One of the first things people say when they find out I’m a vegan (apart from the dreaded protein question of course), is that they could never try it because it’s too expensive. Of course those who eat this way generally say that’s not the case, and in fact my grocery budget is lower now that my whole family eats meat free than it ever has been. Even when faced with my diminishing grocery receipts, there are those who think it necessary to scoff because they know better. Now when I am faced with someone who asks the money question I am armed, for in my thrifty hands is a copy of a fabulous cookbook called Eat Vegan on $4 a Day by Ellen Jaffe Jones.
Originally an investigative reporter on television, and a Wall Street financial consultant before becoming trained as a vegan cooking instructor, Ellen uses her combined experiences to prove to you how living on so called cheap fast food every day is really not the cheapest option. Using a price example of an average fast food meal being $5, she states that if you were to eat a similar meal three times a day, every day of the year you would be spending almost $5,500 a year on food. She then sets out to show that for less, you can eat ‘real’ home cooked, nutritious meals that won’t set you on the road to an early heart attack.
Before jumping into the recipes, Ellen takes us through a check list of the best way to shop (local and organic if possible, using store brands and bulk if cheaper), and then has an entire section on soaking and cooking times for beans and grains, pantry essentials and how to plan for a weekly shop. In fact it’s not until you reach Chapter 4 that she unleashes her kitchen secrets by diving into budget breakfast ideas.
Each recipe is clearly marked with serving sizes and price per portion so that you can gauge what to make according to your purse strings that week. From soups and salads, to spreads, sides and snacks, every meal is catered for. There’s even cake (including my all time favorite, carrot cake) and ice cream to round off the recipes. At the end of the book is a great resource section, where Ellen shares some of her favorite online retailers and links to local buying clubs to further stretch your pennies.
This book is an invaluable addition to your collection; not only for the pre-budgeted loveliness of the recipes, but for the wealth of information Ellen passes on. So I’m going to be carrying my copy around with me and the next time I’m challenged about the cost of my diet, I’m going to craftily bring it out as back up for my argument. Try scoffing at me now non-believers, ha ha!
Photo credit: Eat Vegan on $4 a day