DIY Vegan Mixes to Keep on Hand | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Seventeen

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?

My Favorite Cookbook: The Homemade Vegan Pantry

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 12: Tell us about your favourite cookbook!

I’ve been waiting for this prompt all month just so I can rave about Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples! When the book was published and I began reading reviews, I knew I needed it on my shelf. And then, serendipitously, Steven’s mom gave it to him as a birthday gift in August! Needless to say, I quickly appropriated it for my own. (To Steven’s benefit, of course, since he reaps the rewards of my pantry staple-making!) How do I love this book? Let me count the ways.

  1. The design. This is a beautiful cookbook. The layout and photography make me salivate, and not just because all the food is so good. The homey, down-to-earth styling is a perfect fit for the topic of this book. I love the subdued color palette, too.
  2. The concept. I’ve always been enamored with the idea of a home-grown and homemade pantry. Making one’s own staples is budget-friendly, eco-friendly, and downright fun-friendly! Although not everyone might agree, I find it enormously rewarding. Miyoko takes this concept and makes it accessible, which is crucial. The vegan diet is often viewed as one of privilege, and the [arguably unnecessary] act of making one’s own staples smacks of too much empty time and too much money to spend on “weird” ingredients. But Miyoko starts with the basics and builds on them, and for the most part, her recipes don’t require expensive or “weird” ingredients. (With a few exceptions — fermented tofu liquid, I’m lookin’ at you!) She takes pains to make these recipes simple and doable, hitting back at the notion that only obsessive foodies would have the time or the inclination to make basics like soymilk and mustard.
  3. The recipes. The design and the concept would mean nothing if the recipes didn’t stand on their own. Happily, they do!

Schinner Pantry TOC

Truthfully, I’ve only skimmed the surface of the recipes. I have grand dreams of cooking my way through the book, though. And, importantly, just reading through this book has given me more confidence to try my hand at pantry staples I’ve avoided in the past. Here’s what I’ve made so far.

  • Almond Milk, p. 54 (and my own Simple Vanilla Oat Milk)
  • Unpork, p. 116
  • Classic Pancake and Biscuit Mix, p. 158
  • Biscuits from said mix (they were amazing!)
  • Sausage Spice, p. 125
  • Blueberry jam, inspired by her easy cheat method

…okay, it’s a short list. But everything has been excellent. The Unpork is incredibly easy to whip up. It’s just another take on seitan, but the pulling and stretching method gives it a stringiness reminiscent of pork. That evocative name — Unpork, very much not pork — is a great reminder of why I’m vegan. I Instagrammed this photo right after I made it.

Unpork Instagram

I met that big ol’ piggy at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary during their open house last month. A total sweetie!

The recipe yields a fair amount, so I immediately froze six big pieces. A few weeks later, I used them to make a BBQ “pulled pork” sandwich. It was so easy! I just thawed them a bit, sliced it very thin, and heated it up with some BBQ sauce. Yum yum!

BBQ Unpork

I love this cookbook so much that I’ve been known to take it to bed with me, just to flip through it before going to sleep. I’ve taken it on car rides, just to have something to look at. I can’t get enough of it! And I’m excited to start stocking my pantry with even more homemade staples.

If you have this book, what are your favorite recipes?

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