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NBSV 142


Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 142

Toni Okamoto of Plant-Based on a Budget shares money- and time-saving vegan meal prep tips

Karina Inkster: You're listening to the No-Bullsh!t Vegan Podcast Episode 142. Toni Okamoto, founder of Plant-Based on a Budget, speaks with me today about saving money and time in the kitchen, her new book, and setting yourself up for long-term success, eating a plant-based diet.

Hey, welcome to the show. I'm Karina your go-to no-BS vegan fitness and nutrition coach. I've been hearing from a bunch of new listeners lately who are just finding this show, so if you're new here, welcome. And to my long-term listeners, thank you so much for tuning in so regularly.

Here's a quick intro for our newbies. If you have no idea who this Karina Inkster character is - most of our clients call me Coach K by the way - so I run a vegan fitness and nutrition coaching business with a small team of coaches, all long-term ethical vegans, myself included. I've been vegan for 20 years, way before it was cool, of course. I've written five books, I write for magazines, and I am a little obsessed with chin-ups and dark chocolate. When I'm not working or strength training, jumping rope or swimming, I'm very involved in various music shenanigans. So I play didgeridoo, the Australian indigenous instrument in a band with three other musicians. I've played piano for about 30 years, but accordion is my main instrument. I co-direct my city's Annual Accordion Fest and I perform when I can.

By the way, if you were following along with our Advent calendar episodes for the month of December, you will have heard me play accordion on December 15th. So if you haven't checked that out yet, go back to the advent episodes and look for the 15th one if you want to hear Coach K playing accordion on the podcast by popular demand.

Something I've been working on recently is putting together a group training program. I heard from a lot of folks that they wanted a lower price point, but still effective coaching option, so this is it. If you're vegan or somewhere on the plant-based spectrum and you want support from coaches who won't keep prompting you to chug whey protein shakes, or any protein shakes if that's not your jam, then join us. You'll get straightforward and effective workouts for home or the gym as well as accountability and nutrition tips from two awesome vegan trainers. Head to for all the details.

Now, we're not just throwing a PDF at you and calling it a day. This is not a download a pdf and you're on your own type situation. You're joining our coaching space where you'll have access to your workouts, our vegan food prep group and your coaching group with me, Coach Zoe, and other members. We also get a log of every single workout you complete, so that's pretty full-on accountability.

Now, why should you join? Well, you're going to get a strength training plan that works, you'll be free from information overload, and you'll get focused on the right things you need to do to get results. You'll level up your health habits a lot faster than if you used articles, YouTube, or an accountability pact with your spouse. Your two coaches will have our eyeballs on everything you do. Okay, well, not everything, but everything workout related at least. And you'll be part of an inclusive coaching space that aims to bust BS within the fitness and diet industries. So head to to learn more and to join us.

Introducing our guest for today, Toni Okamoto. Toni is the founder of Plant-Based on a Budget, the popular website and social media platform that teaches millions how to eat more plants without breaking their budget. She's also the author of the forthcoming Plant-Based on a Budget Quick & Easy cookbook, and the co-host of the Plant Powered People podcast. Okamoto's work has been profiled by NPR, NBC News, Parade, and she's a regular presence on local and national morning shows across the country where she teaches viewers how to break their meat habit without breaking their budget. She was also featured in the popular documentary, “What the Health”. When she's not cooking up a plant-based storm, she's spending time with her husband and their rescued dog in Sacramento, California. Her favourite vegan meals are fresh ramen or tacos with rice and beans. Here's our discussion.

Karina Inkster: Hi Toni, nice to meet you. Thanks for coming on the show today.

Toni Okamoto: Hi, thank you so much for having me. I'm very much looking forward to chatting with you.

Karina Inkster: Me too. The feeling is mutual. So you have some exciting things happening. You've got a new book coming out. I want to know all about that. I had a chance to check it out thanks to your publisher and your PR team, so thank you and them. But first I got a couple right off the bat questions for you. So one is about the favourite foods that you listed. So in the podcast guest form, I always ask what's your favourite vegan meal. And so you put fresh ramen and tacos with rice and beans, which are some of my all-time favourite, especially the ramen I have to say. So why those dishes? Are they part of your childhood or cultural background? What's the deal?

