One of the things I get asked about the most is eating vegan on a budget. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told by someone, “I couldn’t eat like that, it’s too expensive.” You might be surprised how inexpensive a vegan diet can actually be. It can even be less expensive than a diet full of meat and dairy. A vegan diet can be expensive if it is full of processed foods like mock meats, cheeses, sour cream, etc or if you are eating foods that are not in season or are not easily accessible in your area.
A budget friendly vegan diet is going to look different for everyone. Someone in Hawaii will be able to affordably eat an abundance of tropical produce like mangoes, papayas, bananas, avocados, etc. I am located in Pennsylvania where we get all four seasons (sometimes in one day lol) so eating a diet like Ellen Fisher wouldn’t be affordable for me. I am sharing some budget friendly vegan staples in our household.
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List of Inexpensive Staples
Potatoes – What can’t you do with a potato? Fry em, bake em, roast em, add them to soup. (Channeling Bubba from Forest Gump) You can do some much with them and they are actually very high in nutrients and not to be feared like most people are lead to believe.
Bananas – Bananas can be added to oatmeal, smoothies, pancakes and so much more. They are also a great snack to eat on their own. If they ripen faster than you can use them freeze them for smoothies and nice cream or make banana bread or muffins out of them!
Rice – Rice bought in bulk is super cheap! We like to add rice as a base to a lot of our meals or as a side.
Pasta – There are so many ways to make pasta. We like to keep a few boxes on hand at all times. One of our favorite pasta recipes is an asparagus pasta created by a friend of mine over at The Friendly Fig. Find it here.
Oats – Gosh, oats are such an incredible staple to have on hand. There are so many ways to use oats. The obvious of course being oatmeal or overnight oats. Find my recipe for Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal here. You can add oats to smoothies to keep you fuller longer or make oat flour if you are in a pinch. We even use it to make our own plant based milk. Find my Oat Milk recipe here.
Beans – Dried beans are really inexpensive. We like to keep a few cans of beans in case we forget to soak some. We prefer to buy dried beans and soak them ourselves. There are so many varieties of beans and they are very versatile. I like to add beans to so many of our meals and recipes.
Quinoa – Quinoa is something I recently became obsessed with. It can be used in hot or cold meals which makes it great for lunches. I like to use it as a base for stir-fries and as a salad topper. This is my favorite quinoa.
Apples – Apples are great for snacking and can be added to a lot of meals. They are really inexpensive when they are in season and can be canned into apple sauce or apple butter. I love to add them to oatmeal and salads too!
Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods because they can be eaten sweet or savory. I love to roast them as a side dish or to add to salads. We love to use them for burritos too!
Onions – Onions are really affordable and we use them in just about every dish we make. Keep the skins to make Veggie Broth. See my tutorial here.
Zucchini – We make a yummy pasta sauce using zucchini. Find the recipe here. We cook zucchini in so many different ways. One of our favorites is this lasagna recipe. We also like to cook them with a dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder for a simple side dish.
Peanut Butter – We like to keep peanut butter on hand for sandwiches. I love to use fresh fruit in my peanut butter sandwiches like banana, apples, strawberries and blue berries. Calvin prefers to use jam, either way we love having it for quick lunches. We like to keep PB2 powder on hand to add to smoothies, oat meal and even to make yummy sauces.
Frozen Veggies – Frozen veggies are great to keep on hand and can be really affordable. We like to keep a mix of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots to use a side and we also keep frozen corn and peas. Watch for sales on these and stock up when you can!
Carrots – Carrots are really nutrient dense. They are in a ton of juice recipes like this one here. They can also be added to salads, eaten as a snack, roasted, made into soup (like my roasted butternut squash recipe here) and so much more!
Canned Tomatoes – Canned tomatoes are great for adding to pastas and curries. We buy these in bulk at Sam’s Club. If you garden you can even can your own tomatoes.
Broccoli – Broccoli is great for side dishes and can be added to so many recipes. Soup, salads, stir-fries. The possibilities are practically endless.
