College Vegan on a Budget: Stocking Up

A look into my adventures of learning how to budget shop for healthy vegan groceries.

After my refrigerator fiasco of last week (BTW: I got a new fridge out of the deal, score!) I had to throw out a bunch of my food. Normally I don’t mind tossing things that I didn’t love or whatever, but now that I’m buying almost all of my own groceries, it kinda hurts to have to waste so much, especially not by choice. I just didn’t want to risk getting sick! However, I was excited to do a big restock of my fridge and freezer. Yeah, I get excited over grocery trips. Lame, maybe, but I don’t care! Anyways, I went on a couple shopping trips this weekend while I was at home and my dad was nice enough to buy a few things for me so I won’t be counting those things in my budget list, but I am pumped to try them. I got my first ever kabocha squash and after hearing so many amazing things about them I am roasting mine ASAP, and I also got a chocolate raspberry Raw Revolution bar that sounds so good.

Pantry staples.

Whole Foods

This is all the stuff I bought for myself to restock my fridge, freezer and pantry. I missed a few things, but I’ll be making a trip back next weekend for some extras. (*=organic)

What I Got: kale*, garnet yams*, black grapes*, black figs*, brussel sprouts, baby carrots*, Jazz apples, bulk nutritional yeast (nooooooch!), raisins*, unsweetened vanilla almond milk*, sprouted tofu*, bulk maple almonds (ob-sessed), garbanzo beans*, virgin unrefined coconut oil*, harissa hummus, pineapple upside down Larabar, frozen sweet potato puffs, kelp noodles, NadaMoo! mint chocolate coconut milk ice cream, dry roasted edamame, pumpkin puree in a box*, Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze packs, olive bar olives, black bean dip, fresh guacamole, hot sauce dressing (ummm, yes please), Truvia

Fridge and freezer stuff.

What It Cost Me: $81.84 (pretty good for having some higher priced items in there)

Verdict: So glad it came in under $100. I had to do a bunch of restocking since my fridge was basically empty, but I got a bunch of things that will last me a while like the nooch, coconut oil, hummus and sweet potato puffs. I only spent over $5 on 3 items, which is a great way to save money. Those more expensive items add up!

Produce (minus apples and yams).

Now I’m all restocked and ready to go for another week here at my apartment! I’ll be doing some meal prep throughout the week and will hopefully come back sometime with some recipes for you to try out. Tonight I’m making socca pizza for the first time…with a twist!

How much produce do you buy every week? What’s your favorite dip/dressing?

Top Ten Tuesday

So in case you haven’t noticed, it’s already almost May. Ummmm, what the heck?! Seriously, I feel like just the other day it was Christmas. Like many other college kids, I’m feeling pretty burned out on school at this point. But my summer unofficially begins in 10 days, so obviously I am beyond psyched for that! I say unofficially because I have only one final exam this time around, so I’m starting my summer a little early, heading home next Friday and popping back up here to take my final the following Thursday…then my summer will officially begin!

Because of this burnout, which extends to many aspects of my life (oh summer, please come faster!) I’ve decided to do a little Top Ten list type post for today, as a little recap of my weekend, and also because I can’t really think about posting an actual post ūüėÄ Hopefully you enjoy this for the time being though!

Ten Foods I Can’t Live Without

1.¬†Fruit.¬†Okay, technically this is cheating, but there are a billion fruits I can’t live without, from grapes to pineapple to watermelon to bananas to raspberries to kiwi to…you get the picture!

2. Almond milk. I love the unsweetened vanilla kind, but the plain unsweetened is kinda growing on me.

3. Oats. 

My favorite oats combo at the moment--topped with kettle corn, pretzel sticks, raisins and peanut flour/almond peanut cashew butter.


4. Kale.¬†It’s great in chip form, cooked up with some salt/pepper/garlic on the stove and even raw and massaged with some kind of dressing.

5. Tempeh. My vegan “meat” of choice. I love it’s nutty flavor!

6. Peanut flour. 

I prefer peanut flour to PB2, I just store mine in an old PB2 jar so it's less messy!