Toni Okamoto: Oh, they are both part of my cultural background. I don't even think about it like that. I think about it because they're just so delicious. I grew up eating instant ramen. I had never had fresh ramen and I loved instant ramen. It was the first thing that I ever learned how to cook. My grandparents raised me. Probably when I was seven years old I remember very vividly my grandma put a chair up to the stove and she showed me how to do it. And so it was the first thing I learned how to cook. And then I had fresh ramen as an adult and it was life-changing. Really deep flavour and a broth with fresh noodles and lots of vegetables and some tofu. Oh my gosh, I'm salivating just thinking about it.

Karina Inkster: I'm with you on that. Yeah, there's a ramen place in Vancouver that I make sure to go to every time I'm there, and of course, it's fresh ramen.

Toni Okamoto: And who doesn't love Mexican food? I'm very lucky to live in an area in California where there are a lot of fantastic Mexican restaurants and it's hard to go to other places. Even in Mexico, it's a little bit different because I guess what I'm referring to is Mexican American food. I was recently in Mexico thinking, "Okay, this is what I'm going to eat. I'm going to eat rice and beans and tacos." Rice isn't served as frequently in a lot of places. You can get beans and you can get lots of different types of tacos, but here in California where I live, the Mexican American food is fantastic.

Karina Inkster: Well, it all sounds amazing. So that's kind of cool to get the background on that. And what I'm also interested in is your background on veganism. So what's the vegan story? You've been vegan since I think 2007 - is that right?

Toni Okamoto: I've been vegan for 16 years, so that's math.

Karina Inkster: Well, yeah, that's math. Yeah, you're talking to the wrong person about math. Yeah, that's 2007, I'm pretty sure.

Toni Okamoto: I first started as someone who stopped eating red meat, and that was the beginning of it all for me. I had never really considered the food and how it impacted me physically. I was a runner and my coach suggested that in order to feel better, because I was often sick after my runs, that I stopped eating so much fast food and I stopped eating so much red meat.

I was still living with my parents. There were a lot of obstacles, both cultural, both they cooked for me and I didn't have any money. So there were a lot of obstacles there. It wasn't until I left their house that I started eating more vegetarian food and even learning what vegetarian meant. I was under the impression that vegetarian was picking the pepperoni off of my cheese pizza and picking the chicken out of my vegetable soup. But once I learned what vegetarian meant and I found like-mind people at my vegetarian club at school, I learned about animal ethics and environmentalism. We visited an animal sanctuary and I got to hug animals and learn their stories and look into their eyes and I just felt very drawn to becoming vegan. So when I was 20, I became vegan and I've really felt called in this way since then.

Karina Inkster: Wow. So I just did the math and we're exactly the same age. Even though I'm not a math person, I'm pretty sure we're the same age. I remember back then we went vegan when we were pretty young in the scheme of things, right? Most of my friends didn't even know what veganism was at that point. In general, we didn't have social media, it didn't exist. This is way before Instagram and Facebook and all that.

Toni Okamoto: Right.

Karina Inkster: So it's come a long way for sure. I kind of feel like we were vegan before it was cool.

Toni Okamoto: And before it was easy. The alternatives that existed at the time were very few. And also the online resources you just mentioned were super limited. I remember the time when I was learning how to cook, I would go to the library and check out the five vegan cookbooks that they had. And then there was a VegWeb, the vegetarian recipe website that people could submit their home recipes to. So I would go on VegWeb. And then I definitely remember when Daiya started to be sold in Northern California. It was being sold at a vegetarian grocery store down in San Francisco. My friends and I would take turns driving there. You could only buy it in five-pound bags. So we would go there, buy it, divvy it up and freeze it. And so it was not as easy as going to the grocery store now and seeing a plethora of so many different vegan varieties of just about everything.

Karina Inkster: Yeah, exactly. It has changed a lot. And even in restaurants where you have not even necessarily like the vegan option on the menu, unfortunately, although that is becoming more and more common, but pretty much any restaurant can make you something. I had some of the best fajitas ever at a steakhouse once. I was there for a work thing. So obviously I wasn't the one who chose going there, but the chef was able to make something. And I think that has changed a lot even in the last five years.

