It's not uncommon that I hear people tell me that going vegan is so expensive. When truthfully you will probably be spending right around the same amount on groceries otherwise, or most likely, even less when you are not buying meat and animal products. The times when you WILL spend more money, and more than you would like to is when you buy the processed foods like fake meats, chips, crackers, and other packaged foods. There will always be exceptions of course like when there are specials and sales, but that is pretty much the general consensus. So the good news - Eating vegan is NOT expensive, and in fact you will most likely save money. I have some cost saving tips for you for going vegan on a budget. Afterall, we don't want money to be the deciding factor in making the best decision for our health. And who doesn't like to save money?
1. Buy what you will eat -
I know that may sound rather silly and quite obvious. I don't know about you, but for me there have been times when I am shopping and think, "Oh, this looks good." "I hear artchokes are good for you." "Hmmm, I've heard a lot about jack fruit." Am I right? And then put those into your reusable bag, check out and pay for them and then have them rot in your produce drawer or sit in your pantry going unprepared. It's a waste of money. Instead, buy what you will eat and what you like. Once you get used to eating and preparing your vegan meals, then perhaps branch out a bit more and try new foods. But until then, save your money and only put it towards your essentials and things that you will eat and enjoy.
2. Buy in bulk -
Most grocery stores have bulk bins or larger quantities to offer when shopping. Places like Sprouts and Wholefoods have bulk bin options that allow for purchasing nuts, seeds, grains, beans and oats. And whatever else you choose to buy. The bigger discount stores offer a range of foods and products that you can buy in bulk, too. Buying in bulk or larger packs often mean a bigger savings.
3. Buy frozen produce -
No need to spend crazy money on fresh produce or run to the market every day for your fruits and vegetables. When I started buying some of my produce frozen, it was such a game changer for me. No more wasted money and having to eat everything within a day or two before it went bad. Things like stir fry veggies, peppers, corn, mixed vegetable bags, blueberries, mixed berries, pineapple, mango etc. can all be purchased frozen. For example, the frozen corn can easily be steamed for your sides or salsas, or simply added in frozen when making soups and other dishes. Frozen blueberries can be thawed and added on top of your oatmeal, smootie bowls, added to yogurts, or baked in your desserts. When I am not growing it in my garden, I buy bags of kale and toss it in my freezer and use it in my smoothies and soups. If you are one though that likes kale in your salad, then obviously the freezer is not a good place for it. Personally, I am not a kale salad kind of gal but enjoy it in soups and smoothies. With buying and storing your produce in the freezer, you will extend the life so nothing will be wasted while still reaping the nutritional benefits.
Not everything is going to be bought frozen, so when buying fresh, choose your organics wisely. And following the dirty 12|clean 15 is a good rule of thumb.
4. Food prep + menu planning is key -
Having a game plan in place by food prepping and knowing what you are making throughout the week keeps things simple and only buying what is needed for that week. It keeps you focused on your meals and only buying what is needed. Ideally, if you are setting one day in the week to have your food prepped - like your veggies, beans, salads - and have your meals planned out for the week, it keeps you focused on what to buy without purchasing anything that is not necessary or unneeded. All of that food prep and menu planning might seem a little bit overwhelming at first, but I promise you that once you get in the habit of it, it is like riding a bike and pretty soon it becomes fun when planning out your meals. To make things a little easier, you can get a beginner's shopping list and meal planner guide and start planning away. Simply download and print it out. It's so easy!
5. Batch cook -
And just like buying things in bulk makes sense, so does cooking or preparing your food ahead of time and making larger quantities. For example, when you are doing your food prep on Sunday, make a larger quantity of rice for the whole week so that you have enough to eat it for several meals. Maybe you are going to have enchiladas on Monday, so having enough rice and beans for that Monday meal, but also having enough rice for adding into your soup on Wednesday, or your stirfry on Thursday. You get what I mean? So having a plan in place for your menu for the week will get you preparing ahead of time. This not only will save you money, but it will save you time, stress, and reaching for unhealthier options because you are famished. It totally makes preparing your meals a heck of a lot easier.
So you see, eating vegan + plant based isn't more expensive. In fact, it is often way easier on the wallet when you knowingly buy the right foods and have a plan in place. And admittedly, if you start preparing yourself ahead of time - and I know it's a little daunting at first - it becomes second nature. It makes finding delicious vegan meals a joy to prepare and feeling better about the conscious foot that your are putting forward.
Is there anything that maybe you do that I have left out here that saves you money? Let me know, I would love to hear.