Vegan on a Budget
Whether you’re transitioning to vegan, have been vegan your whole life, or maybe just want to “see” how affordable it would be to go vegan, you’re in the right spot.
1. Skip the meat substitutes.
Meat substitutes are absolutely delicious, but they’re also expensive! If you’re on a budget, the last thing you need to do is blow your entire week’s allowance on some tasty vegan hot dogs, “wings”, etc. Meat alternatives are great, but because of how expensive they are, you’ll want to use them as more of a side than the main/big part of the dish if you are going to buy them. We use them quite a bit (we are vegan, not plant based… calm down ;)), so I stock up when they are on sale.
The same goes for milk alternatives. While they’re not outrageously priced, I do like to stock up when they’re discounted!
2. Plan meals ahead of time.
While doing your weekly grocery shopping, plan out your meals and snacks ahead of time so you don’t get trapped into eating out. Nuts, seeds, and even vegan jerky are on-the-go options that you can keep in the car or in a lunch box and not have to worry about them going bad. Having a meal plan has saved me at least 50% on my shopping budget each week.
3. Get creative.
While I’m not a huge fan of rice and potatoes (I think I’ve just eaten too many of them in my life back when I was a meat eater), they’re filling and affordable. Other starches include pumpkin, oats, and whole-grain pasta. Cheap vegetables include carrots, cabbage, leafy greens (spinach, kale), and broccoli. Frozen vegetables are more affordable than fresh, organic produce, but if you can afford the fresh stuff, go for it.
Legumes (lentils, beans), seeds, and nuts are filling and easy to buy in bulk. Nuts are rather expensive overall, but if you buy them in bulk they are affordable. They’re also so versatile, you can use them as snacks or in recipes (like my mac and cheese)!
My kids love finding new ways to dress up oatmeal for breakfasts. Whether you’re topping them with fruits or chocolate chips, oatmeal will always be one of the cheapest vegan breakfasts ever.
For buying in bulk, I like Winco and Sprouts. Winco is cheaper but Sprouts is right next door to my gym, so I go to Sprouts at least once a week. Buying in bulk can easily cut your weekly grocery bill by 10-25%!
I use glass containers to store bulk items so they don’t go stale.
4. Shop local.
Sometimes, shopping local can save you quite a bit. Other times, you’ll find some wares are over-priced. I really like shopping local when possible, but it’s important to compare prices and convenience when you’re on a budget. Try local farmer’s markets and vendor fairs for both food and other cruelty-free items. I went to something called “VegFest” the other day and was blown away by the amount of vegan vendors at the event!
5. Grow your own food.
6. Leftovers are your friends.
I admit that for many years (up until very recently), I absolutely refused to eat leftovers. I hated the idea of leftovers, probably because we were poor when I was a kid and it seemed we lived off of them. Now that I’m eating vegan on a budget, and I’m an adult so I have bills and have to actually care about things, I’ve found planning my leftover meals ahead of time make them less leftover-y.
For example, if you make a big pot of spaghetti, save half of the meatless grounds for tacos the next night. Then they’re not technically leftovers, but you’ve saved some cash by not opening a new bag of grounds for tacos. If you need to add a filler, beans make a great one for tacos especially! Alternatively, you could cook mac and cheese and use the leftovers for a casserole with veggies the next night. There are so many possibilities when you plan leftovers out ahead of time!
7. Invest a little.
It’s no secret that I absolutely love cookbooks. If you’re trying to save money while going vegan, one of the books I highly recommend is Happy Herbivore. The meals in this book are cheap, healthy, and delicious. I bought my first Happy Herbivore book back in 2014 and have bought all of her books since then!
You can also check vegan cookbooks out from the library, or for free on Amazon – using Kindle Unlimited.