Wednesday, April 22, 2009

$3.33 a day: Cook once, eat twice cont and some answers

Raw Thai Spicy Noodles

I have been receiving a ton of emails and am a bit overwhelmed by them. The majority of them are wonderful, asking great questions and offering encouragement.

I am working on a post/article that will go into more depth about HOW I am eating this way. The #1 question seems to be, is it hard? Does it take a lot of time? The ingredients are so complicated.

I am working on answering these questions. (I wish I could just TALK TO YOU ALL or teach a class on this to those who are interested)... it's much easier to SHOW you and talk in real time than it is for me to write everything out.

... This post might give a small amount of insight into the methods I am using.

First of all. They are simple. I am not a complicated person. I do not like to go out of my way to do this or that.

The first dish was lunch yesterday. I made a quick raw blender sauce (took 5 mins) and tossed it with daikon and zucchini pasta. (I use THIS spiralizer). I tossed it and garnished with homemade lentil sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, cilantro and sesame seeds. It super satisfying and I reserved around 2 cups of it for dinner. (Just a note: I made 6 cups of the sauce. I froze 2 2 cup portions for later use)..

Fried Rice, Veggies and Chickpeas

This is where it pays to be creative. I used to use tofu in my fried rice.. we love tofu and it is great in fried rice.. BUT.. it's expensive (and while cheap to make, very labor intensive!)..

I decided to use chickpeas as a protein source. (I cooked a pound of chickpeas the other day and they are in my fridge for use.. another quick tip. Have cooked legumes and whole grains on hand)..

I took out out a 3 cup portion of brown rice from the freezer, and cooked it with the leftover raw lunch noodles, added more sauce, 2 c chickpeas and cilantro. My son ate ALMOST the entire pan. His dinner was ready in 20 minutes. (I saved 1 cup for my lunch today).. His portion equaled around 5 cups of high quality, whole foods. Teen boys eat a lot and it's much easier to quell that appetite with whole foods than it is to fill them up with ramen noodles.

My dinner was leftover lentil/quinoa/veggie soup.. Most of the time we eat the same things, but I'd rather USE up what we have on hand and have two separate meals (that were made in 20 minutes thank you very much) than make a meal from scratch.

Before I had to be so strict with my budget, I NEVER would have used chickpeas in fried rice, but let me tell you, they were delicious! One HUGE benefit from having to live on such a strict budget is that I have become more creative and it's payed off big time!

I should mention; we snacked on raw broccoli and (vegan homemade) queso sauce while the meal was warming up and had a couple dates stuffed with almonds for dessert.

My kids have been GREAT.. and I know many of you have a hard time pleasing your whole family. I admit, it is MUCH easier to do this not being married. I have fed my kids a whole food diet since birth (starting with breastmilk).. and I have never had the patience or inclination to give into a picky child when it comes to planning family meals. There are some foods that my kids HATE and I try to respect that. (For instance, my younger son hates zucchini and chickpeas. My older son refuses anything seitan, chipotle or with smoke flavor) I do "force them" to try their hated foods once or twice a year to see if their palates have changed... and I am able to sneak chickpeas and zukes into many dishes if they are blended for my younger son.

That being said, I NEVER would have used chickpeas in the dinner if my younger son was home. (but seitan or other beans would have worked).. Having base components for a dish on hand really makes a difference. If I was cooking for both kids last night, I would have added the protein source at the table. (seitan or chickpeas)..

OK.. I digress! .. back to the food.

The leftover cup of rice/veg/chickpea mixture was stuffed into collards and dipped in leftover sauce for lunch today. Super delicious and again, took 5 minutes to prepare.

Chipotle Mayo/Sauce

Having a number of sauces on hand makes everything easier. This sauce was made from soybeans and is sooo good. I froze half of it. You can expect to being seeing this baby in upcoming dishes!

Finally, to answer some criticisms..

.. and this one is HILARIOUS.. I am NOT anorexic and using this blog to justify an eating disorder. Obviously, YOU have not READ my blog or you would KNOW that! First time in my life anyone has ever accused ME of being anorexic. Wow. (I am overweight for those who don't know)

Second, I do not post every single thing we eat. The pictures on this blog represent SOME of the foods we eat.

A sample day:
Breakfast: Green Smoothie (me) or leftovers, Whole Food Muffin or Raw Breakfast Bar/Cookie (kids)

Lunch: Salads, leftovers, burgers (me) Peanut Butter and Jelly on homemade bread, popcorn, nuts/seeds/raisins (kids)

Snacks: Popcorn, green smoothies, fruit, banana with peanut butter, veggies/bean based dip

Dinner: LOOK at this blog and you'll see.. we eat a lot of bean based soups, veggie burgers, salads, casseroles

Desserts: Smoothies, dates/almonds, Raw Cookies, fruit,

A good portion of the food I eat is leftover bean/veggie soup. I make a huge pot and have no problem eating it for lunch for days. I also freeze 2 cup portions, so I can have a different soup each day if I choose. Doing this enables me to spend much more money on produce and other items and it works well.

