I remember grocery shopping when Caegan and I were first married. We were your typical young and poor couple. I was student teaching and Caegan worked as a bank teller. We were definitely not rolling in dough, but I remember those times as simple, fun, and happy.
Being on a very tight budget, I would make a game out of grocery shopping. I would try to see if I could make the grocery bill total less than the week before. I think one time I got down to $50 dollars to feed 2 people for one week before I drove myself crazy.
I want to show people that eating vegan on a tight budget can be done. These recipes are priced by serving. So I only price the part of the food used for a recipe. For example, a bag of lentils at HEB costs $1.32. But for this recipe I only used 1/2 cup, so the costs works out to be about $0.26. Regardless of your budget, there are a few products I recommended keeping around at all times:
- beans of all kinds (dry beans cost less, but take a little longer to prepare)
- vegetable broth
- spices (onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast, oregano, basil, rosemary, dill, salt, and pepper are my most used)
- frozen vegetables
- olive oil
If you come to my house, you will find all of these things. A misconception that comes with being vegan is that you have to buy high priced organic products from Whole Foods. Whole Foods can be great, but be cautious of this idea. You can read more about the USDA’s scam of organic labeling here. If you have a looser budget, I would encourage you to buy products based on the producer, not the label. Look for local farmer’s markets. You can even find people selling small batches of fruits and vegetables on Facebook market place and Craigslist. We are lucky to live in a city that has flourishing farmer’s markets and shops that support local businesses. If you’re looking for a local farmer’s market near you, the USDA (insert eye roll) has a directory of farmer’s markets throughout the nation.
Now that my rant about organic food and buying local is over, let’s move on to a more budget friendly topic. I wish I could tell you every single thing in my pantry and fridge come from farmers within a 10 mile radius of where I live, but that would be a lie. Some people are able to do this, but for most people it’s not realistic. Sometimes you’re a young, poor married couple who has a $50 budget for groceries. I’m here to tell you that that’s okay. It’s okay to buy the knock off brand at your local grocery store. It’s okay to buy frozen vegetables instead of fresh. It’s okay to buy non-organic. The important thing is that you are doing the best you can for yourself and our world. If I sat here and demanded that to be a vegan, you must buy local produce for every meal, I would not win over many people. Take this vegan journey in stride. Adopt small habits. Replacing one meat and dairy filled meal with a vegan one is a small step, but it has a huge impact on our world. Buying knock-off brands at a large chain grocery store for a vegan meal is better than not eating a vegan meal at all because you think your food must cost half of your paycheck.
Now for the food! The inspiration for this recipe came from two different places. My love of corned beef hash was the first one. Caegan gave me the idea to make a vegan corned beef hash. I found a recipe, gave it a shot, and it was actually pretty spot on to the meat-filled counterpart! But it had a lot of ingredients and prep work, and I wanted something simpler.
The second inspiration came from one of our favorite breakfast places in Austin, Kerbey Lane Cafe. This place is great! If you go to the South Lamar location, you’ll get a true Austin experience with some quirky servers and classic breakfast foods. We ate there a couple of days ago and I had these fantastic veggie “sausage” patties. They were to die for! So I tried to replicate them as best I could using things I already had at home. My recipe turned out to be nothing like Kerbey Lane’s, but they were still delicious!
Red Bean and Lentil Hash
Serves 2 at $1.33 per serving. The prices were taken from HEB, prices at other stores may vary.
1 red potato – $0.40 (depending on the size of your potato)
1 can or 15 oz. of kidney beans – $0.69
¼ cup of green onions – $0.25
2 tbsp (1 oz.) of nutritional yeast – $0.63
1 cup of cooked lentils – $0.26
3 cloves of garlic – $0.21
2 tbsp of olive oil – $0.23
The cost of these spices comes out to less than $0.01 because of the small measurements
2 tsp of onion powder
½ tsp of paprika
½ tsp of salt
2 tbsp of flour
- Cook lentils according to package directions.
- While lentils are cooking, peel and finely dice potatoes, about 1/2 inch cubes
- Chop 1/4 cup of green onions.
- Drain and rinse red beans. In a bowl, lightly mash beans with your hand by squeezing them. You want a 1:1 ration of mashed beans to whole beans. The mash should be able stick together.
- Once lentils are done cooking, combine potatoes, green onions, kidney beans, lentils, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion powder, paprika, salt, and flour in a bowl. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
- With clean hands, form 8 patties and place on a flat surface.
- Heat olive oil in a pan. Once olive oil is hot, place patties in the pan, careful to not over crowd the pan. Cook each side for about 2 minutes, or until very crispy. Serve immediately.
You can eat these as is, or add a side of vegetables, like green beans which will run you about $0.42 a cup, still keeping you well below $5. If you make this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram and Facebook so I can see your creations!