One of the recurring themes of Vegan on the Cheap is that you can save a ton of money through DIY (Do It Yourself). Now, this makes sense to me in the way that I understand I will make my money go further by cooking most nights and only dining out on a monthly basis (if that frequently!), and I know I save money by taking my leftovers to work for my lunch. Everyone who has paid any attention to the money-saving tips and advice articles that have been quite abundant in recent years is aware of the way convenience foods like bagged salad suck the money from your bank account. I think we've become so used to other convenience foods that it hasn't even occurred to us that they are convenience foods. This includes things like: condiments, lunch "meat," baked, flavored tofu, Tofurky sausages. Although Isa has several awesome sausage recipes in Vegan Brunch, it still seemed more like a special occasion "Hey, look what I did just for you" kind of thing, meant to impress more than to save money.
The entire first section of VotC teaches you how to make everything from a two-pound seitan loaf (which can be diced for stews, roasted in a slow-cooker as Pot Roast, or thinly sliced for sandwiches) to simple things like mayonnaise or stock/broth. The rest of the recipes usually refer back to this section for one or more ingredients. Last week, I was a bit resistant to the "extra work" that appeared to create, but tonight's experience just might have changed my mind.
Tonight's dinner was Peanut Noodle Salad, which involved some fresh veggies, noodles I already had on hand, tofu, and a DIY peanut sauce that was so good I could only believe I made it because....well....I made it. Whole Foods carries a store brand peanut sauce that I love and have been relying on since the very first vegetarian meal I prepared in my first solo apartment in this beautiful city. If someone blindfolded me and had me taste that prepared sauce and then Robin's sauce, prepared with the two hands busy typing this post, I would not be able to tell you which was which. I consider that worth the price of the book alone, because I had all the ingredients necessary for the sauce on hand, and I usually do, where I had been paying over $4 a bottle for the prepared one.
In other news, I can honestly say I spent at least 30% less on my groceries this week. Just some food for thought...