Friday, August 15, 2014
Tip #1: Check the price per unit. Whether the unit is ounces, grams, milliliters, or whatever, you'll only save money if the bulk price is a smaller price per unit. If you're at a bulk store like Costco, this can be a little more difficult, because they don't have regular sized items to compare to. (Though, you can always pull them up on a smart phone.) I know there were several times I went to a bulk store and found a product I normally buy in regular sizes, only to realize that I wasn't really saving any money by purchasing 5 times as much of it. If you're buying a bulk item at a regular store, you can often compare it to a similar, pre-packaged product.
Tip #2: Buy what you like. Bulk purchases aren't always the best time to try something new. You're running the risk of getting stuck with a whole lot of something if you don't end up liking it. If you're willing to take that risk, then that's up to you. For example, I've found gluten-free, vegan veggie burgers at Costco before, and they're pretty good. I had never seen that brand before, so I didn't know if I was going to like it, but I just decided that I'd find a way to make myself eat them even if I didn't like them. (Even though, as it turns out, I did like them.)
Tip #3: Don't buy too much. When purchasing in bulk, make sure you'll have enough space to store what you don't immediately use. For example, have some sort of a dry, sealed container to keep your nutritional yeast in. It won't keep well in the little plastic bags the grocery store provides. (My cats apparently really like nutritional yeast, and they can easily tear those bags open.) I sometimes go crazy when I'm at the grocery store, and one time in particular, I ran out of freezer space before I could fit in all of the bulk veggie burgers. I put some of them in my fridge, but I couldn't quite eat them fast enough, and a whole case of them went bad. If you are getting so much that you can't use it before it spoils, you're not saving money, you're wasting it.
Alright. Hopefully those ideas can help guide your bulk-shopping. Next, I have a few ideas on what to purchase in bulk. If you're at a bulk store, and you can find bulk products that you like, knock yourself out. But, here are a few staples that you should always keep on hand.
Product #1: Quinoa. Quinoa is a seed that is most often eaten as a grain. It is one of the only plant-foods to have complete protein. That means that it contains all of the protein variations that people need to be healthy. Quinoa is a very versatile food that can be eaten in salads, baked in foods, used as a flour, eaten plain, etc. There are so many yummy and creative ways to eat it. It doesn't have a very strong flavor, so it can be added to just about anything, and it can be a great part of any meal. (Even breakfast.) Quinoa is basically the seed equivalent of tofu. I have purchased it prepackaged at a bulk store, and I have also purchased it in a bulk bag from a regular store, but I eat it a lot, so I always buy it in bulk. (Bonus tip: Costco has pre-washed bulk-packaged quinoa, which makes preparation a lot easier.)
Product # 2: Nutritional Yeast. I haven't seen a pre-packaged bulk bag of nutritional yeast, though I know you can sometimes buy cases of the canisters of it. I haven't done the math on that though, so I don't know if it's a good deal. I normally buy nutritional yeast in scoop-it-yourself bulk bags at Whole Foods or Earth Fare. Nutritional yeast is another great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, (or anyone really,) and I use it in a variety of recipes. I would definitely recommend keeping it on hand.
Product # 3: Dried Beans. For me, I always go for chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and black beans. Those are the absolute best in my opinion. They're very versatile, they store well, and they aren't too hard to cook. (As a bonus, there are several ways to make soup broth with the water you re-hydrate them in, which gives you a little more value for your money.) Beans are a great source of protein for vegetable based diets.
Of course, these aren't the only products I purchase in bulk. I also have bulk oatmeal to either eat as oatmeal, or make into flour. I buy spinach in bulk sometimes, and peanut butter, (I would totally buy sunflower seed butter in bulk if I could find it at a bulk store,) and other assortments of fruits and veggies. (Those can be a risk sometimes with a mad dash to eat them all before they spoil.)
Anyway, I hope this has been helpful! If you have any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them. If you think I should blog about another specific aspect of making a vegan lifestyle more affordable, let me know, and I'll get right on it! Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment! Thank you so much to all my lovely readers! Happy shopping!
Thursday, August 14, 2014
One of the biggest concerns that people frequently tell me, and one of the main reasons people hesitate to go vegan is that sometimes vegan food can just be downright expensive. (Now, I know there are tons of cheap recipes in the Vegan College Cookbook, but sometimes, it's still a tad expensive.) But even if the money isn't a problem for you, it never hurts to have more of it right? So, I'm going to give you 5 tips and recommendations for how you can get the vegan products that you want, and have a bit more money when you're done.
My first tip is perhaps a bit obvious, but always check for coupons! Alternative milk products always have coupons out. Brands like Silk, So Delicious, and others have lots of coupons available all the time. Normally. you can find them just by doing a quick search on the internet. Other times, grocery stores print out coupons with your receipts, so hang on to those. I frequently get coupons for veggie burgers that way, because they give you coupons based on what you already buy. The best part is, frequently, you can stack coupons with other deals and savings, especially if it's a manufacturer's coupon. If you've gone to the store, and forgotten to check for coupons, you can normally pull the coupons up on some sort of mobile device, so you can access them really easily.
