Project: Food Budget, Week #9

That's a game I like to play called, "Where can we eat for free this week? Taco Cabana? FreeBirds? Which Wich? Qdoba? Central Market Cafe?"

This week will be mostly a pantry / gift-or-frequent-eater card raid. Seasons, they are a changin' and I want to pare the cabinet stock down even more before I start making springy dishes and doing less baking. I've got a few weeks right now that the weather will still allow me to use the oven without turning the house into one. It's Texas, after all. The heat is never far off.

I also have a bunch of stuff to do work-wise before I go on Spring Break, so I'm not going to feel like cooking too many elaborate meals. This despite the fact that I mastered risotto last week and would almost gladly sacrifice the hour it takes to prepare veggies and then stand there stirring nonstop if I could get that flavor in my mouth on a regular basis.

My Main Meals:

  • Rice and Beans
  • Pasta Something or other
  • Veg Patties
  • Tempeh Tacos on the Fly
  • Susan's Ribz
  • More Rice, More Beans
  • Tabouli, hummus and friends


  • Cereal and Fruit
  • Fruit and Cereal
  • Frutas y cereales
  • Grains + Ay-pples and ba-nay-nays
  • Anything in the pantry / fridge as long as it's fruit or cereal
    Snacks and Other:
  • Something baked and peanut buttery
  • Something baked with chocolate chips
  • Bread, rolls and pizza crusts
  • Bakery-style baked ovenstuffs

What I bought:

Coffee 9.99
Tomatoes 4.98
Onions (3 pounds) 2.48
Milk for the Omnivores 1.89
Flour Tortillas 2.99
Sour Cream for the Men 1.66
Cilantro .68
Organic salad mix 2.88
Total 27.55


Zero splurges this week. That's a first!!! It was tempting to get some Morningstar Riblet things. I found some in my freezer that I bought the first week I went vegan. Something has prevented me from eating them all this time. Some ewwww factor. Then yesterday I was craving meatloaf and saw them in the freezer and thought, "Why not?" I ate them with some mashed potatoes. It was actually kind of delightful. I saw Julie Hasson make a seitan version when I was making seitan for the first time, so I think I'm going to attempt that this week.

I think I'm getting far away from meat because those riblet things were really good and missing the thing I always hated about ribs (besides the obvious death part) which is all that greasy fat. As far as sitting there thinking, "MMMM these are just like ribs from an animal," I wasn't. And I'm actually glad for that. Because those thoughts are unlinking in my brain. Actually, they're really starting to relink in other ways. I don't even want to imagine it. I don't want something in my mouth while at the same time I'm thinking "dead animal." It's so liberating to be free of it now. Tomorrow will be 5 months that I've been working on being vegan. I am happy with all the positive changes it's brought to my life. Still, it hasn't been without mistakes.

This morning, for example, I mixed up a can of tuna and mayo (pantry stuff that's lingering) for boyfriend to take to work this morning and in a totally subconscious move, I licked the fork off before I tossed it into the sink. What the damn hell? I didn't cringe, but as soon as it hit my mouth, I just knew it, you know? And I had this weird feeling, like... confusion over how I should feel about that. I cast the feeling aside to process later, processed the second thought that came to me ("needs more salt") and sent it away with him. One more thing out of the house.

And so now that I sit here and process it, I realize that it didn't matter that I put it in my mouth so much in terms of animal suffering or whatever. What was on that fork was already there and the demand for it already created and satisfied long ago. In itself, it was a pretty neutral act for me. Thinking beyond that, though, I realized that the confusion is created by me thinking about these items that were purchased back when I was still eating fish, eggs and dairy + acknowledging that I would not buy these items again for myself + considering whether I would buy them again for boyfriend or Jacob.

I feel like I'm running along this fine line here. And I'm dealing with some guilt over it. I realize that what happens is that on nights when I'm too tired or busy to cook, the next day there is no lunch. I feel guilty about it. I do have some non-vegan items to use up but really, boyfriend and my son will eat whatever I make them. So, while they are NOT VEGAN, essentially, I make them vegan by cooking all their food. It's in my hands. It's all in my hands.


