if you are trying to go plant based for your diet or you are a vegan and really need to save some money, it might be time to budget with out compromising taste OR health.
How to save money at the grocery store:
1. Make a list.
Do not get near a grocery store with out a list. Plan out meals, snacks and as much as you can before you get to the store.
2. Shop around.
If you have to, pick a few grocery stores to shop in. It’s usually too expensive to buy every thing at a whole foods type store, but they might be the only place near you that has a couple of things that you really like. Just buy what you can’t find anywhere else at the more expensive stores. Plan on going to a local farmers market for your fruits and veggies. If there is an Asian grocery store near you, definitely check it out for things like nori, rice, noodles, and sometimes good prices on tofu and rare veggies.
3. Use a home delivery service.
If you have a grocery store near you with good vegan options that delivers definitely use the service! It will save you a lot of money and time.
4. Stay away from things you eat fast.
I started buying things that took a little more time to cook, and that were not prepared beforehand as much. This has been great not just for my budget but my waist line as well. If you go through a small thing of non dairy ice cream in a couple of days stay away from buying it. Same goes for snack type items.
5. Save it!
There are some things that you can make in the beginning of the week that will last all week long (like soup and tofu scramble).
6. Make it yourself.
If you are buying things that pre-made like seitan or fakin bakon, canned beans, frozen fruits.. learn to make it on your own!
7. Skip going out to eat.
As much as you can avoid going out or ordering out… do it! A meal out will run you around 20 dollars each time, the same meal at home will always cost you a fraction of that.
8. Pay with cash.
This might require you to walk around the store with a notebook and calculator.. but if you only buy what you have cash for you will really focus on what you need and what you can spend. Even if you can’t do that all the time, do it a few times so you really have a connection to how much you spend.
9. Buy from bulk bins.
There are some great finds to be had in bulk bins! I found nutritional yeast for less than 5 dollars a pound recently. Cereals are also cheaper this way.
10. If you buy something you will use for a while be sure to divide it up.
Let’s say you buy a jar of veganaise.. you won’t be using it in a week (well you better not be!) if the jar costs $6 divide that by 4 weeks to get the actual price per week. Keep this in mind for things like spices and oil.
11. Stay away from desserts:
I know, it sucks, but hey… you wanted cheap. I’ll include some sweet stuff below, but if you want to save money, skip on the desserts.
Budget plant based meals:
Breakfast under $3
Tofu Scrambles: always a great breakfast! A pound of tofu will run you under $3, add a chopped pepper, 1 small potato chopped, 1/2 an onion, lots of spices. Keep it in the fridge all week, when you take it out for breakfast top it with a little salsa and put it in a vegan tortilla. Each breakfast with salsa and tortilla comes out to be around $1.50.
Smoothies: A handful of kale, a frozen banana, water and a little vegan protein powder will cost about $2 per smoothie (depending on the powder you use).
Pancakes with homemade syrup: Find a vegan pancake mix – use applesauce and water to make the mix (instead of egg and milk). Use a non stick pan and spray oil instead of vegan butter. For syrup – use any fruit (we love pears!) and a little agave syrup – heat up in a small sauce pan and you’ve got a really tasty breakfast. Comes to about $1.50 per person.
Oatmeal: Go ahead – throw some fruit on it! A serving costs (with fruit) around $1!
Tofu Benedict: 1 english muffin, 2 thin slices of tofu, 2 slices vegan canadian bacon 2 slices tomato.. top with a little vegan sour cream mixed with nutritional yeast. Each serving is about $2-$2.50
Toast with nut butter: Easy enough, right? You can even add a sliced banana to it and it will still be under $1
Some of this depends on if you work in an office or not.
Sandwiches – a few slices of tempeh, some hummus and veggies.- about $3
Lettuce wraps: fill with sprouts, tomatos, cucumbers, and a vegan dressing.- about $2
Rice wraps: a slice of tofu, sprouts, shredded carrots and a homemade peanut sauce for dipping. – get the rice wraps at an Asian grocery store for the best prices.
Hummus and veggies: Make your own hummus for the best price! Use carrots, cucumbers and peppers for dipping.
Peanut butter and jelly: Hey you wanted easy and cheap?
Smoothies: Again…smoothies are awesome and cheap
Soup! Make a big pot of soup in the beginning of the week, you can save it in the fridge or freeze it. Use a vegan broth, chopped onions, peppers, carrots, celery (really whatever you want), noodles and I like adding tofu or TVP and some brown rice noodles. Total cost per serving comes out to around $2
Sushi: 1 cup of short grained rice, 2 sheets of nori, your favorite veggies, a little soy sauce. About $1.50 per roll (I’ll post recipes for sushi tomorrow!)
Stir Fry: Favorite veggies, homemade seitan or some tofu, rice or rice noodles. Under $2 per serving.
Brown rice pasta: Enough for at least 2-3 people… or a few meals: A package of noodles, organic tomato sauce (you can make your own if you like), and lots of seasonal veggies. Under $2 per serving.
Chilli: 2 cups of beans, chopped tomatos, peppers and onions, a little cayenne pepper and you’ve got yourself a meal under $1.50 and it’s filling.
Bean burrito: Beans, peppers, onions, salsa in a tortilla. I know, pretty simple as well.
Black bean burgers: Make your own! There are some great recipes out there…(be sure to find the vegan ones). Generally you just need cooked black beans, brown rice and spices. Top with a tomato slice on some lettuce and YUM. and CHEAP
Salad: Just go wild with the salad, you can make a huge salad for under $2 per serving easily.
Fruit! just plain will do….
2 TBS agave in small sauce pan with your favorite fruit, pour over a slice of toast. Or, 1/2 english muffin topped with a little tofuti.
Baked apples and cinnamon.
Baked fruit with cinnamon is always tasty and healthy.
Homemade ice pops (just blend and freeze your favorite fruit).
Chocolate dipped fruit…
Are you getting the hint that fruit for dessert is much cheaper?
If you have to eat out on a Budget:
Japanese restaurants are great for vegans. A vegan sushi roll and a bowl of miso soup will cost you under $5!
Mexican: do sides of every thing Vegan beans (make sure beans are not cooked in lard or meat stock!), a side of rice and most places give you free chips and salsa..it will run you under $4 at most places.
My biggest budgeting advice
Stay away from things that are pre-packaged as much as you can and eat in and bring your lunch more! PLAN! Do not go to the store with out a list, stick to the list. Plan out your meals that week and figure out what you need to make them. Check what you already have before you go shopping! At the end of the month see how much you’ve saved and put it toward something awesome like a vacation or new car savings (which is what we are saving for!)