Eating Vegan on a Budget

Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

Are you concerned that eating plant-based is too expensive?  Sometimes it seems that fresh fruits and vegetables can be more expensive than buying junk food or fast food.  And if you eat a lot of prepared and processed vegan foods, it certainly can add up in price.  However, when you focus on whole plant foods, a vegan diet is affordable…and more cost-effective than eating a meat-heavy and/or processed food diet (especially when you take into account the unseen costs in terms of health, ethical, and environmental impacts).

Tips for saving money on food shopping:

  • Eating at home and cooking your own food saves money. Save eating out as an occasional (not daily) treat.
  • Basics such as beans, lentils, rice, quinoa, and other whole grains tend to be relatively inexpensive, especially when purchased in larger quantities.
  • Buy fruit and veggies in season when possible. Frozen fruit and vegetables are also healthy, and can be more affordable in some cases.
  • While organic is best, it sometimes can be more expensive. Use the EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Guides to help determine which foods are most important to buy organic.
  • Purchase nutrient-dense foods to get the most for your money. Top on the list are dark leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, spinach, arugula, and chard. Other high quality, high nutrient options include all green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, celery, cucumbers, snap peas, zucchini), as well as sweet potatoes, squash, peppers, beets, cauliflower, red cabbage, mushrooms, onions, and fresh fruits. (See Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Nutritarian approach).
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. Use a grocery list to stay focused on what you actually need.
  • Consider growing some veggies and/or herbs in your own garden and/or containers

If you are new to plant-based eating and need some guidance and inspiration for getting started, The 30 Day Vegan Challenge and The 21 Day Vegan Kickstart are on-line programs to support you.

Check out this article from Food Revolution for tips on eating plant-based on a budget.

And here’s a great website that offers resources, recipes, and meal plans for affordable plant-based eating:

Ready to try out some recipes—with simple yet healthy ingredients?  Try one of these cookbooks:

  • Eat Vegan on $4 a Day:  A Game Plan for the Budget Conscious Cook – Ellen Jaffe Jones
  • Eating Vegan:  A Plant-Based Cookbook for Beginners – Dianne Wenz
  • Truly Healthy Vegan Cookbook:  90 Whole-Food Recipes with Deliciously Simple Recipes – Dianne Wenz
  • Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook—Del Sroufe

While experimenting with new recipes and cooking approaches can seem overwhelming, you may be surprised by how quickly you come to enjoy this delicious way of eating.  And best of all, you can know you are making wise choices for your physical and emotional health, as well as having a lighter impact on the planet.

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash