Customer Reviews: Vegan on the Cheap
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on May 23, 2010
The recipes in this book really are inexpensive to make. The book starts with about 28 pages of advice on ways to save money on food, and the rest of the book is devoted to recipes. I have tried the following so far, and thought they were great:

Cheezee sauce (excellent!)
Comfort loaf (Best vegan 'meatloaf' I've ever had)
Baked ziti (Delicious; I was amazed at how well the tofu worked in this dish)
Mexican rice and bean bake (Today's dinner - also outstanding)

The one caveat I have about the book is that some of the directions appear to be incomplete. This is okay for experienced cooks that can just figure out how to make it work. But someone with less experience and know-how could possibly end up wasting money by trying recipes that won't work.

For example, the Cheezee sauce recipe tells you to combine some ingredients in a saucepan. Then it says, "Turn the heat on medium and whisk in the soy milk. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute." This makes it sound like you are supposed to just turn on the heat and have the pot on the stove for 1 minute. What you have to do is bring the mixture to boiling and then cook it for about 1 minute longer. So, the author forgot to mention the part about bringing the mixture to boiling. If you've never made a sauce this way before, you might throw it out if you follow the directions, because it's not useful in that watery state.

In the Mexican rice and bean bake, the recipe involves partially cooking some rice on the stovetop, and then putting it in the oven to cook the rest of the way. I think that there is something missing from the directions there as well, because I cooked and baked as directed, and had to double my baking time to cook the rice completely. (And, no, there is nothing wrong with my oven.) I presume that it was supposed to be cooked a little longer on the stovetop first, but again, the directions just indicated that you were to return the stovetop mixture to boiling, and then dump it in the pan to go into the oven. I suspect you were supposed to boil it for a little while on the stovetop first.

The food tastes great. She really does a lot with inexpensive ingredients. (One of the things I liked about this cookbook was that she only asks you to have a few non-standard ingredients on hand, unlike most vegan cookbooks, which expect that you are secretly running an international grocery store in your kitchen.) But considering I tried 4 recipes so far, and 2 of them had inaccurate directions, I'm a little concerned about the rest of the book. I'll just have to remember to be more vigilant when making these recipes.

I think this is particularly important for this book, because I am sure that this book was geared, in part, to the 'starving students' and other new vegans who want to eat vegan on a budget. In general, younger people have less cooking experience and therefore will be less likely to know how to 'fix' these recipes. Also, I have a few of Robertson's other cookbooks, and haven't ever come across this problem so far. So, I'm disappointed for that reason, too.

But, man, that Mexican rice and bean bake is REALLY good.
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on May 2, 2010
I love this book. I'm not great in the kitchen but this book helps me hide that fact from guests I have over for dinner. Not only are the recipes interesting and delicious (ex: Easy Peanut Sauce, how could I have presented Thai curry without this before?), but the book also has unique elements that I've never seen before. For example, each recipe comes with an estimated cost per serving. Wow.

There is a "Cheap Trick" section that explains how to have vegan versions of staples like Parmesan and bread crumbs, which can be pricey if you buy them prepackaged. The vegan Parmesan "cheese" recipe uses nuts and nutritional yeast that makes a rich topping that helps me turn my old vegan standards into restaurant-style dishes. The book also has a helpful section on where to find high quality ingredients at low cost. It also gives a suggested shopping list! this is really exciting to me as I'm hopeless with figuring out what I need to buy and end up just buying whatever catches my eye at the store. I also like the suggested menu for a week.

I highly recommend this excellent cookbook for people who are vegan or for omnivores who just want to eat more healthy, vegan food. It has a nice cover and the inside style is clean and sleek, so I'd also recommend giving it as a gift either to someone who is vegan or just trying have a healthier diet without sacrificing taste, time or money.
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on May 1, 2010
I was a tester for this book and can't rave about it enough. As a rule, I'm not as budget conscious as I should be when cooking. But this books make it so easy and doesn't scrimp on the flavor. The recipes are very diverse and include dishes from several nationalities. Besides the American style dishes, some of the Asian and Mexican recipes were our favorites. The Tortilla Strata is one of the best I've ever had and doesn't take many ingredients. The Korean Cabbage Salad, Asian Noodle Soup, Quick Lo Mein,andCajun Spiced Seitan Po'Boys are just a few of our favorites. The recipe for Corned Seitan with Cabbage makes the best reubens!

Besides the wonderful recipes, the cookbook includes strategies for saving money and making your time in the kitchen more efficient. There's even a slow cooker chapter for make-ahead meals. Another cool thing about the book are the "Splurge a little" notes that offer suggestions to dress up a dish if you're so inclined.

With 150 recipes that cost 50 cents to $2 a serving, this book is money well spent.
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on July 22, 2010
I don't say this often, but this cookbook is a must-have. Most cookbooks call for a lot of seitan, fake cheese, and vegan mayonnaise, and then have one lousy seitan recipe that takes forever. This cookbook teaches you to make absolutely everything that you would normally buy prepackaged at inflated prices - seitan pepperoni, cutlets, "meat"loaf, and sausage, vegan mayo, sour cream, feta, and cheeze sauce. And that's just the first section. The recipes that follow are, for the most part, simple and quick, with ingredients you either have on hand, or can get easily at any well stocked grocery store. I bought this book on a whim, and now I use it more than any other cookbook I own. Buy it.
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on November 29, 2010
I really love this book! It has recipes I actually want to eat and my family wants to eat also. Everything has been easy to make with no crazy ingredients. So far I have made:
Creamy Mushroom Gravy....I could drink this stuff....nuff said
Faux Parm....YUM! My cheese loving daughter likes this better than real parm!
Cheapskate Chutney.....very good and you know exactly what is in it
Cutlets on the cheap.....Awesome! Turned this into chicken fried steak with mushroom gravy.
Double Pie Crust......easy and good!
Tofu Fried Rice.....some of the best fried rice I have made
Comfort Loaf.....very good but a bit time consuming to prep
3 Bean Loaf....delish and alot quicker to prep than comfort loaf
White Beans and Lemon Potatoes with Olives and Tomatoes...Very good!
Better Bean Burgers.....very good!
Smoky Joes....soooooo good. A lil spicy tho!
Tuscan White Bean Pizza....good... not quite as flavorful as I thought it would be
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting...OMG!
Chocolate Surprise Brownies....This is one of the only things we didnt really like....and it was not the was the coffee and bananas
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chocolate Glaze....made this for Thanksgiving and it was SO GOOD!
Mixed Fruit Cobbler....very good...took this to a few potlucks this summer and everyone loved it!
I can not wait to try some more recipes from this book!

