learned how to make this yummy bread not from my mom but from Pinterest. You see my mom is old school; by old school I mean she never uses measuring tools, she just eyeballs everything she cooks. Everything! Her instincts and cooking skills are amazing, but not using tools makes it challenging to share recipes passed down within our family over the phone. 

My mom, grandma, and auntie often make Johnny cakes when we get together for breakfast. We eat it with refried beans or cheese; vegan cheese for me. My daughter loves it with strawberry jelly. Personally, I love it with smashed avocados, salt, and pepper.  To me, everything tastes better with an avocado on it.  

Click here for the recipe. 

This recipe usually costs me about $3.99; the price of five-pound bag of unbleached organic flour. I bake a lot, therefore, I tend to have the other ingredients: baking powder, baking soda, coconut milk, salt and vegan butter or vegan shortening in stock. I never seem to have enough flour. The recipe yields about 16 medium sized Johnny cakes. It doesn't require refrigeration. I don't know how long it stays fresh; my family devours it in a week. 

I love making Johnny cakes; it reminds me of home and holidays with my extended family.   

Mushroom Tacos with Corn Tortillas 

I love mushrooms and last week I created this quick recipe to combine my love of mushrooms with my love of Tacos. Now, I understand that to some of you this picture of the Tacos may not look appetizing, but I assure you it is AWESOME! It took the picture with my iPhone in poor light. Don't judge me. 

Mushrooms are always on my shopping list; I eat it as a side or with my favorite vegan breakfast sausages.  Cremini mushrooms are my favorite; I used it to make these delicious tacos. This takes about 15-20 minutes to make. 

  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 stalks of green onions
  • 2-3 cups cremini mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 corn tortillas

Toss all ingredients into a sauté pan and cook until mushrooms are tender.

In a separate pan or on a griddle, warm up the corn tortillas; about 30 seconds on each side will do. 

Garnish tacos with your favorite toppings. I usually add guacamole, salsa, and cabbage or spinach.

Serve warm and enjoy! 

I get my mushrooms from Trader Joe's and it usually runs about $2.29 per container (buy two so you can have leftovers); green onions are about $1.99 per bunch. Corn tortillas are $1.99; again these prices depend on where you shop. 

Eating well can truly be economical. It often involves me going to a couple different stores (Trader Joe's, Aldi, Whole Foods, Publix and the Green Market) to buy the things I need but I'm okay with that. After all, when you're on a budget it's most important to shop smart and to remember that anything in your pantry or refrigerator has the potential to become a delicious meal. All you need is an open mind, creativity, and Pinterest.

Oh and a good vegan cookbook!

Images from Death to Stock Photo


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