With the prices of everything up these days, people are really having a hard time with expenses–including food. A common misconception about eating plant-based on a budget is that it’s a hard thing to do.
Having been plant-based since 2013, I can honestly say that it’s really not much more expensive than when we were eating animal products. Certain healthy foods (like organic fruits and veggies) can be more expensive, but not always.
Additionally, we’ve found that the health benefits of organic plant-based foods far outweigh any higher costs. Healthy eating also equals less trips to the doctor, which ends up saving us in the long run.
In this article, we share 8 tips for eating plant-based on a budget. You can listen below or read on for a summary of everything we discuss.
8 Tips For Eating Plant-Based on a Budget
The 8 tips we’re sharing here aren’t exclusive to plant-based meal plans. That is, if you still eat some animal-derived food products (or you have family members who do), these tips will still work for you. But if you’re still eating some meat, the higher prices of those products might motivate you to kick your meat habit!
1. Make a Grocery List
There is a HUGE difference in both the cost and the quality of the food in our shopping basket when we take the time to make a list versus the times we decide to “wing it.”
Not only are unplanned grocery trips more costly (as we tend to pick up more processed convenience products) but we also tend to buy more junk food.
We’ve previously mentioned that our favorite tool for planning our meals and grocery list is
2. Buy in Bulk
Buying food in bulk is another great way to eat plant-based on a budget. You can find so many products in bulk these days, including:
- nut butters (almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter)
- dry beans
- and much more!
Besides shopping from the “bulk bins” there are other items you can buy in larger quantities to save money. For example, we’ve started buying bagged apples and bagged potatoes rather than buying them individually. Of course, don’t buy a lot if you’re not going to eat it. I’ve found that buying in bulk has actually encouraged me to eat more because I don’t want the food to go to waste. I eat more apples now than I used to because I buy them in a bag containing 8 apples rather than buying single apples.
3. Batch-Cook to stretch your Meals
Our community is BIG on batch-cooking! Batch-cooking meals is a great way to save money and time. Having prepared meals at-the-ready at home can help you resist the temptation to grab fast food.
4. Don’t buy everything organic
Back in episode 21 of our podcast we first introduced the idea of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists published by the Environmental Work Group (EWG). These lists will help you understand which fruits and veggies are more likely to retain pesticide residue, even after you wash them.
The Dirty Dozen are those you should consider buying organic. The “Clean 15” are those that have little or no risk of contamination from pesticides, so it’s generally safer to purchase the conventional (non-organic) versions of these products.
- Learn to master knife skills
- Cooking without oil and creating healthy stocks/ sauces
- Time-Saving cooking strategies
- Virtual Q&A's and instructor support
5. Substitute Store Brands When possible
Store brands can sometimes get a bad name. When I was young, many of them still had the plain black and white “generic” label, and they tasted just as bland as the labels looked.
These days, stores are competing with many name brands, so if you’ve shied away from store brands in the past you may want to give them another try to save you some money. For example, Costco’s store brand, Kirkland, has some really amazing products that we love!
6. Buy Frozen Vegetables and Frozen Fruit When Fresh Is Out of Season
Not only do fruits and vegetables taste a bit “off” when they’re out of season, but they can be more expensive. When fruits and veggies are out of season, consider substituting frozen versions of your favorites, such as blueberries and strawberries. They’ll also last longer, which will help you lower your food waste.
7. Plan Your Meals (Including Leftovers) to Minimize Food Waste
Tonight’s dinner can also be your lunch tomorrow. Larissa and I often have leftovers for lunch, which not only saves us money but also saves us the frustration of trying to figure out what to eat.
8. Shop Local
We love going to farmers’ markets. We get fresh, locally-grown produce and our dogs get an extra outing.
Luckily, since we live in a big city, we can find a farmers market with a good selection of leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and more several days during the week.
We love shopping local for veggies versus shopping in big-box grocery stores. Not only can you find some good deals there but you’re also supporting local farmers, which is a win-win.
Where To Find Recipes If You’re Eating Plant-Based on a Budget
Finding plant-based recipes for delicious meals is pretty easy these days. While there are some awesome vegetarian and vegan books out there, there are also a lot of great plant-based meal recipes online.
Here are a few of our favorite sites with affordable and easy-to-make recipes.
There are also a few books we really love for simple, inexpensive, delicious recipes. Those books are:
- Easy Vegan Home Cooking by Laura Theodore
- Vegetariana by Nava Atlas
- Plant-Based on a Budget by Toni Okamoto
- The College Vegetarian Cookbook
- Eat Vegan on $4 a Day
We hope these 8 tips for eating plant-based on a tight budget help you save money while still sticking with your plant-based meal plans. As you can see, eating plant-based on a budget is entirely possible and healthy meals don’t need to break the bank. It really just comes down to smart grocery shopping
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