Lots of folks think eating vegan on a budget is impossible. If you've been hoodwinked by this notion, rest assured nothing could be further from the truth. We are living proof of that! Let me explain...
Back in 2011 my daughter finally convinced me we NEEDED to go vegan, like you, I was worried that I couldn't afford it. You see, I was newly divorced and quite broke. At that point we had a maximum of $50 a week we could spend on food. A tight budget by our previous standard of living, to be sure. Luckily, I had always loved cooking from scratch and coming up with creative ways to put together dishes with what was on hand. Another good thing was my daughter's eagerness to try new things.
Spoiler Alert! Not only were we able to be vegan on a budget that tight, we ate BETTER than we had before going vegan. WAY BETTER! Here's how we did it...
POOF! We Were Eating Vegan On A Budget Overnight!
- Swap Nuts for Meat... We spent all the money we were used to spending on meat on NUTS! Pound for pound they cost about the same but here's the kicker (depending on your recipes)… they go WAY FARTHER!
- Buy Produce Instead of Processed Foods... This was the second big thing we did. Dropping most of the processed foods we used to buy and purchasing produce with that portion of our food budget meant our buggy was FULL to bursting with healthy foods.
- Planning ahead... This is key to staying within your budget no matter what it is. Know what your menu for the week is, make a list and stick to it. Also, know where you can get the best prices for the things you need. (We have more frugal shopping tips here as well as below)
- Shopping AFTER MEALS... Seriously, if you're hungry when you're in the grocery store it's much harder to pass up all the things they are trying to tempt you with. It's their job to shove the yummy looking, overpriced processed foods into your face. They want you to buy them even though you know they are bad for you.
- Learn To Cook... If you don't already know how to cook from scratch going vegan gives you an excellent excuse to learn. This skill will pay you back in so many ways. Your food budget will stretch so much farther. It can bring the family together. (My daughter and I giggle together in the kitchen all the time). And stuff just plain tastes better when you can spice it to YOUR taste!
- Make a Menu... Don't be intimidated by this step. It doesn't have to be a big deal. Just take a moment to think about the dishes you'd like to cook for the week (or two if you shop every other week). Keep in mind how many meals you'll get out of each dish. For example, if I make spaghetti we usually get at least 2 dinners and a lunch out of that. I point this out because if you plan to have leftovers you don't need to come up with 7 different dishes each week.
- Make a Shopping List... Now survey your vegan pantry. What items do you need to get in order to make the dishes on your list? Jot those things down. Also jot down any staples you are running short on like oatmeal, flax seeds, peanuts, vinegar etc. To stay vegan on a budget you need to KNOW what you need BEFORE you hit the store. Now you are ready to shop!
- Shop Sales... It probably goes without saying but keep an eye open for sales. Even in the dead of winter in Michigan you often find sales on produce. Don't forget to look for markdown items, banans with brown spots are actually ripe and can be gotten very inexpensively in most places. Tiny apples taste at least as good as the bigger ones and can be got for a fraction of the price of the showy large ones. And don't be afraid to adjust your menu/list if you find a lovely 2 for 1 sale on the main ingredient in a favorite dish!
- Visit Farmers Markets... If you want to have fun shopping AND save a bundle of money head out to your local farmers market. Even if the prices are similar to those in your grocery store the food will be millions of times tastier and better for you. For the best deals do the bulk of your shopping an hour or so before they close. Trust me, those farmers do not want to lug any of what they brought to market back home! Make them an offer and see what happens.
- Buy in Bulk... Another perk of being vegan is that a great many of our staples can be purchased in bulk. Things like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, quinoa, pasta, flour, sugar etc. can be purchased in bulk. Usually, the larger the sack the less it costs per pound. Just be sure not to buy more than you'll use in 6 months to a year.
NOTE: With Amazon's "Subscribe and Save" program you can even buy in bulk online for A LOT LESS than you might think. And more things than you usually find in a bulk grocery section too. Things like tea, coconut oil, energy bars, chips, tahini and more. Check it out for yourself.
- Buy Food In Season... No matter what quantity you wish to purchase it's no surprise that foods that are being harvested in your area are going to be far cheaper than foods that need to be shipped in from long distances. Not to mention they'll be much more nutritious because they don't need to be picked WEEKS (if not months) before making their way into your home.
- Freeze Fruits, Veggies and Leftovers... If you find a great deal on a bushel of apples at the farmers market, or bananas at the grocery store GO FOR IT! Buy them and freeze them for later. Frozen fruit is almost as nutritious as fresh and keeps for 6 months or more. Cook larger batches of things so you can freeze it for later. You'll have your own "ready to eat" meals in the freezer if you do.
Don't let any of this stuff intimidate you. None of this is hard. I promise, once you get into the swing of things you'll wonder what all the fuss is about! Eating vegan on a budget merely requires you to shop the way you live, with intention and integrity.
"Subscribe & Save" Items Will Have You Eating Vegan On A Budget In No Time!
Viva Labs Organic Chia Seeds Bag, 2 PoundCarrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 54 OunceViva Labs - The BEST Organic Ground Flax Seed, 15 oz - Proprietary Cold-milled TechnologyViva Labs - The BEST Tasting Certified Organic Cacao Powder, 1 LBManitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds, natural flavor, 1 Pound.Orgain Organic Protein Plant-Based Powder, Creamy Chocolate Fudge, 2.03 Pound