Immunity Soup 
From 101cookbooks, made with white beans from the Farmer’s Market ($4) instead of tofu. 
Servings: 9
Total price: $23

Immunity Soup 

From 101cookbooks, made with white beans from the Farmer’s Market ($4) instead of tofu. 

Servings: 9

Total price: $23

Farmer’s market mushroom: $5.

Farmer’s market mushroom: $5.

Tags: mushroom

Farmer’s market radishes and green onions. $7.

Farmer’s market radishes and green onions. $7.

Leftovers!

We have so much food in the house, we’re just having leftovers tonight.

Picked up the mirepoix ingredients and some kale. $16.07

Picked up the mirepoix ingredients and some kale. $16.07

Tags: mirepoix

Fire Roasted Garbanzo Beans$2.29 per serving
Made up by Devin
Ingredients:
Can of fire roasted with adobo sauce
Brown Rice 
Yellow Pepper
Tofutti Sour Cream
Cilantro
Organic Garbanzo Beans
Half an onion
Preparation Time:Cook Time: Serves: 4
Ingredient Pricing
Brown Rice - organic, lundberg brand $4.66 previously owned 0.25 $1.17Yellow Pepper $1.00 previously owned 1 $1Limes $0.23 11414 Coop 0.3 $0.069Tofutti Sour Cream $1.83 11414 Coop 1 $1.83Mexicanita Flour Tortillas $2.08 11414 Coop 0.5 $1.04Cilantro - organic $1.49 11414 Coop 0.5 $0.745Field Day Beans Og Garbanzo $1.13 11414 Coop 1 $1.13Olive Oil EV Ital $24.99 11314 WFM 0.001 $0.02Two Onions $0.59 11314 Nams 0.25 $0.1475

Total Servings: 4
Total Price $9.15

Total Price per serving $2.29

Fire Roasted Garbanzo Beans
$2.29 per serving

Made up by Devin

Ingredients:

  • Can of fire roasted with adobo sauce
  • Brown Rice 
  • Yellow Pepper
  • Tofutti Sour Cream
  • Cilantro
  • Organic Garbanzo Beans
  • Half an onion

Preparation Time:
Cook Time: 
Serves: 4

Ingredient Pricing

Brown Rice - organic, lundberg brand $4.66 previously owned 0.25 $1.17
Yellow Pepper $1.00 previously owned 1 $1
Limes $0.23 11414 Coop 0.3 $0.069
Tofutti Sour Cream $1.83 11414 Coop 1 $1.83
Mexicanita Flour Tortillas $2.08 11414 Coop 0.5 $1.04
Cilantro - organic $1.49 11414 Coop 0.5 $0.745
Field Day Beans Og Garbanzo $1.13 11414 Coop 1 $1.13
Olive Oil EV Ital $24.99 11314 WFM 0.001 $0.02
Two Onions $0.59 11314 Nams 0.25 $0.1475

Total Servings: 4

Total Price $9.15

Total Price per serving $2.29

Rio Zape Burritos$2.23 per serving
Adapted from Rancho Gordo’s Drunken Beans recipe for Rio Zape heirloom beans. Rancho Gordo’s beans are hearty, filling and come in big affordable bags. But, they require planning. You have to soak them overnight and they take hours to cook. We put them in the slow cooker at 10am and they were done at 8pm when we got home from work.
Ingredients (adapted to be vegan):
1 bag beans, soaked
1 bottle beer
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 whole serrano peppers, minced
limes
Put sauteed onions and garlic, soaked beans, one bottle of beer and 3 whole peppers in a slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours. I added cilantro, sliced radishes, hot sauce and limes to make a delicious, extremely filling burrito.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes (not including 10 hours of bean soaking)
Cook Time: 10 hours
Serves: 6
Ingredient Pricing
Olive Oil EV Ital $24.99 11314 WFM 0.001 $0.02Radishes - Bunch Og $2.07 11414 Coop 0.5 $1.04Cilantro - organic $1.49 11414 Coop 0.5 $0.75Limes $0.23 11414 Coop 1 $0.23Tofutti Sour Cream $1.83 11414 Coop 1 $1.83Mexicanita Flour Tortillas $2.08 11414 Coop 0.5 $1.04Rio Zape beans $5.95 previously owned Rancho Gordo 1 $5.95Red Chili peppers $3.95 previously owned Rancho Gordo 0.1 $0.40Brown Rice - organic, lundberg brand $4.66 previously owned 0.25 $1.17Can of beer $1.21 previously owned Coop 1 $1.21
Total Servings: 6
Total Price $13.39
Total Price per serving $2.23