7. Kalamata olives.¬†Some people can’t stand olives–I don’t understand those people!

8. Medjool dates. So gooey, so caramel-y, so addictingly good.

9. PB Puffins.¬†Do I really even have to explain this one? It’s basically my crack (besides peanut flour).

10. Sweet potatoes. 

Saturday's simple but yummy dinner: sweet potato topped with peanut flour paste, baby carrots, garden herb Sunshine veggie burger topped with mustard.

Ten Things I Did This Weekend

1. Went to an independent film fest with my dad. We’ve gone to it since it started 5 years ago–we both love seeing random short indy films.

2. Went to church on Saturday night. Pretty self-explanatory!

3. Went out to eat…4 times! Normally, we barely ever eat out, except for when my mom drops me off back at school after a weekend at home. Due to our busyness this weekend, we had to eat out a lot. Definitely a struggle for me with my ED thoughts, but I mostly succeeded. Yes, I did order ‘safe’ things, like salads and veggie/hummus plates, but I truly enjoyed all of them. My favorites of this weekend were the salad I ordered at Mad Greens on Friday afternoon (baby spinach topped with Kalamata olives, dried cranberries, artichoke hearts and garbanzo beans with a fat free balsamic dressing) and the salad I got on Sunday night at Noodles (the Med salad with no dressing or feta, topped with grilled tofu). I kinda learned that I’m really not a tofu girl–it’s not necessarily the texture, but the taste for me. I’m not the hugest fan.

4. Played tennis with mi padre. Usually we play singles and a half (because we play with my sister) but she was unavailable so the two of us just played singles. It was so warm out and I was running around more than usual, so it was a great workout!

5. Grocery shopping. When my mom and sister picked me up on Friday afternoon, we hit up the Whole Foods and Super Target up here, then back at home we picked up a couple more things at the Super Target by us. And on Sunday, my dad and I ventured to Walmart where I stocked up on Truvia.

6. Bought my first-ever Zevia! I got the cream soda variety, and while I’m still waiting for the perfect opportunity to enjoy it, I have a feeling it’ll be incredible. Hopefully not so incredible that I feel the need to buy it on a regular basis since it’s pretty expensive…

So excited to try this!

7. Rode my bike for the first time since last fall. I never get the chance to ride it during the winter because of snow (duh) and there was even some lingering snow when I came home for spring break. I got in two quickie miles that were super hard because my tires were flat. Oops!

8. Worked on my final papers. Not fun, but they have to get done at some point!

9. Starbucks trip! I ordered a tall unsweetened iced coffee with 3 pumps of sugar-free hazelnut. Even better than the plain unsweetened with Truvia. I loved the nutty taste.

10. Repainted my nails silver and pink. I love this color combo and I actually haven’t had it since the beginning of school back in August!

My (slightly chipped) nails, and my lovely snake ring from American Eagle.

Ten Things to Do Before School’s Out

1. Finish my papers/essays. I’m definitely on track, just gotta keep my motivation up.

2. Clean my room. Vacuuming, dusting and all that should probably be done before I peace out.

3. Laundry. I don’t want to burden my mom too much, so I’m planning on washing my sheets and towels.

4. Finish up my last two weeks of classes. Even though I’m so done, I still have to get through 8 more days of classes. I can do this!

5. Make a (huge) list of recipes to make this summer. Some of this list will be coming ‘atcha tomorrow or Thursday for WIAW.

6. Turn in the last page of my internship stuff. The¬†adviser¬†in charge of organizing internships for students has such limited office hours that every time I stop by her office she isn’t there. I need to get this in though!

7. Move everything out of my room. Most of this will be done next Friday, and the rest the day of my only final. Not exciting or fun, but it’s gotta be done.

8. Sell my textbooks? Since I won’t be here during finals week, I’m not sure if this will get done, but I hope it will so I won’t have to have all these books laying around until the next buyback.

9. Study outside. It’s been incredibly nice here lately (I’m talking 80 degrees in April!) so I want to do this at least once.

10. Move out of the dorms…forever! I can’t tell you how excited I am for this. I love my dorm this year, since it’s all my own and it’s new and has air conditioning, but I am so ready for my own place next year.