But this is good. This is what I have to think about. This is what I have to do. This is what this way of eating and this lifestyle is about. It's about thinking about what you do before you take action. So, what I need to do is not buy those things again. I need to, instead, figure out what VEGAN things I can throw together in those few precious moments in the morning while I'm making coffee. Peanut butter and jelly was well received. Layered bean dip and chips was well received and provided lunch for Jacob and I, too. I have Vegan Lunch Box, I just need to adapt that for a grown-up appetite / man who hates fruit.

And, I need to push through those tired evenings or make changes to my day that allow me to fully function at 6pm and make a dinner that will provide leftovers as often as possible... Suck it up, woman. Back on the prairie it was cook or starve. There were no quick beans. There was not bread in a baggie.

Bottom Line

I came in under $30 and I'm not afraid that my family will starve this week by any means. I also figured out just how important my decision to cook vegan food is for myself and others. It feels a little bit powerful to know that I'm doing the work of three vegans over here. It also feels a little bit exhausting sometimes and comes with three times the guilt when I don't toe the line. In the end, I know I can work through it and make it into something positive. In the end, I'll live. I'll survive. And so will animals as a result.

This entry is part of Project: Food Budget. (Join here!) Check out how the entire crew is doing:


  1. I admire the fact that you are vegan. I personally couldn't do it. I do have "vegetarian" days but I love meat and cheese too much. That being said, I am concerned with the ecological impacts and the health impacts of the things I eat. I try to eat as much oraginc and free range meat (and other products) as I can afford - which if I only cook 2 meals a week with meat, then all of it is organic/free-range.

    I think you have the right approach when it comes to "correcting your mistake" of absent-mindly licking the utensil. Find easy vegan solutions and not to buy non-vegan things.

    I'm also really impressed that you spent less than $30! Good job!

  2. Congratulations on your five month anniversary! Fantastic!

    Thinking about future lunch ideas, have you tried the Better Than Tuna Salad in Vegan Table? It tastes/feels exactly like tuna but without the dead fish part. You simply pulse cooked chickpeas in a food processor until they're slightly crumbly and then add your usual tuna salad ingredients - celery, carrots, pickles, and eggless mayo (like Vegenaise). I've served it to many meat eaters, and they've all loved it. It's so quick to put together and then slide into a sandwich or onto crackers, add a dollop to a leafy green salad, or just eat it straight out of the bowl. It's one of those things that I crave, especially in the summer.

  3. I know what you mean about everything being in your hands! I have been eating 95% vegetarian since a 100% vegetarian experiment in November, and as a result, my husband is eating 95% vegetarian.

    In the beginning, I would make him separate dinners altogether if I thought it was needed, but over time, I have stopped doing that. I realized that if he wants something with meat in it, he can have it when we go out to eat, or request it specially (which he has recently done for some chili with meat in it). Otherwise, he gets what he gets, and it always gets eaten. As he said to me the other day, "I'm just happy you cook and I get to eat."

  4. Augh! I meant to add, don't stress too much about having all the control and having everything in your hands. Clearly your guys are like mine - appreciative of the work you do for them. The best part is your son will learn to be a more compassionate person with his food choices because of your example!

  5. yay! Congrats on your 5 months. Don't beat your self up over the tuna on fork thinng. Fork-get-about it. You're a dedicated vegan! Tofu "egg" salad is awesome, so is mock tuna (as cadryskitchen said), tofu scramble or hummus wrap.

  6. Thanks you guys. The support and advice is much appreciated! It really does help me put this all in the right place.

  7. I laughed about the fork thing.I am really new to eating Vegan and i was making my husband pizza I was grating his cheese.And like you I had a habit of feeding myself some.I stuck some in my mouth and promptly spit it out on the floor.I had my " what are you doing moment".The funny thing was I shocked myself by doing it and thought thank goodness my husband didn't see me do it.It makes me laugh now.Habits of 39 years are hard to break.
    You blog is great and congrats on the spending your my hero!! That is something I have to work on.Anyways great job Stephanie!!


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