Toni Okamoto: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I'm grateful.

Karina Inkster: Yeah, absolutely. Well, tell me about Plant-Based on a Budget. So this is kind of your main thing. You've got a website around it, you also have a podcast. So what is Plant-Based on a Budget?

Toni Okamoto: Plant-Based on a Budget started as a website 11 years ago. At the time I had all kinds of really serious health issues going on in my family. My aunt had passed away from type 2 diabetes after having multiple amputations. My grandpa who helped raise me, he had had heart attacks, but it ultimately claimed his life, or heart disease did, with complications in a triple bypass surgery. I'm talking really severe stuff, losing your family members, having them suffer beforehand. It's really hard to watch. And something that kept on coming up not only in my own community and family, but a lot everywhere was, "I can't afford to go to Whole Foods. I can't afford to go to the Natural Foods to go out to buy these fancy ingredients.” And that's what often came up when discussing vegan food and eating more plant foods in general.

At the time, I too was on a very, very tight budget and was able to make it work. So I started compiling recipes with my friends on Plant-Based on a Budget and started sharing with my family, but also sharing my family's story with my community. It resonated so well because a lot of people want to eat healthier, but the lack of education, that doesn't exist in a lot of places - in schools, in medical care and beyond - it's really sad. So people want to eat healthier, be healthier, feel better, have their children not be ill, but don't know where to begin.

Karina Inkster: Well, this is almost like myth-busting and accessibility at the same time, right? It's almost like, “Well, you don't have to spend your entire pay cheque at Whole Foods. Here's why and here's how. Oh, and also here's tips in general for food prep and how to make it work long term," which I think is important.

Toni Okamoto: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yes, I've learned a lot and I have also experienced a lot that makes me understand the very valid concerns that people have like lack of time, lack of financial resources, lack of mental space when you're dealing with so much to even think about your food. And I'm really grateful that I've gotten to spend the past over a decade making it easier for me and all the other people who want to go there but don't have the space in their life to make it happen. Now with these resources, it's a lot easier. I've taken the work away from meal planning, meal prepping so that it can become achievable more easily.

Karina Inkster: That's awesome. I like that you mentioned mental space. It's something that we hear a lot in clients who come to us for fitness and nutrition. A lot of the time they're like, "Well, I'm looking for a coach because I don't have the mental space for making my workouts and planning what I'm going to eat and et cetera." So I think the mental space piece is pretty big for a lot of people. Also, there's so much info out there now, which is great as the vegan movement expands, but I think a lot of people are just overwhelmed.

They haven't found how to put the blinders on and just focus on the basics. And so what you're doing is actually providing folks with basically a step-by-step here's what's important, here's some hands-on recipes you can make. I think that's what is needed more of in veganism. You don't have to make an 18-ingredient five-course dinner every time unless you want to. I mean you could, but most of us work and don't really have mental or physical time and space for that kind of stuff.

Toni Okamoto: Right. Yep.

Karina Inkster: So let's talk about saving time and saving money in the kitchen. So these are things that you're an expert in. Let's do this saving time piece first. So going along with this whole mental space concept, a lot of people are like, "Well, you know what? I have no time for food prep. I literally have no time." They have this idea that veganism is dehydrating your food and using all of these pieces of equipment they might not have. And so where would you start with someone who is either relatively new to veganism or thinking about going vegan and their main concern is, "I have no time to food prep"?

Toni Okamoto: I get that. I feel very strapped for time, and I can tell you what I've been eating these days. I love quick wraps or burritos or things like that where I can grab some hummus in the refrigerator or a can of beans in the pantry and throw whatever vegetables I have on hand. So in a wrap, I would put something like cucumbers. I am so lazy, I don't even chop them thinly sliced. I chop a whole chunk and I throw that in there.

Karina Inkster: Nice. That's my style for sure. I'm a lazy human at heart, so I get it.

Toni Okamoto: Actually, I had someone recently eat a soup and I had whole carrots. I didn't even chop the carrots, I just threw the carrots in there.

