I buy mostly organic or all-natural foods at the very least. Nic eats mostly omnivore, our girls eat sometimes omnivore, sometimes vegetarian and sometimes vegan and I eat only Vegan. I have a lot of different dietary needs to fulfill. Needless to say, we don’t have a very cheap grocery bill. We had an unexpected expense come up this week. In order to cover it, we had to take money away from what is normally set aside for groceries. Initially, I was upset. Don’t come between this girl and her food. However, it was for the better, so Nic and I put our heads together to still accommodate my dietary needs, still feed everyone healthy meals, and drastically reduce our grocery bill.
For starters, a LOT of processed foods that we normally buy, weren’t purchased. Some things I bought were not organic, but I’m sure we’ll live. I bought regular rice instead of instant, fresh beans that must be rinsed, soaked and cooked instead of canned. We opted for the produce that is more work to prep, for instance, instead of buying baby carrots that can just be thrown into the pot, we bought the organic whole carrots that need to be cleaned first then chopped up. I should mention here that all of this translates into me adding a lot more to my workload, but you do what you gotta do. I know, I know. First world problems. Woe is me. Needless to say, we succeeded in cutting our bill down and we still all ate good this week. Here’s what we came up with:
Vegan (with Quinoa) and non-Vegan (with Meat and Cheese) Burritos
- Tortillas (Use corn tortillas for a Gluten-free option)
- Optional: All-Natural Ground Beef and Shredded Cheese
- Taco Seasoning
- Red Bell Pepper
- Spitz of juice from Lemon
- Optional: Soy-free “butter” and Tabasco sauce
I set the quinoa to cooking for its 15 minutes. Meanwhile, I browned the ground beef and added the seasoning to it. While it was simmering in the taco seasoning, I stir-fried the veggies in Extra-Virgin Olive oil. I warmed the tortillas (I do not make them from scratch like my kick-butt friend Sarah does. I am just not that cool…or talented.) We like to spread a little bit of “butter” over them right after they’re warmed, before we add our toppings. After all that, the quinoa, meat and cheese and veggies were all ready to be thrown on. *Mine was quinoa, fresh avocado, cooked pepper, onion and mushrooms and with a squeeze of lemon juice. It was to die for! In hindsight, I think it would be yummy to simmer the quinoa in some taco seasoning as well. ;)
Black Bean Stir-Fry Rice (with Italian Sausage for Nic)
- Short-Grain Whole Grain Rice
- Black Beans (Rinsed, Soaked, Cooked and Strained)
- Organic Carrots
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Red Onion
- Optional: Cooked Italian Sausage
Cook your rice. When it is approximately 20 minutes from finishing, start a small pot of water boiling. Begin the prep of your veggies and proceed with stir-frying them in Extra Virgin Olive oil. Halfway through the cooking of your veggies, if you are adding the sausage, you need to cut it in half and set one half aside while storing the other half in the fridge. The half you are using, cut it into 2 pieces and add to the boiling water to cook. After all veggies have been stir-fried, set them aside. Strain the sausage, and cut into pieces if you desire. Lay a bed of rice on your plate and add a layer on top of black beans. Then, add the veggies and on top of that, some sausage if you’re wanting that as well. Enjoy!
Spaghetti and Pasta Sauce with Garden Herbs and Broccoli
- Spaghetti Pasta
- Red Pasta Sauce of your choice
- Freshly picked herbs from our garden! Basil and Oregano
- Freshly picked organic tomato from MHG’s garden!
- Fresh chopped Garlic
- Fresh Broccoli
Follow instructions for cooking your chosen Spaghetti. Set your pasta sauce to warm on low. Boil broccoli while spaghetti is cooking. Chop (I didn’t chop mine this time) fresh herbs of your choice and mix into sauce. Add chopped garlic to sauce. After all my ingredients are added to the sauce, I like to use a hand mixer to mix them into the sauce really well (which is why I didn’t chop my herbs beforehand). Some people like their sauce chunkier, so if that’s the case, don’t blend them in. :) After the pasta is cooked, strain. We add “butter” to our pasta afterwards…sometimes I opt for Extra Virgin Olive oil instead. The broccoli should be done by now as well. Strain. We don’t mix our sauce into our pasta, we prefer to pour it over our pasta instead. Add broccoli on the side (and a fresh picked organic tomato ;) if you’ve got it!) and chow down!
