You’ve heard the excuses. “I could never be vegan – it is too expensive!” “You’ve been questioned. “How can you afford to eat vegan?” You’ve heard it all, right? “Where do you get your protein?” Sorry, just had to throw it in there!
In general, most people think it’s more expensive to eat a plant-based diet. I’m really not sure where this “expensive” label came from, because eating vegan has actually saved me money! Yes, if you choose to eat 100% organic, it can be pricey. I’m the first to admit that I do not eat as organic as I would like to (and should) because yes, it can get expensive. That’s why I try to stick to the dirty dozen and clean fifteen list.
But aside from organic, let’s be real here. Packaged foods that are processed are much more expensive than bananas! Meat is much more expensive than a large bag of rice or dried beans. A box of Poptarts run around $3.50, while a 5-lb bag of apples cost around the same, if not less. Yes, a vegan diet CAN be expensive if you choose to buy into all the processed and specialty products. The key is to eat clean, and eat from the earth.
So, you need a little help saving money on a vegan diet…
Here area few rules that I’ve learned to follow:
#1: Shop at more than one store. My Saturday routine is probably the most exciting thing going on in my life, and I couldn’t be more satisfied with that. Joe & I get up early and make all our pit stops. We start at Trader Joe’s, work our way across the street to Price Rite (hello cheap produce!) and finish up at Target or Job Lot. Figure out what stores are cheapest for what you need. Yes, it takes a lot of comparing, but do your homework and you will save!
Just a note: If you are currently a Stop & Shop Shopper… just cut the cord already. I cannot tell you how much money we have saved since backing away from that store. No amount of gas rewards could ever add up to our savings. Find a better market!
#2: Load up on dry products. Beans, lentils, and brown rice are probably the cheapest items that you can buy in your grocery store. Seriously… you can grab a huge bag for under $2 in most stores! Lentils, maybe $4. But still… this is the stuff that will last! This is also the stuff that will be included in most of your dishes. They are filling, a great source of protein, and above all else – healthy! I usually mix it up, too. There are a wide variety of beans, so it is hard to get bored. Rice medleys are great – have you ever tried black rice? If you are feeling extra crazy, stock up on couscous (SO. DAMN. GOOD.)
#3: Start a garden. Veggie garden, herb garden… whatever you want! I keep a rosemary plant on my porch for a quick blast of flavor to any meal. Basil, parsley, and chives are also great to keep on hand! Do you love tomatoes? Start a tomato garden! They grow in abundance and don’t take much to grow.
#4: Stick to the perimeters of the market. What are the perimeters? Fresh produce and frozen produce. Yes, frozen produce is your friend!! I buy fresh if I know I will be making something specific, and frozen for all else. Frozen spinach, peas, and green beans will all come in handy when you need something quick. Did I mention how cheap frozen veggies are? Same with fruit for smoothies!
Of course, I mingle in between the aisles for few things: beans, lentils, quinoa, rice, brown rice pasta, and vegan snacks and treats (because honestly, sometimes you just can’t resist Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Marshmallow Treats).
#5: Plan your meals. I do this throughout the week, before Saturday shopping. When you find yourself pinning recipes, write some ingredients down! If you jot down everything that you need for the week, you will not fall short or go above and beyond your bill. It helps keep impulse buys to a minimum, too. I use the Notes app on my iPhone to make a list. If it’s not on the list, I don’t buy it!
#6: Hit up your local farmer’s market. What’s better than supporting local friends and fresh, organic, chemical-free produce at a reasonable price? Not much!
#7: Cook in bulk. Sunday is my bulk cooking day, and boy does it save me a lot of time and money. Prepping food and freezing it for a later time does not make you lazy – it makes you smart! This way, nothing goes to waste.
#8: Sign up for the damn e-mail newsletter. I recently signed up for Trader Joe’s newsletter, and I am so glad I finally did. I know what you are thinking: ANOTHER e-mail list? Trust me, just do it. I created an account specifically for store coupons and sales so I am not bombarded all day. The night before you go shopping, check it and see if there are sales or specials going on!
Now that I’ve shared my favorite ways to save, it’s your turn! I want to hear what you do to save money as a vegan. I’m always ready for a good bargain! xx Bianca