So you want to go vegan but you’ve heard it’s loads more expensive than a traditional meat and dairy diet. Well, it doesn’t have to be. We’re on a pretty strict budget so when we followed a vegan diet I needed to learn how to go vegan on a budget.
At first it was a little more expensive and then I really looked at what we were spending money on. I’m going to show you how you can avoid the more expensive mistakes that I made when we switched from a traditional meat eating diet to a vegan diet.
Why Veganism Is More Expensive
The vegan diet is absolutely more expensive when you are always looking for meat and dairy replacements. The fact is replacing all your normal foods with vegan options is going to be more expensive.
Vegan ice cream, vegan “meat,” vegan sauces, vegan mayo, all cost more than their non vegan counterparts.
In the United States, according to a recent Gallup Poll, there are only about 5-8% self described vegetarians and only 3% self described vegans. However, vegan and vegetarian food options lend well to special diets.
As the number of people who seek to lower their meat and animal product intake vegan options for favorite foods is more in demand. This raises the price of the vegan and vegetarian versions.
Make no mistake though, many of the vegan and vegetarian options are not healthier. Processed food is still processed food just because there are no animal products does not make the food naturally healthier.
This is fine for those seeking to avoid animal products because of ethical reasons, it’s not fine for people who want to eat healthier. The fact is, vegan options are perceived to be a premium products so the manufacturers can charge more for it.
How To Go Vegan On A Budget
Over the 6 months that we followed a vegan diet strictly I watched how much money I was spending to see what ways we could save money while on a vegan diet. I didn’t realize just how much money I could save while eating loads of food.
Meal and Snack Planning
When we started the vegan diet I knew I would need to meal plan everything so that I could make sure I got all the special ingredients. I put together a list of recipes and a grocery list for each major meal.
The first grocery shopping trip was actually pretty typical to what we normally spent and the portions for our meals were huge. Except we were still always hungry. This wasn’t a bad thing.
When following a vegan diet you absolutely should be eating a LOT. The foods you’re eating are low calorie and low fat so you need to eat more in order to feel full. You also have to eat more often because your body most likely digests these foods easier.
I was not prepared for the snacking that was going to take place. I had to adjust my grocery lists to make sure I included snacks. Now I was spending more than what I normally spent.
This was due to the type of snacks I was putting on our list. Vegan junk food is a real thing and like I stated earlier, just because it’s vegan does not automatically make it healthy. Processed food is still processed food.
eMeals is a low cost meal planning service I use that saves me about 2 hours of time every week in meal planning because I can schedule a pick up or delivery directly through them. It’s got meal plans for dietary needs, budget needs, and quick and easy meals. The vegan meal plan on eMeals is fantastic and great for trying new dishes.
Prep Your Food
One of the biggest downfalls of the vegan diet is most of everything you eat needs to go through a prep and make process. Not many places offer vegan options, especially when you live in the country.
So I highly recommend taking time to prep all of your fresh food after your grocery shopping trip. Freeze cut up bananas for fruit smoothies, blanch and freeze sliced or diced veggies for stir fries, or create your mason jar salads all in one sitting so you can just easily add your dressing and go.
Put your about to go bad spinach in boiling water and separate out into little half dollar size clumps. Pop them in your frozen smoothie bags to get an extra boost of vitamins.
Prepping and freezing your fresh food for easy and quick meals also makes sure you are using up all your fresh food. No more moldy peppers or wilted spinach. No more food waste and wasted money.
Keep Junk To A Minimum
Vegan junk food is amazing! I love dairy free Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough more than the dairy version. Even some of our favorite chips and crackers were vegan.
This is where we fell down on our grocery budget. We spent loads of money on vegan junk food. If you need snacks get fresh fruits and veggies as your snacks or make your own instead to save money.
Roasted chickpeas are cheap and easy to make. Frozen grapes make a great snack for hot summer days. Crispy roasted sugar snap pea pods are delicious when you need a munchy snack.
Additionally, these fresh foods are a lot healthier to eat than the processed snacks you buy in the store.
I recommend setting aside time once a week to create a bunch of fresh snacks to eat. It’ll take about an hour or two to bake enough snacks for your family to enjoy and most of that time will be spent waiting for things to finish baking.
Purchase Fresh Over Processed
Fresh foods are a lot cheaper to prepare yourself than purchasing the already processed versions. Consider making your own sun dried tomatoes for sauces by drying fresh tomatoes in a low heat oven for the day. Make your own guacamole, salsa, or even your own oat milk.
Consider saving all of your cut ends and left over pieces of vegetables to make your own vegetable stock too. Season with salt and pepper and cook in your instant pot or a stock pot on your stove. After cooking and it’s had time to cool a bit strain the liquid into a container and freeze it for future use.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to make a lot of what you already eat while saving money and cutting down on food waste. You can easily prepare food days in advance and store them in your fridge or freezer.
Stock Up On Canned Goods
If preparing foods from scratch isn’t an option due to time canned goods are affordable and are easily stored for extended periods. So if you notice that your canned goods are on sale buy extra and keep a good stock always available.
Some canned goods you should keep in stock are:
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Crushed tomatoes
- Diced tomatoes
- Vegetable Stock
I prefer canned green beans over fresh and they are super easy to drain, heat up, add salt and pepper, and eat as a snack. Crushed tomatoes make a great base for vegetable chili.
Finally, beans are your main source of protein in a vegan diet so you always want them on hand. Canned beans are easier than preparing dried beans but you can control sodium and storage easier with dried beans.
Vegan On A Budget
Vegan foods don’t have to cost more than a traditional diet. If you shop smart, do some prep work, shop sales, and keep your basics stocked following a vegan diet can be cost effective and healthy.
While our diet has changed since our move to Pittsburgh, completely vegan dinners often make their way into our weekly meal plans. Following a vegan diet is easier than ever now and it doesn’t cost any more than a traditional diet when it’s done correctly.
Have you tried a Vegan diet yet? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite food boards.
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