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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.

MEAL PLANNING

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!

 

Breakfast:

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

 

Lunch

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!

Dinners:
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.

 

Monday:
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.)

 

Tuesday:
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.

 

Wednesday:
Macaro-No-Cheese

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 🙂

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

 

Friday:
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.

 

Saturday:
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.

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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 😮

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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.

Recipe:
– 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.)

Method:
 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.

WORST SNACK EVER.

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

Leftoverrrrssssss

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7 Years Since Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows

Perfection!

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

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Is this you?

It’s not really fair to want to tear a person down, is it? Or rather, to undermine them consistently over months and months, ebbing away at their self confidence. By all means, life and friendship is about contrary opinions. It’s about debating and disagreeing and feeling passionate things. But if you find yourself constantly ever-so-slightly correcting every thing that someone says, it is not them. It’s you.

So look into your heart. Why are you doing this? What is it about this person that makes you want to make them look a fool? Is it REALLY that important? Does it make you feel bigger and better to make someone else feel a bit smaller and a bit more stupid? 

Maybe, for a change, see if you can actually get your head around what they’re saying without deliberately trying to find flaws. 

Maybe, for a change, see if you can just sit and have a nice conversation.

MAYBE, FOR A CHANGE, JUST BE NICE. 

You may be amazed at the knock on effect it will have on your life.

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A Week of Sunshine

 Dearest Bloggins,

This past eight months have been insane and beautiful and BUSY! I went back to college to study singing and music and wound up stepping on a roller-coaster that I just couldn’t get off! I enjoyed it, but there are many things that were sacrificed in the name of studying (such as eating proper meals, exercising, reading books, blogs…)

On the whole, life appears to have improved dramatically. I do not believe that this is fully down to external factors changing but because I am full of happiness and contentment. It turns out that in order to sing effectively, you have to REALLY take care of your physical and emotional self. So I’ve been learning to do that and it has been wonderful!

Now that I am “on holiday,” I’m working very hard on watching films and listening to music. Perhaps a little too hard. By August I need to have a new album written, recorded and produced before heading to London to sing and the rigorous schedule of watching Star Trek, Iron Man, Avengers and Captain America is probably not doing too much to get me closer to that goal.

Another major goal for the summer is to lose weight and get fit. I have already started running, but a schedule or routine would really serve to motivate me, as at the moment I am not pushing myself.

As soon as exams finished, the sun made an appearance and I was able to take my study (and yoga mat!) into the garden. I had to prepare for a recital which was a part of my degree and it was so lovely to be able to sit in the sun and learn in the open air! Note to self for next year: Outside is definitely healthier than in!

Some Purcell in the evening sunshine.

The programme for my recital, plus the jewellery I wore to remind me of my friends.

The view from my yoga mat in the back garden.

A few days before the recital I had a barbecue with a few friends to try to relax! It was lovely, we tried to keep it healthy with locally made chicken sausages and salads.

Orla and Jason sitting under the parasol which hasn’t been needed in two years because the weather has been so appalling!
The recital went really well! I got a high mark and I was just thrilled to see my family and friends in the audience. It’s the first time I have ever been in such a high-pressure situation and been able to stay fully present and enjoy myself. Part of that was all the hours of preparation that had gone in, but I do think that all the yoga I had been doing that week had something to do with it. I really enjoyed the whole thing, it was such a great feeling! I hope I can replicate that in future performance exams!

Once the recital was over, I was free! So I went to the beach with my friend Mary for the afternoon. We had a fabulous lunch before going to the beach. I swam in the sea for the first time in what must have been about five years! It was beautiful – not like being in Ireland at all. We just lay on the beach and chatted for a while before driving around to the harbour to see the boats.

Lunch in a cliff-top restaurant in Myrtelville before heading down to the beach for a swim.
My first time in Crosshaven!
I really will make an effort to blog in the coming weeks! I have missed it soooo much!