Week Three: Budget Week
This week, we’re going to prove once and for all that veganism is affordable!
Yesterday I got onto my [cruelty-free and vegan] soap box to talk about the privilege inherent in calling a vegan diet inexpensive. I certainly think it’s possible for many people to be vegan on a budget, and there are plenty of cookbooks and blogs that share inexpensive vegan recipes. In fact, I’ll be sharing a list of those resources later this week. But today, let’s talk about one tool you can keep in your pantry to save both time and money: DIY mixes!
Perhaps unsurprisingly — given how often I’ve blogged about this book in the past — Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry is my go-to source for mixes to make at home and keep on hand. My favorite is the classic biscuit and pancake mix (p. 158), a mix of flour, ground flax, sugar, salt, and baking powder that you can use for simple baked goods like waffles, pancakes, and biscuits. It’s super easy to mix up a big batch so you’re always ready to whip up waffles on a whim!
I only tried the well-crafted macaroni and cheese mix (p. 151) for the first time this summer, and I’ll admit that it wasn’t exactly love at first bite. The mix relies on ground cashew, nutritional yeast, and other spices, which you then cook up with some non-dairy milk for a ridiculously fast mac and cheese. The first time I tried it, I was disappointed: The sauce wasn’t creamy at all, and it was pretty bland. But that’s easily fixed: Now, when I make up the sauce, I reduce the amount of milk, add in a couple tablespoons of Earth Balance, and add a little more seasoning to taste.
Another great (print) resource for DIY mixes is Joni Marie Newman’s Vegan Food Gifts. I recipe tested for this book a million years ago, and I love its whole concept and aesthetic. While some of the recipes are intended to be made and gifted as a finished produce (chocolate bark, mini quick breads, granola, etc.), the book also includes plenty of DIY-style, just-add-water mixes: cheesy potato soup, cranberry muffins, pancakes, red beans and rice… there are tons!
I recognize that touting these mixes as money-saving options and then saying you need to buy a cookbook to get the recipes is a little counter-productive! The good news: You can find plenty of similar mixes online. Here is a non-exhaustive list.
- Vegan mac and cheese powder (mix). This DIY mix from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken is both nut-free and uses pretty standard pantry ingredients! (I bet you could leave out the lemon pepper with no ill effects.)
- DIY spice blends. Rather than shelling out on small pre-made spice blends, make your own! The cheapest place I’ve found to buy spices (i.e. the individual ingredients for these blends) is at my local Asian market, but your mileage may vary.
- DIY vegan hot chocolate mix. This recipe from The Full Helping uses either regular cocoa powder or cacao powder. While I have no desire for summer to end, I must admit I’m looking forward to hot chocolate weather…
- Classic pancake and biscuit mix. Well, hey — here’s Miyoko’s recipe, shared on Vegan Yack Attack with permission from the publisher! You’re in luck! :)
- DIY popcorn seasonings. Rather than splash out for an overpriced plastic bag of flavored vegan popcorn, why not pop your own kernels and top them with a homemade seasoning blend?! The list I’ve linked to here has plenty of options. I keep jars of homemade Dorito-flavored seasoning and sour cream and onion seasoning in the pantry.
What other DIY mixes do you like?