Project Food Budget: Weeks 11 and 12

Week 11

Last week, we went camping for Spring Break. We went to what was the only available camp site in the entire state. It was also the driest part of the state and there was a burn ban in effect. I've never been camping while vegan before, so I figured it would be a challenge to replace the food I used to eat when camping. A burn ban would surely make it worse since we couldn't cook anything over a fire. Living in Texas, however, we're no stranger to burn ban camping. We were camping at a state park so had water and electricity which meant we could use our electric burner and other tools (crock pot, etc.) if necessary.

From the house we took stuff like:

  • Veggie patties
  • Cheese for OmniMan
  • Vegan Top Ramen (Oriental)
  • Fruit spread
  • Bread
  • Coffee
  • Tortillas
  • Tortilla chips
  • Bananas
  • Tomatoes
  • Instant refried black beans
  • Can of beans

I can't remember everything and we didn't eat everything that we took, either. Then we stopped at Walmart and got some items. By the way, this was the most Latin-flavored Wally World I've ever been to and even though it's out of the way I want to go back when I have time to really check everything out. It was pretty great. They had several aisles devoted to Mexican food items and it was all stuff I saw in grocery stores when I've been to Mexico. (Which begs the question, "Are Emperadors chocolate cookies vegan?" I won't ask if they're healthy, because I know they're not. Maybe I should just save that treat for when I'm actually in Mexico after all.)

Tomatoes and peppers are always the best at Latin-flavored stores, too. Not just Walmart, either, but also Super Plaza, Fiesta, Festival, etc. You can hardly make salsa or enchilada sauce out of the lame, pink-ass blobs they call tomatoes at a lot of the other stores.

We got:

Churro Mix for Jacob 1.68
Deli Chicken for OmniMan 2.50
Oreos 1.98
Salsa 2.54
Collards 1.42
Peanut Butter 2.22
Spanish Rice Mix .76
Milk for OmniMan 1.48
Water 2.28
Ice 1.94
Garlic Mayo for OmniMan 1.50
Total 20.30

So, $20.30 for food pretty much. I also got $40 out for spending money for the trip and I spent a little of that on food, though I don't remember how much. That's not too bad, I think for a vacation worth of food and fending for ourselves once we got back home for the remaining few days of the week.

We ended up just eating Ramen and munching on stuff the first night. We got to the site late and it was starting to get cold already. (It got down to 36 degrees that night!) We cooked it on the electric burner on the tail gate of the truck. It warmed us up sufficiently and we crashed pretty early.

Other nights we ate the veggie patties fried up, made tacos out of the black beans with Spanish rice and chips and salsa. We ate PB&Js and had taco leftovers. Snacked on cookies and more chips and salsa. He'd gotten some chicken for himself but didn't even end up eating it until after we got home.

Week 12

The sad thing about Spring Break, was that my kiddo (who stayed with his Dad) got sick. So, once we returned, I wasn't really into cooking normal meals (he wasn't hungry, then he was starving, then he wanted bland food, etc.) and was kind of worn down and worried about him. He has asthma so every cold has the potential to become something worse. It started to move into his chest and the breathing treatments began. He's doing fine now, thankfully, but that time of winging it with the food is still lingering.

I have no meal plans this week except that I am going to make banh mi FOR DAMN SURE, risotto again, something with lentils, something with tofu, something with tempeh, something with beans and asparagus and broccoli will be sides. I just went with what I'm craving and what sounded good. I wasn't hungry when I went to the store, but I definitely was working off things that are on my mind every time I think, "What do I want for dinner?"

