Friday, December 31, 2010

Farmer's Market & Black Bean Tamales

What can be made using this week's sales?  'Tis the season for tamales, especially since corn masa, corn husks, and vegetables are on sale.

I used recipes from Terry Romero's book, Viva Vegan!: 200 Authentic and Fabulous Recipes for Latin Food Lovers.  I also have a pot similar to the Farberware Classic Stack 'N Steam 3-Quart Saucepot and Steamer.  For the Farmer's Market tamales, I used corn masa, vegetable shortening from Food4Less (aka Foodsco, part of the Kroger chain; under $5 for 3 lb. tub), frozen vegetables, baked kabocha squash from an Asian market (~60c/lb.), capers from Trader Joe's (less than $3 a glass jar), boiled and peeled potatoes (less than $1/10 lb. sack when on sale at Ralphs or El Super), and my 99c store spices. 

For the black bean tamales, I used Emilio's black beans from the 99c store, as well as leftover boiled potatoes and frozen vegetables, diced green peppers from the 99c store, canned corn, corn masa, and spices.
 Celebrate the new year with some homemade tamales!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Deals of the week- 12/29/10

What's on sale this week? Most of the grocery stores I frequent have new sales starting each Wednesday. I will attempt to regularly share items of interest and recipes relevant to these items with you.

Ralphs (membership card required- free to join)
  • Silk soy & almond milk $2.50/64 oz.
Big Saver
  • cauliflower 50 cents/lb.
  • Quaker oatmeal $2.50/42 oz.
  • mustard and collard greens 50 cents/bunch
  • Sun Vista black or pinto beans $1/29-30 oz. can
  • Maseca corn masa $1.78/4.4 lb. (though I've seen a price as low as $1.48, this is an ok deal)
  • Kroger value frozen vegetables 98c/16 oz.
Bestway (no website, in CA, not to be confused with VA chain)
  • roma tomatoes 33c/lb.
  • oranges 6 lbs/$1
  • golden delicious apples 33c/lb
  • med. yams 20c/lb.
  • bananas 33c/lb.
  • lemons 33c/lb.
  • bosc pears 50c/lb.
El Super (website not up yet)
  • Fuji apples 33c/lb.
  • Asian pear 33c/each
  • corn husks $2.47/10 oz.
  • carrots 25c/lb. (occasionally 20c/lb)
  • Special Value frozen veggies 89c/lb.
If you've never visited some of these places, Google the nearest location and pay a visit for some deals!

Stay tuned for something I've made using something on sale this week.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Although you can get hummus for under $3 for a small tub at Trader Joe's, it is nice to be able to customize your own hummus, not to mention save money by making large batches.  Last week, I found Arrowhead Mills Sesame Tahini, Organic, 16 oz. at two 99c stores.  It was hiding near the dried fruit and ice cream cone "miscellaneous food" section in the front right corner of one store and next to the jams and jellies at the other store.  Emilio's 29 oz. can of garbanzo beans is often found in the canned food section at three of the stores I've visited.  Lemons are commonly found at one of the four 99c stores I frequent, and cumin and paprika are regular finds at most 99c stores.  Thus, it was time to make hummus!

Putting all of this together in an Oster 10-Speed Blender - White (that I got at Target on Black Friday last year for <$20) along with Crisco canola oil (on sale from El Super for $1.99), Morton salt (50 cents or even less at El Super when on sale), water, and pepper (from Walgreens for 50 cents when on sale), I had some delicious hummus ready in half an hour.  Note, I abhor garlic and like my hummus just fine without it.  Hummus is no good without Arabian flat bread, which is also a regular find at the 99c store!  This sure beats the sticker shock I got from pita bread being over $1 at a Trader Joe's in the Pacific NW, when at the same time it was under 90 cents at a Northern California Trader Joe's.  This was a few years ago, as I am aware that the Northern California Trader Joe's now sells pita bread for over $1. 

Here are some of the raw ingredients (all from 99c store, except paprika from Big Lots for $1):
And here is the end product:

The recipe came from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.  I got this for a steal from Amazon.  The book is almost $10 more expensive at Border's (unless you have a 30% or 50% off coupon, available during this past holiday shopping season).  If you can't afford to shell out $17.99 for a cook book, you can borrow it from the public library, if available, and copy the recipes onto index cards.  I have found that owning the book is valuable for having access to the index, which allows you to quickly look up every recipe that requires a particular ingredient that you want to use.  All my favorite recipes are from Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero, so I will often refer to their books.

If you can get your hands on the ingredients, enjoy some fresh hummus...yum.

Favorite Stores

The economy continues to lag, so saving money is still in vogue.  My favorite discount store is the 99 cent store, a chain found in California, Arizona, Texas, and Nevada.  If you are lucky enough to live near one, you should find my posts helpful for spotting fortuitous finds.  If you are not familiar with the chain, they have fresh produce, a freezer section, cooking utensils, and other knickknacks.  In fact, a photo of one of their stores is featured in a new museum in France!  Some of my crowning achievement findings include: Earthbound Farms 5 oz. organic baby argula and 9 oz. baby spinach, soy chorizo, kalamata olives, asparagus, raspberries, and spices galore!  I have found that the stock can vary from store to store, so I frequent four locations, each of which is within 5 miles of home.

Other stores that I frequent for deals include Food4Less, Big Lots, Fresh & Easy, and Trader Joe's.  I also go to Hispanic, Asian and Indian supermarkets.  On occasion for particular items, I will buy from Amazon or the mom & pop health food store downtown.  I will post deals from all of the above in case you live near any of these locations. 

Now if you don't live near any of these places, you may find useful the photos of ingredients or finished products from my cooking so that you can learn what and what not to do.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Welcome to Dollar Store Veg!

I am inspired to share my love of dollar stores & good veg*n food after having read about an unemployed vegetarian who can no longer afford regular trips to Trader Joe's.  Although I am fortunately employed, it was not long ago that I was a starving student.  I recall being on my own for the first time and having to learn food prices and how to cook vegetarian meals on a tight time and money budget.  What's a good price for Fuji apples?  Where can I get cheap soy milk?  Whether you are a clueless student, frugal vegetarian, or down on your economic luck, I hope to save you from the trial and error that I endured by sharing my bargain finds and recipe insights with you. 

Check back frequently for the latest discounted items I've found- you know you have to scavenge- and for photos of the scrumptious creations I've cobbled together using my treasure trove.  May you be inspired to cook affordable veg*n meals!