Across the Southwest, there exists a chain of 99 Cents Only stores (http://99only.com). Most items are $0.99, or close to it. Some of these locations sell fresh produce, while all of them sell inexpensive food items, some even well-known name brands. The variety and selection of products available can vary from store to store, and day to day. This is a great place for budget-savvy shoppers to find many everyday items at discounted prices.
Since transitioning to a plant based lifestyle, we have had to learn how to get creative on a budget. It is important to have a good variety of nutrient dense meals, which can be hard to do for some of us who live paycheck to paycheck. Often, it may seem easy to buy ramen noodles or peanut butter and bread–but to create meals loaded with healthy veggies and no animal products is a real challenge when you have only $10-20 to spend per day. Add to the challenge the fact that we are four adults, some of whom need special diet restrictions and some who are just plain picky. I always said I love a good challenge!
Hence, we have recently “re-discovered” shopping at the 99 Cents Only stores. We first encountered them five years ago after moving to Las Vegas; for a while, we then found some nicer higher end shopping at Sprouts and Whole Foods, and a few Smiths and Albertsons. But for the past few months, we have been especially challenged to feed our family, economically and healthfully. For the past week, we have been having fun with our creativity–and shopping for our meals at the 99 Cent Only store, for a large portion of the ingredients. Some items just are not available there, and we must procure them elsewhere.
To kick off Veganuary, I thought it might be fun to share some of what we learn, what we create in the kitchen from our dollar store budget. Just look at these meals!
Our very own kick off to Veganuary–dollar store spaghetti! Spaghetti, pasta sauce and bread came from 99 Cent Only store. We were gifted some fresh parsley and oregano a few days prior. We added a little fresh onion and garlic that we had on hand, and the vegan butter too.
We made a casserole with whole grain brown rice, frozen broccoli, and a vegan “cheese” sauce. We made garlic bread with some artisan white bread and fresh parsley and oregano, along with vegan butter.
Another night, we used macaroni and a vegan cheese sauce for mac-n-chz; we made lentil veggie sliders with homemade sweet rolls and fresh avocado, cucumber and greens.
And tonight we made stir fried veggies with fried rice.
Some of our favorite purchases:
frozen broccoli $0.99
2 lbs brown rice 0.99
soy sauce 0.99
1 lb green beans 0.99
cucumbers 2 for 0.99
32 oz macaroni 0.99
can pasta sauce 0.99
loaf slice artisan white bread 0.99
fresh bananas 0.49/lb
fresh blackberries 0.99
frozen zucchini fries 0.99
Some ingredients were allocated from somewhere besides the 99 Cent Only store, and some we already had on hand. Some of these meals are a little carb-heavy, but we try to limit our carbohydrates to nutrient dense foods, and we use lots of fresh veggies.