Karina Inkster: Nice.

Toni Okamoto: I was like, "You just fork them in there." Anyway, so I will put in some tomatoes, lettuce, or whatever greens I have available. And if I have tofu on hand, I'll throw that in there too. Or you name a protein, I'll throw that in there. I'll wrap it up and eat it. It's delicious and quick and nourishing. Then burritos of course. Another thing that I recommend is not feeling like plant-based eating is this really complicated out there type of eating. It's also the same things that you were eating before with minor tweaks. So for example, pasta and sauce with frozen veggies and a can of cannellini beans, that's a fantastic meal that is very similar to what I grew up eating. My mom maybe would've thrown in some beef crumbles, but I've just replaced the beef crumbles with some cannellini beans. And boom, something that's familiar and tasty and easy and affordable. So not trying to reinvent the wheel, but looking for just simple tweaks to what is already familiar to you will take you far.

Karina Inkster: That's a really good point. I think a lot of folks who are new or who are thinking about becoming plant-based or eating more plant-based are just overwhelmed at the idea that they're going to need to cook 100% new things.

Toni Okamoto: Yeah, that is overwhelming. I can understand why people would be hesitant. They don't have to be because one thing that I make for my family, for example, is they love tacos. Oh, I mentioned that's one of my favourite things. I've been making lentil tacos using the same taco seasoning packet, but with lentils instead of ground beef and all of the same toppings and the same tortillas served with rice and beans. And because the texture and the flavours are very similar, my meat-loving family doesn't bat an eye at it. They're so used to specific flavours that that's what they are desiring. It's not that it's beef. They just want this protein that is hardy and flavoured in the way that they want it to be, and they'll enjoy it just the same, but it's so much cheaper and no animals were harmed and it's better for my family's health and they could benefit from that. So all as well.

Karina Inkster: Yeah, that's a great point. I kind of feel like what you just said about, well, it's not beef, it's something else that has the same flavouring. I think a lot of times what people really crave is the seasoning, maybe texture to a certain point, which you can easily get from plant-based foods. But I think a lot of times people crave or they think about flavourings and seasonings and sauces and things that go with animal products a lot of the time. But you can do exactly the same thing with plants.

Toni Okamoto: Yes. I've actually relied on a lot of the seasoning packets that exist that my family used growing up. So you can get meat marinades both liquid and seasoning packets. I use those in my lentils and my tofu and try to recreate the similar flavours with a plant-based protein.

Karina Inkster: So does this kind of go along with saving money in the kitchen? Saving time, saving money, they're kind of related in some ways, right?

Toni Okamoto: Yes, they are. At different times I've had more or less of the other. When I first started Plant-Based on a Budget, I was living in a lot of debt. I had very little money and I had more time. So in that period of my life, I was more likely to cook everything from scratch. I made a big pot of beans, I baked my own bread, I made my own marinara sauce. It was a part of my identity, even to go and find the cheapest things and cook everything from scratch because that was my option at the time; I didn't have the luxury of convenience foods. Now I have a little bit more disposable income and less time, and so I'm relying on things like my pressure cooker. It has revolutionized my style of cooking. Having a pressure cooker was an investment. There are tips and tricks to get it cheaper, like you can get it used. Mine was returned on Amazon and it had a big giant dent in it, and it was $30 off because of it.

Karina Inkster: Wow. Good deal.

Toni Okamoto: You can find them returned. Maybe it has a ding or a dent and you'll get a discount. You can go in your Buy Nothing group and you can do an ISO, like in search of. So there are ways to get them cheaper, but it will save you so much time and it'll make it a lot easier to eat whole foods like lentils and split peas and rice because the cook times are sometimes for me, even when I think about brown rice, "I think, oh gosh, I don't have 40 minutes to get dinner on the table." But with a pressure cooker, it's 20 minutes. And quinoa, five minutes. Or whole beans, instead of multiple hours on the stove, one hour.

So those are some tricks. But I think ultimately you'll have to put some thought on what you have more of in the moment: time or money. Do you want to cook your beans from scratch and buy a pound of beans for $1.29 that'll expand three touch, or buy a can of beans for a $1.29 and it's 15 ounces, but it's easily available, super convenient, and that is an individual preference?

