Category: Frugality

good will hauling *

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Yesterday’s Goodwill finds!

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For $75 and some change, I got:

– 6 books (Body Double and The Keepsake, both from the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen – I can’t believe those weren’t scooped right up!; The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory; Ladies of Liberty by Cokie Roberts; Wanderlust: Real-Life Tales of Adventure and Romance, edited by Don George of; and Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury);

– 6 plates (including some adorable plastic kids’ dinnerware: Hello Kitty, Scooby Doo, and Winnie the Pooh);

– 6 ice cream bowls (or rather, six teeny tiny dishes that I’ll pretend are ice cream bowls);

– 1 Pyrex baking dish (because you can never make too many brownies at one time!);

– 1 bread machine, circa 1998 (we already own one, also from Goodwill, but the pan is beat and we can’t find a replacement – boo!); and

– 22 t-shirts. I know, right. TWENTY-TWO T-SHIRTS. You can tell that I don’t go clothes shopping very often.

And I guessed the total! (Minus the change, but who does that? No one. No one guesses change, that’s who.) I RULE. **

We were also tempted by an enchilada maker, but passed ’cause we weren’t sure how much use it’d get. They’re easy enough to make in a skillet, right?

The closest Goodwill is ~ a 45-minute drive from our house, so unfortunately I don’t make it there very often. Shane and I just happened to be in the neighborhood, running some errands, and we had five bags of clothes and knick knacks & what-nots to drop off, so there you go. Definitely the longest stop of them all.

And now if you’ll excuse me, Rennie cannot wait to give the bread machine a whirl.

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(Pssst, don’t tell her, but we also bought a pool raft at Target. SO I CAN TAKE HER SWIMMING WITH ME! Best mom in the world, I am. Or the worst, depending on your pov.)

* Shane’s idea of a post title. So many regrets. So. Many.

** Then again, a number of the dishes I purchased were displayed in fours – but seeing as I only needed one of each for my not-so-gourmet food critic photography, that’s all I took. That’s right. I AM A SPLITTER OF SETS. The vilest of creatures. The reason why you have six vintage Demitasse teacups but only five matching saucers. THAT person. Seriously, I should be shot on sight.

Get Free Stuff @ Nasoya’s Tofu U!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

“Enroll in Tofu U” (read: join Nasoya’s email list!) and get some coupons delivered straight to your inbox. You receive one instantly upon registering and then periodically as Nasoya sends ‘em out. You need to install some annoying coupon software in order to print them out, but it’s worth it!

Better yet, send in four UPCs from any Nasoya brand tofu product for some free swag! Choose between a men’s/unisex tee, a women’s tee, and women’s shorts. Between the humans and the dogs, we devour tofu like it’s going out of style, so four UPCs? Took us maybe two weeks to accumulate. I ordered a tee a month or two ago and received it last week. It’s cute, in a collegiate vegan kind of way – gray with hints of purple and yellow.

The tee, by the way, is Port & Company brand – organic, pre-shrunk cotton that’s true to size. I usually like a unisex medium but ordered a large just in case the sizes ran small; as it turns out, the tee’s a little big on me. But hey it only cost 52 cents or whatever stamps are going for nowadays, so no complaints! I bet I can shrink it a little anyway, I’m a champ at ruining laundry.

So, to recap: free stuff! Do it!

FYI: it’s impossible to remove the labels from the tofu containers without ripping the UPC portion of the packaging, but that’s okay! Nasoya is aware of the prob and will accept damaged UPCs. Just do your best and include as much of the label as you can. (I emailed them for confirmation, just to be sure, and also received a tee after sending in my own mutilated UPCs.)

Frugal vegans really are extreme couponers!

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Via vegansaurus, tonight’s episode of Extreme Couponing will feature a real live vegan couponer!

So cool! And timely!

Tune in to TLC tonight at 10PM (9 Central) to see how it’s done. If I’m not mistaken, this lady is saving up for some new ink, so I’m totally rooting for her.* Get ALL the vegan goodies for free!

* Upon seeing the abbreviated preview for tonight’s ep, I remember thinking, “Woman looks rad, but pffft, I bet she isn’t vegan.” Burn on me!
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Frugal vegans are extreme couponers.

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Extreme Couponing 02

Okay, so maybe not as extreme as the women and men featured on TLC’s strangely addictive new show Extreme Couponing (it’s all fun and games…until someone uses their store credit to buy meat!) – that would require a commitment equal to a part-time job – so let’s just say “serious about free money,” mkay? Because that’s exactly what coupons are: money. Hopefully free, but at the very least cheap, as in pennies on the dollar.

Unfortunately, coupons for vegan foods – particularly intentionally vegan items, such as Tofurky pizzas and Follow Your Heart cheese, and fresh, whole foods like fruits and veggies – can be hard to come by. Not impossible, but certainly more difficult than, say, Dannon Yogurt freebies. But. With a little craftiness and a bit more patience, it is possible to score a discount on vegan goods!