Rio Zape Burritos
$2.23 per serving

Adapted from Rancho Gordo’s Drunken Beans recipe for Rio Zape heirloom beans. Rancho Gordo’s beans are hearty, filling and come in big affordable bags. But, they require planning. You have to soak them overnight and they take hours to cook. We put them in the slow cooker at 10am and they were done at 8pm when we got home from work.

Ingredients (adapted to be vegan):

  • 1 bag beans, soaked
  • 1 bottle beer
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 whole serrano peppers, minced
  • limes

Put sauteed onions and garlic, soaked beans, one bottle of beer and 3 whole peppers in a slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours. I added cilantro, sliced radishes, hot sauce and limes to make a delicious, extremely filling burrito.

  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes (not including 10 hours of bean soaking)
  • Cook Time: 10 hours
  • Serves: 6

Ingredient Pricing

Olive Oil EV Ital $24.99 11314 WFM 0.001 $0.02
Radishes - Bunch Og $2.07 11414 Coop 0.5 $1.04
Cilantro - organic $1.49 11414 Coop 0.5 $0.75
Limes $0.23 11414 Coop 1 $0.23
Tofutti Sour Cream $1.83 11414 Coop 1 $1.83
Mexicanita Flour Tortillas $2.08 11414 Coop 0.5 $1.04
Rio Zape beans $5.95 previously owned Rancho Gordo 1 $5.95
Red Chili peppers $3.95 previously owned Rancho Gordo 0.1 $0.40
Brown Rice - organic, lundberg brand $4.66 previously owned 0.25 $1.17
Can of beer $1.21 previously owned Coop 1 $1.21

Total Servings: 6

Total Price $13.39

Total Price per serving $2.23

Swung by the coop on the way home to pick up a few last minute items for dinner. 
Field Day Beans Og Garbanzo $1.13Radishes - Bunch Og $2.07Cilantro - organic $1.49Ginger - organic $0.20Three pink lady apples $1.07Limes $0.23Tofutti Sour Cream $1.83Mexicanita Flour Tortillas $2.08
Total = $10.10

Swung by the coop on the way home to pick up a few last minute items for dinner. 

Field Day Beans Og Garbanzo $1.13
Radishes - Bunch Og $2.07
Cilantro - organic $1.49
Ginger - organic $0.20
Three pink lady apples $1.07
Limes $0.23
Tofutti Sour Cream $1.83
Mexicanita Flour Tortillas $2.08

Total = $10.10

Lehsuni Moong Dal: Garlic Flavored Yellow Moong$1.40 per serving
From ecurry.com, Garlic Yellow Split Peas. You should definitely reference the original recipe for cooking notes, but this is my short hand.
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
2 cup yellow moong
2 tablespoon oil 
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 cloves
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or 2 dry red chilli pepper (adjust amount to taste)
4 tablespoon chili garlic paste 
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can diced tomato
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or julienned
salt to taste
7 cups of warm water (or adjust amount  to as needed)
fresh lemon juice – to drizzle 
1 teaspoon cayenne
4 cloves of garlic, sliced (optional)
First, combine grated tomatoes, chili garlic paste, salt and turmeric in  non reactive bowl. 
Not knowing a damn thing about making Indian food, I made this in my Mexican bean pot. I warmed oil in the pot, add the red dry chili pepper or the crushed pepper, cloves, cumin seeds. The original recipe calls for hing, but I couldn’t find it at the store. 
When the cumin started to sizzle, I added the pepper and the onions. Then I braised the uncooked lentils with the spice mix. Then I added the tomatoes, chili paste, salt and turmeric and the garlic. 
After stirring this deliciousness around for 10 minutes, add the ginger and warm water. Then I cooked it for about 30 minutes. I shouldn’t have added so much water, but I doubled the original recipe.
Drizzle lemon before serving. I served over rice and with a side of mustard greens.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes total 
Serves: 4-6
Ingredient Pricing
Organic red lentils  $3.09 10814 Coop 0.5 $1.55
Mustard greens  $2.07 10814 Coop 1 $2.07
Two elephant garlic  $4.32 10814 Coop 0.25 $1.08
Two Onions $0.59 11314 Nams 0.5 $0.30
Cloves whole $4.99 11214 WFM 0.1 $0.50
Tomato Diced Can $1.49 11214 WFM 1 $1.49
Olive Oil EV Ital $24.99 11314 WFM 0.001 $0.02
Total Servings: 5
Total Price: $7.00
Total Price per serving: $1.40

