The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


By Skyler Kilmer, VRG Intern

When I tell people that I eat a vegan diet, one of the very first questions
that I get asked is, “Wow, isn’t that expensive?” My answer to this question
is, “It depends.” Eating a vegan diet can get quite costly
if we’re buying lots of mock meats, vegan “cheeses,” and other processed
plant-based foods. But a vegan diet doesn’t have to be
expensive. Essential staples that I keep in my pantry are also some of the
least costly items at the grocery store. Foods such as beans, lentils, rice,
pasta, and canned sauces are in many budget recipes. For numerous Americans who
live under the poverty line, the misconception that vegan foods are expensive
is a barrier to a lifestyle change.

The Dollar Tree is an option for grocery shopping on a budget because these
stores offer a range of products that are nutritious, plant-based, and $1 or
less. My biggest tip for shopping at Dollar Tree is to remember that it’s not a
grocery store; instead, it’s a store that has a lot of groceries. Because of
this, there are a few things to consider:

– Fresh fruits and vegetables are not available at most Dollar Tree stores.
This menu will contain frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. Frozen produce
is often nutritionally similar to fresh fruits and vegetables (1).

– Products are in smaller packages, so buying multiples of the same foods
will probably be necessary.

– Some nutrients may be harder to find in foods at the Dollar Tree. Pay
special attention to vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and calcium.

With these considerations, I’ve created a one-week menu that will feed a
family of 4 (2 adults and two children who are 8- and 16-years-old). In
November 2019 at the Dollar Tree in Greece, NY, this menu cost $116.

One Week Vegan Menu Using Foods from Dollar Tree To see the
One Week Vegan Menu Using Foods from Dollar Tree, visit: https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/one-week-vegan-menu-using-foods-from-dollar-tree.pdf

Recipes

Tex-Mex Hash (serves 8)

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
(available at the dollar store, or use whatever oil is already on hand)

Two 32-oz packages frozen
shoestring fries

Four 14-oz packages frozen peppers
& onions

Two 15-oz cans black beans, drained
and rinsed

Two 1-oz packets taco seasoning

10-oz can diced tomatoes with
chilies, drained

In a pan, sauté peppers & onions and shoestring fries in oil until the
fries are golden brown. Add beans and taco seasoning and stir until taco
seasoning is well distributed. Cook until beans are warm. Serve topped with
diced tomatoes.

Breakfast Burrito (serves four)

4 tortillas

Leftovers from Tex-Mex Hash (about
half the recipe)

Spoon leftover hash into tortillas

Pancakes (serves 4)

by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon + 2¼ teaspoons baking
powder

3/8 teaspoon salt

1½ Tablespoons sugar

1¾ cups soymilk

5½ Tablespoons oil, divided

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add 3½
Tablespoons of oil and mix until flour is moistened. Place the remaining 2
Tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and heat on medium-high heat. When the
oil is hot, pour batter into circles about 4 inches across. Pancakes are ready
to turn when the batter is bubbling almost to the middle. Flip and cook on the
other side about 2 more minutes or until golden brown.

Sautéed Garbanzo Bean Wrap (serves 4)

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups garbanzo beans

2 cups frozen spinach, thawed

2 teaspoons minced garlic

4 tortillas

In a pan, sauté beans, thawed spinach, and garlic in oil until spinach is
warm and beans are slightly crispy. Add sautéed mixture to a tortilla, roll up,
and serve.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Roll-Up (serves 1)

2 Tablespoons peanut butter

3 Tablespoons jelly

1 tortilla

Spread peanut butter and jelly onto tortilla. Roll tortilla into a log.
Slice into approximately ½-inch slices.

Tuscan-Inspired Gnocchi (serves 4)

Two 17.6-oz packages gnocchi (the brand sold at most Dollar Trees is
plant-based, but double check your packaging)

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Half 10-oz package frozen spinach

15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed
and drained

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

1 handful sundried tomatoes

Cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Sauté spinach and beans with
garlic in oil. Add tomatoes. Top gnocchi with veggies.

Beans & Rice Soup (serves 8)

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

Two 10-oz packages frozen mixed
vegetables

Two 10-oz packages frozen pepper
and onions

12 cups vegetable broth

2 cups dried beans, soaked
overnight, and drained

2 cups white rice (if brown rice is
available, this adds even more nutrients to the dish)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sauté garlic, vegetables, peppers, and onions in oil. Add
beans and vegetable broth, heat until boiling and reduce heat to simmer for 30
minutes. Add rice and bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 more
minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make sure rice and beans are cooked to
the desired texture. Serve immediately or freeze for later.

Chili Fries (serves 4)

10-oz package frozen peppers &
onions

Vegetable oil for sautéing

Two 15-oz cans kidney beans, rinsed
and drained

15-oz can tomato sauce

10-oz can diced tomatoes

3 Tablespoons chili powder

32-oz package frozen French fries

In a large pot, sauté peppers and onions in oil until peppers are soft and
onions are translucent. Add kidney beans, tomato sauce, diced tomato, and chili
powder. Simmer until warm and well flavored. Bake fries according to package
instructions. Top fries with chili.

Broccoli Stir-Fry with Garbanzo Beans (serves 4)

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Two 10-oz packages broccoli
stir-fry mix

Two 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans,
rinsed and drained

In a frying pan, sauté stir-fry mix until veggies are soft. Add garbanzo
beans and heat until warm. Season as desired, I think soy sauce will taste good
if you have it, but salt and pepper to taste are also delicious. 

Lentil Sloppy Rice (serves 8)

2 cups dry lentils, sorted and
rinsed

2 cups white rice, uncooked 

Water for cooking lentils and rice

Two 15-oz cans sloppy joe sauce

Cook lentils according to package instructions. Cook rice according to
package instructions. Stir sloppy joe sauce into lentils, and simmer. Place
lentils on top of rice and serve.

Lentil Bolognese (serves 8)

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

10-oz package frozen peppers and
onions

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

½ cup canned mushrooms

10-oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup vegetable broth

1 lb. lentils, cooked using package
instructions

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1-lb. box pasta

In a large pot, sauté peppers, onions, and garlic for 4-5 minutes in oil.
Add mushrooms, diced tomatoes, and vegetable broth, bring to a boil and reduce
heat to simmer. Stir in lentils and spices. Simmer until all flavors combine.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Top pasta with Bolognese sauce.

Reference 

1. Brown MJ. Fresh vs frozen fruit and vegetables — Which are
healthier?
Published 2017. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables

For more information:

https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2006issue2/2006_issue2_mealplans.php

https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2003issue1/2003_issue1_quick.php

https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2009issue1/2009_issue1_rising_prices.php

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