Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Guest Post: Melody Polakow of Melomeals

The Topic: In light of the upcoming first annual Vida Vegan Conference, I asked vegan blogger Melody Polakow of Melomeals, to share some tips with us on vegan cooking on a budget.

The Dish: My name is Melody Polakow and I’m thrilled to be contributing to the Savvy Vegan Blog! I have been blogging at Melomeals since 2006.  At the time I was married and cooking for my two teen sons, so I focused on big batch, frugal cooking from scratch for a family.  I have since divorced, and in late 2008 I was laid off from my job as a vegan and raw foods chef.  At the time I was sharing custody of my kids and money was so tight (my kids have since grown up and don’t live with me)—I only had $100 a month to spend on food! I realized that was around $3.33 a day, so the focus of my blog turned to creating healthy and delicious whole foods for $3.33 a day.

Fast forward to September 2010.  I had been working several chef jobs while creating more photography and I realized that I was ready to take a huge leap into working for myself. Melody Polakow Photography and Chef Services was born! Since I am working for myself and times are tough, I am still spending $3.33 a day and having a ball sharing my recipes and ideas via Facebook and my blog.

The way I cook has evolved over time into a system of preparation that is basically the same whether you are cooking for one or a family of 10! I utilize a pressure cooker and cook two pounds of dried beans from scratch and two pounds of grains. I make three sauces to have on hand: salsa, marinara, and a nutritional yeast-based sauce. I also clean out the fridge at least once a week and make a big pot of soup I call a “filler soup” which is eaten for several meals or snacks and frozen into two cup portions. You can see my blog for these various recipes. Having these bases on hand allows me to create healthy and delicious whole-food meals in less than 30 minutes! Here’s one of my favorite veggie burger recipes.

Simple Bean Burger

Makes 12-15 burgers, depending on how big you make them!
Note:  These burgers taste much better the next day

What You Need: 
3 cups hot beans (reserve bean liquid)
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3 tablespoons soy sauce
What You Do:
1. Mix everything together in a food processer. If you don’t have a food processor, mash really well with your hands!
2. Add reserved bean liquid as needed so the mixture isn’t too dry
3. Chill mixture for at least 4 hours
4. Form into patties; cook in a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium to medium-low heat for about five minutes per side.

The Final Word: Thanks Melody for the tips, and highlighting your great blog, which shows that you can eat vegan on almost any budget. And for those readers and bloggers who will be attending the Vida Vegan Conference this year, we look forward to seeing you!


  1. I love Melody's blog. She uses every part of the veggie for something. Even the bean liquid! Scraps for stock, etc. I've adopted so many of her techniques. I have her to thank for savings of both money and time! Today, I'm expecting a shipment of a brand new pressure cooker (COME ON UPS!) which I probably would never have purchased had I not seen how useful it has been in her kitchen.

  2. I'm encouraged and excited to go in the kitchen again reading this!