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Vegan on the Cheap Paperback – April 19, 2010
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From the Back Cover
The ultimate vegan budget cookbook—easy recipes for delicious food that costs no more than $2 per serving!
With the price of fresh vegetables, fruit, and meatless and dairy-free foods on the rise, it's tougher than ever to eat great-tasting vegan meals without blowing your budget. In Vegan on the Cheap, Robin Robertson gives you a big bang for your buck with 150 exciting, mouthwatering recipes—all for just 50 to $2 per serving.
You'll find great options for savory soups and stews, satisfying salads, hearty noodle dishes, first-class casseroles, slow-cooker favorites, quick-and-simple skillet dinners, plus vegan versions of classic foods like pizza, burgers, and sandwiches. Even if you cook every night, these recipes won't let you run out of ideas any time soon!
And, Vegan on the Cheap provides plenty of tips and strategies for everyday savings:
- Manage your food budget with handy cost-per-serving icons for each recipe
- Make your own meat alternatives like seitan at a fraction of the cost of packaged proteins
- Prepare and stockpile big batches of ingredients that will keep for weeks
- Cook it once but enjoy it twice with "Two-for-One Meals"
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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.
The first few cookbooks I acquired to try to adapt to this new way of eating offered either very bland recipes, completely unfamiliar foods that made the transition difficult, or extremely complicated recipes that I rarely had time to prepare or that required expensive or hard-to-find ingredients.
This is the first book I've found that offers tasty, delicious recipes that are quick and easy to make and don't require enormous expenditure. At least a few times per week, I turn to this book. The Curried Tofu Wraps are delicious, and they only take a few minutes to make. It's easy to tweak toe spices or additions to suit your taste(I like to use cilantro instead of parsley). I used some of the recipe for dinner and saved the leftovers for a fast, convenient lunch the next day. The Better Bean Burgers are excellent as well; I topped a green salad with a warm burger, and added some chopped red onion and avocado and some dressing. I also made the Coconut Curry Rice, adding a pound of steamed asparagus in 2" pieces to make a one-dish meal.
The seitan recipe practically makes itself, it's that easy! You literally throw a few things together, the seitan takes shape before your eyes, then you sit back and do nothing (or something else!) while it simmers in broth, making enough seitan to use some and freeze some. Seitan is one of the vegetarian staples that I have had the hardest time adjusting to; it's considered a meat substitute because of its texture, yet I had difficulty accepting the idea of eating a wheat product on a wheat bun, for example, or with pasta. I just knew it was wheat, not meat. But the Smoky Joes made with shredded seitan and lots of chipotle were exceptionally good and easily "passed" for meat. I have the Smoky Red Bean Chili simmering delectably in the crockpot now, and I added some shredded seitan to that as well; I know my kids won't realize it's not meat! Not that every vegan is trying to come up with meat substitutes by any means, but since the rest of my family wants to continue eating meat, it's nice to not always have to make myself a separate dish.
I will definitely check out the other cookbooks by this author, though this one offers so much it will be a long time before I exhaust its possibilities!
You will find lots of staple recipes that are easy to make again and again. There is also a recipe for making your own seitan, since it can get expensive. Usually any seitan recipe I sub with tofu anyway, but it is good to know how to make your own seitan if you prefer something "meatier".
This book can make becoming vegan seem effortless-- and it does save you money! The recipes are broken down into cost per serving, there are money saving tips as well as menu planning. I love the "Splurge a little" notes with each recipe to add a little extra flair to each dish if you feel like splurging a little:).
*A little side note.. there is a make your own mayo recipe in here, however the best vegan mayo recipe ever can be found in Vegan Fusion (A more advanced vegan recipe book.. but also amazing)!