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:

  • Ask. Really, it’s that simple! Write to your favorite manufacturers; explain to them that you’re a vegan on a budget who would love to try items xyz, but are hesitant to shell out so much money for a new foodstuff that you may or may not like, and would they be so kind as to send you a few coupons? Don’t be afraid to pour on the sugar! If coupons are to be had – and they aren’t always; you’ll find that smaller, newer companies don’t usually offer coupons – you will have them (usually in six to eight weeks). If you’re especially lucky (and charming!), the company may even send you vouchers for free items. As in you pay zip, zilch, nada, nothing.
  • Go dumpster diving for coupons. Take a trip to your nearest recycling center or paper recycling bin (Paper Retriever is a popular one ’round these parts) and dive in! Look for newspapers and inserts, but don’t make a mess. (Etiquette, y’all.) Load up your car, backpack or bicycle basket to go and sort through the coupons at home. When you’re done, save time, gas and trees by recycling the unwanted paper on your next dumpster diving expedition. It’s a win-win!
  • Hit up online auction sites. The idea of paying for coupons may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s the same principle behind online deal websites like Groupon: spend a little to save a lot. Coupons are a hot commodity, particularly those that are rare or hard to find. Oftentimes you can buy coupons by the bundle, either grouped thematically or by manufacturer. Some lots involve an entire book of coupons for the same item, which can be a great deal if it’s something you use frequently. Otherwise, team up with a friend or two to split the cost – and savings. Pay attention to the expiration dates, though; you don’t want to get stuck with a ton of coupons that expire in a week or two. (Then again, those are usually the cheapest! Decisions, decisions…)
  • Join a group discount website. Speaking of Groupon, group discount websites like Living Social, VeganCuts and the aforementioned Groupon offer deeply discounted rates on all sorts of items and activities. Sure, 90% of the deals involve spas and dating services, but every once in a while you’ll find a rare gem, like free shipping on Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso, $20 worth of Whole Foods groceries for $10, or half off vegan marshmallows from Sweet & Sara. And VeganCuts, as the name implies, is all vegan – no gross summer sausage deals here – so you should definitely go show ’em some love!
  • Subscribe to your favorite store’s e-newsletter. Stores routinely offer incentives to subscribe to their email lists, such as a first look at new, discounted and/or discontinued items, coupon codes entitling customers to a percentage off an entire order, or free shipping – vegan retailers included! (Vegan Essentials comes to mind.) If you don’t mind receiving a little extra email in your inbox, this can be a relatively simple way to hunt for savings (let them come to you!).
  • If your store offers a discount “loyalty” card, take it. Commonly, these cards shave a percentage off your order, or entitle you to extra savings on sale items. If you’re deterred by privacy concerns, you may consider purchasing more “private” items separately, without using the card.
  • Keep an eye out for coupons while shopping. Sometimes manufacturers affix coupons directly onto their corresponding items, or include books of tear-off coupons on displays. Always be on the lookout for these (vegan) Easter eggs!
  • Join a coupon swapping community. This one can be tricky for vegans – I tend to shred coupons for non-vegan items, rather than share them – but if you’re down, there are plenty of coupon swapping websites and forums online. Search for “coupon swap” on Yahoo Groups or Google to get started. Or, better yet, start your own vegan coupon swapping community! Maybe on VegWeb or the PPK forums? No need to compromise your ethics to score a deal!
  • Updated to add: Over on tumblr, Emelda tipped me off to Recyclebank, which allows users to earn points for doing good deeds; these points are then redeemable for various rewards, including – wait for it! – coupons! If you do, sign up using this link so she gets ten free points!

    Well, (semi-)extreme couponers, it’s your turn! What do you do to save money on vegan foods and items?

    Vegan MoFo 2011 logo banner

    When life gives frugal vegans spoiled bananas, they make banana ice cream!

    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

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    Frugal vegans don’t waste food! Food waste on both the personal and institutional levels is a distressing problem: a 1995 estimate put our food waste at 27% of all edible food, while a more recent 2003 study found that the average American household throws out 14% of all food brought into the house. Among the many strategies I outlined for avoiding food waste during last year’s veganmofo – freezing extra baked goods, sharing with others and dumpster diving, to name a few – was freezing surplus or soon-to-spoil fruits and veggies. Banana ice cream – made from overly ripe, frozen bananas – is a delicious subset of this tip that deserves further exploration, especially given its popularity this year!

    As fruit ripens, its sugar content changes; it becomes sweeter, softer, and less green:

    The process of ripening is controlled by the plant hormone called ethylene, which is a gas created by plants from the amino acid called methionine. A plant hormone is a chemical that regulates growth and other processes. Storing fruit in a closed container keeps the ethylene from drifting away and can increase the rate at which the fruit ripens. Ethylene increases the intracellular levels of certain enzymes in fruit. Enzymes are proteins that make certain chemical reactions occur faster than they normally would. The key enzymes involved in fruit ripening are amylase and pectinase. Amylase breaks down starch to produce simple sugars, so is responsible for the increasing sweetness of a ripening fruit. Pectinase breaks down pectin, a substance that keeps fruit hard, so is responsible for the increasing softness of ripening fruit. Other enzymes cause the color of the fruit to change by breaking down chlorophyll (which is green) and replacing it with pigments that are yellow, red, or other colors.

    This process is evident in bananas, which turn from bitter to sweet as their peels change in color from greenish-yellow to yellow, and then gradually develop brown spots. Wait too long to crack the peel, and you’ll be greeted with a mushy, sugary mess (and possibly a swarm of fruit flies, to boot!). While many a banana has been tossed due to over-ripeness, because of their sugar content – as well as the way in which freezing alters their texture – brown bananas make the perfect base for nondairy ice cream. Better yet, this frozen treat can be made in a blender or food processor, no ice cream machine required! (Though I do love my ice cream maker like a member of the family.)

    Banana ice cream is a great way to use up “accidentally spoiled” bananas – but if you’re anything like me, you’ll soon find yourself buying yellow bananas and allowing them to turn brown, just so you can make another batch of banana ice cream! However you come across them, preparing your over-ripe bananas for ice cream is simple: simply peel and slice them, then transfer them to an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready for use. Next, you’ll need a recipe; here are a few of my favorites to get you started!

  • two-ingredient ice cream, strawberry pecan ice cream and breakfast banana ice cream – All from hipsterfood, who tipped me off to the latest craze in vegan desserts.
  • Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches – Creamed, frozen bananas sandwiched between two vegan peanut butter cookies? Sign me up!
  • Banana Bread Soft Serve Ice Cream – Like chocolate chip banana bread, but frozen! My most favorite of the bunch, hands down.