Karina Inkster: That's a really good point. I never really thought about which one is most important at the moment. I mean, people talk about these things interchangeably, but as you said, there's different times in our lives where either the financial piece or the time piece will be the priority. So yeah, I can relate to what you said. Back in the day as a starving student, it was all about saving money. And now it's about saving time and less… you know I still want to be reasonable with my budget, but it's not at the forefront anymore. So I can kind of see how that works. So what about these kinds of longer-term plant-based success tips? Do you have any ideas or thoughts on making sure that this isn't too overwhelming for folks and that people are going to stick with it long-term?

Toni Okamoto: I recommend meal planning. Meal planning has really saved me so much time and money and has kept me on my goals of both vegan-based in the beginning when I was more easily tempted by convenience. But also now that I've been a longtime vegan, it keeps me on my health goals. I had a one-and-a-half-hour commute each way, and if I didn't have a plan in place when I was getting home, I would make an impulse decision to go to Chipotle and get a veggie burrito or something like that, which adds up and is not what I want to eat every day. But because I don't have a plan in place, that's what I've been led to.

If you have a plan in place, you can have either some brown rice or some quinoa and some veggies and a protein and maybe a sauce that you can throw together when you get home. Or you can have leftovers from the night before that you're planning for the week. Or you can have a meal in the freezer - something will get you covered. It also will save you a lot of money at the grocery store if you start shopping with intention. First, go to your pantry, see what you have, take inventory. Use that to build your meal plan, then go to the grocery store and stay the course. It's very hard when you're there because of all the marketing and beautiful packaging and big sale signs. But if you stay at the course, keep onto your meal plan, you will leave shocked.

In the Plant-Based on a Budget Quick & Easy cookbook, I have a sample meal plan, and I also have meal plans on, that show you how to eat for $35 a week. That's seven meals, nutrient-rich foods that are going to keep you feeling full, all vegan, all delicious. It requires some planning, but then you're covered with four weeks worth of food.

Karina Inkster: Okay, that's impressive. I need to know more about this because my grocery bill is many multiples more than that. So what does that look like on an example day?

Toni Okamoto: When I write my meal plans, I try not to have people eating the same thing every day. So I cook four entrees that you'll rotate for lunch and dinner on different days. You'll have two salads for lunch, big filling salads. And then for breakfast, you'll do things like overnight oats or smoothie bags or something like that that you can have ready to go in the morning because busy people often neglect breakfast, but it's so important to eat. So there are ways to get in a filling breakfast that will keep you fuelled until lunchtime. So that's what it kind of looks like. And then for meals, you're looking at things like a big giant pot of split pea soup or chili or curry, things like that which you can easily whip together in one pot. Small amount of dishes and small amount of effort, that's what I'm looking for.

Karina Inkster: Yeah, that sounds like my kind of cooking. It's kind of hilarious because I have multiple books including two cookbooks and I don't like cooking. But the whole point was kind of similar to yours, right? You're not going to spend your entire life making meals for yourself unless you want to, but that's not really our target here.

Toni Okamoto: Yes.

Karina Inkster: And yeah, it can be simple.

Toni Okamoto: The cooking part is just the step I have to take to get there.

Karina Inkster: That's a pretty good point. That's a nice way of putting it. You keep your eye on the prize basically, as cliche as that is, right?

Toni Okamoto: Right.

Karina Inkster: Cool. Okay. Well, you've mentioned your new book. You have this amazing cookbook coming out in March. So can you tell me about that project and what went into it and who it's for?

Toni Okamoto: I have been working on the Plant-Based on a Budget Quick & Easy cookbook for a couple years now. It is a culmination of all of my work that I've been doing for the past decade. I love having a comprehensive resource that is tangible. You can hold it, you can bring it in the kitchen, you can see a photo. There's a photo for every recipe. There are 100 recipes. My favourite thing about the cookbook is that there's a lot of space for you as the reader to make it your own. I wanted the recipes to be a guide for people because that's how I learned how to cook.

