Friday, May 08, 2009

$3.33 a day: RawFu Magazine, YOU can eat this way too.

SunDried Tomato and Olive Tapenade

First of all, I need to sing the praises of the new RAW MAGAZINE, RawFu! Created by the lovely Bunny Berry. Go subscribe now! My recipe and photograph for my Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade is in there along with other fabulous raw recipes and articles.

I made a batch of homemade tofu that was perfect in Mooshi veggies. I wrapped mine in collard greens while the kids used tortillas. Spicy, sweet and totally satisfying.

Oh how simple things have been lately foodwise. This was a spring veggie chowdah.. I used cauliflower, corn, potatoes, zucchini, quinoa and some cheese sauce I made from whole soy beans. It was spicy and delicious. Quinoa is such a versatile ingredient.

big salad

I eat salad every day... this one had arugula, snow peas, pumpkin seeds and a vidalia onion dressing. So good.

I want to address some comments and emails I've been getting about the produce I use.

First, most of it is not organic. I wish I could afford to eat a 100% organic diet, but I can't. (and won't be able to any time soon even though I have a job. I still have to stick to my budget of $3.33 a day)..

I am not going to get into debate about organics. I know they are better for me, my family and the environment and I buy as much organic as I can afford. Period.

I live in Portsmouth, NH and do the majority of my shopping at Market Basket (I swear, they should pay me to be a spokesperson!)... Their prices are almost half as much as I would pay at Shaws or Hannaford.

Every week, I look at the grocery store circulars to see where the deals are. For instance, a $1.99 pineapple is RARE and not an everyday price. Most circulars will advertise their "loss leaders" on the front page. Those are items that they lose money by selling, but will draw you into their store. Most of the time, I would not go out of my way to a market based on ONE loss leader. I need at least 3 items to make me go to that store and I only the amount of cash I want to spend on those items.

If I shopped at Shaws or Hannaford as my GO TO markets, the produce and my entire grocery bill would be twice as expensive. There ARE deals out there, but you have to look for them. I have taught many cooking classes and the people who come will say they don't like to shop and this or that store because it isn't as "nice". My response to that is, well then don't complain about prices. Also, if you enjoy higher priced items then you have to adjust the rest of your food to incorporate them. I will have a couple meals that put me over my daily total. I make up for them by eating a pot of lentil soup or kale salad for many meals. It is worth it to me. If I "splurge" on 5 oz of organic arugula you can bet your ass I will be eating cabbage salads for several days to make up for that.

It really isn't that hard to reduce your bill as long as you are willing to take some time to find deals, cook from scratch and think outside of the box.

I whip up the majority of our meals with less than 30 minutes of prep time. I cook once and freeze leftovers. I usually cook up two lbs of dried beans a week for our protein source and keep them in the fridge (after freezing 2 cup portions) along with 2 whole grains.

Let's say one week I cooked up 1 lb of black beans, 1 lb of lentils, 1 lb of brown rice and 1 lb of bulgur.

Meals I can make in 30 minutes:

Indian Spiced Lentils over Brown Rice, Kale Salad
Chipotle Citrus Black Bean Soup, Corn Muffins, Salad
Lentils over Bulgur with Green Goddess Dressing and Caramelized Onions, Salad
Black Bean Hummus, Tabouli, Steamed Veggies
Black Bean and Rice Burritos with fresh pico and guacamole
Lentil Soup with Bulgur, Salad
Burgers made from all of the leftovers, coleslaw

My meals always leave enough for my lunch the next day or I will turn the leftovers into a soup or burger.

It is NOT hard or difficult to eat this way... so don't let anyone make you believe it is!!


  1. AutumnTao3:50 PM

    Congrats on the job! A question (or 2)... how do you freeze beans? Do you lay them out on a cookie sheet like blueberries, then bag or put in containers? Also, I found some frozen chickpeas (from a can) did not defrost very well when I went to use them in salads. Is that expected? Are they better in stews and burgers after being frozen? Thanks for your time, and again, congratulations.

  2. i've been working for a catering company whose mission is to provide good food on a budget. i've been so much more conscious of using leftovers, spending less at the grocery store, etc. i now shop at stores other than whole foods to save my wallet every once in a while, and i mostly go to the korean store for super cheap produce.

    it's a great way to live and it's not really that difficult. it just takes some thinking, some planning, and a little bit of change.

    you make fantastic food! i love all your tapenades. can you post a burger recipe someday?

