I accidentally celebrated my birthday all month long, and my debit card is not pleased. Whoops. To get my savings account back in order, I’m tapping into my neurotic, Virgo self and making budgets and lists up the wazoo. I now have a four page excel spreadsheet comparing prices of my most frequently purchased pantry items at 5 different stores. When I buckle down, I go all out.
Part of my “buckle down” plan is to not spend any money on food Monday through Friday, which means I plan for the week, grocery shop over the weekend, and then avoid the siren call of Native Foods and Veggie Grill by creating even better grub at home. I was up until 3am the other night, dreaming of tacos, kale salad, curried tofu scramble, pumpkin fritters, and baked falafel.
It’s one thing to plan it, it’s another to put it into action. How was I going to find the time to cook five different meals to keep up with my demanding taste buds? They need variety or they will revolt/go get take out. Believe me, I’ve tried the “cook a big meal on Sunday and eat all week” technique and it did not end well. So this time, I put the prep into my calendar. I looked at the recipes, saw what needed to be done, looked at my schedule, and planned accordingly. I’m budgeting time for it just like I would for a meeting, so I don’t come home exhausted Monday night debating whether or not to call for Thai. Because I would definitely call for Thai.
So tonight, I made a bunch of taco meat so I can assemble whatever my heart desires throughout the week. There are greens, taco shells, beans, rice, salsa, and some vegan sour cream and cheese leftover from when I still thought I had money to spend. Ahh, those were the days.
When I first thought of tacos, I considered beans as a base, but I wanted to get a little more punch without breaking the bank on veggie meats. Here is the delicious outcome. Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is about $3.50/lb, and I needed less than half that to make 10 servings of taco meat. I think I just met my new best friend.
2 cups dry TVP
1.5 tbsp coconut oil, divided
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Better than Bouillion, No Beef Base
1 packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning mix (vegan, $0.79, and no scary ingredients! Jackpot)
Prep the TVP by soaking it in just under 2 cups of boiling water for at least 5 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed.
Hello world, meet rehydrated TVP. Kinda looks like oatmeal.
While waiting, dissolve the bouillon in a 1/4 cup of hot water. Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil (save the rest for later) over medium heat in a non-stick pan, then add the TVP, soy sauce, dissolved bouillon, and taco seasoning, stirring occasionally.
All into the pan.
After about 8 minutes, push the meat to the side of the pan and heat the 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil. When it’s warm, toss everything together and cook for another two minutes. You know it’s done when it stops looking wet and takes on a good crumble.
Voila! Taco meat for cheap!
Making this reminded me of helping my mom prep ground turkey for tacos. I was warm with nostalgia when handling the taco seasoning mix and stirring everything together. I also remember how much I hated handling the meat raw, but loved how it would transform from flesh into “food” right before my eyes. Now I like to think what I eat is food from beginning to end, though I wouldn’t recommend munching on dry TVP!