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  • Chocolate Almond Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream – Inspired by these Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies from the PPK.

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  • Blueberry Banana Ice Cream – Flavored with blueberry sauce, which was made using (wait for it!) soon-to-spoil blueberries!

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  • Banana ice cream on fuck yeah vegan ice cream – A little self-promotion never hurt anyone, wink.

    …and if all goes as planned, I should have at least two more banana ice cream recipes to share with y’all during veganmofo, so keep your eyes peeled. (Peeled! Get it?)

    For more tips and tricks for using up brown bananas, check out The Magic of Frozen Bananas on Care2.

    What’s your favorite way to rescue “spoiled” bananas from the compost pile?

    Vegan MoFo 2011 logo banner

  • Friday Food (on a Thursday Holiday): Season Finale!

    Thursday, November 25th, 2010

    Friday Food…on a Thursday, you ask? Yes, ma’am! I shall be too busy chowing down on frozen pizza and pie – not to mention catching up on The Walking Dead – to bother with a “real” post today. And it’s the veganmofo Friday Food Season Finale, at that. How exciting!

    (Seriously, the husband and I are opting/lazing out of the traditional Tofurky and mashed potato feast this year. But feel free to visit ghosts of meals past, mkay? See, e.g., 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.)

    Whether you choose to observe the holiday or not, may your Thanksgiving day be a gentle one, friends.


    Feed the Turkeys ceremony at Animal Acres Thanksgiving!
    They got pies, salad, and stuffed squash!
    CC image via Flickr user prideandvegudice.

    Food, delicious food!

    Caramel Apple Pie from Apryl Knight @ Vegan Etsy

    Vegan Lemon Bars from I Eat Trees

    Chocolate Chestnut Tart from The New Vegan Table

    Chocolate Covered Potato Chips from Manifest Vegan

    Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers from Cooking at the Pacific Outpost

    Cornbread Casserole, Dirty Dumpling Soup and Coconut Fudge from bite me, I’m vegan.

    Smokey Maple BBQ Beans from Vegan Guinea Pig

    Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes from Sweet Treats and Vegan Eats

    Hindbærsnitter from Seglare in Copenhagen

    Lentil Walnut Pate Lettuce Wraps from thefrenchvegan

    Garlic-Glazed Green Beans and Candied Sweet Potatoes from the vegan crew

    Thousand Island Dressing from Our Veggie Kitchen

    (More below the fold…)

    Frugal vegans invest in sharing.

    Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

    Invest in Sharing / People Walking

    In this black and white double exposure, we see a photo of some sidewalk graffiti juxtaposed with the image of two people walking together, arm in arm, along a city street. The graffiti is a stencil of the bespectacled, top-hatted Monopoly millionaire – now bearing wings as well – flying out of an opened bird cage; freedom! Underneath this image is the slogan “Invest in Sharing.” A lovely pairing of words, I think. CC image via Flickr user beeteeoh.

    I admit it; I so did not come up with the title of this week’s “frugal vegans” post by my lonesome. Prior to finding multiple examples of the totally awesome “Invest in Sharing” stencil (pictured above) on Flickr, this tip was to be called “frugal vegans share with others.” Meh, how boring. I don’t even think such a title is fit to grace a Sesame Street skit.

    So what, pray tell, do I mean by “invest in sharing” in the context of frugality? Well, it’s simple, really. If you’re anything like me, you own multiple kitchen appliances, utensils and assorted gadgets that rarely, if ever, see the light of day. Possibly you purchased them new – or even second-hand – and with every intention of getting your money’s worth. Perhaps you do use some of these items as often as is reasonable – but reason only requires occasional or seasonal use. Whatever the case, your kitchen – indeed, your entire house – is most likely packed with consumer goods that are not in use 99% of the time.

    Why not save money – and the environment – by splitting the cost and custody of these items with like-minded friends?

    By way of illustration, let’s say that both you and your BFF are jonesing for a shiny new ice cream maker. Neither of you can afford to buy a nice electric model on your own. But if you pool your resources, what was an out-of-reach luxury purchase suddenly becomes do-able (albeit possibly still a luxury). At most, you might churn a batch or two of ice cream a month; the rest of the time, the machine would sit on a shelf in your pantry, unused and totally bored. Rotating the ice cream maker between two households on a weekly basis, then, won’t really affect the amount of use and enjoyment that each party can get out of it. Just plan ahead and make a little extra ice cream for your “off” week when it is your turn to use the ice cream maker.

    This “shared cost, shared custody” arrangement could work with a number of kitchen items – depending, of course, on personal use and preferences:

    (More below the fold…)

    Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (Friday Food)

    Friday, November 19th, 2010

    Another week, another veganmofo wrap-up! Entering the home stretch, I cannot adequately express the sense of relief that comes from having started my mofo blogging a month in advance. Because, lemme tell you something – I’m 26.5 posts down with 3.5 left to go (the .5 being a book review that’s 99% finished, but just needs a quick spit & shine before publication), and I am forking exhausted. As in, ready for an 18-hour nap followed by a week-long vacation. And I haven’t even done that much cooking!

    mashed cauliflower

    “mashed cauliflower: This Mashed Cauliflower recipe (which I make in place of mashed potatoes) is perfect for a gluten free, Paleo Thanksgiving.”
    CC image via Flickr user elena’s pantry.

    Food, delicious food!

