Vegan on a budget?

So much has changed for me since I last wrote in this blog. Thank goodness, is all I can say! In January, after my birthday, I started down the beautiful and twisty-turny path to veganism. Life is better. I am better. But that is a post for another day!

Today I am here to write about food plans and budgets – an area in which I am no expert but am infinitely interested! I would love to know more about how other people navigate these waters so I’m going to dive right in.

First of all, a few things to know:

  • There are three plant-fuelled adult humans in my household.
  • I do most of the shopping and cooking.
  • Tesco delivers my shopping. In my ideal world, I would drift about with my wicker basket to farmers’ markets and pick up vegetables that were plucked from their earthy slumbers only hours before, but I’m (slowly, hesitantly) coming to terms with Real Life. That means a bit of give and take with the convenience issue.
  • A lot of the ingredients below are things I already have in stock, like rice,oats, gluten free pasta, herbs and spices. Most of what I buy in my weekly shop is fresh vegetables and fruit, almond milk and the odd thing like vegan sausages.
  • This is by no means a ‘you should do this’ post, nor is it comprehensive in regard to prices or meals. This is purely a post to help anyone who might be starting out in the planning department, or who is looking for some new ideas for affordable or healthy meal options.


This is something that used to have me tearing my hair out, but with time so short at the moment I have narrowed down my meals to things that take approximately 15 minutes to prepare. This has made life much easier!



Typically, I would either have half a banana with my porridge or skip fruit altogether but in the spirit of honesty, I am currently eating some berries with my porridge so I’ve included that! I know that a lot of vegan/plant-based people opt for a smoothie for breakfast, but my own blood sugar can’t cope with that in the morning so I like to stick with oats. 🙂

Flahavans Organic Porridge Oatlets 1kg  : €2.59   (30g   = €0.08)

Keelings Blueberries or Raspberries 300g: €5.50   (75g    = €1.30)

Tesco Cinnamon 40g                                 : €0.65    (4g     =€0.07)

Tesco Sunflower Seeds 300g                    : €1.50      (10g    =€0.05)

      Total   €10.24        Total per serving  €2.67



This is the hardest part of the day for me in terms of planning, so I would love to hear what others eat! I love eating leftovers from dinner, but it’s not always possible. Here are a few sample lunches from my typical working week.


Sausage Sandwich:

Tesco Twin Pack Avocados         :€2.00   (half   =€0.50)

Dee’s Leek and Onion Sausages :€3.99 (3 sausages =€2.00)

Ryvita Multigrain 250g                  :€1.95  (4 slices  = €0.35)

Ballymaloe Jalapeno Relish 280g : €3.19  (15g  = €0.17)

Total: €11.13       Total per serving €3.02


Sundried Tomato Pasta

Doves Farm Rice Pasta 500g            : €3.29 (50g = €0.32)

Tesco Sundried Tomato Paste 190g : €2.60 (15g =€0.20)

Tesco Wonky Mushrooms 300g         :€0.89 (150g =€0.45)

Tesco courgettes loose                      : €0.63   (half =€0.32)

Total  € 7.41           Total per serving €1.29

vegan spicy hummus

Creamy buffalo hummus

Creamy Buffalo Hummus or Sundried Tomato and Basil Hummus with half an avocado and ryvita 🙂 Make once and eat for a few days!

At the moment dinner has to be on the table in about 20 minutes or less, otherwise I may end up eating one of my family members/students in desperation. Happily, I have a new-found love of dinner thanks for vegan yums! 🙂 I now like the ease with which food can be prepared in a hurry, or taking my time on occasions when there is more time.


Rejuvenating Bowl.
This is fast, easy, delicious comfort food. I like to make coconut rice with mine, and sometimes I use cannellini beans which are more readily available (and cheaper.)


Tomato and Mushroom Pasta
I love this! It takes 15 minutes max! I use a tin of chopped tomatoes, just because it keeps a bit longer and is handy to keep in the cupboard.



THIS IS THE BEST!!! MAKE IT! IT’S SO BRILLIANT! I skip the kale because I’m not a big fan. I like to make this at the weekend and keep either in the fridge or freezer until it’s big moment arrives 🙂

vegan, gluten free, kale

Macaro-no-cheese 🙂

Chana Masala
Don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Chana Masala when it’s put in front of them. 🙂


Mexican Rice and Beans
This is so easy, and so adaptable to whatever may be in your fridge. I like to make it in vast quantities and eat for lunch the next day.


Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
This looks expensive at the beginning, but half the recipe and you will still be freezing leftovers and having it for lunch the next day. It is definitely worthwhile.  It is definitely worthwhile making the full thing if you want to eat it for dinner on Sunday too 😀


Snacks and Drinks:

gluten free and vegan bread

Superfood bread I made last weekend and am still eating…

My snack this week has been a slice or two slices of Deliciously Ella’s Superfood bread. I made this last weekend and I think I have enough to see me through this week too.  It costs about €5 to make a loaf, which works out at about 50c per slice. It’s pricey, but it’s one of those things that keeps you going if you’re trying to avoice snacking on sugary or salty junk food.

In the morning or afternoon, if I’m feeling ok, I like to have an almond milk latte using a cup of Unsweetened Almond Breeze. I don’t have if every day, but it’s a treat 🙂

Occasionally, I bake but I almost always use things in my store cupboard. Vegan, gluten free baking can get quite expensive so I tend not to do it very often, meaning that the ingredients tend to last for aaaages.

delicious dairy free buns

Vegan, gluten free apple crumble muffins

Eating Out:
I haven’t stopped eating out. I have a current favourite sandwich that I have had twice in the last two weeks. It costs €4.50 in the Quay Co Op and feels extravagant. Totally can’t eat any more due to wheat-sadness but I enjoyed it while it lasted. I think on average I spend maybe €10-20 per week on eating out. I suspect that will go up closer to Christmas, but that’s the current number, including coffees/teas/eating out.


Healthy Days: Spinach and Berry Breakfast Smoothie

This has been a back-to-work week with me settling into a lovely relaxed schedule of teaching. Really, it’s been a shock to the system to not be doing a full time conservatory performance degree as well as working. So I’ve been continuing to love cooking and grocery shopping is no longer tear-inducing stress! Possibly I should be trying to fill my hours a little more diligently but right now from the *health* point of view, this is amazing.

Yesterday was the first day that I felt ‘I NEED CAKE!’ It has since transpired that I’m fight all the back-to-school bugs that come into my music room! So at least there’s a reason that I’m craving sugary food. I admit that I ate a brownie yesterday and a scone today, but now that I’ve figured out my craving, I’m going to make some soup and drink a ton of warm honey and lemon!

Carrot and Lentil Soup

Carrot and Lentil Soup I made for dinner on Thursday! Served with steamed purple sprouting broccoli and garlic.

On Thursday I has such an amazing food day! Attending the Mahon Point farmer’s market I swerved my usual salad stall and tried the offering of My Goodness, Cork’s raw vegan foodies. For €6.50 I had just the BEST lunch I’ve had in ages! Raw seed crackers, pickled daikon radish, sundried tomato and coriander pesto flavoured seed patés, bean sprouts, carrot salad, a seed burger and mixed green leaves all with a fresh apple cider vinegar-based dressing. It was beautiful and kept me munching for ages! I will definitely be having this again! Definitely satisfying. 🙂

Vegan Raw Mezze Plate by My Goodness, Cork

              Vegan Raw Mezze Plate by My Goodness 

In the last few days I made a load of Deliciously Ella’s superfood bread and flavoured it with some lovely autumnal cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  Another highlight of the last few days was this delicious breakfast smoothie:


Blackberry - Spinach Smoothie

A great way to use up the autumn harvest of blackberries!

Spinach and Berry Breakfast Smoothie
-2 handfuls of blackberries
-2 handfuls of spinach
-2 heaped tbsp soya yoghurt
-1 tbsp milled flaxseed
-a few strawberries

Berry-Spinach Smoothie

Useful way to use up blackberries!


Healthy Days: Autumn Blackberry-Apple Sponge Pudding

Sometimes you’re just hungry, aren’t you. Not just hungry but, like, HUUNNGGRRYYY. And those are the times when you (I) start rifling through the cupboards and start eating baking ingredients. So, because it’s day 6 of #100healthydays i decided to pre-empt this unfortunate reflex by having a hearty lunch. I adapted this recipe from the BBC Food website which you can find here. Instead of the 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil I used 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and I added Ballymaloe Jalapeno Pepper Relish.

Vegan Falafel Recipe

Fresh coriander and chili pepper from the garden!


vegan burger

The finished product!

I ate two of these gorgeous burgers for lunch and I’m so glad I did because I wound up not having a chance to eat again for another 7 hours. My body is not use to such famine! The protein and fiber in the chickpeas must have really done the trick. This recipe is definitely a keeper and it barely cost anything! The coriander and fresh chili I used came from my garden, the cherry tomatoes and organic cucumber were ends of boxes and the brown pittas were on the cusp of expiry (tomorrow is shopping day.) I had used dried chickpeas, too, so they were extra-thrifty!

