One Pot Pasta and Vegan Parmesan Cheese, $0.83 for dinner

Being vegan doesn’t have to be expensive- but it also doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. In my previous entries, in attempts to be super frugal, I’ve made every part of the meal. From cooking bulk beans from scratch to making fresh rolls. But let’s be honest, most people don’t have the time or the energy to make fresh bread every single night (I certainly don’t). Further, as someone who doesn’t own a dishwasher, I know well that cooking a big meal is not nearly as tiring as cleaning up after a big meal.

So here’s a quick, vegan meal that will only dirty a cutting board, a knife, a pot, a spoon, and some bowls and forks. It’s based on a recipe from the Minimalist Baker. I found their recipe because I happened to have an eggplant and mushrooms in the fridge, but the veggies in this recipe could really be replaced with anything (zucchini, mushroom, broccoli would be pretty great, for instance).

To make one pot veggie pasta, pick whatever veggies are cheap that day, saute them up, remove them from the pot (put them in your future dinner bowl to make one less dish!), boil the pasta in the pasta sauce and water until al dente, stir back in veggies, serve and eat. Simple!

Enjoy this pasta dish with some vegan parmesan cheese and a nice glass of chianti (or seltzer in a wine glass…)


1 Bowl of Pasta: $0.71
1 Tablespoon Vegan Parmesan Cheese: $0.12
Total: $0.83

Leaves $9.17 per person for wine 🙂

1 16oz box of pasta, $1.00
1 24oz jar of pasta sauce, $1.00
~32oz of water, $0.00
1 small eggplant, $0.75
~10 mushrooms, $1.00
1 jalapeno, $0.06
5 cloves garlic, $0.10
salt and pepper to taste, $0.03
3 tbsp olive oil: $0.27
Total: $3.94
Per bowl (makes 6): $0.71


  1. Chop up eggplant into bite size pieces, put the pieces into a pot with the oil, and cover with some salt. Saute until they start to soften.
  2. Slice the mushrooms and add to the pot. While the mushrooms start to soften, add some minced garlic and jalapeno.
  3. Remove the veggies from the pot. Don’t bother rinsing out the pot (you’re adding those veggies back in there, anyway!)
  4. Add one jar of pasta sauce to the pot. Then fill the jar up with water, shake, and add that. Finally add about a third of a jar more of water.
  5. Add a bunch more garlic, salt, and pepper.
  6. Add the pasta and bring to a simmer. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring very often (it will stick to the bottom if you don’t!)
  7. Once the pasta is cooked, add back in the veggies. Stir everything together and let cook for another minute or so to get the veggies warmed up again.
  8. Serve with vegan parmesan cheese.

parmesantitle Ingredients
1 cup raw cashews, $1.89
¼ cup nutritional yeast, $0.64
1 tablespoon salt, $0.02
Total: $2.55
Per Tablespoon: $0.12


  1. Blend everything together until it makes a fine powder.

Baked-not-Fried Potato Pancakes with Vegan Sour Cream, $0.67

We begin our story on Sunday afternoon. The sun did as it tended to in San Diego, California: blast its beams down through cloudless skies onto the city, cooled to an even 75 degrees by the ocean breeze. A perfect day, as per usual. But instead of going out and enjoying the weather, our hero found herself sitting, legs sprawled across the coach and computer placed on her lap, playing yet another episode of a mediocre-at-best sitcom.

She had one plan for her day off- grocery shopping. The contents of her fridge had been almost completely depleted over the previous week, leaving her with nothing to cook for dinner but potatoes, beer, dried nuts and beans, and condiments.

“One more episode,” she’d tell herself. But 23 minutes later, she found herself still in her underwear, pressing play on the next episode of “New Girl.” Eventually she had to come to terms with the fact that there would be no point in her near future where she would be wearing pants, and she would have to start making a plan to eat what was already in her apartment.

So our recipe today is brought to you by the back and bottom of my refrigerator. Also, because you bake the potato pancakes instead of fry them, there really isn’t too much active time making them. Perfect for a lazy day when all you have in your fridge is potatoes.


3 Large Potato Pancakes, $0.38-$1.52
¼ cup Sour Cream, $0.29
Total: $0.67-$1.81
Calories per plate: 464-489

The Poor Man’s Blue Moon: $0.81


Thank you to Sarahfai at Addicted to Veggies for this sour cream recipe. I was a little too quick adding the water to the food processor, so the sour cream never got as thick as I had hoped, but the flavor was still good! The leftovers turned into delicious fake alfredo. The cashews I got on sale for $5.99 a pound (down from their usual $8.99) so that makes this cashew cream a bit cheaper than expected. Aren’t sales just great?

1.5 cup raw cashews, $2.83
2 tbsp + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, $0.06
½ tsp salt, $0.01
1 ¼ cup water, $0.00
Total: $2.90
Price per quarter cup serving: $0.29
Calories per serving: 79


  1. Soak the cashews for a few hours (Ideally 6-8, but I only did 2. The cream will be a bit more grainy if you soak for less time).
  2. Drain the water and add the cashews, vinegar, and salt to the food processor. Blend for about 2 minutes, until a sticky paste is formed.
  3. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the food processor, but leave the paste in there.
  4. While the processor is running, slowly add the water ¼ cup at a time. Do the first one in the first minute, and then add the rest of the water in ¼ cup intervals every 30 seconds.
  5. After you’ve used all the water, let the cashews blend for a minute, then chill it in the fridge for at least an hour for it to thicken.


I used organic, glass jarred sauerkraut in this recipe (because it was leftover in the fridge) so the price is higher than it has to be. The 10 pound bag of potatoes for $1.49 makes up for it though, right? Diced onions could be subbed in for the expensive kraut.

1 pound potatoes, $0.15
1 tbsp ground flax, $0.22
¼ cup water, $0.00
2 tbsp flour, $0.20
½ tsp salt, $0.01
½ tsp black pepper, $0.01
2 tbsp oil (for pan), $0.18
Total without kraut: $0.77
Price for 3 large ‘cakes: $0.38
Calories per serving: 385

Optional: 1 cup sauerkraut, $2.28
Sauerkraut brings the price up to $1.52 per serving (and adds an extra 15 calories).


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Mix flax and water in a small bowl and set to the side.
  3. Peel and grate potatoes. Squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the grated potatoes (I did this with my fist over the sink, but feel free to use a colander). If you’re using sauerkraut, squeeze extra liquid out of it, too.
  4. Mix potatoes with everything but the oil. It should start sticking together a bit.
  5. Put parchment paper down on a baking sheet and cover with oil. Spread oil with your hands.
  6. Do not wash oil off your hands. Use your oily hands to form patties.
  7. Bake patties for 30 minutes, then flip them and bake for another 15 minutes.


As I said before, I was out of food and much too lazy to go to the store, so I had to get creative on this meal’s drink! That said, the mixture really was not as bad as you’d expect. If you like orange in beer, then you might actually like it! My dinner guest, who actually doesn’t like Blue Moon, did like this drink. And besides, it’s always a good idea to add more booze to booze.

1 can of PBR, $0.60
1 oz triple sec, $0.21
Total: $0.81
Calories: 247


  1. Pour one alcoholic beverage into a glass. Mix with the other alcoholic beverage.