Grilled Cheese or Salad and “Soup”
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Sliced cheese (Vegan if you’d rather…I didn’t this time, I opted for a salad instead)
- “Butter” We use Earth Balance Soy-free fake butter
- Ramen! (I know it’s bad for you, but it was cold and dreary that day and we wanted comfort food!)
- Carrots (I had leftover organic baby carrots that I needed to use up)
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Spring Greens Mix
I screwed up my soup and added the veggies and ramen all at once, then boiled. DON’T DO THAT. Your pasta will end up a mushy mess. Instead, add the necessary amount of water to cook your ramen plus 1/2 cup more and start to boil. Once boiling, add your veggies. As the veggies boil, prep and cook your grilled cheese. Towards the last phase of flipping your sandos, add the ramen to your “soup”. While your soup and sandwiches finish, prep your salad. (You can add the ramen seasoning packets to your soup to actually make it taste like soup, but those seasonings are NOT Vegan, ftr. I dished my soup out before I added the seasoning.)
It was cold here this week. The day our curriculum arrived, we had to run out in the freezing rain to drive to the office to get it. By the time we got back and carried everything inside, we were drenched and chilled to the bones. The girls came up with the great idea to have hot cocoa!
- Hot Chocolate mix (which isn’t Vegan, btw, but when I’m THIS cold and wet, I don’t care.)
- Unsweetened Almond silk for the Cancers…
- Milk for the Capricorn ;)
Add silk or milk to a mug, stir in Hot Chocolate mix, heat and serve. Enjoy the smiles and giggles and the hot chocolate mustaches! :)
Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Treats (Vegan & Gluten-Free)
These are DELICIOUS and they are Vegan AND Gluten-free. I made just one change from the original recipe which I got from Alicia Silverstone’s book: The Kind Diet. It is an EXCELLENT read, by the way, if you are interested in looking into Veganism. She has you leave the chocolate chips in them whole (so you wouldn’t add them until the mixture has cooled a bit). We prefer them melted and mixed into the peanut butter/syrup mixture. I also added 1/4 cup more of the chips. These treats are TO. DIE. FOR. regardless if you are Vegan or not…trust me! My Husband doesn’t even like sweets, but he really likes these!
- 1 bag brown rice crisps cereal
- 1 3/4 cups brown rice syrup
- fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup peanut butter or almond butter
- 3/4 cup grain-sweetened, non-dairy chocolate or carob chips
Grab yourself a couple of cute little kitchen helpers! Pour the rice cereal into a large bowl. Heat the syrup with a pinch of salt in a saucepan over low heat. When the rice syrup liquefies, add the peanut butter and stir until well combined. Add in the chocolate chips and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed together. Pour over the rice cereal. Mix well with a wooden spoon. If you have any self-control (we don’t), pour the mixture into baking pans or muffin/cupcake pans of your choosing. Just be careful not to break your wooden spoon in half, like I did, while you are using it to press the treats down. Duh. Let them cool for one hour. I like to keep ours in the fridge. :) They won’t last long in your home. I can assure you.
P.S. For you fellow fulltime RVers, you can cut down on your RV weight by buying a kindle/e-reader/nook and buying the e-book versions of your cookbooks. Plus, think about all the space you’ll free up by not storing your cookbooks!
All the ingredients for this recipe I’ve had for months and I finally got around to using them, so they didn’t actually impact our past grocery bill. The brown rice syrup isn’t cheap, so I wouldn’t have bought it this time around if I had need of it (it runs about $8 a jar), but it’s well worth the cost. Brown rice syrup is just as sweet as sugar-based products, but it doesn’t give you the sugar high that those other foods give you. I for one do not enjoy the sugar crash that accompanies the high. This syrup raises your blood sugar levels slowly and lowers them slowly. Knowing that though, there still is a significant amount of sugars in it, so I’m not sure it’s a good substitute for diabetics?
I just LOVE cooking and baking with my girls! They’re so adorable and everything impresses them, lol! They are great for boosting my “Kitchen Confidence”! They have no idea that I am a bad cook as long as I bust out recipes for dessert! ;) Well, I finally got this blog finished…one down…three or so to go. Until next time…