After a salmon and vegetable dinner, I prepared a blackberry apple sponge pudding which was possibly the most delicious thing I have ever created. I used dark muscovado sugar which gave it the most incredible deep, rich caramel-apple flavour!

Autumn Blackberry-Apple Sponge Pudding

Autumn dessert

The taste of autumn.

– 5 or 6 big cooking apples, peeled and sliced
– Two handfuls of blackberries
– 1 tablespoon of honey
– 2 tablespoons of dried fruit
– 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
For the sponge:
– 4 oz butter/vegan margarine 
– 4 oz dark muscovado sugar
– 1 egg of 1 flax egg
– 6 oz self raising flour

Keeping the blackberries aside, combine the rest of the filling ingredients in a pan and stew on a gentle heat until the apples soften adding a little water to stop burning if necessary. When the ingredients have softened transfer to an ovenproof dish and stir in the blackberries.

In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and a dash of your choice of milk and beat until combined, adding a spoon of flour if necessary to prevent curdling. Finally, add the rest of the flour and mix until smooth, being careful not to over beat the batter.

Cover the filling with the sponge batter and spread carefully over the top. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes or until the sponge is cooked through.


yummy dessert

It didn’t last too long in my house…

Right, so that’s my food diary apart from porridge with banana and pb! I also went for a 45 minute walk and saw some nice greenery. 🙂


Brisk wood walk!



Enjoyed a river view on my outing!


Healthy Days: Lazy Sunday

So today was the first day that I got snacky and picky. I think it’s just because it’s been a lazy Sunday and so I’ve been looking at the kitchen all day. Definitely something to be conscious of next week! 

In general, though, I didn’t eat anything massively bad for me.

diet food

Popcorn flavoured with cinnamon. 🙂

Day 4 Food diary:
-porridge with banana and peanut butter
-2 skinny cappuccinos and one piece of chocolate 
-2 slices of french toast ( one egg, no oil)
-leftover rice and beans, piece of leftover crumble
-homemade popcorn with cinnamon, 2 slices of toast with jam!

Not my best! But tomorrow is Monday 😀 

Starfish capuccino

Skinny cappuccino and a chocolate 😮


Healthy Days – Frugal Beans and Tomato Rice

Today’s dinner was one of those everything-in-the-store-cupboard affairs. As long as you have beans, rice and a stock cube you will never go hungry! You can use ANYTHING else including frozen peas and sweetcorn and it will be delicious! Here follows my slap-dash recipe for tomatoey beans and rice.

Comforting and Frugal Beans and Rice


Store Cupboard dinner

A comforting autumn-winter dish.

– 1 cup/jar of beans (I used turtle beans!)
– 1 box of passata (Aldi!)
– 4 sundried tomatoes, chopped (Aldi!)
– 1 cup of brown rice (Aldi!)
– 1 vegetable stock cube (Aldi!)
– 1 onion, diced.
– Assorted vegetables that might be on the cusp of going on the compost heap. (In my case: 3 small carrots, 1 red bell pepper, 6 mushrooms, a handful of cherry tomatoes and half a leek.)

 Prepare the beans as instructed on the packet if you are using dried. If you’re using tinned, just open that bad boy up!

When the beans are ready, set aside and cook the rice. Pour the rice into a pan with the passata, the stock cube, the sundried tomatoes and a little water. Cook for approximately 25 minutes until all the passata has been absorbed by the rice. Watch carefully towards the end as it may need some extra water.

While the rice is cooking, fry your onions for about 5 minutes in a teaspoon on olive oil until the begin to caramelise. Add whatever assorted veg you have and fry over a medium-high heat until tender.

When the veg and rice are cooked, mix them together with the beans et voila! Enjoy!

Bean packet

Cheapest ingredients ever!

I had a feeling that today would be a difficult day to stick to a healthy eating plan as i) it’s Saturday and I love to go for coffee and a scone after teaching with my friend and ii) it’s day 3. Day 3 is always meant to be the most difficult time for a challenge.

It was ok, though. I did get caught out and about at about 4pm not having eaten in a few hours with rapidly approaching hypoglycemia. My solution to this was to stop into Aldi (sensing a trend?!) to buy some mixed seeds and dried mango to steady me.


It did steady my blood sugar but it was not satisfying at all! Very disappointing!

Incredible vegan breakfast

Natural peanut butter and banana sprinkled with cinnamon on seeded rye toast. We ran out of oats… I regret nothing.

