The Topic: Cheap Cooking with Vegan on the Cheap
The Dish: So you've taken Robin Robertson's advice from her previous post and upgraded your grocery-shopping technique. Now that the kitchen is stocked and loaded, she's back to arm you with cheap cooking tricks to really make the most of it.
Top Five Savvy Cooking Tips
By Robin Robertson
- Big-Batch Cook and Freeze. Once a week, prepare large amounts of a few basic foods, then portion and freeze them for later use. Choose items that can be used throughout the week or portioned and frozen, such as a big pot of brown rice, beans, seitan, marinara sauce, or vegetable stock.
- Make Your Own Convenience Foods. From salad dressings to seitan, there are a number of ways to save money when you start making your own convenience items, such as mayonnaise, chutney, and peanut sauce.
- The Vegetable Chop. When it's time to chop an onion for soup, chop an extra one and also make chili or stew. If you need to wash two celery ribs for a recipe, take the time to wash the whole bunch and cover and refrigerate the rest until you need it. Peel and mince an entire head of garlic at a time, so it's ready when needed. Store it covered in olive oil in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Wash and spin-dry your lettuce as soon as you get home—it will last longer. If veggies are cut, cleaned, and ready to use, it saves time when you cook. It also encourages us to use and eat more veggies. Carrot and celery sticks, for example, can be stored in zip-top bags in the fridge to enjoy as a healthy snack or to chop up in your next soup. Tightly covered chopped onions will keep refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen for three to four weeks. The same is true for bell peppers.
- Get Creative. Use leftovers in creative ways to transform them into a new meal. For example, leftover seitan pot roast can be used in a hash, stew, or skillet meal. Even leftover mashed or baked potatoes can be transformed—use extra cooked spuds to make shepherd's pie, potato pancakes, samosas, stuffed dosas, mac' and cheese, pierogis, potato bread, potato muffins, and more.
- Make Your Kitchen a "No-Waste Zone." Save vegetable scraps and odd bits of veggies for stock. Add leftover cooked veggies to salads or put them in the bottom of your soup bowls and pour servings of hot soup over them. If you can't convince someone in your family to simply eat that last apple in the fruit bowl, incorporate it into dinner. A sliced apple or pear makes a great addition to a green salad. Or, you can combine the fruit with other wallflower fruits, such as those grapes and berries or that last banana, and you'll have a nice fruit salad for dessert. If there's not enough to stretch, add a small can of pineapple and some dried cranberries.
Almost-Instant Chickpea Tomato Soup
From Vegan on the Cheap © 2010, John Wiley & Sons.
This rich tomato soup couldn't be easier or more economical. It's also delicious served chilled.
Makes 4 Servings
What You Need:
1-1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 or 3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup plain unsweetened soymilk
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley
What You Do:
- In a high-speed blender, combine chickpeas and garlic and process until finely ground.
- Add tomatoes, cumin, juice, oil, 1/2 cup soymilk, salt, and cayenne, to taste. Blend until smooth.
- Add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup soymilk as needed to achieve desired consistency—not too thin or too thick—and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and cayenne if necessary.
- Transfer soup to a large saucepan over medium heat and stir, until hot, about 5 minutes. If serving hot, ladle into bowls, top with minced cilantro, and serve. If serving chilled, let the soup cool to room temperature, then transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. Then ladle into soup bowls and garnish with cilantro.
The Final Word: Want more of Robin's tips and tricks on being a thriving vegan with very little cash? Well, aren't you lucky! I have one copy of Vegan on the Cheap, and despite my initial inclination to keep it for myself, I'm going to share it with one of my awesome readers. It's easy—just tell me in the comments: What's your top money-saving tip in the kitchen?