As I mentioned, I would go to the library and I would swap ingredients in and out based on what I had, based on what was affordable at the grocery store, based on my family's preferences, and I want my recipes to be used in the same way, so I have a really solid base. And then I have optional ingredients. So there's the main ingredient list, then there's the optional ingredient list. So if you have more of a budget or if you have these things on hand, you can enhance the recipe with those optional ingredients. And then there's a space for you, the reader, to write in what you added and if it worked or not, or what you would've done differently if it didn't work. And if you look at my cookbooks, my favourite ones are scribbled all over. I feel like that is the most precious thing if you see someone do that with your own cookbook.

Karina Inkster: That's such a good point. I noticed those areas for my notes or my tips. I am not sure I've seen that before in a cookbook, so I love that idea.

Toni Okamoto: Thank you.

Karina Inkster: And I also love the idea of having your main ingredients and then your optional add-ins. That's also not something... I don't know if I've even seen that before, honestly. I mean, sometimes you have recipe that has optional topping or whatever, but it's not really in the interest of specifically budget-conscious readers, right?

Toni Okamoto: Yes. I started that when I was doing meal planning. The meals, I was trying to keep them at the time when I wrote them at $25 for an entire week's worth of food. But the recipes would sometimes be a little bit bland because you couldn't buy all of the different flavourings in the season packets or the individual seasonings. So I started putting in optional ingredients. If you already have oregano on hand, if you already have spice sauce on hand, I don't want you to have to go and buy a $4 bottle or a $5 bottle. But if you have it on hand, it would be good in this amount. I felt like it gave people who are on a very serious budget a place to start. People who were looking for more of inspiration and warrant as budget-conscious could either go and buy those ingredients or use them if they had had them on hand.

Karina Inkster: That's such a cool idea. I love that.

Toni Okamoto: Thank you.

Karina Inkster: Have you found it more challenging now with inflation and the economic situation in Canada and the US and food prices and all of this, is it harder now to make meal plans for the same amount of money as a couple years ago?

Toni Okamoto: Yes, it has been. That's why I have raised the number from $25 to $35 per week. So I'm saying if you're buying these ingredients, you should expect to at least spend $10 more because of the rise in food prices. Something else is that if someone had the time and the space to grow one thing on your kitchen windowsill, that will save you so much money in the long run. For example, I have basil. Basil is expensive when fresh here, especially when it's out of season. But on my windowsill, I can control the climate and it stays a lot longer and I can pick from it regularly as long as I'm taking care of it. It provides me with lots of basil for the whole year. And if you have a garden space, the same with that. Start small, make sure you like it, make sure you tend to it.

Karina Inkster: That's pretty impressive. Nice. I have a garden space, but again, I'm a super lazy human and I have not been utilizing that very well. I did grow a couple things last year. I'm really into snap peas and English peas, so I do a whole shit load of those. And the year before we had a decent garden, but yeah, it's kind of sad how much space we have and how we're not using it to grow food. So I need to get my act together.

Toni Okamoto: I don't even want to know how much space you have because I am envious of anybody who has it. We have a small amount of space, but I cram in so much. Everything's on top of each other. Yesterday I planted my 11th and 12th fruit trees and they're all three feet apart, so they're on top of each other.

Karina Inkster: What? No way.

Toni Okamoto: Yeah.

Karina Inkster: Whoa. Okay. Well, yeah, I need to get my shit together for sure.

Toni Okamoto: I read a book called Grow a Little Fruit Tree. They talk about how a lot of what we know about growing fruit trees is for commercial agriculture. And so they say you should have 30 feet of span for your fruit tree. But if you're only growing fruit for yourself and your family, you don't need 2,000 pieces of fruit. You could grow a tiny fruit tree in a small space and keep it really trimmed down and grow 200 pieces of fruit instead of the 2,000. So that's what I do at my house.

Karina Inkster: That's so awesome. I could use 200 extra pieces of fruit any day, man. That's awesome. So in your book, you also have sections about the hands-on pieces, right? So you've got these amazing 100 recipes, but then at the beginning, there's also a section about meal prepping and tools you're going to need in the kitchen and just kind of basic set the scene kind of stuff. So what are some tips from that section that you might want to share with our listeners?

