It’s a common misconception that being vegan is expensive. Of course, it can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be; it all depends on what you choose to spend your money on. I have learned over the past 4 years of being vegan that the healthiest vegan foods just so happen to also be the most affordable so here are some tips below to help you eat healthy without breaking the bank!
Out with the animal products, in with the produce
Not only will you get in and out of the grocery store twice as fast because you have eliminated a huge section from your grocery trip, but you will definitely notice that animal products are the most expensive items on your grocery list. It’s actually crazy how much money you can save just by cutting out all meat, dairy and eggs from your shopping list. Just by being vegan, you’ve already saved some money!
Load up on staples
Vegan staples are some of the cheapest foods you can buy! Potatoes, rice, beans, bananas, oats, lettuce and pasta are all affordable and they make up a huge chunk of what you’ll be consuming. Visualize a food pyramid where the bottom, largest layer is all fruits and vegetables, the middle layer is all cereals, grains, pasta, rice etc. and the top and smallest layer is primarily more fatty foods such as nuts and seeds, and more gourmet vegan items such as nutritional yeast. This is a rough idea of what you’re eating habits should look like and where the bulk of your money will go. The most expensive items on the food pyramid are the nuts and seeds and they are also the foods that you will be consuming the least frequent, and therefore when you go to buy them, it won’t be a regular expense, and it should last you a while before you run out.
Skip the super foods
All plant foods are healing foods and so I would consider all fruits and vegetables “super foods”. However, the super foods I’m telling you to skip on if you want to live an affordable vegan lifestyle are the ones that cost 25-50$ a bag. When you’re eating enough fruits and vegetables you’re getting the nutrients and vitamins you need so there is no use in spending crazy amounts of money on all the rare dried fruits that are the latest hype. When I first went vegan, I loaded up on things like maca, goji berries, noni, mulberries, baobab, moringa etc. Which are all great and very healthy, but really expensive and if your goal is a sustainable and affordable diet, skip ’em!
Buy In Season
Pick fruits and veggies that are in season. They will be packed with more nutrients and growing in abundance so they will typically be a lot cheaper.
Buy in bulk
Bananas, apples, oranges, dates, mangoes… whatever foods you like, and whatever you know you’re going to eat the most of, buy it in bulk! You’ll be able to get a case discount at most places and you’ll be fully stocked with very healthy and cheap foods that are ready all day long for you to consume or bring with you on the go with no prep time.
Become a regular
Try to find a Co-op, a farmers market or a local shop where you can become a regular customer and negotiate a regular discount. If you’re nice and a returning customer, or always buying in volume it is pretty easy to get some sweet deals.
Eating out as a vegan can be challenging and depending on where you live, a total rip off at some places- let’s be honest. Vegan gourmet is very expensive, and it is usually high in fat and sodium load the food with taste. The healthiest and cheapest alternative is to cook for yourself. Restaurants don’t care if what their feeding you is low-fat or low-sodium, they want you- the customer to enjoy the food, love how it tastes and to keep coming back. Health is not their priority and obviously saving you money isn’t either. It’s always fun to check out new vegan restaurants and go out for a treat, or a dinner to socialize with friends, but the less often it is of a habit, the more you will be able to afford in your weekly shop. This also goes for breakfast and lunches, meal prep is your best friend!
Meal prep sort of overflows into this point, but basically, you should have a rough idea of what you plan to eat in a day and week (or however long you go in between shops). That way, you won’t make the classic mistake of grabbing something to go out of convenience because you weren’t prepared and you didn’t have what you needed. I recommend choosing a day of the week (mine is Sunday), where you sit down and plan out how you want to eat for the following week (you can browse flyers for sales and base it around that). Brainstorm rough ideas of meals that you can create or that you feel like having through out the week- breakfast, lunch and dinner and make a list of the ingredients you require. That way, when you head to the grocery store, you have a plan for what you’re purchasing and it doesn’t all sit on your counter and go bad because you bought too much fresh produce and ate out all week because you didn’t know what to do with it.
Overall, it costs much more to be sick than it does to buy healthy food (and I’m not just talking in terms of money). When you’re sick you may miss out on opportunities, your emotional well-being may suffer and most obviously your physical well-being all depending on the illness of course. But the bottom line is, you won’t feel your best and you won’t be thriving the way you could if you nourished your body and took care of it. Investing in healthy food now, will save you from doctors bills, medication, stress and pain later on in life. If you want to be healthy, you have to prioritize your health and if that means buying organic, so be it! I’m all for it. But if you can’t afford organic, or if it’s unavailable to you where you live, do your best- plant based food has the power to heal you and prevent illness so hopefully being aware of these tips will help you save some money and live healthily and happily.
Have some tips and tricks of your own? Share them down below!