OK.. I think I'm done here.


  1. Hell yes for chickpeas and for NOT having an eating disorder!! :-D

  2. Do you post the recipes somewhere for all this delicious looking stuff?

  3. Robyn4:03 PM

    Oh Melody! Had to chuckle at the anorexia comment! It's too bad people have to judge isn't it? Just for the record out there to anyone reading this...I know Melody and she is far from having ANY kind of eating disorder other than the desire to create (and eat) healthy, whole food dishes. I completely agree with you about living on a budget. It can make you much more creative than you might otherwise be when you can just run out to the store and pick up the right ingredients! You go girl!

  4. great post! it seems that people are always trying to accuse vegetarians or vegans of having an eating disorder...i think it is their own guilty conscious coming out and trying to put others down! i personally love all of your recipes and food pics, keep them coming!!

  5. Anonymous4:39 PM

    missed your talk on The Exchange, but was able to hear it on the computer. First you have such a lovely voice and second, you are so well spoken. It was a treat to listen to you.

  6. I can't believe anyone could think you're anorexic! What with all the amazing dishes you prepare (and I'm imagine eat immediately after!). Whatevs. People are weird.

    But thanks for the tips. I'm sure getting used to budgeting $3.33 a day takes a new way of thinking about the chickpea substitute.

  7. Several people ask me how I get our 2 year old Arthur to eat food and why he has such a diverse diet. I tell them I am not a short order cook. He eats what we eat. I won't give him anything super spicy, I will lower the spice in his serving. And I make him try a new thing, if he doesn't like it then we move on, but how will I know if I don't even have him taste the food. Of course a kid is going to turn their nose up at anything different, it is their nature. But I am not McDonalds, they are not having it their way. I refuse to cook 3 different meals every night. I know a person who does that. 4 people eating three different meals for dinner. No way, what a waste of time, food and money. As always, your site is great and you are the best.

  8. that's just too funny on the anorexia comment! people are so weird! i really enjoyed this post and learned a bunch from reading along - thanks, Melody! i always look forward to drooling over all the awesomeness you create, and i cannot wait for your e-cookbook! :)

  9. So interesting to see the whole day written out that way! And thanks for the cooking tips--I never cook more rice or beans than I need at a time, and really should! I think you're doing amazingly well with the foods you cook--and they all look so delish!

  10. You are really inspiring me to eat more raw foods. I look at your photos and feel healthier already. Your daily menu sounds ideal!

  11. Anonymous6:53 AM

    I wished I lived closer so I could take a class. Your pics always look great. I came across a blog you might be interested in to help w/your lowered monthly budget

  12. Oh man, you were right!! These spicy noodles look amazing, Mel!! xo

  13. such an informative post. i can't wait to get my hands on some of your recipes!

  14. Anorexic?! We are in a sad state of affairs when eating whole, fresh, healthy food is labeled "anorexic." If more Americans would do what you were doing, Melody, obesity would go down and families would save so much money!

  15. Hahaha! LOVE the anorexic comment. :D As always, you amaze me. I agree about creativity - I came up with some of my best recipes when I had very little food left and another week until payday. Great job! :)

  16. I must admit I look to you for hints and tips - we're both on budgets and we both have children and while mine are still young I want to garner all the info I need to see me and my purse through their teenage years without resorting to feeding them masses of bread or - as you said - ramen noodles! And I too do not cater to whims and 'I no like that!' from my kids. Eat what you're given or go without till your next meal. Makes my life a whole lot easier!

  17. So after the book's published and the Food Network calls to whisk you away, you'll still remember me, right?


  18. Just discovered your site and I love it! You have so many tasty looking dishes I cant wait to try some out.

  19. What a great post, Melody! You are, as always, an inspiration!

  20. I LOVE that you say you don't give into picky kids. I think that's a huge problem in our society. I was raised to at least try things and you had to eat your veggies. Good for you!

    There are some anorexic raw foodists out there. It's sad. Glad you are not one of them. Me neither.

  21. Great post, Melody. Our families would blend together nicely because our cooking/eating habits are so similar. And I'm sure my son's appetite rivals your sons! I'm amazed when he eats almost an entire pound of tofu in one sitting. Your creativity is always so inspiring - thank you!

  22. Thank you for this helpful and interesting post!
    I'm sorry you get all these stupid comments. Your meals are always healthy, wonderful, and nutritious. I don't get why some people connect this with anorexia.

  23. I love your blog. It has motivated me to stick to a food budget. Looking forward to you e-cookbook!

  24. Even with your explanation I'm have taught me some tips and tricks, though, and I've got some frozen chick peas in the freezer...ready for a bean soup :)

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