  3. Melody
    I hear ya". You are right. People are just lazy and they want something to complain about. It can be done. While we are not down to $3.33 a day. $8 a day isn't to shabby. Your blog is awesome and so are you. Hope you have an awesome weekend.
    Krys & the boys

  4. Melody, your food, as always, is beautiful!

  5. Anonymous6:18 PM

    I so much admire your admire and way of looking a things. I can't wait for your e-book. I have long waited for your recipes/ideas. I too love to cook and consider a mostly vegetarian.

  6. Autumn, I only freeze beans I've cooked myself and I usually use them for hummus or stews. They can get a little grainy or watery sometimes. I've heard coating them with oil helps. I freeze mine in either Glad freezer bags or plastic containers and they are fine. I don't flash freeze them individually.

    VeggieVixen, if you do a search for Veggie Burgers, you will find several recipes. Yay for frugal eating!

  7. Shaws is like twice as much, Hannaford is like three times as much, and let's not forget Philbrick's! :O

  8. you have a job!!!

  9. Your list of bean and grain meals blew me away--you are so creative!

  10. Anonymous12:20 AM

    Reading your blog is so inspiring! I've started cooking large amounts of beans and lentils to use during the week... Not only does it save time, but I'm moving to a new place soon where gas and electric isn't included. That's gonna be tough... I got so used to taking the stove and oven for granted, heh.

    Most of my meals are done in under 30 mins, too... This makes me even more excited about the ebook!

    Also: what's your favorite green smoothie recipe? I wanna get into that!


  11. congrats on the job! happy for you.

    go market basket! my husband's first job was there.

  12. It really is a shame how much more expensive organic food is...! But at least you make the most of what you get, and it always looks so healthy and vibrant.

  13. So cool your recipe is in the magazine. I think my mother-in-law would love the tapenade. ME TOO!

  14. Thanks for being so honest about the way you shop. I try to shop sales as much as possible and look for deals. I do a lot of shopping at places that people scoff at (ahem, Wal-Mart) due to cost. I think it's just about doing the best you can do, ya know? Congrats to you for knowing how to eat well on a budget! Everything here always looks beyond amazing.

  15. Everything you make looks so delicious. Whenever I'm feeling lazy, I check out your site for inspiration. My stomach and bank account thank you!

  16. Fabulous, as always! Congrats on the raw magazine photo (but ALL your photos are gorgeous). And thanks for the savings tips--I think we could all use some of those, actually!

  17. hooray for your photo in RawFu! that rocks so hard, Melody! i think i'm gonna subscribe! superw00t! everything looks terrificly awesome, and i love having my salad every day - don't ya just love them the most!?! mmmmmmm!

  18. Congrats on the article! You make going raw so enticing....wish I had the discipline to follow in your footsteps.

  19. Raw Fu looks like a great magazine.

    Happy Mother's Day, Melody!

  20. I can't afford to buy exclusively organic produce either. But I figure if it comes down to eating conventional spinach or NOT eating spinach at all because I can't afford organic, it is much better to just eat the darn spinach!

    As always, everything looks mouthwatering. Congrats on the photo and recipe in the magazine!


  21. What a super helpful post! I am an avid coupon clipper/thrifty shopper myself and one of the most important things that people need to learn to do is be FLEXIBLE. Last week pinto beans were 1/2 price. I prefer garbanzos, but for $.50/bag, I'll give these a go!

    And I don't/can't eat completely organic, either. I really hope things change soon and organic produce prices go down :(

  22. i know i stop by and say this all of the time, but you truly are an inspiration to me. i think your entries are vibrant and healthy and look so satisfying and yummy!

    i really admire what you're doing here and so appreciate your ideas!

    great job!

  23. Oooh, tasty tasty! I hear ya on the produce. I found a seller at the Farmers Market who grows organically, but is not certified, so I try to stick to them!

  24. your meals are always sooooo fab-looking. i wish i was wealthy enough to hire you as my personal chef.

  25. WOW!!! that tapenade looks amazing. thank you :)RawFu looks great. thanks for inspiring me ...


  26. First order of buisness for me...get a bigger freezer :)

  27. info on how to see a free digital copy of raw fu for the next day or so:

  28. You are such an inspiration! Fabulous vegan food on a tight budget. You blow me away!

  29. Congrats on the job and weight loose mel! I love the break down of things you can make with your weekly bean/grains. I find that this is normally one of my biggest challenges is thinking ahead and planning what I can do with certain ingredients.

    I really enjoy reading your blog, you are a constant inspiration! Keep it up!