    Mashed Cauliflower, Carrot French Fries and Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream from Elena’s Pantry (pictured above and below)

    Vegan Butterflake Rolls from Inspired Eats

    Best Vegan Pecan Pie from My Vegan Cookbook

    Twice-Baked Colcannon from Miso for Breakfast

    Thanksgiving “Pie” with Variations and Spiced Two-Apple Tart with Cider Crème from Vegan Planet

    Vegan Green Bean Casserole from Vegan Etsy

    Vanilla Bean Cupcakes With Chocolate Ganache from Isa @ the PPK

    Tasty cream horns from vegalicious

    Graham Crackers from VeganYumYum

    VEGAN Battleship Chocolate Bundt Cake with Sour Cherry Compote! from Terry Hope Romero @ vegansaurus!

    Quick(er) Pierogies from Vegan Nom Noms

    Vegan Peppermint Stick Ice Cream from I Eat Trees

    Chocolate Hazelnut Spread from Musings From The Fishbowl

    Buckeye Candy (with a Hint of Cardamom) from Manifest Vegan

    Beer Breaded Garlic Mushrooms from Lustrous Musings

    (More below the fold…)

    Frugal vegans throw the most productive – err, "awesomest" – garden parties.

    Thursday, November 18th, 2010

    Oneida Square Community Garden

    Families gather in the Oneida Square Community Garden –
    complete with a popcorn machine! Story here.
    CC image via Flickr user The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Cos.

    The seeds of this week’s frugal vegan tip were planted several years ago, when I read a piece written by Lauren of the (seemingly) now-defunct blog Faux Real Tho. If memory serves correctly, Lauren described a sort of “work party,” wherein a group of friends and family members descended upon her backyard in order to help her and her husband create a garden space in their new home. In return for food and alcohol – naturally. The ultimate garden party, if you will.

    Work + wine = a work party
    Work + wine + dirt + produce = a garden party

    Of course, bribing and plying your friends with alcohol and shiny happy vegan cupcakes is a great way to procure a little extra help when needed. But let’s take this concept a step further, shall we? Why split only the work when you can share it all: monetary expenses, land, labor, knowledge, materials and yield?

    Let’s say, for example, that you want to start growing some of your own (VEGAN!) food in order to save money and become more self-sufficient (the apocalypse, it’s coming!). You have the space to establish a good-sized garden and the funds to cover any start-up costs – but are lacking the know-how and expertise to make it a rousing success. Or perhaps you’re an experienced gardener but are currently living in an apartment space which only affords room for a small window garden. Maybe you have the time to devote to weeding, watering, harvesting and preserving, but no money with which to buy the supplies. By pooling your resources with friends, family members and/or acquaintances, all of these potential pitfalls can be overcome.

    (More below the fold…)

    Friday Food: Sharing is Caring!

    Friday, November 12th, 2010

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    Miss Hash Brown – my parents’ beagle/terrier mix-breed dog-kid – tries to sweet-talk me into sharing a piece of my sun-dried tomato bagel with her. And by “talk” I mean “kiss.”
    Needless to say, she had me at *sad eyes*.

    It took me a good six hours, but I finally finished working through this year’s veganmofo blogroll earlier this week. Everything looks so nice and neat and sorted now! Of course, this means that I have even more Friday Food to share with y’all! Enjoy the links, and try not to drool on your keyboard or, worse yet, lick your monitor (it’s not real, it’s just an illusion!).

    Before we get started, though, I have got to direct you to the following blogs – or, more to the point, blog titles, which tickled me every shade of pink whilst browsing through them. Most are rooted in pop culture, which is totally my thing.

    bite me, I’m vegan |
    Duchess Of Kircaldy |
    It Ain’t Meat, Babe |
    It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Cooking…) |
    meansoybean |
    Meatless in Seattle |
    No Murders in the Rue Morgue |
    Thyme Bombe |
    Vegan Dance if you want to. |

    Also be sure to visit Seitan Said Dance, who’s cooking up comic book themed dishes all week. Totally awesome. Bonus smiles: Mozilla recommends that I change “Seitan” to “Satan.”


    Oat Pumpkin Pancakes

    “Oat Pumpkin Pancakes” (recipe here). CC image via digiyesica on Flickr.

    Food, delicious food!

    Tempeh Roulade en Croute from VegSpinz

    Sweet Potato and Apple Bake from megatarian

    Mint Chocolate Shots from Lustrous Musings

    The (vegan) Soup Post! and Molasses Ginger Cookies! from Healthy. Happy. Life.

    Cappuccino Muffins and Vegan Apple Hand Pies from Vegan Nom Noms

    Rooibos Chai from Vegan Junk Food

    Dad’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bon Bons from In My Vegan Life

    The Vegan Nacho from Unhealthy Vegan

    Vegan Pizza Bites from Toast and Tofu

    Braised Maple Tarragon Carrots from The Elizavegan Page

    (More below the fold…)

    Frugal vegans don’t waste food.

    Thursday, November 11th, 2010

    Rosie the Riveter

    J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It!”, commonly mistaken to be Rosie the Riveter.
    CC image via Wiki.

    A recent study in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology estimated that Americans waste nearly 350 million barrels of oil per year in the form of food. These figures represent 2% of our annual energy consumption, and are based in part on an even more shocking 1995 estimate that 27% of our edible food is wasted – simply thrown away – at both the individual and institutional levels.

    While much of this waste happens before food even reaches consumers – for example, produce that looks “irregular” or is marred by “blemishes” may be tossed by farmers or rejected by grocers – who among us can say that she’s never thrown out a half-finished bag of moldy rolls or composted the odd bruised apple? If just half of this waste occurs in our own kitchens and pantries, then the average American is tossing nearly 15% of the food she purchases straight into the garbage.* By cutting out this waste, then, we could potentially save 15% on our grocery bills.