What’s on your top ten foods list? What’s the best thing you did this weekend?

Saturday Seven: Sick of School

Aren’t you all pumped that it’s the weekend? To be honest, I’m actually not…because I have a lot to do this weekend, like a mini take home exam, making flash cards, a stats lab, working on a portfolio for my newswriting class and a meeting for a project that we’re presenting on Monday. So yeah, not the most fun weekend of my life, plus I am just itching to finish up this semester. Only 9 more full days on campus before I can leave for winter break–wahoo!

I think the worst time of any school year is coming back from Thanksgiving break. I got a week off from school, got to chill at home and enjoy a few shopping trips and Starbucks runs, as well as a fully stocked kitchen. Break went by wayyyyyy too fast, and then I find myself back at school, with three weeks left in the semester before an even longer break. By the time I got back, I was so used to being on break that it felt so weird to have to come back to school, but not in a good way like after summer break. More like a “I just can’t wait to be done” kind of way. Now that a week’s gone by, it’s back to normal for the most part, but I still can’t wait to be done with this semester. I remember back in elementary school when we used to have class parties and cookie exchanges right before Christmas break. Now it’s finals time, along with tons of projects and what-not. So stressful.

I have a week left of classes, which includes one random final thrown in there and a project presentation, then I’m supposed to be headed home for an extended weekend so my wonderful daddy can help me with my stats take-home final and then it’s back to campus for 3 days to finish up finals. Whew, I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it! Anyways, this edition of Saturday Seven is all about random things that are (somewhat) related to the end of the semester, so enjoy!

1. Why doesn’t Colorado have a Trader Joes?

I need these in my life ASAP!

I mean, really?! This is what I’m missing out on? Come on Colorado, you’re a beautiful state and all but you’re killing me with the lack of Trader Joes. And by that I mean, there are literally none in the entire state. I keep reading about all these wonderful-sounding seasonal TJs products on practically every blog, and I’m drooling in jealousy over here. Sometimes people say they rarely go to TJs because it’s like 90 minutes away from home or something–I am so deprived that I would gladly¬†travel that distance to get my hands on these Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s, as well as the entire contents of the store. However, I did join the Facebook group Coloradoans for Trader Joe’s, so we’ll see where that goes…

2. Just call me a master decorator…

Isn't it purty, especially with all the snow outside? The stupid light reflection ruins it though.

…Or just tell me to keep my day job, since I obviously am no Martha Stewart. I just wanted to bring a little Christmas cheer to my room, so stringing Christmas lights and sticking window clings was the best I could do. Oh, and I also have a mini Christmas tree, decked out in the colors of my room (purple, pink and orange). Maybe I am an expert after all!

3. Pandora is my new best friend

I'm loving the Christmas music playlists!

Who needs someone to talk to when you have an amazing app that plays the music you want to hear? When thinking about finals is putting me in a craptastic mood, I just turn on a little Christmas music and I’m instantly 10 times better. And it’s putting me in the Christmas spirit (the big day, btw, is in 3 weeks!)

4. Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend and I have a little fling going on

Once I dump a bazillion packets of Truvia in you, you actually taste delicious.

I bought some Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend 2011 on a whim, having no idea what it’d taste like. I live on instant coffee when I’m at school, with no easy access to a real ‘bucks, and come finals time, it’s even worse. I first tried it at home, and couldn’t stomach it. I’m used to their instant coffee packets that have a little sugar and flavoring already blended in. This is just straight-up ground coffee, which I’ve basically never had before. I thought these would go to waste, until I put 3 packets of Truvia in a cup and it turned out pretty good. I could still taste the coffee, and this particular blend has actually grown on me, but it wasn’t so bitter. I’m planning on trying it with a little mint chocolate soy milk, which will hopefully be even better. Here’s to our newfound relationship, Christmas Blend!

5. My planner is becoming one big countdown book 

This is just one of many!

You do not¬†want to know how many pages are devoted to counting down to break. I have a count down for every day on the daily part of the planner, plus several in the extra pages, including how many weekends left on campus and how many class hours are left. I am a desperate woman with too much time on my hands, that’s for sure! Except scratch that last part, I don’t have that much time to waste but I do it anyway. Sorryimnotsorry.

