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A common myth surrounding veganism is that it’s an expensive way to live.
This could not be further from the truth.
IN FACT I’d go as far as to say that budget vegan meals are potentially healthier than expensive ones.
Because all those processed meat alternatives are hella expensive. You know what’s cheap and nutritious? RICE AND BEANS. Btw, I have a post whether you can be a healthy vegan on a budget here, tl;dr? Yes, yes you can.
The exception that proves the rule is, of course, Linda McCartney veggie sausages, which B&M do for a pound (as do Sainsbury’s actually, on occasion).
There’s a lot of posts out there that talk about farmer’s markets and slow cookers and yada yada yada. I don’t go to farmer’s markets and the idea of leaving an electrical appliance on when I’m not in the house fills me with fear. As does the thought of having to wait 8 hours for my tea.
So that’s not what we’ll talk about. Instead, I’ll try and go through a few things that really helped me stick to a budget for my food shopping. I’m not going to suggest anything that I don’t personally do.
Affiliate links will be asterisked like this*. Let’s keep things legal, kids.
Tip 1 – Be realistic
A common tip for how to be vegan on a budget is to bulk buy things like rice, dried beans, nuts, and seeds.
This is a great tip IF you think you’ll use up the food before it goes off.
Otherwise, you’re just wasting money.
An example in my own life is rice. We don’t eat rice very much, so we buy the microwaveable packets when they’re on offer.
I bought a packet of dried brown rice about 8 years ago and never use it. Perhaps one day, when I realise my dreams of being a domestic goddess, I’ll cook rice from scratch. Hell, perhaps I’ll even grow it myself. But for now, I get the microwave stuff.
And yes, it comes in plastic packaging, but we eat rice maybe once a month, if that, so in the grand scheme of things, we’re not contributing too much.
Tip 2 – Identify cheap foods
Nuts and seeds can be hella expensive, and as I mentioned above, can go off if you don’t use them regularly.With nuts, I rotate what I use. I’m currently adding walnuts to salads, because they’re fairly cheap, especially if you get the broken ones.
I’m not a huge fan of raw almonds (I mean, they’re fine, but they’re not moreishly delicious like dry roasted peanuts) so I buy almond butter. Because it’s £4.50 a pop (christ), I reserve it for stuffing into dates, rather than eating straight from the jar.
If you’re adding nut butter to smoothies, it’s worth bulk buying peanut butter. I like this one* – it’s palm oil free if that’s your kink. I’ve bought big tubs of almond butter before, but I find them all a little tasteless, so I get the Sainsbury’s own brand and practice self-control. A bit.
I get all my seeds from Amazon (chia*, flax* and hemp*), and then I mix ’em together with some cacao, turmeric, cinnamon and spirulina to go in my smoothies. That way I get a lot of my nutrients in one day and it doesn’t take me hours (and many different spoons) to individually measure out all the ingredients.
Also, all my smoothies just taste of cinnamon. I’m not mad. Sometime last year my tastebuds became accustomed to cinnamon (I swear it was when I learned how good it is for you), so if you don’t like it now, there may still be hope.
If you want more info on adding extra nutrients into your diet without loads of hassle and gross food, this post has your back.
Tip 3 – Be zero tolerance on waste
This can be achieved by:
a) overeating so there are no leftovers, thus reducing the need to spend money on an evening snack
b) making your peace with having the same meal multiple nights in a row
c) freezing leftovers.
Now, you’d think that option c) was the most realistic, but let me tell you, a) is definitely my most utilised and favourite.
Option b) is fine by me. At uni I went through a stage of having a baked potato with beans every night for about three months. I’m not even mad about it. Add in a salad and you have a meal fit for the gods.
c) is probably the most efficient though, and indeed tonight I’m having a lasagne that I made and froze last week (made using this cheese sauce – it doesn’t taste particularly cheesy to me but it’s still absolute heaven).
Top tips for the freezing method are to 1) label and date everything and 2) actually remember to defrost and eat stuff.
Full disclosure, I rarely freeze stuff. I think the lasagne is about the only thing ever. But it was so nice having dinner at my fingertips! In 2019 I will hopefully discover the full power of my freezer!
Tip 4 – Meal plan and prep
I don’t meal plan beyond writing down three main meal dinner ideas per week and don’t prep beyond chopping up my salad veggies, but it still saves us money.
It means we actually use up our salad veggies without griping about it. There was a stage when we were buying cucumbers apparently with the sole purpose of filling our compost heap.
I put red onions and bell pepper in my salad too, and it’s great if you decide to make say, chilli on the fly because you already have the onions prepared. I might start adding celery and carrot to this list too, so I have a pre-chopped meal base ready to go whenever I fancy, as well as crudités (ugh, hate that word. Also hate the thought of dipping something none-wheat based in hummus, but apparently everyone else likes it).
(And now a short interlude, where I pen a love letter to my new blender/food processor.)
It’d even be worth dragging out the food processor out and mass chopping everything easily. I may do that now I’m the proud owner of a Ninja (a blender, not a covert agent from feudal Japan). I’ve had a decent food processor for a while, but always hankered after a Magimix and a Vitamix.
My brother recommended a Nutri Ninja which has a blender, food processor and those individual blender cup things and I love it.
My old blender was FINE but my smoothies were quite gritty (I add a lot of seeds), spinach always requiring a bit of chewing, and everything separated after a few minutes. But then it died, after a long tenure.
The new one makes the smoothest smoothies.
I’ve never tried a Vitamix so they’re probably smoother, but for a fraction of the cost – £140 compared to about £600.
I’m perfectly happy with it, and if I won the lottery, would stick with my Nutri Ninja (unless it broke, then who knows?).
No separating, no grittiness, extremely limited chewing, even with kale (which I don’t destalk).
(affiliate link alert)
Just so we’re clear.
It’s an INCREDIBLE machine. And super easy to clean. I was excited to see that Cheap Lazy Vegan has a similar, if not the same, one to me in her new video on celery juice.
It was purchased in February, and I have used it to chop stuff, make smoothies and blend sauces.
I freaking love it.
(It does cashews well too, unlike a lot of other cheap blenders).
Tip 5 – Shop online
Or, if you prefer, scan as you shop.
The idea is that you can set your budget to whatever you like and then you’re aware if you go over it and can put stuff back. We get online shopping from Sainsbury’s and it saves all our favourite products so we can quickly add them.
If e.g., Linda McCartney was on offer one week (the sausages are sometimes £1), I can stock up, and forgo something else (say Quorn ham-free ham).
Bear in mind that stocking up on the Ham-free ham isn’t to be recommended, because I’ve discovered that the more I have, the more I eat.
Hope that helped
There are more tips I could add, like not bothering with organic, ignoring use-by dates, and eating at work.
But I don’t want to
get into trouble advocate anything dangerous.
I personally don’t buy organic foods unless by accident, because, er, I care more about saving a bit of money than my own body.
Maybe when I’m rich, kids.
Oh, and finally, remember that being vegan is a lifestyle not just a diet so, shop secondhand if you can’t afford clothes that are produced by ethical companies, read this post on cheap vegan skincare (or, if you can’t be arsed, you can’t go wrong with Superdrug’s own brand – almost everything is vegan), and try to be nice to everyone. That’s free (money-wise, anyway)!
Feel free to leave any info that might change my minds in the comments though, I’m always up for a bit of education.
See ya’s all later.