    Reporting on these findings over at Salon, Francis Lam offers seven tasty ways to stop wasting food – six of which are vegan or vegan-friendly. These include:

    1. Be creative about stale bread;
    2. Freeze in-danger-of-expiring (nondairy) milk;
    3. Save trim and scraps for stock;
    4. Sauté leftover pasta, rice, and cooked grains (or, you know, just reheat and it, if you’re not a food snob like Lam);
    5. Repurpose leftover sauces, soups, and (vegetable) meat juices to add flavor to other dishes; and
    6. Don’t toss an item just because it’s expired – many foodstuffs are edible past date. Trust your senses and use good judgment.

    Building on Lam’s list, Jordan @ vegansaurus! recommends that you be a more awesome vegan by:

    1. Making impromptu soups, stews, and curries with neglected veggies;
    2. Baking fruit crisps and crumbles with overripe apples and such;
    3. Liquefying extra produce into smoothies;
    4. Investing in high quality food storage containers; and
    5. Buying a spiffy new lunch set that will hopefully inspire you to take leftovers to work.

    Of course, because I am a totally awesome – and usually-frugal – vegan, I have a few additional suggestions to add to the mix!

    (More below the fold…)

    The Return of "Frugal Vegans…" & delicious-ness, Hoarded

    Thursday, November 4th, 2010

    2010-09-17 - Lunch With Ken (Meesh's Cam) - 0035

    During last year’s VeganMoFo, I launched a new series about how to live frugally as a vegan. The idea was to both offer helpful tips for those vegans looking to save money, while also providing a counterpoint to the idea that veganism is necessarily expensive. Loosely titled “Frugal Vegans…,” the series unfortunately fizzled and died with October, in part because I don’t do a whole lot of food blogging outside of VeganMoFo. But hey, look on the bright side! VeganMoFo is back, baby! And with it, “Frugal Vegans…”

    As a sort of refresher course, here are the topics we covered last year:

    (I also have an entire category dedicated to frugality, though it’s mostly comprised of the posts listed above.)

    Today’s tip is short and sweet: hoard your deliciousness. By which I mean…well, go see for yourself:

    easyvegan's delicious tags (recipes)

    Now look. I’m all in favor of supporting one’s favorite vegan cookbook authors and chefs (especially those who are also vocal advocates for oppressed animals, both human and non!). And you can and should support them by purchasing (and promoting) their cookbooks (and blogs, podcasts, appearances, etc.) when possible. But not everyone can afford to buy a new book every week, month or even year. Libraries rock – and, imho, borrowing cookbooks from the library, thus increasing demand for these titles, counts as support – but not everyone has ready access to a library or library services.

    Luckily, there are plenty of recipes and ideas to be had for free online, as is amply evidenced by VeganMoFo. (Speaking of which, have you seen the tragically awesome RSS feed bundles yet? You will never leave the house again!) Just search for “vegan recipes” (over 4 million hits on Google!) – or hop on over to my blogroll of vegan foodies for a more whittled down version – to get started.

    But how to keep track of all this vegan nom? delicious to the rescue! With delicious you can bookmark, tag, sort, share and comment on your favorite links.

    (More below the fold…)

    VeganMoFo, Day 29: Frugal vegans have spoiled vegan dog-kids.

    Thursday, October 29th, 2009


    2007-02-08 - Kelly & Dogs - 0004

    Though I hope to eventually pen a piece about canine nutrition vis-à-vis veganism and vegetarianism, this isn’t it! Since I don’t have much time for background research, and don’t want to half-ass it, I’ll have to save that topic for another time. Instead of convincing you to feed your dog-kids a vegan or vegetarian diet – assuming you have dog-kids, that is – this VeganMoFo post is all about feeding your dog-kids a vegan diet (or foodstuffs), frugally.

    Granted, commercial vegan and vegetarian dog foods are more expensive than their non-veg counterparts, and feeding your dog-kids a diet consisting solely of homemade food requires enough expertise that I don’t recommend it. Or rather, I can’t advise you on how to do it. You see, even though I occasionally feature recipes for homemade dog food, I primarily feed my kids commercial kibble: ’twas Nature’s Recipe Vegetarian formula for awhile, but we recently switched to V-Dog. Though it’s a little more expensive, it’s also confirmed vegan (DelMonte never would respond to my inquiries). The homemade goodies are more of a “topping,” if you will, to add a little variety to their meals. So all in all, we do spend a pretty penny on dog food in the Garbato-Brady household, homemade goodies notwithstanding.

    Luckily, there are other ways to cut costs:

    – Make your own dog treats. As with vegan dog food, vegan dog treats can be a little pricey, so you can save some cash by baking treats yourself. In contrast to food, which must meet your dog-kid’s nutritional requirements, treats are extras, so diy is just fine! Just go easy on the fat, salt, sugar and calories, mkay? Also, always check and double-check the ingredients to confirm that they aren’t harmful to canines.

    Dogs also tend to be less discriminating eaters than people (well, me), so experiment with abandon, and don’t be afraid to substitute in less expensive ingredients when necessary. Chances are, your kids will enjoy whatever you create. Plus, is there anything cooler than giving your dog-kid a treat you baked especially for her, with nothing but love? (And an oven!)

    2009-08-30 - Maple Cinnamon Mini-Muffins for Peedee's B-Day - 0003

    For treat ideas, check out It’s A Vegan Dog’s Life, Yummy for Dogs and the Innocent Primate Vegan Blog, for starters.

    The obvious downside to baking your own biscuits is that they don’t keep as well as the store-bought stuff, so it’s a little harder to keep some on hand at all times (you never know when you’ll need to entice your dog-kid away from a found animal corpse, am I right?). However, this brings us to the next tip:

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    VeganMoFo, Day 27: Frugal vegans prep their own ingredients.

    Tuesday, October 27th, 2009


    Okay, so this might seem like a rather obvious tip, but it’s been a long, exhausting day, and I just have to do this one last thing before I can retire to bed with a pint of Purely Decadent and the remote control. I will have a perfect VeganMoFo III record, dammit!