Lehsuni Moong Dal: Garlic Flavored Yellow Moong
$1.40 per serving

From ecurry.com, Garlic Yellow Split Peas. You should definitely reference the original recipe for cooking notes, but this is my short hand.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 2 cup yellow moong
  • 2 tablespoon oil 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or 2 dry red chilli pepper (adjust amount to taste)
  • 4 tablespoon chili garlic paste 
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can diced tomato
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or julienned
  • salt to taste
  • 7 cups of warm water (or adjust amount  to as needed)
  • fresh lemon juice – to drizzle 
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced (optional)

First, combine grated tomatoes, chili garlic paste, salt and turmeric in  non reactive bowl. 

Not knowing a damn thing about making Indian food, I made this in my Mexican bean pot. I warmed oil in the pot, add the red dry chili pepper or the crushed pepper, cloves, cumin seeds. The original recipe calls for hing, but I couldn’t find it at the store. 

When the cumin started to sizzle, I added the pepper and the onions. Then I braised the uncooked lentils with the spice mix. Then I added the tomatoes, chili paste, salt and turmeric and the garlic. 

After stirring this deliciousness around for 10 minutes, add the ginger and warm water. Then I cooked it for about 30 minutes. I shouldn’t have added so much water, but I doubled the original recipe.

Drizzle lemon before serving. I served over rice and with a side of mustard greens.

  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 35 minutes total 
  • Serves: 4-6

Ingredient Pricing

  • Organic red lentils $3.09 10814 Coop 0.5 $1.55
  • Mustard greens $2.07 10814 Coop 1 $2.07
  • Two elephant garlic $4.32 10814 Coop 0.25 $1.08
  • Two Onions $0.59 11314 Nams 0.5 $0.30
  • Cloves whole $4.99 11214 WFM 0.1 $0.50
  • Tomato Diced Can $1.49 11214 WFM 1 $1.49
  • Olive Oil EV Ital $24.99 11314 WFM 0.001 $0.02

Total Servings: 5

Total Price: $7.00

Total Price per serving: $1.40

Bad planning means I had to buy overpriced food at the corner Bodega.
Almond Milk $3.99Soy Milk $3.99Two Onions $0.59
Total = $8.57

Bad planning means I had to buy overpriced food at the corner Bodega.

Almond Milk $3.99
Soy Milk $3.99
Two Onions $0.59

Total = $8.57

For the first week, I thought I would try my hand at cooking some indian and ethiopian lentil recipes, like Garlic Yellow Split Peas, Red Kidney Bean Curry, Maa Ki Dal, Punjabi Chole, and Ethiopian Spicy Red Lentil Stew. I read that the key to cooking on a budget is planning ahead, so I picked recipes that used similar spices, so I could maximize my purchases on staple items. 
So, I went to the Park Slope Food Coop and bought the following. 
Organic Bay Leaf $0.29
Garam Masala $2.25
Curry powder $0.85
Cayenne $0.44
Organic Paprika $0.93
Anise $1.00
Allspice $1.20
Organic dried mango $1.35
Organic red lentils $3.09
Indigo lentils $4.47
Organic Green split peas $2.75
Three lemons $0.93
Mustard greens $2.07
Two Organic bananas $0.84
Two elephant garlic $4.32
Total = $26.78
I still need to buy some rice and canned tomatoes (it’s January, so I can’t afford fresh tomatoes), but I have almost everything I need for dinners this week. For lunches, we’ll have leftovers. I still need to figure out breakfasts for the week ahead.

