Recently, I received a comment with a concern about eating vegan on a budget. It seems hard at first. I was honestly terrified to start because I was in school still. Budgets always seem to be tight when in college. And I get why we think it has to be so expensive.
And I get why we think it has to be so expensive. The usual image of vegans is that they eat fancy fake meats, buy expensive health foods, and eat out at pricey vegan restaurants. If you do these things, expect to spend a lot of money. However, that isn’t the only way to eat vegan. The best way I’ve found is to keep it simple. It’s not as hard as you think if you stick to simple meals.
However, that isn’t the only way to eat vegan. The best way I’ve found is to keep it simple. It’s not as hard as you think if you stick to simple meals.
Because I know this is an issue that a lot of people are concerned with, I figured I would give you some tips that have helped me to afford vegan food. Sometimes, I splurge, but what you have to remember is that it’s possible.
1. Don’t worry about buying organic
Obviously, some people will call me crazy for not advocating to buy organic foods. Yes, I understand the benefits, but if you’re on a tight budget, getting any nutrients from plants is better than the standard American diet. If you can’t afford to buy organic produce, don’t. If you have a little extra money, buy fruits like apples, lettuce, grapes, and potatoes organic. The general rule I go by is how thick the skin is. This isn’t always true, but, for the most part, it works. Foods like melons, pineapples, avocados, and grapefruit are fine without being organic because of their thick skins.
2. Buy bulk items when possible
Typically, bulk items are super cheap. Not only that, but you can cut down on the packaging that everything comes in nowadays. You can find bulk foods at most stores. Just be careful. Most of the time, bulk prices are better, but if you have a coupon that makes something else cheaper, go that route.
3. Build staples little by little
Start by trying out a recipe on Pinterest that you know will taste delicious. Buy in bulk if you can and keep the extra ingredients for your next meal. Slowly build your pantry of staples as you try out more recipes. It seems expensive to switch immediately to veganism because you’re basically buying a whole new kitchen. Start small, build little by little, and you’ll be golden.
4. Avoid meat and dairy substitutes whenever possible
Seriously, fake meats and dairy are where vegans get most of the rep for being expensive. Of course, fake meat is expensive! It’s so processed and has so many ingredients in order to make it similar to regular meat. Not only that but because meat substitutes are more complicated to make, the companies can raise the prices. If you can stick with one-ingredient foods you’ll save tons of money.
5. Shop at local grocery stores
Local grocery stores can have cheap produce. Some of them even allow gleaning at a discounted price. Check out Falling Fruit, an interactive map that tells you where you can glean all over the world. I’m a big fan of gleaning, but that’s a post for another time.
Really, you don’t have to shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joes to be healthy. Yes, I LOVE those stores, but I also know that when I’m tight for money, I can’t step foot into them otherwise I’ll be tempted by the overly abundant aromas. Smells are what get me, guys.
6. Limit eating out
You’ll probably find quickly that eating out is really hard to do as a vegan. And I absolutely hate being the customer with the complicated order. When you’re on a tight budget, why not just avoid that headache altogether? Eating out becomes especially expensive if you decide to eat at a vegan or vegetarian restaurant. Stick with homecooked meals whenever you can.
7. Choose water
Drinks add up really quickly. Instead of your coffee in the morning or drinks with friends, choose to drink water. Water is free and so much better for you anyway. If you forgo your morning coffee at the price of $4 a day, you’ll save $120 a month and $1460 a year. Now, that’s saving money.
8. Pasta and Rice
While I advocate for eating as many raw fruits and veggies as possible, pasta and rice are a good way to go if you’re on a tight budget. They are dirt cheap, and if you buy them in bulk, even better. Try to avoid buying white rice, and see if you can budget enough to buy brown rice. Don’t worry so much about it being organic (though you should later when your budget allows). The prices can vary so much. At Winco, you can get organic brown rice for $2.25/lb. and the regular long-grain brown rice for $0.63.
Try to avoid buying white rice, and see if you can budget enough to buy brown rice. Don’t worry so much about it being organic (though you should later when your budget allows). The prices can vary so much. At Winco, you can get organic brown rice for $2.25/lb. and the regular long-grain brown rice for $0.63.
Rice and pasta fill you up, and they are good staples to use in your meals for cheap prices.
9. Cheap appliances
Some people swear by certain appliances and say that you have to have certain ones to be able to cook like a vegan should. That’s false. Yes, there are some kitchen appliances that make life way easier but don’t feel like you have to buy a $500 Vitamix when a $20 blender from Target will work.
The only kitchen appliances I use are a cheap blender from Target on Black Friday, a food processor (that I don’t use as much as I maybe should), and a crockpot (I really don’t use). Depending on what you eat, you may not need any of these. If you like smoothies, invest in a blender. If you are a busy person that needs to throw food in a crockpot during the day, get a crockpot. You really don’t need every appliance on the Walmart shelf.
Remember, something like a lemon squeezer is nice, but you could also get the cheap hand juicer from Walmart or just squeeze by hand. You don’t need all the fancy gear everyone says you do.
10. Potlucks with friends
Some of the best experiences I’ve had with vegan food has been with friends. There’s something rewarding about cooking for each other. Plus, you get to enjoy some new recipes that could become your new favorites.
Get a group of your vegan friends together and decide on a night for a potluck dinner. Or, if you have adventurous friends that aren’t vegan, challenge them to make a vegan dish. Some people love the challenge.
While you’re having a buffet of delicious vegan food, make sure to ask friends for the recipes. You could even ask each friend ahead of time to prepare a card with the recipe on it for each person attending. You can swap cards during dinner and have all the recipes at your fingertips.
Read more about the importance of supporters.
There are a ton of tips I’m sure I’ve missed, but these are the few that have helped me the most. Remember, vegan eating doesn’t have to be expensive. You can enjoy good health and food while on a budget.
What other tips do you have? What have you tried that you thought would work that doesn’t? Have you tried any of the ones I’ve listed?
Let me know in the comments below!
Featured image: NeONBRAND from Unsplash.com