Any vegan knows the age old argument, we’ve all heard it tens and maybe hundreds of times, “But being vegan is expensive.” or my favorite, “Only rich people can be vegan”. These statements are simply not true. In fact, they are far from the truth. I am here to debunk the myth that switching to a vegan lifestyle is expensive once and for all, and help give you some tips on how to save even more money shopping, along the way.
First, lets start off with some facts.
According to an article from MSN MoneyCentral (2007) the cheapest cuts of beef, such as ground beef, average $3 per pound; boneless chicken breasts cost $3.40 a pound; and canned tuna costs around $2 per pound. In comparison dried beans and lentils cost less than $1 a pound, and rice is cheaper than $1 a pound. Tofu is one of the cheapest items you can find at the store, usually costing less than $2 a pound. Even vegans who buy costlier “specialty” items like soy or mock meats and non-dairy ice cream usually still spend less than those individuals loading up on meat.
We can get protein from both plant and animal sources, but did you know that sources made from plant protein are usually less expensive than those products containing animal products? Its true.
Being vegetarian for more than three years now, and vegan for about a year, I can tell you that the following tips have helped us prepare plenty of healthy, delicious vegan meals at home without having to spend outside our monthly budget. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, our protein intake and everything else is fine. In fact, my fiance’ has improved her health greatly by switching to a completely vegan diet. She used to suffer from food allergies, have asthma, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, vitamin and iron deficiencies, and was at risk for diabetes, etc. I, myself was underweight (Weighing about 96 pounds) and suffered from seasonal allergies and gastritis, etc. Becoming vegan helped cure these things and make me gain a bit of healthy weight (I now weigh about 115).
Here are a few great tips for eating vegan, without breaking the bank!
1.) Plan meals in advance – While planning meals in advance may seem time consuming, in the end its worth it. It can be as simple as jotting down a few dinner ideas or a grocery list ahead of time, or as elaborate as making lists of what to buy for the week or the month ahead. This will save you lots of time and money. It will also keep you from having to figure out at the last minute what you’re going to make for dinner on a Monday night.
A great tip for planning meals in advance is to go through a few of your favorite cookbooks and jot down a few meals you think you and your family would enjoy. If possible, try to find a few recipes that call for some of the same ingredients. This will save you money, effort, time, and in addition will keep you from wasting food. One of our favorite vegan cookbooks The Vegan Stoner Cookbook, is ideal for this because its only $16-17 to purchase, full of super easy and delicious recipes, and many of them call for the same ingredients, so you only have to make one shopping trip. Awesome!
2.) Use coupons – Your Grandma was onto something when she’d sit around on Sunday mornings clipping coupons. Clip those coupons and own it girl! A few cents off a carton of vegan milk might not seem like much, but trust me when I say that all those coupons for a few cents off add up quickly! Shopping somewhere like Kroger is also great because you earn fuel points and get additional savings with your Kroger card. Cha Ching! More money you get to keep for yourself!
3.) Buy In Bulk – Making a trip to the grocery store with your coupons in hand and your grocery list/meal plan in the other is a great start to saving money. However, in order to get the most bang for your buck, shopping when there are really great sales and buying in bulk will help stretch your money and your meals even further! Staples like pasta, lentils, dried beans, spices, and dehydrated meals are great for buying in bulk and storing for later. Not only are these types of items cheaper, they can be used for several different types of meals. Don’t be ashamed for buying all those boxes of spaghetti noodles when they’re 10 for $10 at Kroger, you are saving a lot of money and won’t ever have to worry about going hungry when you’re short on cash later!
4.) Invest in a crock pot – If you don’t have a crock pot you should seriously consider getting one. Crock pots make preparing meals even more efficient because you can soak your beans overnight and then cook them in the crock pot the next day. Making vegan chili has also never been easier. Just throw in some Boca crumbles, some of your favorite spices, a few dried beans, onions and green pepper, and let it simmer overnight or all day while you’re away. Don’t forget the chili powder! Talk about cheap and easy!
5.) Forego the restaurant and pack a lunch – Lucky you, your favorite vegan restaurant is right down the street from where you work, which makes it easy and very tempting to stop in and grab a quick bite everyday. But wait! You’re never going to save any money that way! While vegan treats can be nice, try to forego the specialty items or treats and instead pack a lunch. Spoiling yourself every now and then is fine, but if you are going out to eat constantly or making all of your shopping trips at places like Whole Foods, then you are sure to be broke in no time.
Rather than treating yourself to all the vegan goodies whenever you please, try to go out to eat once a month or only on special occasions. In addition, do most of your shopping trips at places like Kroger or Meijer. Trader Joes is also fairly inexpensive. Try to avoid Whole Foods (or as I like to call it “Whole Paycheck”). While Whole Foods may have a larger selection of vegan items, the cost tends to be a lot higher. Try to ask yourself “can I find this item somewhere for a lower price?” If the answer is yes, don’t buy it. Stick to your guns. Its okay to buy those five or six specialty items every week that you just can’t live without, (for me its Beyond Meat Chickenless Strips and Follow Your Heart Fiesta Blend Shreds), but for the most part try to reel it in a bit. You’ll thank yourself later when you didn’t spend all of your paycheck.
6.) Make it yourself – When all else fails, the best way to save money is to make your own condiments and food items at home. Avoiding pre-packaged meals and instead making meals from scratch is not only cheaper, its also much healthier! Reconsider that $4 can of vegan mayonaise or sour cream. Its easy to find a recipe online to make these items at home using only a few inexpensive ingredients such as lemon juice and olive oil or cashews. Making baked goods from scratch is also cheaper than finding accidentally vegan boxed mixes at the store. Forego that $6 carton of vegan ice cream and make your own at home using nothing but mashed frozen bananas. There are all kinds of ways to make your favorite items on your own! All it takes is a little bit of research, and a desire to do it!