For the first week, I thought I would try my hand at cooking some indian and ethiopian lentil recipes, like Garlic Yellow Split PeasRed Kidney Bean CurryMaa Ki DalPunjabi Chole, and Ethiopian Spicy Red Lentil Stew. I read that the key to cooking on a budget is planning ahead, so I picked recipes that used similar spices, so I could maximize my purchases on staple items. 

So, I went to the Park Slope Food Coop and bought the following. 

  • Organic Bay Leaf $0.29
  • Garam Masala $2.25
  • Curry powder $0.85
  • Cayenne $0.44
  • Organic Paprika $0.93
  • Anise $1.00
  • Allspice $1.20
  • Organic dried mango $1.35
  • Organic red lentils $3.09
  • Indigo lentils $4.47
  • Organic Green split peas $2.75
  • Three lemons $0.93
  • Mustard greens $2.07
  • Two Organic bananas $0.84
  • Two elephant garlic $4.32

Total = $26.78

I still need to buy some rice and canned tomatoes (it’s January, so I can’t afford fresh tomatoes), but I have almost everything I need for dinners this week. For lunches, we’ll have leftovers. I still need to figure out breakfasts for the week ahead.

The Plan

This blog is a record of a shopping and eating experiment that my family is undertaking. My dad, upset by a series of articles on food stamps and obesity that the Washington Post ran in the fall of 2013, asked me to try to cook nutritious, vegan meals (as we already do), but on a very limited budget. We wanted to see if the poorest in our country could, even with all resources and information available to them, could ever eat healthily, or, if, as we suspect, our country has created a system that only gives those that need the most “too much of too little”, the name of the Post series, after which I titled this blog.

image

Food stamps provide the poor with an ability to purchase subsidized food items, but they’re often very limited. In Brooklyn, NY, a woman I interviewed told me that her WIC and SNAP benefits only allow her about $10 / week to purchase vegetables and forbid the purchasing of organic vegetables, even if they’re more affordable than conventional vegetables. 

My parents, in Alexandria, Virginia, and my girlfriend and I, in Brooklyn, NY, have both kept mostly vegan diets for the last three years. During that time, my dad and I have swapped extraordinary recipes, challenging ourselves to make delicious, rich vegan meals. Now we’re challenging ourselves to do the same on an extremely limited budget. 

SNAP benefits primarily assist families in buying dairy and meat products. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, in Virginia, about $128 are given monthly per person. In New York, $148. Since we can’t eat dairy or meat, we’re going to constrain our grocery budget dramatically, to artificially imitate SNAP benefits pretending as if you could use them to buy vegetables.

My girlfriend Devin and I are going to stick to a budget of $74 / week. My mom and dad are going to use a budget of $64 / week.

Aside from being able to choose our own food preferences, something people on SNAP do not have, we also have a bunch of other advantages. To name a few:

  1. No kids to feed. Growing kids need a lot of nutrition and neither of our households have them.
  2. Access to unlimited information. Among us, we’ve probably read 100+ vegan cookbooks and have cooked and eaten vegan and vegetarian foods from around the world.
  3. Access to atypically great groceries. In Virginia, my parents live near a Whole Foods, MOM’s Organic Market, and several other conventional grocers. In Brooklyn, we technically live in a food desert but have a year-round farmer’s market every Saturday a mile from our home (and one 4 days a week just a subway ride away), a membership to the Park Slope Food Coop and access to NYC’s frozen CSA share at Winter Sun Farms. 

Nevertheless, we still think this will be challenging. Here we’re going to share our grocery bills, the recipes we cook, the nutritional value per meal, servings per meal, and the time it took to prepare.