6. Why does every little thing become so stressful around finals time?

Just don't be this girl!

The stupidest things ever are stressing me out right now. Like I opened my fridge door and as usual, all the stuff in the door flew out, including my mint chocolate soymilk, which ended up spilling all over the floor. Awesome. I practically had a meltdown about it, and there’s still a stain on the carpet because I was too stressed out to properly clean it up. Or when my purple pen stopped working the other day, I almost teared up. It’s just a stupid pen. But really, the littlest stuff sets me off right now. You’ve been warned.

7. I miss my sweet potatoes

'Nuff said.

I’ve mentioned the apparent sweet potato shortage in my area before, but coming back from Thanksgiving break with only one sweet potato with me is a crime. Considering I enjoyed one probably 4 times over break just makes me miss them even more. I’ve only got one, so I’ve gotta make it count. Wow, how pathetic am I?

What little things have been stressing you out? What is your favorite TJs product (if you have one near you) or what would be your favorite product (if you had one near you)? 

My Foodie Staples

Aren’t there a few¬†many things you can’t live without? I’m sure we all have them, I know I do! They tend to change every once in a while, but I definitely have some items I’d prefer to not go without. With that being said, here’s my current list of foodie staples!

Cereal:¬†Right now, I’m loving on the PB Puffins (hope I never get sick of those!), Kashi¬†Honey Sunshine, 365 Organic Honey Crunch & Oats and Cascadian Farm Cinnamon Crunch. I also really like Bear Naked Fit granola (especially triple berry crunch–what’s with all these cereals and having crunch in their name?) and Udi’s cranberry granola. I generally don’t have cereal at breakfast (I used to everyday, though) but it makes an amazing snack…or small dinner?

PB & Chocolate Puffins, Bear Naked Fit granola

Fruit: Gosh, no way could I ever live without this! I love almost all fruits I’ve tried, except for plums and pears. In my dorm, it’s hard to have some of my favorite fruits, like pineapple and berries, so I’m sticking with some tried-and-true varieties, like bananas, black grapes and apples. They’re all pretty versatile and easy to take with me to classes.

Red grapes, giant Honeycrisp apple, bunch 'o bananas

Veggies: I also love veggies, but I don’t really have a way to cook it, so raw it is. Luckily, I love raw cauliflower, and it’s pretty easy to eat. I also discovered butternut squash, which is amazing and simple to heat up in the micro. Plus it comes pre-cut (thanks, Whole Foods!) so it’s perfect for someone without a sharp knife handy. Baby carrots are also a good option.

Cubed b-nut squash, baby carrots, cauliflower

Dried fruit:¬†Mmmmmm, yes! Dried fruit is the bomb.com and even less of a hassle to bring to classes. I love Medjool dates, raisins (golden and regular), dried pineapple, freeze-dried fruit…the list goes on and on. I just look for dried fruit without any added sugar or chemicals and I’m good to go!

Organic Medjool dates, raisins, organic dried pineapple

Mini frozen burritos:¬†I have 2 small fridges with tiny freezer compartments, so I need all the space I can get. EVOL makes mini burritos, which are perfect as a snack or part of dinner/lunch. I love the veggie fajita kind, since it’s vegan and yummy. Score!

2 mini EVOL veggie fajita frozen burritos

Sweet potatoes: I’ve been missing these guys like crazy lately, but luckily, they’re back in my life again. They heat up quick in the micro and taste so so good topped with almost anything–nut butter, trail mix, honey, guacamole, chili powder…

Cinnamon and almond butter topped sweet potato

Spices: Speaking of chili powder, girl’s gotta have her spices. All I got right now is curry powder, ground cinnamon and hot Mexican chili pepper, but it’s good enough for me! Those are probably my 3 fave, and they can ‘spice’ up anything from coffee (the cinnamon, of course) to veggies.

Ground cinnamon and hot Mexican-style chili powder

Truvia:¬†I like things sweet, but I don’t want to add real sugar to some things, ya know? That’s where Truvia packets come in. They’re easy to carry around in case I get an unsweetened iced tea on-the-go and I always add a packet to my oats to sweeten them up. I love that they’re a natural sub for fake sugar.

