Maintaining a Budget for your Vegan Diet is Easy to Do
One of the many concerns when following a plant-based diet is affordability. Although it will incur additional costs on your grocery expenses, it does not mean that you will be burning a hole in your pocket. The other thing that you should also take into account is that this kind of lifestyle is actually a better way to invest in your health and well-being. After all, if you still maintain the habit of eating meat and processed foods, you will eventually be spending more on medications once the health complications set in. Putting yourself in a mindset that will change how you view food and nutrition is your first step to overcoming the notion that a plant-based diet is expensive. The next step is finding the right strategies on how you can follow this healthier and cleaner lifestyle without putting a dent in your budget.
Planning and Advance Preparation is Key to Any Budget Eating
Preparation is key to successfully following a sustainable plant-based eating lifestyle. At the start of the week, go to your pantry and fridge and do an inventory of the ingredients that you still have. This will be the basis of your menu for that week. Since most fresh produce will have to be consumed within a few days to a week, make sure to plan out your meals based on what you already have. The remaining days of the week, you can plan out other dishes which will need additional ingredients. Base your grocery list from what you are planning to cook. It would also help if you can set a budget for every week.
It also helps to know where to shop. Your local farmer’s market surely has a wide variety of fresh, organic produce are in season. Buying from this type of market is also a great way to score items that are cheaper than commercial groceries. You can also try checking out discount stores if you are buying frozen vegetables. If there is an ethnic supermarket in your vicinity, make sure to check it out as well, since these stores carry great options for herbs and spices. Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian stores also have a lot of supplies when it comes to noodles, rice, legumes and tofu that might not be available in your local supermarket. You can buy a 100g bag of dried herbs and spices at your local Indian store around $2 or less.
Shop wisely by sticking to your list when buying groceries. Avoid impulse shopping and don’t be swayed into buying them just because they look cute. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it. You can make a mental note of including another item for your next grocery to make sure that it is taken into your budget. You should also be aware of what items are generally affordable to buy. These include brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal and oats, legumes, potatoes and frozen vegetables. Since these items are staples in your meals, you can create your meals around them and then add vegetables and fruits that are in season. Choosing fresh, in-season produce can also make your grocery more affordable. Make sure to check out the discount deals for produce first, before you make your rounds in the grocery.
Buy Bulk and Store Your Staples at Home
Buy items like oats, dry beans, and brown rice, which are staples in your meals, in bulk. Purchasing items in bulk is a great way to score discounts compared to buying these on weekly portions. Since you are frequently using these items, you are already sure that these will be put to good use and won’t be wasting money on your purchase.
You will need to be mindful about how you store your food at home. When buying bulk ingredients, place them in glass containers and put them in a place where they are highly visible. This will constantly remind you to add them to your dishes and will serve as an inventory so you don’t buy another set even before you have completely consumed these items. It is essential to have a good supply of glass storage jars. I have Mason (Ball) jars in all sizes, from 4oz all the way up to 64oz. These can be used for both dry ingredients that you buy in bulk, stews and soups, teas, etc. Not a day goes by that I use at least one of these!
When buying fresh produce, wash them and store them properly in your fridge. This will help avoid the produce from getting contaminated with the other products and prevent them from rotting. It will also help you avoid the temptation of eating out on days when you don’t want to cook. Having diced celery or pre-stripped lettuce in your fridge means that you just have to place them on your plate and you already have a salad for dinner.
Spend 1 to 2 Days Each Week to Cook in Bulk
Batch cooking is a great way to make sure that you have veggie meals throughout the week, particularly on days when you don’t feel like cooking. Soups, casseroles, and curries made out of potatoes, frozen greens, beans, and lentils are some of the recipes that taste great even after being frozen. Create a large batch at the start of the week or when you have a more available schedule and then portion them for lunch and dinner. Put in the freezer and just reheat them.
Aside from meals, you can also cook a batch of legumes and freeze them after. Prepping your own legumes for consumption is significantly cheaper than buying the canned ones. It is also healthier since you can’t really be too sure of what extra chemicals, sodium or fats have been added to those foods during the canning process.
You can also make enough food in the evening so you can still have that yummy leftover vegetable moussaka for lunch. Mornings can be hectic and will leave you little time to prepare for your lunch. With a ready-to-eat food, you can avoid eating out which can translate to savings.
When you consider it, adopting a vegan or vegetarian way of eating is actually more affordable than the typical Western Diet. The amount that you will spend on buying a meal composed of junk and processed foods, which have low amounts of nutrients and are high in cholesterol and saturated fats, can actually be equal to two meals consisting of fresh, whole foods. Although there are vegan foods that are expensive, the majority of the produce that you will base your meals on are largely affordable.
What do you do to stay within your budget on a plant-based diet? We’d love to have you share your tips in the comment box below.