Adhering to a vegan diet is a major life decision. It involves embracing an entire philosophy, not just choosing what you’ll have for lunch tomorrow. And as is the case with all decisions of such magnitude, certain issues and questions are bound to arise.
Now, it doesn't matter if you’re still thinking about switching to veganism or if you are already onboard. One question which is sure to pop up is the matter of finances. As you are well aware, there is a rather widespread belief that this diet is expensive and that it is impossible to be vegan on a budget.
Fortunately, that is not the case. The truth is, any diet can be either expensive or affordable. The cost depends on the limits you place upon yourself.
The number of luxury and high-end products you’ll go for. Famous brands versus less-known alternatives. Organic or not. How many times you’ll eat in restaurants each month. Those are the factors which determine how big of a food budget you’ll need. Whether it’s vegan or not doesn’t play a particularly significant role.
If anything, the staples of vegan cuisine tend to be on the lower end of the price scale. Things such as rice, beans, and various vegetables are among the most affordable ingredients you can find on store shelves. Plus, by giving up meat and dairy, you are freeing up a very significant portion of your budget.
In essence, going vegan does require an additional investment. However, you do not need to put in more money. Instead, what you need to invest is extra effort. You have to take the time to make a plan and you need the discipline to stick to it.
Below you will find a list of tips to help you maintain this diet without breaking the bank. By incorporating as many of them as you can into your everyday routine, you will see that being vegan on a budget is not only doable, but that it simply comes down to making informed decisions.
Cook Your Own Food
The first rule of a successful vegan on a budget is to become intimately familiar with your kitchen. As a matter of fact, preparing your own food is what will allow you to make the most of all the tips which are to follow.
Relying on prepackaged foods is not something you want to do when you’re counting your pennies. Preparing everything from scratch is often much cheaper and really pays off in the long run.
As you know, veganism has become quite a buzzword in recent times. Among other things, this also means there are a lot of people out there looking to take advantage of this trend in order to make a quick buck. Whether it’s slapping huge price tags on vegan meals in restaurants or doing something similar in stores, this can be a large drain on your finances.
You can easily avoid all the extra costs if you just do the work yourself. As a bonus, this way you will always know exactly which ingredients are in your meals.
Another worthwhile thing you can do is get in the habit of cooking a bit extra and then using those leftovers to make a packed meal for the next day. If you need to eat something at work, this is much cheaper than going out and buying lunch. In addition, it can also be more convenient, as vegan options aren’t always available when you eat out.
Comparison Shopping Is the Way to Go
As mentioned before, being vegan on a budget does require more of your time, and this is where you will spend a sizable chunk of it. The fact is, prices vary by store. And making the most of this calls for some legwork.
The first step is to make a list of the ingredients you use the most. Beans, pasta, fruit, etc. Then, you simply visit as many shops as you can and you note down the prices. No need to do this at once, but do make a conscious effort to shop around. And of course, you mustn’t forget about farmers’ markets.
While you’re doing this, remember to check the product price by weight. Larger packages almost universally give better value for money if you make sure nothing goes to waste. And if the store doesn’t display this price, use your phone and calculate it yourself.
The Freezer Is Your Friend
Whenever you’re looking to save money on food, the freezer can be a tremendous help if you’re serious about the vegan on a budget lifestyle. When it comes to freezing food, there are several things you can do. For one, you can often get frozen fruits and vegetables on the cheap. Get as much as you need, put it in your freezer, and you’re set for a good while.
On the other hand, sometimes it’s the fresh produce that’s more affordable. If you find a really good deal, buy as much as you can and freeze it yourself.
Finally, you can also freeze the meals you make. Cook a big batch of curry, divide into portions, freeze everything you don’t eat, and you have instant meals when you’re in a rush. It’s convenience at its finest—all you need is a microwave and you have a vegan dish in minutes.
Going to a store without a shopping list is not a good idea when you’re trying to be pennywise. On the one hand, it’s easy to overspend and buy ingredients you don’t really need or won’t be able to eat in time. On the other, you can forget to purchase something you do need, necessitating another shopping trip.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to plan out your meals in advance. For example, decide which dishes you’ll prepare for the entire week. Check the ingredients you already have and write down everything else. Then, when you go to the store, don’t buy anything that’s not on that list. Or set a very firm limit. This requires willpower, but the savings add up tremendously over time.
The notion that a vegan diet is inherently more expensive than “regular” cuisine is a misconception. Still, it is different from what most people eat and thus requires some effort to pull off cost-effectively.
However, that should not deter you. All it takes is some time, forethought, and a few wise shopping habits and you can be a vegan on a budget and enjoy the many benefits of this lifestyle without paying through the nose for it.