My next tip is use the Ibotta app.
When I first heard about this app, I thought it sounded a bit too good to be true, but it's completely legit. Ibotta has cash rebates for specific products and stores. I primarily use it for groceries, though, they have rebates for lots of other categories like clothes, beauty products, pet supplies, restaurants, electronics, etc. Many of those categories have rebates for a certain amount back when you spend another certain amount, which is great if you were going to shop there anyway. But anyway, back to groceries. Ibotta has a lot of different products that can be purchased from a lot of different stores. They have rebates for stores like Walmart, Costco, Bi-lo, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and more. They products they offer rebates for changes, but they often have rebates for So Delicious, Enjoy Life, Peace Cereal, and several other vegan-friendly brands. Sometimes they also have rebates for fruits and veggies, and the brand doesn't matter. One nice thing is that you are earning the rebates on top of whatever sales or coupons you use to buy the products, which means you can get a phenomenal value for these products. Also, as the app advertises, you are rewarded with cash, not just with more coupons. You can send your rebates basically straight to your bank account, which is super-convenient. And, it's really easy to rack up a lot of cash from rebates. Honestly though, one of the most amazing things about this app, is that it lets you benefit from teamwork. Sure, you can be saving money all by yourself. But, they have things like teamwork bonuses as well. Your team is made up of any people you refer or are referred by and / or any people you know connected social media who also use the app. In any given month, when you and anyone in your team redeem any rebates, it goes toward the teamwork bonus. There are multiple levels of the bonus, but basically, when you and your friends are earning money, you earn even more money. (Of course, these can be completed by yourself, but it's easier to complete them with friends.) If you're new to Ibotta, and would like to be in my team, use the referral code "arbiza" when you sign up, or send me a message using the Contact Form on my blog, and be sure to include your email and a note saying you're interested in an invite to this app. You'll probably get a ton of money just from all the rebates I've redeemed, just FYI. Obviously, not all the products they offer rebates for are vegan, but you don't have to buy them. So, it's okay. Ibotta has a minimum cashout of $5, but that's really easy to earn.
Tip # 3 is use the Checkout 51 app.
This app is similar to Ibotta, but not exactly the same. For starters, it's really only for groceries. It's a little bit easier to use, and it doesn't matter what store you buy the products at. However, there aren't any kind of team bonuses on Checkout 51, and there aren't quite as many different rebates available. But, Checkout 51 frequently has a lot of rebates for fresh veggies and fruits, and a lot of their other rebates aren't brand-specific. That means that when they have a rebate for bread, you could get gluten-free, vegan bread, and they'd still give you the rebate. Checkout 51 also has some rebates for vegan brands though, like Earth Balance. Checkout 51 has a minimum cashout of $20, which might take you a little bit longer, but it certainly isn't hard to get. Checkout 51 also has a weekly drawing for $500 that you qualify for if you spend at least $60 on any single shopping trip during the week. (Trust me, $60 sounds like a lot, but it's way too easy to do.) Sometimes the rebates on Checkout 51 overlap with Ibotta, which means you get rewarded twice! Twice is nice.
Another tip is to use the Receipt Hog app.
This app rewards you for groceries (and also convenience store trips,) but unlike Checkout 51 and Ibotta, it doesn't even matter what you buy! Any groceries from anywhere earn you coins on Receipt Hog. The more money you spent on a trip, the more coins you earn, but you get rewards no matter how much you spent. You can also get spins on the Receipt Hog "slot machine" for every receipt you upload after uploading at least one receipt per week for 5 weeks straight. You won't always get a reward for this, but you have the opportunity to earn a few extra coins. You can redeem coins either for a $5 check in the mail, or a $5 Amazon gift card. It takes a little bit more time to earn the rewards on this app, but you can get rewards for whatever you want from whatever store basically. On top of all that, you can use this app to get rewards in combination with the other apps for sure, because it doesn't matter what you bought, or where. If you'd like an invite to this app, send me a message using my Contact Form, and let me know you are interested in an invite to this app.
My last tip for today is use the Punchcard app.
Punchcard is one of many apps that allows you to earn mPOINTS. Your mPOINTs can be redeemed for a variety of products and giftcards, though the absolute best value is the $1 Amazon giftcard, FYI. (Other apps include a fitness tracking app called Nexercise, a super-fun, How To Train Your Dragon game called Dragons: Rise of Berk, and for iPhone users, you can also earn mPOINTS with the MyPlate app by Livestrong.) Punchcard rewards you for uploading pictures of your receipts from grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and actually just about anywhere. (I'm including this app though because you can get rewarded for grocery receipts.) Again, you can use the same receipts to earn rewards on this app as you could on all the others. (Plus some.) When you upload a picture, you get a chance to spin their little "wheel of fortune" which will give you a certain amount of mPOINTS. You can earn bonus mPOINTS by sharing to a social media website. (You can always immediately delete the post.) When you go to claim your mPOINTS, you are frequently given even more bonus opportunities, like taking quick surveys, watching short videos, viewing some other sort of ad, or downloading and launching a promoted app, (which you can always immediately uninstall.) It's really easy to earn enough mPOINTS for a $1 amazon card especially if you use multiple apps that earn mPOINTS (Have I mentioned that the How To Train Your Dragon app is super-fun?), though you can only get 1 of any given reward per week. This app is a little bit less exciting than the others because you can't just get cash from it, but like I said, if you are getting those $1 Amazon giftcards every week, they add up. If you're a poor college student like me, that means slightly cheaper textbooks, (which turn into real money when you re-sell them at the end of the class.) Or you can also, you know, buy just about anything on amazon, like new gadgets or clothes, all of which are important.
