Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: 20 Bucks Til Payday

The day after my husband and I got married we quickly realized the honeymoon was over.  Actually, we didn't have a honeymoon until our first anniversary because we were so broke.  We were in debt and had to learn to make a dollar stretch to ridiculous proportions.  This is where my love of inexpensive things began.  It wasn't until I had no other choice that I realized how much money we wasted.  The three best things I learned: buy store brand, choose fresh frozen or dried instead of canned beans and vegetables, and use foods that are cheap and filling (potatoes, rice, pasta).  And just because I'm feeling super nice, here's a free one: check on the top and bottom shelves.  These are the best deals usually because they're out of your line of sight.  Also, the clearance shelf is your friend a lot of the time.
Broke Ass Menu
Pinto Beans
Simple Salad w/ Green Lettuce, Tomato, and Avocado
During that time in our lives we seriously only had $20 on food for two people.  That was a horrible time.  But I did love how much food I walked away with.  Often, I'd be way under budget.  A typical shopping trip would include a case of fideo ($1.69 for 9 boxes), some potatoes, tomato, avocado, cilantro, some fresh fruits, maybe a block or two of tofu.  I tried to get food that could easily be used in a variety of cuisines.  We'd do stirfries, pasta, bbq, etc.  Okay.  Enough about the past, here's how tonight's meal breaks down.
I made the fideo with 1/2 a small onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, salt, pepper, 1/2 of a large tomato, maybe a quarter cup of cilantro, and some cumin.  The beans were so simple.  My mother-in-law only adds salt to her beans so you can really taste the flavor of them.  Today I added some salt free spice blend and salt.  Season them however you want, though.  The salad was green lettuce, tomato, avocado, salt, pepper, and a squirt of lime juice.
Price Breakdown*
Fideo (serves 4)-$0.60
  • fideo-$0.28
  • tomato sauce-$0.07
  • tomato-$0.19
  • cilantro-$0.06 
Pinto Beans (serves 4)-I forgot to check how much it was in bulk so this is based on bagged beans.  $0.41

Salad (serves 4)-$1.04
  • lettuce-$0.21
  • tomato-$0.19
  • lime-$0.15
  • avocado-$0.49
Total Spent on Dinner-$2.05 or $0.51 per person with possible leftovers!

That is kinda shocking to me.  No wonder we had it so much.  Notice how that damn avocado is so expensive?!  But it's oh so very delicious.

Tomorrow, I'm making snacks because nothing says budget friendly more than making your own convenience meals.  Holler!
*All price breakdowns are assuming you have basic things like flour, oil, non dairy milk, common spices, etc. Everything else will be factored in. Also, the price listed is based on the amount used in the recipe.


radioactivegan said...

I don't want to sound uncouth here, but what is fideo? If it's really that cheap, then I need to find it!

Jeni Treehugger said...

Looks fab Mo - you are the queen of budget and beautiful.

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

RadioActiveVegan-It's a vermicelli pasta traditionally used in Mexican cuisine. You fry it before you add the water (like with making Spanish rice). I happen to live in a predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood so the stores are filled with it, but I've found it at national chains as well. Check the "international" aisle.


Mandee said...

Wow, you really can make a fantastic looking meal on the cheap!

I am so bad when it comes to shopping, I only look at prices when our money starts running low.

Kuntrageous said...

if i could find avocado's that cheap i would eat one every single day!! i'm lucky if i can get them for a dollar on sale one week out of the summer...they're always atleast $1.50!!
I've never heard of fideo either and i'm a Texan like you (Houston!) but I have lots of international markets and such around here so i'm going to have to check that out!

jessy said...

i know we waste a bunch of money – your post has be inspired to sit down with my finances and find out where everything’s going and where the holes are. such awesome tips, Monique – i never thought to check the tops ‘n bottoms of the shelves. makes sense that they put the pricier stuff right out in front. sneaky, sneaky! i’m gonna look in to finding some cheap gluten-free noodles to make fideo – and pinto beans, they are some of my favs. just had some last night. mmmmmmmmm! i like that you included the avocado – like you said in your brunch post – pick an item to splurge on – and what a delicious item, indeed!

zel(da) said...

oh my goodness, $20 bucks still pay day IS the story of my current life! as you know from my broke-ass foods post, i'm all about the eating on the cheap! yours looks a lot more balanced than mine end up being, though!

Monica Shaw said...

nice thing about eating vegan is that it's pretty cheap (if you avoid all the pre-made meal crap). but what pray tell is fideo?? oh wait - i see you already answered that question. sounds tasty. =)

k said...

I was just saying how my favorite broke/keep warm meal is a huge plate, half fideo and half beans. I definitely need to start cooking my own beans and we all gotta save where we can. Thanks!

Kelly said...

That is some impressive frugality! And I want to try fideo now... I know I've had it in the past, but I've definitey never made it myself. Hmm...

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

Jessy-If you can't find gluten free fideo, vermicelli is fine or angel hair. Just break the noodles up so that they're smaller.

Kelly-It really is easy. Just remember to fry the noodles first until golden brown.

Megan said...

That's amazing!