    So, where were we? Ingredient prep. When you purchase ingredients that have been prepared beforehand – for example, lettuce that’s already been shredded, pre-mixed spices, growth-stunted carrots, etc. – you’re paying not just for the price of the food, but also for the additional handling and processing, as well as the added convenience to you, the consumer. Sometimes the cost is negligible; other times, the markup can be significant. By purchasing raw, unprocessed ingredients and preparing them yourself, you can save a little extra money every week. Time spent in the kitchen translates to cash in the wallet.

    For example:

    – Baby carrots usually cost more per pound than full-sized carrots. Whereas you have to peel, wash and slice large carrots, baby carrots just require a quick bath in the kitchen sink before they’re ready to eat. Luckily, peeling carrots: not that hard. Just invest $5 in an ergonomic peeler, and you’re good to go.

    – A whole head of lettuce is cheaper than bags of shredded lettuce or pre-made salad. Again, lettuce isn’t that hard to prepare for use. However, unless you’re able to consume a whole head before it goes bad, bagged lettuce might prove less expensive in the long run. On the downside: all that wasted packaging.

    – Corn that has been pre-husked and tethered in plastic to a Styrofoam board: just don’t do it. Seriously, no.

    – Spice mixes are sometimes (but not always) marked up more than the cost of their individual spices. Before you buy a seasoning blend, ask yourself if it’s something you could make on your own. The most egregious example of this I’ve seen is a newer phenomenon: cinnamon and sugar packaged together in a blend. I bet I could teach my smartest dog-kid to combine 1 part cinnamon with 1 part sugar in a small tupperware container and shake ’til mixed. Hell, I do it in a half-groggy morning stupor once every few weeks – and I don’t function well before 10 AM.

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    VeganMoFo, Day 26: A Penny-Pinching Monday Mashup

    Monday, October 26th, 2009

    Vegan Food Mashup - 06 - Cheap Vegan Eats


    Green Giant Steamers, I can’t believe this is the last week of October – and of VeganMoFo 2009! It’s been rather exhausting, this daily blogging, and yet I feel like I’m just getting started – there’s so much more to say! It’s all good, though; since I’m vegan 365 days a year (366 in 2012), I can get my VeganMoFo on whenever, wherever, with whomever I want. (Um, just don’t tell Shane I said that.)

    Anyhow, for our very last Monday Mashup of the month, I decided to go with a frugal vegan theme. All of these dishes are made with relatively inexpensive, readily available ingredients. You name it, we’ve got it: veggies, fruits, pasta, grains, beans, tofu, pancakes, cookies, pie, breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner and dessert – represent! Veganism: truthy, yes; inconvenient, not so much.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, those twice-baked potatoes are calling my name…

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    VeganMoFo, Day 23: Frugal vegans freecycle (or is that freegancycle?).

    Friday, October 23rd, 2009

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    Freecycle ™ is a network of local groups (primarily hosted on Yahoo, though the renegade/breakaway chapters aren’t necessarily) that allow members to request items they need, and offer items that they need to get rid of. It’s much like Craigslist, with one significant difference: everything offered and requested must be 100% free. Membership is also free, as are all ads. (Full disclosure: I founded and moderate my local group – a fact which doesn’t necessarily bias me in favor of the concept. I kid, I kid.)

    Of course, you can’t get any cheaper than free! While food isn’t necessarily the most popular category of freecycled goods – methinks that honor goes to secondhand clothing, or perhaps household items – it is possible to score some yummy vegan finds.

    – Expired food is perhaps the most popular edible commodity, and while I recommend caution when buying/trading/eating expired food, many non-perishable foods can be consumed well beyond the expiration date. Even perishable goods, such as soy milk and yogurt, are usually okay for up to a week after the expiration date. Just be sure to do your homework – and when in doubt, throw it out.

    – Occasionally you’ll also see members offer up specialty vegan or vegetarian foods. Perhaps someone decided to give Meatless Mondays a try, bought a box of Boca Burgers at Sam’s, and decided they didn’t care for them. While this is certainly a hit for Team Vegan, there’s no need to let perfectly good food go to waste. Their loss is your gain.

    – The summer and autumn months are an especially fruitful time for vegans on Freecycle: it’s not uncommon for green-thumbed, kind-hearted members to offer up excess fruits, vegetables, nuts and even plants on the list. Among the fresh vegan foods I’ve seen change hands on my local list are green and red tomatoes; walnuts; pecans; apples; peaches; pears; strawberries; and all manner of fruit, veggies, herbs, and flowering plants. Trees and shrubs, too!

    Naturally, vegan freecyclers need not limit themselves to food! Commonly freecycled items include secondhand clothing; hand-me-down furniture; small appliances, including the very popular but rarely used bread machines; larger appliances, usually older and displaced due to renovations; books; and crafting materials.

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    VeganMoFo, Day 22: The New Four Food Groups (A Tutorial)

    Thursday, October 22nd, 2009


    So the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – PCRM for short – has introduced their own version of the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, called The New Four Food Groups. (Actually, they created the guide way back in 1991 – when vegetarianism was just a niggling feeling worming its way up through the depths of my conflicted brain – but that’s neither here nor there. I just happened to discover the guide today, and that’s what counts. Particularly since I’m running low both on time and VeganMoFo post ideas!)

    Naturally, PCRM’s reconstruction of the USDA’s food pyramid eliminates all animal-based products, instead focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes:

    Many of us grew up with the USDA’s old Basic Four food groups, first introduced in 1956. The passage of time has seen an increase in our knowledge about the importance of fiber, the health risks of cholesterol and fats, and the disease-preventive power of many nutrients found exclusively in plant-based foods. We also have discovered that the plant kingdom provides excellent sources of the nutrients once only associated with meat and dairy products—namely, protein and calcium.

