Living Vegan

How to Create a Vegan Shopping List on a Budget

If you’re vegan or thinking of going vegan, there’s one major concern: how are you supposed to fit all that fresh produce and exotic food into your budget? Being vegan has long had a negative stereotype of being the diet of choice for affluent yuppies who are disconnected to the budget concerns of the more average household. What you really need is to know how to create a vegan shopping list on a budget.

But in reality, you don’t have to break the bank going vegan. Many recipes simply substitute out butter for even more affordable options like vegetable oil, for instance. Read on to learn how to create a vegan shopping list on a budget.

Here’s how to create a vegan shopping list on a budget.

Plan versatile meals

What tends to make vegan shopping look so intimidating is all the fancy recipes that call for exotic foods like tempeh. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to keep your meals as simple as you can. What really ups the grocery bill is all the exotic, specialty flavorings and additives like miso paste and spirulina powder.

If you’re on a budget, you’ll need more flexibility in your cooking as you scour the ads for what’s on sale, what’s seasonal and what’s in your specific budget.

Ideas for flexible meals include salads, pastas, sandwiches and wraps, burritos or burrito bowls, stir fries, veggies and hummus, smoothies, anything potato-based like baked potatoes and potato curry, smoothies and healthy grain bowls like oatmeal with fruit toppings. These are all basic ideas with cheaper, easily accessible food options. Many of these ingredients can be mixed up, as well, like hummus sandwiches.

Plan based on categories

After you’ve identified your flexible eating options, pick up what you can within your budget out of four basic categories: fruits, veggies, grains and vegan protein sources. That will allow you to have a balanced, complete diet.

What you get will depend on what you decide to make. You’ll need greens if you want salads or beans for bean burritos, for instance.

The other way is to work backwards. Figure out what’s on sale this week or within your budget, and plan from there. Is spinach in season/on sale? Looks like a good excuse for a basic vegan spinach salad. If you notice a coupon for quinoa, it might be quinoa bowl week.

Identity a few must-have specialty items

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you’re restricted from the world of jazzing up your meals a little. This is where you’ll decide which vegan specialty flavorings you must have and fit them into your budget. This will vary wildly depending on your taste.

Common affordable vegan flavoring ideas include Sriracha sauce, basic spices like oregano, vegan mayo and sesame oil. You’ll also want to identify the cheapest milk sources, if you use a lot of it. Then again, you may want to cost compare the actual nuts to the nut milk, since a comparison at Mother Jones found that getting actual almonds gets you all those nutrients of the nut, without that nut being watered down and overpriced.

You’ll want to aim for the types of flavorings that go well with your versatile dishes and can even be used across different dishes. Like how vegan mayo is great for sandwiches and makes a great base for many vegan salad dressings.

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