UPDATE! Have tried some more recipes and wanted to comment on those also.

Almost Instant Chickpea Tomato Soup....very good, had it with the Kalamata Olives and it was great and fast to make. Would be really good with the Spinach Pie that was also in this book and very good!
Vegetable Lentil Stew....good, makes a ton! Enough for my family of 3 to eat twice with leftovers for luch both times.
Mu Shu Burritos....One of my favorites! Served it over brown rice. This was super fast....will become one of my go to meals for sure!
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on January 2, 2011
I'm a big fan of 1,000 Vegan Recipes. I was enthousiast to try the new cookbook of Robin Robertson, Vegan on the Cheap. Unfortunately, I'm desappointed. I made about 15 recipes from the book, but they were just okay, except the Easy Peanut Sauce (the best peanut sauce I ever tasted), the Better-Than-Take-Out Tofu Stir-Fry (absolutely delicious)and the Coconut Curry Rice. Some of the recipes I tried and will not make again.
-Caramel Baked Apples: Correct, it didn't have enough sauce
-Samosa Pie: Good, but I little bit too dry
-Moroccan Chickpeas and Couscous, Penne and Broccoli with Tomatoes, Walnuts and Raisins, Linguine with Lentils and Roasted Butternut Squash and Skordalia Potato and Green Bean Salad: These recipes were correct, but I will not make them again.

In conclusion, Vegan on the Cheap is an interesting cookbook because you have the approximative price of each recipe, but it's not her better cookbook, by far. Too many recipes are just okay, so I can't invite some friends for dinner using this cookbook without trying the recipe first, which I don't like. If you want a good cookbook, buy 1,000 Vegan Recipes from the same author (which contains many cheap recipes) or vegan cookbooks from Donna Klein.

*Sorry if I make some mistakes, my first language is French.
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I bought this book because I have a penchant for preparing (and loving) vegan food that is, let's just say, the opposite of cheap. And then, to make up for my expensive, gluttonous ways, I prepare things so simple and bland that they aren't worth eating. I really need to find The Middle Way. That's why I bought this cookbook, and because I have faith in Robin Robinson, because I own many of her other stellar cookbooks.

This cookbook really delivers, and in ways that I didn't expect. The recipes really are inexpensive, and surprisingly, many of them taste exquisite and are worthy of guests, dinner parties, special events or simply an ordinary, but really incredible, dinner at home. Robertson's recipes are sometimes deceiving: they sound pretty run-of-the-mill, and then you find that, in reality, they are bursting with flavor (I'm thinking of some of the very easy tofu recipes in the book). The Lemon Basil Creme Sauce, I could eat it on anything.

This book not only lives up to its title, it surpassed my expectations, though I shouldn't be surprised. That's what all of Robertson's cookbooks and recipes do.
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on January 21, 2012
I wanted to start eating vegan this summer so I bought a bunch of vegan cookbooks to start with. It's months later now, and this cookbook has become my favorite one. The recipes are cheap, most of the ingredients (with a few exceptions) can be found in a normal grocery store, and the food tastes good. What I like most is it gives you some basic recipes you can go back to time and time again. My favorite ones so far are: Tofeta, Faux Parm, Stovetop Cheezee Mac, and Lemon Garlic Chickpea Patties. I've tried several others, all of which have turned out very good; and my book is full of tagged post-it notes on the recipes I want to try next! By the way, I buy books off amazon all the time, and this is the first time I have felt compelled to leave a review on anything. I highly recommend this cookbook!

Tip: If you are buying vital wheat gluten for the first time as I was, buy Bob's Red Mill. I bought a different brand to begin with and it didn't get stretchy or anything so one of my recipes didn't turn out the first time I tried it. But Bob's Red Mill fixed the problem.
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on August 11, 2010
I just picked this book up at the amazing Farm Sanctuary in New York State, and had to write my first ever review on Amazon because this book is so wonderful. I am by no means a well-informed or skilled cook, but this book makes going vegan feel doable: it calls for easy to find ingredients, gives lots of excellent tips for using up your spices and leftovers so that you don't waste money, and the recipes themselves are easy to follow and delicious. If you are new to veganism, or still on the brink, pick up this book and see how easy and economical the move can be!
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on August 22, 2010
This by far is one of my favorite go to vegan cookbooks. The recipes are very simple and easy to understand. They all take about 30 minutes or less to put together (which I love), and thus far, everything I've made as been absolutely delicious! The vegan pizza was a HUGE hit in my home and who knew that the "cheezee sauce" (on page 36) would be so yummy!! Most of these recipes you make already have the ingredients you have in your home right now, so there's no need to go to the store searching for a bunch of "fancy" items you'll only use once; no these recipes are for the novice (and hungry) at heart who just want to eat some good vegan food! Great book for anyone thinking of going vegan or great for the new vegan.
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