Toni Okamoto: Don't be discouraged if you don't have a well-stocked kitchen. When I first started cooking, I had a lot of hand-me-downs. All of my containers for storage were reused jars from pasta or Earth Balance containers. So if that is you, no worries, you can still get very far in the kitchen with what you have. If you do have some money to invest, I think it's a game changer to have a knife that cuts. My parents had given me their knife set that they had for 20 years and had never been sharpened, and I just thought, "I guess knives aren't sharp and you just cut them and it takes you a while and you cut a tomato like this." But now that I have a sharp knife, it is safer, it is faster. I have changed my kitchen dial with having good knives.

I have a pressure cooker. And as I mentioned, it's one of the most used things in my household. We use it maybe three times a day because I want to be in the kitchen passionately. I can set it and then go and walk my dog and go do chores, do some work, and the house isn't going to burn down. I can have a nice delicious meal and still come home and have everything in place.

So those are the big investments in my household. But some of the smaller things is a well-stocked pantry, having things that are convenient on hand like canned beans, jars of pasta sauce, different types of pasta, frozen foods like berries and broccoli, peas, and mixed vegetables. That way if you are not really prepared, you haven't gone to the grocery store and you don't have a lot of produce to work with, you can still throw together a stir fry. You can still throw together a pasta dish very quickly because the vegetables that you have on hand are chopped, washed, and ready to go for you, and all you do is throw in your pasta and your sauce and you're good to go. You can also make stir fries with those things. I also keep tofu in the freezer not only because it lasts longer, but because it also changes the texture and makes it a little bit meatier, and also allows it to absorb a lot more of the flavours. So keeping your freezer and your pantry stocked is amazing when you're in the, "Oh, crap, what do I eat?" moments.

Karina Inkster: Absolutely. Yeah, those are fantastic tips. And you know what? I think the frozen foods, like vegetables especially, but also fruit, are super underrated. I don't know what it is about people who just never think of getting frozen broccoli or frozen cauliflower or whatever. The berries and the fruit, people make smoothies a lot and that's just kind of like on their radar a little more, I think. But frozen veggies, dude, if I didn't have frozen veggies, I probably wouldn't eat veggies. I mean, I would, but not nearly as much as I do.

Toni Okamoto: And what's cool about it is that you can go to Dollar Tree. So there are a lot of people who live in places where fresh food is not super accessible, but in some of those communities, there are Dollar Trees or Walmarts and those places have frozen produce for you.

Karina Inkster: That's a really good point. I don't have a Dollar Tree. Is that a US thing? Is that why maybe?

Toni Okamoto: Maybe. They're very common here.

Karina Inkster: Yeah, I'm not 100% on that. That's a great idea though. That's a really good tip. And Walmart is something that a lot of people don't think about. Like freezer section, they have a lot of canned goods like beans and legumes and stuff. So you never really know. You don't have to go to Whole Foods/Whole Pay Cheque as some people call it.

Very cool. Well, Toni, is there anything else that we've missed? Anything else about your book that's coming out in March that we haven't talked about yet?

Toni Okamoto: No, you can find it at I am always available for anybody who's interested in learning more about the practical application of plant-based food, plant-based cooking. It's so easy to say, "Oh, I'm going to eat plant-based." But I remember for me, I made the decision and then the first thing I ate was not plant-based. It was not vegan. So I just didn't know what was vegan, what wasn't vegan. I ate these vegetarian corn dogs and I didn't even think because they were vegetarian, they weren't vegan. So I'm here to help people. They can find me at or at Plant-Based on a Budget on Instagram.

Karina Inkster: Amazing. We will also have show notes where folks can get those direct links. Once your book is out, we'll add that to the show notes too. But yeah, thank you so much for coming on the show. It was great to speak with you, and learn about your projects. Congrats on the book coming out. That's super awesome. It was fantastic speaking with you.

Toni Okamoto: Thank you. Thank you so, so, so much. Have a beautiful day.

Karina Inkster: Toni, thank you again for our discussion today. Much appreciated. You can access our show notes at And if you want to learn more about my brand new group coaching program, check that out at I would love to have you on our coaching team. Thanks for tuning in.

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