Big box o' Truvia packets

Almond/nut butter: Where would we be without nut butter? As I’ve said several times before, PB is not¬†my fave (sorry!). But I absolutely adore almond, and lately, almond peanut cashew. Nut butters are soooooo¬†good on sweet taters, as an oats topper, on wraps/sandwiches, with fruit (especially dates) or even off your finger ūüėČ

Archer Farms almond peanut cashew butter

Morningstar spicy veggie sausages:¬†I have one of these almost every morning, and have for probably the last year. Somehow, I’m not getting bored of them. I’m definitely not a savory person, especially at breakfast, but they’re a great source of vegetarian protein, they’re easy to make (except when your micro burns them…) and they taste so darn good. I like anything spicy, like I’ve said millions of times before.

Spicy veggie breakfast sausage, fudgie-topped millet bread

Organic jelly:¬†It’s kinda upsetting how many jellies have high fructose corn syrup in them. I mean, come on, why can’t they just have simple, natural ingredients? When I found Smucker’s¬†Organic line of jellies, I fell in love. Sure, there’s still sugar in them, but it’s real sugar, and it’s natural and organic. There aren’t any weird ingredients in it either. Is it weird that I like it with nut butter and crackers????? It’s also delish as an oats topper.

Smucker's Organic concord grape jelly

Starbucks VIA instant coffee: I can’t live without my ‘bucks fix every once in awhile. But when you’re a college student with no car, it’s kinda hard to get. Lucky for me, they came out with instant coffee packs that are almost¬†as good as their brewed stuff. Not only do I love it in homemade skinny lattes, but it’s amazing mixed in with overnight oats. Talk about an energizing breakfast ūüėõ

Date with almond butter, homemade Starbucks VIA latte, Greek yogurt with raw organic honey

Protein bars:¬†I’m no athlete, but I still eat these like it’s my job. Kidding, but I do love ’em. I don’t get the huge ones, like regular Clifs¬†(I usually cut them in half to have as a snack), I prefer the Mojo kind which are like trail mix bars, and Pure and Halo bars. They make a perfect on-the-go lunch alongside some fruit and they come in so many varieties. My faves at the moment are Mojo white chocolate macadamia and mountain mix, Pure chocolate brownie and Halo s’mores and nutty marshmallow. I try to get bars that have at least 6 grams of protein (the Halo ones don’t, but they’re good for a snack) and only natural sugar.

Clif Mojo Mountain Mix & White Chocolate Macadamia, Clif Z-Bar Chocolate Chip and Full Moon Brownie, Pure Cherry Cashew and Chocolate Brownie, Halo Nutty Marshmallow and Clif C Blueberry

Almond milk: I switched to soy last May, and I liked it for a while, but now I prefer almond. I still have soy milk every so often (the Silk seasonal kinds are SO good) but now I’m trying to buy almond more often. I really love the Pacific Naturals unsweetened vanilla, but the plain Whole Foods brand is also good. It lasts longer in the fridge than soy and has a nice, light nutty taste.

Pacific Naturals organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Rolled oats: Of course¬†I have these! I probably have oats in some form every single day…well actually, I pretty much just eat them in overnight oats ūüėÄ Unlike a lot of people, I prefer overnighters to cooked oats. But anyways, oats are incredibly versatile, easy to prepare and so healthy. I don’t even want to start to explain my overnight oats, so just check out my page devoted to them!

Carrot cake overnight oats

¬†Greek yogurt:¬†Another “duh” if you read my bloggy¬†regularly! Oikos¬†is my one true Greek yo’ love, but sometimes I go off and have an affair with Fage¬†mango guanabana¬†or blueberry acai. Shhhhhh, don’t tell ūüėČ

Oikos organic plain, Fage Total 0% blueberry acai, Oikos organic caramel

¬†Of course, there are many many more products I’ve (sadly) had to leave out ’cause I didn’t wanna bore y’all with it, but these are what I have most often and love the most!

What are your foodie staples?