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Vegan Challenge Day #7 Success!

The week is over and we still have nearly 2 of the 3 loaves of bread I originally purchased (we usually go through about a loaf per day), no one is starving, and our new food budget is $500 per month ($125 per week).

Woo hoo!

This challenge was an eye opening experience and I now see that we were spending way too much on food and wasting leftovers because they would get lost in the sea of vegetables taking over our fridge.


A lot of days our fridge looks like this-an unorganized mess

During the challenge, it felt so good opening the fridge knowing where everything is and quickly being able to evaluate leftovers.

I've also decided to do my grocery shopping weekly opposed to be biweekly because we tend to eat more just because we see it.


Tofu Scramble & Potatoes



1 block tofu, pressed & crumbled with your hands

1/3 cup shiitake mushrooms, marinated in soy sauce for 15 minutes

1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon turmeric (optional; if you want the yellow color)


Cook green pepper, garlic, onion, and marinated mushrooms on medium heat for 4 minutes.  Add crumbled tofu and all remaining ingredients and cook an additional 6 minutes. 

For the potatoes:

I chopped them and used basil, garlic salt, olive oil, and scallions.

Lunch: Veggie wraps (spinach, shredded carrots, hummus) and grapes


Tempeh Helper-A twist on Hamburger Helper


Recipe from Post Punk Kitchen


1 tablespoon olive oil

8 oz tempeh

3 cups water (I used homemade vegetable broth)

6 oz small shell pasta (I used 2 1/2 cups)

A handful frozen peas, about 1/4 cup

For the seasoning mix:

2 teaspoons onion flakes

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon mild chili powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoon broth powder (I used Frontier chicken-style broth)

2 teaspoons arrowroot or corn starch

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste


Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Have a lid at the ready because you’ll need to cover it at some point.

Drizzle the oil in the pan and tear the tempeh into bite sized pieces, adding them to the pan. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until tempeh is lightly browned. In the meantime, mix the seasoning together in a mixing bowl.

Add a few tablespoons of water to the tempeh to deglaze the pan. Add the 3 cups of water and seasoning mix, giving a good stir to get it all mixed in. Add the pasta and cover. Bring the heat up to a boil. Once boiling, you can reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once. Remove the lid, and cook until the sauce is reduced and thickened to your liking, usually about 3 minutes. Taste for salt.

Optional Cheezy Sauce (no one in my house liked the sauce but we all liked the Helper)

Eazy Breezy Cheezy Sauce

Makes 2 cups

3/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

2 teaspoons onion flakes

1/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1/8 ground turmeric

2 tablespoons broth powder (I used Frontier chicken-style broth)

2 cups water

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

Add nutritional yeast, flour, garlic, onion flakes, salt, turmeric and broth powder to a bowl and mix together. Add 2 cups water and use a fork to mix and beat out any big lumps. Once relatively smooth, pour into a 2 quart sauce pot. Turn heat up to medium high and stir often for about 5 minutes. Once boiling, bring it down to a slow boil. It should start bubbling and thickening. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly, until it has a thick, smooth melted cheese consistency.

Mix in mustard and taste for salt. Serve hot or warm.

Vegan challenge was a success, indeed! I hope this challenge encouraged you to not only evaluate your food budget, but also include more plant-based options. :-)

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Vegan Challenge Day# 6

Feeding my family of 5 with $100 for one week


Breakfast: Happy Herbivore's Apple Biscuits & fruit salad- i thought the biscuits were too bland but the chipmunks liked them (which is all that matters). If I make them again, I will probably add another apple and maybe some applesauce to add more flavor.  Also, I used whole wheat regular flour instead of white wheat, so that may have affected the flavor.



Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. Core an apple and quarter. Add apple to a blender or food processor with a
splash of water and pulverize into the consistency of applesauce, adding a touch more water if necessary and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. (You can also add a little raw sugar or raisins for a sweeter biscuit, 1 tsp cinnamon or fresh rosemary for a savory biscuit here). Add applesauce 1/4 cup at a time until the batter is moist (wetter is better; you should use most of or all of the applesauce). Drop large spoonfuls on the cookie sheet and bake 10-13 minutes, or until firm to the touch and lightly golden on the bottom and edges.


Sandwich, homemade cooked applesauce, pretzels, cucumber slices

Dinner: Unsloppy Joes & Apple Slaw


Apple Slaw


4 cups white (or purple) cabbage, shredded

1 carrot, grated

2 scallions, chopped

1 apple, chopped

4 tablespoons of vegan mayo

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt (optional)


Mix the cabbage, carrot, scallions, and apple together in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together mayo, lemon juice, pepper, salt and other desired seasoning.

Add to cabbage mixture and serve.

I didn't have any kaiser rolls, so I used sliced bread.  If you use regular bread, make sure to lightly toast it to prevent the soggy taste.

