Sunday, April 15, 2012


For several weeks I've been contemplating adopting a vegan diet. Not permanently. Well, maybe. I think I just miss home. And we need to start saving more money. 

So last night I informed Rich about my plans for a vegan menu for the week. He almost smiled. 

"And I want to keep the grocery tab below $50," I added. 

He got that, "guess I'll be sneaking through the Taco Bell drive through," look in his eyes. 

Don't get me wrong; he is very supportive of all of my culinary adventures. He was patient when I tried an eat local project last spring, and we ate nothing but lemons and pecans for a week. He even tolerated my brief raw food phase when I interviewed raw food chef Ani Phyo for the Asian Reporter two years ago.

So I took inventory of our refrigerator (read: thoroughly cleaned it for the first time in five months) and our pantry. We have plenty of fresh herbs, beans, rice and pasta, both silken and firm tofu, and an endless array of oils, vinegar and spices. We also have some animal products remaining from last week: eggs, feta cheese, brie and smoked mozzarella. I would feel like a sellout for using these in my menu planning, but this isn't a religion. And if saving money is at least part of the goal, it makes no sense to throw out perfectly good food.

I began my shopping trip at the Commissary. As I set everything onto the conveyor belt to check out, the woman behind me quipped that she felt guilty for the things in her basket given all of the health foods I was purchasing. We have such a funny relationship with food, don't we? 

A little over $23 later, I walked out of the Commissary with about half of what I needed and contemplated exactly how much the exchange rate was going to cripple my budget. Fortunately, the local Sainsbury's has amazing prices and quality, especially on produce where I found the remaining items for 20GBP, about $32. 

Grand total: $55.20. This should be interesting. Tonight: eggplant involtini with the feta I already had and a vegan chocolate mousse. 

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