College Vegan on a Budget: A New Low

One college vegan’s mission to save money while still maintaining her clean eating standards.

I’ve really been needing to reign in my spending habits lately. Between a $40 iHerb purchase last week (mostly necessary, but some were impulse buys to get the free shipping), picking up a few personal care items at Target the other day that set me back $30 (including some heavier free weights–woohoo, I’m progressing!) and going out to eat a few times with friends (not a bad things, since I need to get more comfortable with this), the last thing I needed was a giant grocery bill this weekend. And luckily, I was smart with my spending and walked away spending just over $80 for the week. This has become my new weekly goal, so let’s see if I can hit it more often than not!

Sprouts buys under $30.

Sprouts buys under $30.

*=organic

Sprouts

What I Got: dried apple rings, Medjool dates, hazelnuts (for vegan healthy Nutella–stay tuned!), Kevita strawberry acai coconut probiotic drink*, raw cacao powder* (this brand was much cheaper than my fave Navitas Naturals), poppy seeds, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, Wholly Guacamole avocado verde salsa (one of the best salsas I’ve ever had!)

What I Spent: $26.86

Verdict: Again, Sprouts can be a big money saver. The salsa was literally $1–and it’s the best $1 I’ve ever spent! They have the cheapest nothing-added dried fruit and nut selection and their produce is dirt cheap, but is just as good as anywhere else. 

Whole Foods haul under $55.

Whole Foods haul under $55.

Whole Foods

What I Got: Kale Krunch cheezy chipotle kale chips*, 365 brand light coconut milk x2*, cashew butter, liquid smoke (for eggplant “bacon”), WFM brand almond oil, Hail Merry vanilla maple almonds, Hail Merry raw chocolate macaroons and chocolate tart, raspberry balsamic vinegar, Thai curry cashew mix, raw cashew pieces (on sale!), raw vegan brownie, pineapple chunks (also on sale), eggplant*

What I Spent: $53.47

Verdict: One of my cheapest Whole Foods trips for weekly staples ever! I even bought a few splurge-y items (ahem, raw desserts!) but still stayed under $60 and got a lot of things that will last awhile and stuff I needed for recipes I want to try out. 

What’s the best salsa you’ve ever had? What new recipes have you been trying out? 

Yum vs. Yuck

Everyone has them. A ‘yum’ and a ‘yuck’ list. Maybe they’re not actually written-down lists, but you know what foods you can’t live without and those that you wish would just disappear.

Here’s a few things I want to share from my own lists. Some of them have changed over the years, while some have stayed the same. Of course, it’s great to work on incorporating a lot of variety into our eats, but it’s okay to admit that there are some foods we just can’t stand.

Yuck!

  • Cottage cheese. I haven’t tried it recently, or very often, but the texture is just too sketchy for me. I much prefer Greek yogurt, thank you very much! Plus, now that I’m mostly vegan, I see no need to include it in my diet.
  • Green beans. It’s one of my mom’s favorite veggies, so I’ve been forced to have it throughout the years and it’s just never good. The only way I can stand them even a little bit is with tons of mustard!
  • Ketchup. I think I might have liked it as a kid, but now it’s just so gross to me! I mean, who wants a sweet condiment? Plus, I hate tomatoes (except in salsa) so it kind of explains my disdain for ketchup.
  • White potatoes. Give me a sweet potato any day and I’ll happily devour it. But a white potato–no thanks! They just make me really thirsty for some reason, and I really can’t stand them roasted.
  • Eggs. This one’s been on my list since I first tried them. Ick, ick ick! I think it’s the whole texture thing. I know they have a ton of protein, nutrients, blah blah blah but…just no.
  • Cheese. Used to like it as a kid, was scared to death of it during the worst of my ED, now I just think it’s disgusting. Soy and almond cheese, however, are sometimes part of my diet since they’re vegan-friendly and yummier than dairy cheese.

I prefer my pizzas with tons of veggies and NO cheese!

  • Coconut. Not quite sure how I feel about this one. Part of it is because it’s a “fear food” for me (because of the high sat fat content) but part of it is that it just weirds me out, especially in shredded form.
  • Pears/cherries/canteloupe. These are the only fruits that I’ve tried (and can think of) that I just don’t like. Cherries are too sour, but I’m okay with dried cherries, pears are just too squishy and canteloupe is bleh, not to mention that whole scare that happened over the fall with them–the farm traced to it is only 2 hours away from me 😯

The only way I'll eat cherries is in overnight oats.

  • Cashews. I like a lot of nuts, from almonds to walnuts to pecans to pistachios but there’s just something off with cashews for me. I do want to try them in a raw cashew cheezecake, though!

Yum!

  • Medjool dates. Actually, I had never tried these until about a year ago, and I fell in love. They’re so sweet, with an almost caramel taste and an amazing soft texture. Now I love them stuffed with almond butter, dark chocolate or used in raw desserts.
  • Unsweetened almond milk. The blog world helped me discover this, and I’m forever thankful. It’s so deliciously creamy and makes the perfect base for smoothies. I looooooove the vanilla kind, but I want to try Almond Breeze’s unsweetened chocolate kind.
  • Rolled oats. Another blog world find. I never used to like oatmeal as a kid, since it was too mushy, but once I figured out how to make it overnight (and voluminous) style, I was hooked. Now I get a perfect, chewy bowl of oats practically every day. And the topping/flavor combos are almost endless.

Carrot cake oats are one of my current fave combos!

  • Brussels sprouts. I grew up thinking they were beyond nasty, even though I’d never had them before, because they just had a negative connotation. I tried them for the first time this fall, and they are so good grilled or roasted with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper.
  • Cilantro. I know some people can’t stand the taste of it, but it’s my favorite herb!
  • Almond butter. This one is a pre-blog discovery, and it’s stuck with me ever since. I’ve never been a fan of peanut butter, even as a kid (I would always eat jelly-only sandwiches–yeah, I was weird) but almond butter is a whole different story. Now I also love walnut butter, pecan butter and almond peanut cashew butter.
  • Tropical fruits. I love practically all fruits, but this is probably my favorite group. Pineapples, bananas, mangos, kiwi, limequat, pomegranate, tangerine, watermelon…I love all the kinds I’ve tried and I still want to try even more!
  • Quinoa. I had this for the first time several years ago, when my cousins introduced it to us. They lived in South Africa for a year and quinoa’s really popular there and as soon as I tried it, I was hooked on the fluffy texture and nutty flavor. I also love that it’s so versatile and is a complete vegan protein source.
  • Edamame. I know some people say soy is unhealthy, but I just can’t get enough of edamame! It’s so good in stirfrys and I love getting it in the pod at Asian restaurants. And it has tons of healthy plant protein!

Edamame guacamole, ready to be mixed.

What’s one thing on your yum or yuck list? Have you tried anything lately that moved from one list to the other?