    The USDA revised its recommendations with the Food Guide Pyramid, a plan that reduced the prominence of animal products and vegetable fats. But because regular consumption of such foods—even in lower quantities—poses serious health risks, PCRM developed the New Four Food Groups in 1991. This no-cholesterol, low-fat plan supplies all of an average adult’s daily nutritional requirements, including substantial amounts of fiber.

    Specifically, PCRM recommends that you eat the following, along with “a good source of vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals or vitamin supplements”:

    Fruit: 3 or more servings a day

    Fruits are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Be sure to include at least one serving each day of fruits that are high in vitamin C—citrus fruits, melons, and strawberries are all good choices. Choose whole fruit over fruit juices, which do not contain very much fiber.

    Serving size: 1 medium piece of fruit • 1/2 cup cooked fruit • 4 ounces juice

    Vegetables: 4 or more servings a day

    Vegetables are packed with nutrients; they provide vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, iron, calcium, fiber, and other nutrients. Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard and turnip greens, chicory, or cabbage are especially good sources of these important nutrients. Dark yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin provide extra beta-carotene. Include generous portions of a variety of vegetables in your diet.

    Serving size: 1 cup raw vegetables • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables

    Legumes: 2 or more servings a day

    Legumes, which is another name for beans, peas, and lentils, are all good sources of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. This group also includes chickpeas, baked and refried beans, soymilk, tempeh, and texturized vegetable protein.

    Serving size: cup cooked beans • 4 ounces tofu or tempeh • 8 ounces soymilk

    Whole Grains: 5 or more servings a day

    This group includes bread, rice, tortillas, pasta, hot or cold cereal, corn, millet, barley, and bulgur wheat. Build each of your meals around a hearty grain dish—grains are rich in fiber and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B vitamins, and zinc.

    Serving size: 1/2 cup rice or other grain • 1 ounce dry cereal • 1 slice bread

    Apropos last week’s discussion of how one can obtain adequate amounts of protein on a low-budget, cruelty-free diet, note that the only “faux” “meat” or dairy item PCRM mentions by name is soy milk: no Fakin’ Bacon, no Daiya cheese, no Purely Decadent ice cream. Instead, many of the foods touted by PCRM are relatively inexpensive: pasta, cereal, millet, chickpeas, beans, broccoli and melon. You can even grow items from two of the four groups in your own backyard and eat them raw! While not exactly free, it’s hard to get any less expensive than homegrown.

    PCRM also produces a weekly webcast devoted to the dietary and health aspects of veganism. The most recent three episodes examine “The New Four Food Groups” in greater detail; so far, fruit, vegetables and grains have received their due, with an episode devoted to legumes forthcoming. I’ve embedded each after the jump.

    Now go forth and veganize, my frugal grasshoppers!

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    VeganMoFo, Day 20: Frugal vegans stockpile staples as though the dead are reanimating.

    Tuesday, October 20th, 2009


    (This post has absolutely nothing to do with zombies; it’s just that time of the year, and you happened to catch me in the midst of a zombie kick. A more appropriate title might be “Frugal vegans buy in quantity.” Not nearly as catchy though, am I right?)

    Naturally, the more you pledge to buy of any given item, the better overall deal you’ll get on said item – per pound, per box, per case, per widget, per whatever. This maxim is equally true of “normal people” foods (fruit, vegetables, grains, etc.) and vegan specialty items (meat analogs, faux cheeses, soy milks and dairy substitutes, etc.) – so buying in quantity is a strategy that frugal vegans can employ, no matter their dietary habits.

    There are four ways that regular consumers like you and I can “buy in quantity”:

    2008-02-18 - Boca Burgers - 0012

    1. Buy packaged foodstuffs in the largest available sizes.

    Usually the savings here are minimal – we’re talking pennies per pound – but you can save a little money by purchasing the largest available size of cans (jars, bags, etc.) of food. Some stores make it simple to compare cost across sizes; Wal-Mart and Wegmans, for example, include price per pound (ounce, fluid ounce, etc.) information on the shelf pricing label.

    If not, it’s fairly easy to calculate (and if you usually shop at the same store or chain, you only need to run the numbers once – then keep a list of the cheapest goods and stick with it!):

    Price per ounce = The cost of the item divided by the item’s weight in ounces

    Price per pound = (The cost of the item divided by the item’s weight in ounces) x 16

    Price per fluid ounce = The cost of the item divided by the item’s volume in fluid ounces

    Price per quart = (The cost of the item divided by the item’s volume in fluid ounces) x 32

    Price per gallon = (The cost of the item divided by the item’s volume in fluid ounces) x 128

    Always be sure to compare cost across sizes and brands. The largest size usually gives you the greatest savings per pound, however, this isn’t always the case. A two-pound jar of name brand peanut butter, for example, may actually cost more per pound than a 1-pound jar of the generic/store brand.

    Of course, buying a gallon of tomato sauce will only save you money if you’re able to use it all; toss it out, and you’ve wasted money in the end. When buying perishable items, a) make sure you have a way to save or preserve the extras and/or b) don’t purchase more than you can actually use.

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    VeganMoFo, Day 17: Vegan Treats On (Vegan) Etsy

    Saturday, October 17th, 2009


    2009-05-09 - Vegan Etsy Goodies

    My mother is notoriously difficult to shop for. If you buy her clothing, odds are she won’t like it. Give her jewelry, most likely she won’t wear it (allergies). She doesn’t have much extra time to read books or watch movies; now that her nest is empty, she works three jobs (making her kids look like lazy asshats in comparison!). Edible yumyums are a good choice, but I’ve fallen back on chocolates so often that I’m starting to look somewhat unimaginative. So when Mother’s Day came around, I found myself in bit of a pickle. And while I love pickles, it’s not my favorite place to be.