 Day #7 (the conclusion) will be posted tomorrow.

Check out the other days here.




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Vegan Challenge Day# 5

Breakfast: pancakes with frozen blueberries

Lunch: The kids were home (teacher's work day), so they ate all of the leftovers in the fridge from the last few days.





* 1 tablespoon active dry yeast, 

        or 1 oz (25 g) brewer’s yeast

* 1 1/2 cups (350 cc) warm water

* 3 1/2 cups (500 g) flour (I used wheat flour)

* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

* pinch of salt

I used this recipe but if you want to save time, there are pre-made vegan pizza crust available at most grocery stores.

Pizza Sauce

28 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice

1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt


3 cups raw spinach

1 block of tofu, drained and cut into cubes

1 cup raw cashews (to sprinkle over finished pizza)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast (for vitamin B12 & a "cheesy" taste)


Why is B12 important for a plant-based diet? Check out some information here.

1 teaspoon of all-season salt and garlic salt (optional; to sprinkle over cooked tofu)


Put chopped vegetables, salt, pepper, and oregano in a sauce pan and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add diced tomatoes. Reduce heat a little, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Dry-fry the tofu for about 4 minutes on each side over medium heat.

dry-fry garlic.jpg

Mix in garlic salt and all-season salt to give more flavor.

Cook spinach for about 3 minutes on medium heat. If necessary, use a few drops of water at the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.

Spread sauce on pizza crust and top with tofu and spinach.

Put cashews and nutritional yeast in food processor for 15-30 seconds and sprinkle over pizza as a Parmesan cheese.

This pizza is a favorite at our house. :-)

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Vegan Challenge: Day #4

Breakfast: Grits& applesauce 



Sandwich, donut holes, apple, basic salad with light dressing


I found this recipe on Post Punk Kitchen. The owner, Isa Chandra Moskowitz said this, 

"What's even better than a 30 minute meals is to develop a love for cooking that makes you forget about the clock."

So true!

Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes (Crab Cakes)


For the Cakes:

8 ounces tempeh (use the nori tempeh if you can find it, but plain soy tempeh is fine, too)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons Vegenaise

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard (stone-ground Dijon works, too)

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup very finely chopped red bell pepper (I used a green bell pepper)

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

Fresh black pepper

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (Japanese style breadcrumbs), plus extra for dredging

1 finely chopped nori sheet or 1 tablespoon kelp granules (optional, if you like a little fishiness, which I don’t)

Oil for panfrying

For the Remoulade:

2 tablespoons Vegenaise

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard (stone-ground Dijon works, too)

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 teaspoons capers (try not to get too much brine)

For Serving:

Lemon wedges


Make ahead: Make the entire mixture and the remoulade the night before. In the morning, form into cakes and panfry.

First we’re going to steam the tempeh to get the bitterness out and also to give it some flavor with the soy sauce. Crumble the tempeh into a saucepan in little bits. Add the water, soy sauce, oil, and bay leaf. The tempeh won’t be fully submerged, but that’s fine. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 12 to 15 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated. Stir once during boiling.

Transfer contents to a mixing bowl, remove the bay leaf, and mash with a fork. Let cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to hasten the cooling process. Make sure the tempeh is barely warm before you proceed, or the cakes may fall apart when you cook them. Add the Vegenaise, mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, bell pepper, ginger, oregano, salt, and pepper and mix well. Add the breadcrumbs and nori, if using, and use your hands to incorporate.

Once you are ready to form the cakes, preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy-bottomed, nonstick skillet (cast iron is great) over medium heat. Pour a few tablespoons of panko into a bowl. Scoop a little less than 1/4 cup batter into your hands and form into a ball. Flatten between your palms and then roll the sides gently to smooth them. You should have ten 2 1/2- to 3-inch patties. Press them into the panko to lightly coat. They don’t need to be thoroughly covered, just a little bit for some texture.

Fry a batch of five cakes for 4 minutes on one side and flip when dark golden brown. Fry for 2 minutes on the other side and transfer to a paper towel or paper bag to drain. Do your second batch and in the meantime make your remoulade by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Serve with lemon wedges.

I also added about 1/3 cup of chopped red onion and 1 tablespoon of Old Bay to the mixture.


I didn't have any panko breadcrumbs, so I purchased a box of saltine crackers and made my own in the food processor using half a pack of crackers. Organic panko breadcumbs run about $4, so I purchased the crackers for $3.50 because I can use the rest for peanut butter crackers and with soup. I thought making my own breadcrumbs was quick and more practical.

I also picked up bay leaves (I didn't realize I already had some) and ground ginger.

Adding these items increased my budget from $110 to $118.57.

I can't complain because it's still a lot less than what we usually spend weekly on groceries.

Is anyone else planning to reduce their family's food budget? Let's discuss it in the comments or on Twitter.

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