Alright everyone. Thanks for reading, everyone! I know this was a bit of a longer post, and I know I recommended a lot of apps. But seriously, they don't take that much time, and they can help save you lots of money on products you'd be buying anyway. I really hope you found these tips helpful. If you know of any other apps that help you save money on groceries or other vegan / cruelty-free products, PLEASE let me know in the comments. I will love you forever!
Monday, June 30, 2014
The recipe calls for:
- 1 (8-ounce) bag vegan chicken or steak strips
- 1 (16-ounce) jar salsa
- 1 (15-ounce) can black or pinto beans
- 1 (10-ounce) package Mexican-style vegan cheese, grated
- 1 package (10-inch) tortillas
- 1 bag boil-in-bag brown or white rice (optional)
Friday, June 20, 2014
Thursday, June 19, 2014
So what you will need:
- a regularly-sized package your choice of pasta, cooked (gluten-free if needed)
- 2 cups unsweetened alternative milk (I prefer flax milk)
- 2 tbs. corn starch
- 2 tbs. vegan butter
- garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste
- 1 small package of frozen broccoli, thawed (you can use broccoli with other veggies mixed in)
- 1 package of vegan chicken, chopped to bite-size (Beyond Meat is good for gluten-free people)
- vegan cheese, parmesan or mozzarella
- microwave-safe pan that will hold all the pasta and also fit in the microwave, greased
- large microwave-safe bowl
- In microwave-safe bowl, melt vegan butter into alternative milk.
- Add cornstarch to the butter and milk, and whisk until evenly mixed.
- Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Mix thawed broccoli and chopped vegan chicken with the cream sauce.
- Spread cooked pasta evenly over the bottom of the pan.
- Pour chicken, broccoli, and sauce over the pasta.
- Sprinkle on desired amount of vegan cheese.
- Microwave for 10 minutes on high or until veggies are hot.
- Allow to cool to an edible temperature, and enjoy!
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Monday, June 2, 2014
What you will need:
vegan taco filling (as in fake meat)
vegan sour cream
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Friday, May 23, 2014
1. Zen Pudding
This pudding if so rich, you'll forget you're a poor college student. Or maybe that's just me. This stuff is really great though. I totally enjoyed it. I had to make myself ration it out, or I would have eaten the whole pack of four in one sitting. They have several flavors, including chocolate, vanilla, chocolate and vanilla, and chocolate almond milk (depicted above.) It is a tiny bit more on the expensive side though. While I really enjoyed it, I probably won't buy it often, especially when there are several Vegan College Cookbook recipes for chocolate pudding, such as Break-Up Pudding! If you make the pudding yourself, there's more to go around. So, my final verdict is: it tastes great, but the price is not right.
2. The Piping Gourmets Whoopie Pies
Alright, well I'm going to wrap this post up now, because I want to go eat another whoopie pie after talking about them so much. I hope these product reviews were helpful! If you have any products to suggest for review, leave a comment saying what I should try!
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
So, as my readers probably remember, I had been blogging a cook-through of PETA's Vegan College Cookbook. You may also remember my new posts getting scarce to nonexistent. Apologies. I really do want to finish what I started with that. But frankly, I was starting to get a little bored with it. The recipes were great! I enjoy them! I enjoy writing! The only problem is, things were getting to be a lot of the same. I mean, the food was different, but every time, I'd say "Hi people! I made this thing to eat! This is what you need! This is what I used! Photo! Delicious! Yeah!" And that was getting boring to write. And the book has 275 recipes to write about. That's a lot. So I realized my lack-of-motivation problem was stemming from a lack of diversity.
But I'm not a quitter! So I've come up with a plan to make my blog more exciting! I'm going to add in a new series or two, (maybe more,) to get my creativity flowing. So far I'm thinking about perusing one for cruelty-free cosmetics. This could be tutorials, product recommendations, tips, tricks, whatever. I was also thinking about doing one for awesome food-related finds. Frankly, as easy as TVCC recipes are too make, i just don't always feel like cooking. So these finds could be awesome ingredients, or it could also be amazing things that I never realized existed! (Some of the things I've found will really impress you.) I'd also love to write about fashion, and how vegans cam still be amazingly trendy. This one is near and dear to me. I'm a fashion major. I might also start blogging original recipes more, or improvements of recipes. I'm also very open to suggestions. I'd really love to hear what you people want me to write about. I don't want to disappoint!
Again. I apologize for going M.I.A. but I think this is exactly what I need to get out of this stupid rut I'm in. I'm really excited about this! Keep a look out for updates very soon!