Plant-based on a budget
21 June 2018
There is a general misconception that a plant-based diet is more expensive than a diet containing meat and dairy. However, it can actually be (and often is) very affordable! Here are some practical tips on how to be vegan on a budget.
Find out where it’s cheapest
The quickest and easiest way to buy food is a one-stop-shop, buying everything from a single supermarket – but it’s definitely not the most cost-effective approach. Shopping at different places will take more time but will save you money! Start keeping an eye on the prices of individual products or product categories (e.g. pantry items, fresh fruit and veggies, grains, frozen foods, canned foods, etc.). Once you have a better idea of what’s cheapest where, you can stock up once a week (for fresh foods) or once a month (for dry goods). For example::
- A fresh produce market for fruit and vegetables.
- A local Asian grocer for dried beans and legumes, rice, spices, and herbs.
- Supermarkets for frozen and canned foods, pantry items etc.
- A health store for more niche products such as nutritional yeast, tempeh, and liquid smoke.
Buy in bulk
For foods that you use regularly and which have a long shelf-life (e.g. grains, dried legumes, nuts and seeds, dried spices and herbs), buy in bulk. If you’re not sure about their shelf-life, store what you’re not using in an airtight container or zip-lock bag, and freeze.
Skip the luxuries
Many ready-to-eat convenience foods, such as vegan cheeses and meats, plant milks, and snacks and desserts, can be quite expensive, and they’re often not necessary. Skip past these when you shop (or buy one or two for special occasions). Get used to snacking on whole foods and learn how to work with tofu (it’s really cheap from local Asian grocers).
Make it yourself
Making your own food really doesn’t need to take too much time. Set aside a day a week to make a bunch of food for the coming week. For example:
Use your freezer
Since you’re buying in bulk and setting aside regular time to prep food, you may as well cook in bulk, and make good use of your freezer. Invest in some airtight plastic containers and reusable zip-lock bags, and freeze portions of food to pull out on a given weeknight.