I bought:

Whole Foods Trip
Daikon Radishes 1.99
Cucumber 1.97
Asparagus 5.20
Broccoli 4.28
Shiitakes 3.30
Criminis 1.80
Vegenaise 4.49
Bulk Navy Beans 1.56
Bulk Instant Refried Beans 3.49
Bulk Raw Cashews 2.82
Tempeh 2.69
Tempeh 2.69
Tempeh coupon -1.00
Tofu 1.79
Eggs for OmniBoy's Science Lab 1.49
Vegetable Stock Base 5.99
Baking Powder 1.49
Chocolate Almond Milk 2.00
Chocolate Hazelnut Milk 2.99
Unsweetened Hemp Milk 3.99
Grapefruit 7.99
Costco Trip
Granulated Garlic 4.49
Cheese for Omnis 4.89
Vegan Sugar 8.89
Milk for Omnis 2.61
Strawberries 7.99
Tomatoes 5.49
Canned Tomatoes 7.69
Bread 5.99
Total 111.05

So, I would say that the biggest splurges were on milks and fruit. Yes. $8 worth of strawberries and $8 worth of grapefruit. That, by the way, is 4 pounds of strawberries and 18 pounds of grapefruit. Kind of a lot but we really need to be eating more fruit around this house, especially after recovering from being sick.

The milks, I don't know what to say about that. Those were full on splurges. Different brands that I've never tried and want to give a go. I really like having hemp milk around, though. I feel like it rounds my diet out nicely. It's so versatile and I prefer it for savory stuff over soy or rice milk (which I get super cheap by buying in bulk at Costco.)

A couple of pricey items are things that will last us a long time. The sugar will last us a month or two. The granulated garlic will last us many, many months and is a joy to have around (especially when making stuff like seitan or gravies where I don't want garlic chunks). The vegetable stock base will last 6 months. The canned tomatoes will last us a month or two. Staples.

Bottom Line
This go around, I'm giving myself a pass on going over budget. One week was camping and you have to have a little fun on vacation. Once I got home, I went over my $75 budget by $36.05. I feel good that most of what I bought this week was healthy stuff. Whole stuff. Less processed stuff than usual (which hopefully makes up for the processededness of camping!) Fruit. Fresh veggies. Almost everything organic. So, I'm not going to let myself feel bad about it.

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


  1. Stephanie ..I think you did great.I loved the ideas about camping vegan.It shows me there is no excuses this summer:)I hope you son is feeling better,I hate it when mine is sick.
    May I ask what bahn mi is..I must be missing something.I just thought..I should check your talk soon tanya

  2. Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich. Banh mi chay is vegetarian, usually made with tofu or seitan. It has pickled carrots and daikon radish, cilantro, cucumbers, etc. on this really crusty, light bread. See here...

  3. $8 for 4 lbs of strawberries is an amazing deal! I grew up in Texas and one thing I miss about this time of year is that the strawberries start showing up (that and the fresh berries from my uncle's farm).

    Also, $8 for 18 lbs of grapefruit is a no-brainer! They last forever and are so good for you. All your veggies have me thinking tofu scramble...

    Lastly, I had some vegan pizza with Daiya on it at Whole Foods last night, and I have to say, I'm with you on the fake cheese. It wasn't quite right...

  4. The vegan camping food sounds great! That baked tofu I made--it was one block that I sliced on the short side inside of the widest side. When I've tried to slice on the widest side, the pieces are really uneven (big in one part, thin and crumbling in another), so it's just easier for me to slide the small side. And you get more pieces too.

  5. Ah, thanks Jennifer. I think I'm going to make that this week and wanted to make sure the recipe works out. I think I'll slice that way, too. When I make "bacon" w/ tofu and slice it lengthwise I get half slabs / half razor thin slices, so I know what you mean.

    And yeah Angela, When I walked in and saw strawberries, blueberries, etc. front and center I was excited like a little kid in a toy store. I feel a pie coming on. And the grapefruit, we squeezed like 4 of them into juice last night and still have tons left. Sweet and red.

  6. I am glad your son is feeling better. How scary! I never even considered how the burn bans effect camping. I was recently wondering if burn bans limit back yard grilling. I am determined not to cook indoors this summer.

    Top Ramen makes a vegan option? I never found a vegan option when I was vegan. They all had fish sauce in them.

  7. Yeah Jeannette, it's only Top Ramen by Nissin (not Maruchan). Their Oriental flavor and Chili flavor have no animal products in them at all. See:

    Maruchan has something meat in everything. Even their cheddar cheese cup has powdered chicken meat in it. (Why, oh why?) I did go to an Asian supermarket this weekend and found other brands that look to be vegan and vegetarian, too.


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