    For whatever reason, Etsy came to mind, and I decided to check it out. The craftacular Etsy, by the by,

    is a website that provides the general public with a way to buy and sell handmade items as well as vintage items and craft supplies. Handmade items cover a wide range including art, photography, clothing, jewelry, edibles, bath & beauty products, and toys. The site follows in the tradition of open craft fairs, giving sellers personal storefronts where they list their goods for a fee.

    Etsy allows sellers to self-organize into different “teams” – which are kind of like plazas composed of similar store fronts. Teams can form around a location, craft, medium, interest, lifestyle, philosophy…I think you know where I’m going with this! Etsy boasts two teams of interest: EtsyVeg (tagline: “Your source for unique goods from vegan and vegetarian artisans”) and the more discriminating Vegan Etsy (“We Read Ingredients” – please and thank you!).

    After much browsing – I am an obsessive comparison shopper – I settled on some baked goods from The Cupcake Mint: 1 Dozen Giant Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies; 4 Oatmeal Raisin Spice Vegan Cookie Cream Sandwiches; and Half Dozen Jumbo Vegan Cinnamon Rolls, samples of which are pictured above (photo courtesy my lil’ sis). Naturally, I cannot attest to the yumminess of any of these, since 1,000+ miles separated my mother the baked goods and myself, but I heard from my mother, my grandmother, and yes, even my sister that they were incredible: huge, gooey, soft, sweet – everything cookies and pastries should be. Win!

    Anyhow, since my minor victory, I’ve taken to browsing Etsy in search of gift ideas. I prefer to support fellow vegans with my purchasing power whenever possible, and Etsy is home to some really talented vegans! (Many of them women, which is a double bonus for this vegan feminist.)

    For example, the Vegan Etsy team features 146 members, including these storefronts, which are among my favorites:

    * The Cupcake Mint, whose specialty is – duh! – cupcakes. Mark my words, cinnamon rolls – one day, you will be mine.

    * KT’s Kitchen – Another vegan bakery, KT’s has a wide variety of goods, including Liz Lemon cookies, which makes me all smiley and happy.

    * UberDuperCreations, which sells handmade dog dishes and treat jars, as well as vegan and animal rights zines. Dog treat production will be resuming sometime in the future!

    * SweetFritsy is home to vegan baked goods and some homemade candies, too. Everything is crazy cute, especially the seasonal Halloween goodies.

    * Cody Pendent rocks the party. And if you were to buy me the Little Red Riding Hood, you’d totally rock, too. (*wink, wink*)

    * Starrlight Jewelry makes incredibly gorgeous goth jewelry – and for animal companions, too.

    I could go on and on, but seeing as it’s 7PM and I’ve yet to eat dinner, probably all I’ll do is inventory vegan bakeries and drool on my keyboard, so it’s best to wrap this shit up. Etsy can be a magical place for vegans, especially if you know where to shop! Many of the sellers are individual DIYers or small businesses, so if you have a special request or need something made custom, Etsy is your friend. There are also lots of good deals to be had, plus the aforementioned fuzzy wuzzies that come from supporting Team Vegan.

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    VeganMoFo, Day 14: Frugal vegans think outside the box (plate?).

    Wednesday, October 14th, 2009


    When people criticize the “prohibitive cost” of a vegan (or even vegetarian) diet, what they’re really saying is that specialty vegan foods are expensive. And you know what? They’re right. Meat analogs, soy yogurt made from non-GMO soybeans, gluten-free gourmet vegan ice cream and “melts like cheese!” non-dairy cheeses, when purchased on a regular basis, can really drive up your grocery bill. (There’s a reason vegans not-so/jokingly refer to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck”!) The good news is that one can adopt a nutritious, healthy and cruelty-free diet without consuming any of these things (although they’re all perfectly yummy and affordable when eaten in moderation!).

    The “typical” American diet is heavy on protein (mostly in the form of animal flesh), sugar, saturated fat and processed grains and contains woefully little fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. The average adult requires between 40 and 70 grams of protein per day, with needs varying according to age, gender and lifestyle. Women 14 years and older generally need about 46 grams, while men of the same age require slightly more – 52-56 grams. During pregnancy, a woman’s nutritional requirements change (obviously!); a woman eating for two should consume about 71 grams of protein per day. Estimates vary, but there’s a general consensus that Americans eat far too much protein (between 50 and 200% more than is necessary or healthy), while protein deficiency is a rarity.

    When transitioning from an omnivorous to a vegan diet, it can be tempting to simply replace animal-based products with vegan substitutes: in place of bacon, Smart Bacon; instead of Yoplait, Whole Soy; in lieu of Kraft Singles, Tofutti slices – and so on and so forth. But, while you may be treating non-human animals compassionately by recreating a vegan version of an unhealthy diet, you are not being kind to your own body. Or – more pertinent to this discussion – your pocketbook.

    Instead of reenacting the “traditional”* American meal of two overly-processed side dishes flanking an oversized centerpiece of “meat,” why not rethink how and what you eat? One of the unexpected benefits of veganism is the new-found culinary creativity, borne of necessity. When one is forced – or rather, compelled – to give up so many “staples” once taken for granted, you’ve got to learn new ways of doing things. And the dysfunctional composition of the American “fast food” diet should be the first (well, second) thing to go.

    Many newbie vegans are concerned about protein intake. In fact, this is due in no small part to cultural indoctrination; “where do you get your protein?” is perhaps the most common question asked of vegans. While many faux meats and dairy substitutes do contain a large amount of protein, so too do raw, unprocessed and relatively inexpensive foods (what I call “naturally vegan”).

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