Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, Gabriella Paiella shows us how to make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety.
Today: Keep costs down by ditching the meat and dairy, even if just temporarily.
It was recently reported that Usher quit his vegan diet because he discovered that flying around a vegan personal chef to prepare all his meals was costing him too much money. (Usher, if you read this column: No shit. But I hope you fired your chef by serenading him with "Burn.")
Veganism, more than any other way of eating, has garnered the reputation of being solely for those rolling in disposable income. I blame the $9 pints of vegan ice cream and the green juices. I blame the pre-made kale chips that cost as much as five bunches of kale. I blame Usher.
More: Save the $9 and make vegan ice cream at home.
As a rule of thumb, I eat entirely vegan during the work week. This has allowed me to keep my food costs down without ever having to overthink it. If I'm not blowing my budget on cheese or charcuterie I have plenty leftover -- not for $9 green juices, but for $9 wine (hey, you knew what you were getting into here).
Whether you want to save cash or are thinking about trying to abstain from animal products, here are some simple, cheap vegan dinners to get you started:
For pizza night, or every night: Asparagus and Arugula Pizza with Vegan Pesto
When you want a warm bowl of weeknight pasta: Pasta e Ceci (Make sure to use dried pasta, as fresh often contains eggs)
For the nights you're craving takeout, but broke: Citrus Ginger Tofu Salad with Buckwheat Soba Noodles
If you desperately need something to pair with a cold one after work: Vegetarian Arepas with Avocado and Plantains
When you want something that's meaty, but not meat: Tempeh Kebabs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce
For when the weather starts to cool down and you want something that sticks to your ribs, stat: Stewed Cranberry Beans with Kale
Because you know that sandwiches always make for a good dinner: Tempeh and Hummus Sandwiches
Do you have any go-to weeknight recipes that are vegan friendly? Tell us in the comments!