Saturday, November 16, 2013

dollar store cooking round-up

As you know, I've followed the good lead of my pal Melomeals, and have taken the $25 Vegan Dollar Store challenge. This is the Dollar Store haul I've been working with and I also allowed myself a $5 produce outlet bonus. I am still shocked by the amount of food I was able to purchase.

It's been about 5 1/2 days since I went shopping. Here's a recap of what I made/how I consumed the food so far, in combination with pantry items and fresh vegetables from my CSA share [I'll post some recipes today and will share the rest later]...

First, I made a big batch of hummus with one can of chickpeas. I used the recipe from Dreena Burton's Vive le Vegan!: Simple, Delectable Recipes for the Everyday Vegan Family I've tried a lot of hummus recipes, and this one remains my favorite.

That's a lot of pinto beans!
Next, I cooked up the entire pound of dried Rosa pinto beans. Cooking beans from scratch used to be my habit, but as my life has gotten busier, I have come to lean on canned. I had forgotten just how many meals you can squeeze out of a pound of dried beans and just how easy it is to cook them from scratch – even easier if you have a pressure cooker; beans make fabulous recipe fodder. I used most of the pepper stir fry and a good portion of the beans to make a large batch of Bean-Based Sloppy Joes [I'll post the recipe today]. I also sprinkled beans on my salads, using the romaine haul I also took advantage of last week [6 heads for $2]. In addition, I added some beans to my Ginger-Spinach Pâté [I'll post the recipe today] along with the can of spinach, to help make the consistency more spreadable.

Got [too much] beans? Freeze your assets.
And that still left me with 1 and 1/2 cups of beans. By that time, my palate was maxed out on pinto beans, so I froze the rest for future use. Not too shabby, huh?
Bean-based Sloppy Joes, using Dollar Store pinto beans and frozen peppers

I used the V8 as a flavor base for the Sloppy Joes. I'm not a big V8 fan, but it does make a great flavor base. Using it in a recipe also waters down its high sodium content. I love this recipe and took it to work for lunch and also had it for dinner a few nights.

A Dollar-Store based vegan lunch. From top left, Sloppy Joe filling, burger bun [from my freezer], composed salad with Romaine lettuce, dollar store beets, clementines from my stash, hummus to dress the salad, sweet potato chips and an apple from my CSA share. Not exactly starving or unhealthy!
Needless to say, the Biscoff Speculoos cookies did not last long. I nibbled on some, trying extra-hard to parse them out through the week - then caved had extra-generous helpings after a run last week. They were a frugalicious treat.

Dinner salad with sweet potato chip topping. 
I crumbled some of the sweet potato chips atop a salad, which was a fun use. Then I packed the remaining 2 small portions in my work lunch. For some salads, I also used some of the hummus as a dressing.

My Cioci Regina's Borscht [Red Beet Soup] recipe, simplified and frugal-fied
I love sliced red beets on my salad, so that's how I used half the can. I used the other half, along with one quart of soy milk, to make Easy Red Beet Soup [recipe will follow soon]. Since I was only left with half a can, I added 2 red beets which came in this week's CSA share.

It may not be pretty but this Ginger-Spinach Pâté tastes so highbrow you would never imagine it's made from Dollar Store fodder.
I nibbled on the brown rice cakes, throughout the week with different toppings including they hummus, spinach pâté and some almond butter that I had in my fridge. I also used the Ginger-Spinach Pâté as a sandwich spread.

Vegetable-based pasta with olive oil and nutritional yeast.
One evening when I was too tired to cook and all beaned out, I made a serving of Vegetable Rotini dressed simply with olive oil, salt, pepper and some nutritional yeast [which, for you newbies, tastes a lot like parmesan cheese]. I was very impressed with the texture and with the nutrition factor; this pasta is made with pureed zucchini. I am not down with Barilla's definition of family values but I still like their pasta.

Pineapple-Pumpkin Muffins
This morning, I used most of the pineapple and about 1/4 of the can of pumpkin to make these Pineapple-Pumpkin Muffins [recipe will follow soon].

Green smoothies: Not just for well-heeled ladies who lunch
Being mega-frugal, I saved the leftover juice from the drained pineapple and it and the remaining chunks to make a green smoothie, which I'm having for lunch as I write this post. I made it in my Vitamix along with more of the never-ending pile of lettuce, some frozen banana, and a small apple. It's delectable. I am enjoying Whole Foods treats on a Dollar Store budget – who knew?

Here's my tally so far [Partial strikethrough indicates items are partially used]:
  • Forrel [brown] Rice Cakes
  • 12 oz bag Pagasa Eggless Noodles
  • 12 oz Barilla Vegetable Rotini
  • 2 15.5 oz cans Goya Chickpeas
  • 115.5 oz can Goya Black Beans
  • 1 15.5 oz can Goya Kidney Beans 
  • 1 pound bag Rosa dried pinto beans 
  • 13.5 can Popeye spinach 
  • 15 oz can unsweetened pumpkin
  • 15 oz can unsweetened applesauce
  • 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 14 oz bag frozen pepper stir fry 
  • 16 oz bag frozen broccoli cuts
  • 10 oz bag frozen peas 
  • 16 oz bag California blend [frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Is this what you eat in Cali?]
  • 2.75 oz bag sweet potato chips
  • 8.8 oz bag Biscoff speculoos cookies
  • 15 oz can unsweetened pineapple
  • 15 oz can Libby's beets
  • 11.5 can V8
  • 1 Peanut Butter Crunch Clif Bar
  • 2 x 1 quart WestSoy organic low-fat soy milk
As you can see by Melomeals' posts and by mine, it is possible to eat healthily or at least healthier than the Standard American Diet [SAD] on a tight budget.Who else is doing the Vegan Dollar Store challenge? What's your best dollar store food find?

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Melomeals said...

Everything looks so good! I love what you've come up with.. can't wait to hear more about the Ginger Spinach Pate!

karen said...

What a great post! This is such a good idea Melody came up with! I'm glad you're doing it too...

The Veggie Polyglotographer said...

That is such a fun idea!

Kathleen Kibblehouse said...

Fabulous post. Thanks for doing this!

Jerin Marina said...

Thanks for sharing this nice pictures. Delicious and lovely looking Vegetable Pulav. Would surely try it out this weekend as well.