DAY 3 Food Diary:
-banana and peanut butter on seeded rye toast, sprinkled with cinnamon, coffee
-leftover white bean salad and roast veg soup
-handful of mixed seeds and dried mango, vegan hot chocolate
-beans n’ rice, leftover rhubarb and strawerry crumble with 1 tbsp creme fraiche

Healthy lunch



Healthy Days – Rhubarb challenge!

It’s day 2 of the 100 Healthy Days and I feel it went ok today! I mean, in terms of food I ate a little more than yesterday but i’m still loving having time to cook (see food diary below!)

Today I had to figure out how to use up a bunch of rhubarb while still making healthy choices. The problem being that generally rhubarb needs a ton of sugar to make it palatable. I decided to use strawberries and cinnamon to sweeten the filling and to drastically reduce the sugar in the topping. 

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

Low-sugar rhubarb-strawberry crumble.

Homemade and warm from the oven – and lower in sugar!

– 1 bunch rhubarb, washed and chopped
– 1 punnet strawberries, washed and hulled
– half a teaspoon of cinnamon
– 1 tsp honey (optional)
– 100g/ 3½oz plain flour
-75g/ 2½oz butter/vegan butter
-50g/ 2oz rolled oats
– 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar

Simply stew the filling ingredients together until the fruit has softened. Transfer this filling to an ovenproof dish.

Blitz the flour, butter and sugar together until breadcrumb-like in appearance. Stir in the oats. 

Cover the filling with this topping and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 180C.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the other elements to this project that I need to tackle. For one thing, I need to learn to turn out the light early and just go to sleep! No Tumblr or Facebook last thing at night. I think being responsible at bedtime will be very important for gaining more energy, fighting off winter bugs and keeping my appetite under control! 

Aside from that, I’ve booked in with an osteopath for the pains in my neck, side and knee that have been plaguing me for a while (…9 months…) I’m looking forward to getting it dealt with! 

Today met with my friend Áine for lunch/coffee in town. I decided to eat at home and just have a juice and a coffee when out to try to optimise my healthy eating potential!

Food diary:
-porridge with cinnamon peanut butter and banana
-Homemade roast vegetable soup, two slices of seeded rye toast.
-Beetroot, raspberry and orange juice and a skinny cappuccino. Brazil nuts.
-Veggie spanish omlette with rhubarb and strawberry crumble with a tablespoon of creme fraichefor dessert!


Roast Vegetables for Soup

Roasting a selection of vegetables left over from yesterday’s dinner for soup.

Homemade veggie soup

Nothing beats hearty, thick soup on a rainy autumnal day!


100 Healthy Days – Mindfulness in every day life

vegan hot chocolate

The best way to enjoy 85% dark chocolate is to drink it! 😉

This morning I saw a post on Facebook about a woman who decided to turn the #100happydays tag into #100healthydays. Ordinarily I look at these people who transform themselves into super-toned fitness enthusiasts and think ‘It’s just not for me.’ This is because I’ve tried the gym thing and unfortunately due to frequent injury I find it impossibly to maintain the necessary consistency. 

On this occasion, however, it wasn’t the super-toned physique that caught my imagination but the idea of the tag. I completed the #100happydays tag on Instagram and, though there were a few days when everything was so horrid that I blatantly had to make something up, I did complete it. It was just one day at a time, and I never knew what the thing was that was going to make you happy, so I had to be on the lookout for it. It made me more mindful throughout the day of how I was feeling, and that can’t be bad!

So why not apply this idea to health? Personally, I know that being more mindful of what I eat and how I take care of myself is really important. I tend to indulge and obsesses over food. After finishing my all-consuming music degree I found that I had to unfollow all the food accounts on Instagram and Pinterest as I just felt overwhelmed. I wanted to make everything and try everything and felt enormous pressure. It may sound silly to someone who has never had the obsessive thing, but it became a bit of a problem! Now I avoid looking at pictures of recipes online, or buying foodie magazines and I feel much less overwhelmed. If I want to look something up, I will happily search, but I try not to let it take over my thoughts too much. 

So here was my first day of #100healthydays! I’m not aiming to be a size 0 at the end, I’m not aiming to be anything! Just more mindful of what I eat and how I move, and proud of the choices I’ve made for my body.


Cinnamon to steady blood sugar is great in the morning!

Breakfast is always porridge for me! I just love it! I love using different ingredients for variety but this morning it was pretty basic! Banana to prevent my twitchy eye/leg/arm, cinnamon to keep my blood sugar steady, oats for slow-release carbohydrates and fiber and peanut butter because it is yummy and contains a small amount of protein! 

Rocket Man salad

Chickpeas are full of fiber and keep energy levels steady throughout the day.

At lunchtime I was out and about meeting my friend Orla at the Mahon Point Farmers Market. I love it there! There is so much to look at and so many delicious options! I steered away from the cake and had a salad from the Rocket Man, Cork’s most popular salad bar. This was a chickpea and roast vegetable/ spelt and beetroot salad combo.  There weren’t as many veggies as I would have liked but I was on the move!

Homemade blackberry jam with vegan hot chocolate.

A snack around 4pm keeps me from gnawing my arm off (or stuffing my face with chocolate!)

The 4pm snack is going to be my new best friend. I always get hungry at this time and never realised that I could just plan a snack before dinner. Well, now I know and this is what I had: seeded rye bread with homemade (by me!) blackberry jam and vegan hot chocolate made with 85% dark chocolate, unsweetened almond milk and vanilla extract. Yum.

Vegan white bean and vegetable hash with nutritional yeast.

Rosemary, garlic, nutritional yeast and black pepper made this cannellini bean hash taste so good!

 For dinner I made this recipe for Vegetable White Bean Hash. I added 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, which has added a lot to the flavour. The recipe really needed some more herbs or spices as the recipe was a little bland. The yeast really cheered it up, though! 

So, that was my day apart from a skinny cappuccino!  I’ve tried to take my time with things today. Making dinner, I didn’t want to rush and just appreciated having the time to prepare the vegetables and listen to a podcast while cooking. 


7 Years Since Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows


Seven years ago today the seventh, and final, instalment of the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling was released. Deathly Hallows concluded and answered all the theories and questions that had been occupying fans for ten years, and so as not to upset those with an emotional range of a teaspoon, I won’t gush and wail about what an impact the series has had on both me and my life. Instead I’m going to draw up seven lists of seven, discussing the best, most shocking, most sad moments of the series. Seven is the most magically powerful number after all…

I’ve tried not to over-think my answers. I’ve tried to just put down the moments and characters that initially sprung to mind instinctively, otherwise this blog probably still would’ve been being written by the 70th anniversary of Deathly Hallows.
(It still took hours and hours to put together though…)

View original post 2,640 more words


Wilton Farmer’s Market – Tasty Goodness. Healthy Things.

If there’s one thing that can be said with certainty it’s that Cork people love good food. It may be tempting to simply brush off farmers markets as a fad, somewhere that only wealthy hipsters can afford to shop but that is no longer the case. A variety of coffee and cake stands, sandwich and pizza stalls mean that you no longer have to worry about feeling obliged to buy a ton of expensive things you didn’t want. 


Cork Bread

Local Artisan Bread by Arbutus

Take Wilton Farmer’s Market, for example. Every Tuesday from 10:30am – 2:30pm an array of colourful stalls pop up in the car park of Wilton Shopping Centre. Not only does the market feature locally grown organic vegetable from near Inch in Co. Cork and imported organic fruit and nuts courtesy of Organic Republic but while you mill around you might also grab a handmade marshmallow from Cloud Confectionary or a coffee from local favourite (ok… MY favourite) Badger and Dodo. The market provides a table and chairs for nibblers so that you can take in all the sights, sounds and smells of the other food producers. 


Wilton Farmer's Market, Cork

A delightful display of fabulously flavoured marshmallows by Cloud Confectionary!

One of my favourite companies to buy from is Arbutus Bread. Not only does this artisan company produce an impressive range of unusual and traditional freshly baked breads, you will always receive helpful information on how to get the most out of your loaf. This morning I purchased a loaf of Latvian rye bread. The lady behind the sea of bread informed me about the contents of the bread (low in gluten!) but also about the baker who made it and how best to serve and preserve it. Her expert knowledge means that I know which breads are best to freeze and which are best eaten quickly. 

Artisan Marshmallow

My reward for such diligent marketing – a caramel shortbread marshmallow!

As well as the steady favourites of Volcano Wood-Fired Pizza, The Beanie Brownie Company, The Rocket Man Salads, My Goodness raw and vegan foods and The Golden Bean (to name but a few) there is also a guest slot that changes weekly. 

What is really great about farmers’ markets is that it gives you a chance to see what is going on in your area. There are small food companies taking off all around us and these markets give us a unique opportunity to sample things first and support new businesses. After my first visit to Wilton this morning I will definitely be returning, and I do hope that it continues to grow!