Mushrooms – We stock up on mushrooms when they are on sale and freeze them because we use them in so many meals. We love to use portobello mushrooms as burgers and we like to slice them up and roast them with other veggies. We use baby bella mushrooms in pastas, on pizza, in stir-fries and burritos and so many more meals.
Lettuce – We can get lettuce and kale pretty inexpensive near us if we buy it by the head. Stay away from bagged lettuce if you are looking to save money. Make sure to use it up first and store it properly so it doesn’t go to waste.
Tips For Saving Money On Groceries
Don’t Throw Money Away
One of the best things you can do to save on grocery costs is to not throw your money away. Buy only what you need and use it all. Use your fresh produce before relying on frozen and pantry items. We like to make a big salad for dinner the first 1-2 nights after a grocery trip and stick to meals like pasta or veggie burgers at the end of the week. Freeze any produce that is going to go bad before you can use it or make it into a soup or stir-fry. You can also make smoothies or juice.
Check For Sales
Check for sales and plan your meals around them. You should also take advantage of sales to stock up. When something we eat often is on sale I will buy extra. For example, sometimes bagels are buy one get on free so I will usually freeze one for later.
Pay attention to what’s in season. You can save a lot of money by shopping for produce that is in season. Take advantage of the low costs by buying in bulk and freezing or canning things like peaches, pickles, tomatoes, etc. Check out your local farmer’s markets and pick your own farms.
Grow Your Own Food
One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to not spend money at all! Growing your own food can save you a ton of money. If gardening is an option for you take advantage of it! If you grow more than you can eat freeze and can some for later or give some away to friends and neighbors. Consider connecting with other gardeners to swap for more options! You could even sell some of your overflow and use the money for additional groceries! If you aren’t able to garden where you live, search your area for a community garden.
Buy in bulk when possible. Buying in bulk can save you money over time. I like to buy some of my staple items like oats, rice, beans etc in bulk. We shop at Sam’s Club once a month for staple items. We buy oats and rice only 1-2 times a year in bulk and save a ton of money this way. Buying in bulk isn’t always more affordable so make sure to do a little research first.
Make a list and stick to it
Have you ever gone to the store on an empty stomach? Your stomach starts to do the the shopping and you end up tossing everything that looks tasty in the cart. This can also happen if you go in without a plan. I try to stick to a list so that I don’t end up buying stuff impulsively and so that I am not buying things we don’t need that may end up going to waste.
Use Shopping Apps
I like to write out my meal plan for the week and then add the ingredients to InstaCart (Use code KWARNER13110 or click here to save $10 on your first order) or our local grocery stores app to track the pricing. This give me an idea of how much I will be spending and I can also see what is on sale. It’s easier to stick to my list this way. This also limits any surprises in the store and I can adjust my meal plan if needed before I am standing in the middle of the grocery store thinking “There’s no way I am paying $10 for a bag of grapes”.
I like to check cash back apps like Ibotta before I go to the store. Ibotta gives you cash back for eligible items when you upload your receipt or link your loyalty card. You can even earn cash back when shopping online through the app. Click here to earn $10 with your first receipt or use my referral code: xlwbvcn
We like to shop at Sam’s Club and Thrive Market once a month for some of our staple items. Then we will go to Aldi to do the majority of our shopping where we know we will get the best prices. We will do the rest of our shopping at our local grocery store.
We pay attention to the prices of each item so we know where we can get the best price. For example our local grocery store sells Dave’s Killer Bread for over $5 a loaf. I know that I can get 2 loaves for $7 at Sam’s Club so I will buy enough for the month when we are there and freeze what I don’t need right away. I also know that sometimes vegetables are cheaper at our local grocery store than they are at Aldi. It can be annoying sometimes to shop at more than one store, but there is no denying it will save you money. #budgetlife
Shop Thrive Market
Some of our staples are hard to find in stores. I purchase them from Thrive market and it saves me 25-50% off retail prices on 6,000+ organic, non-GMO, and sustainable products. Things like coconut aminos, almond butter, dulse granules, hemp seeds, etc. You can use my referral link here and get 25% off your first order! http://thrv.me/bSno3t (I am not affiliated with this company and this is not a sponsored post.)