Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Eating vegan on a budget isn’t as challenging as it may seem. Prior to going vegan, we often found the more expensive items going in our cart belonging to perishable meat and dairy items that don’t last more than a few days.
Decide on your staples
We all have those grocery staples that are just a regular part of our shopping- peanut butter, weekly fruits and veggies, favorite snacks, etc. Start there!
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with your vegan food choices so start off easy-breezy so you don’t find yourself frustrated and reaching for junk when you really want a healthy meal. Take what you would normally have for that meal of the day and veganize it- get rid of the meat, dairy, and honey.
This is what my typical breakfast looks like (during the colder days – we do get them). Oatmeal with a sprinkle of hibiscus powder (lends a little berry taste), a swirl of peanut butter and cacao nibs. Takes a few minutes to make and leaves me pretty full.
So oatmeal, peanut butter, carrots, organic spinach, hummus, tomatoes, and avocado are my typical go-to breakfast items. If avocados are out of season I go for seasonal fruit. Once in awhile I will have coconut yogurt, key lime is my favorite flavor.
Another breakfast favorite – So this doesn’t look like it but it’s very filling for me. This is my pre-gym meal and lately, I’ve cut down to just 1 slice of toast. Coconut yogurt with hibiscus powder and hemp seeds, spinach salad with blended carrot and hummus, grapes and pumpkin toast.
Budget Tip: Eat (or at least) prep your breakfast at home. All those coffee runs and donuts (some are vegan) start to add up and have no nutritional benefit for you.
Plan ahead + eat at home
Unless you’ve really got your swap outs down you’ll have to plan ahead before you head to the grocery store. Eating at home is going to be the least expensive way to eat vegan on a budget. Think of 4-5 meals you want to have for the week and make your ingredients list. Try to stick with ingredients that require less prep time. Aside from adding fresh herbs/spices go for meals that are 5 ingredients or less like this Vegan Fried Rice I make in a pinch when I’m short on time.
Easy Peezy Vegan Fried Rice – organic brown rice, chopped red onion and carrots seasoned with liquid aminos in place of soy sauce.
Budget Tip: Buy items in bulk when you can and buy frozen when you can’t buy fresh (especially over canned, any day).
Bulk Items: Grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, powders, and spices.
Frozen Items: Organic corn, peas, and frozen fruits (without added sugar).
Avoid vegan alternatives
Stay away from too many vegan alternatives. You know, those seemingly yummy looking pre-packaged and processed foods? They will eat up your grocery budget and they only go so far.
A trick that I use quite often is searching easy vegan recipes online if I’m stuck without a clue for dinner. For example, I’ll search easy vegan mashed potatoes and get a few recipes that I can work with. And if I’m getting really specific I’ll look up something I can get done in my Instant Pot saving me time and a hefty cleanup after.
Budget Tip: Most vegan alternatives have whole food substitutes- like did you know you can do buffalo cauliflower??? Trade up and see how you like it.
Try something new
I’ve tried about 10 new fruits and superfoods this year alone. Some I loved and others I will probably never eat again- some textures are just not my thing. But I’ve expanded my palette and therefore expanded my food options.
Seasonal fruits and veggies also taste better when they’re in season.
Budget Tip: Seasonal items are easier to come by and don’t usually come with a hefty price tag.
Extra Tip: Seasonal items will also go on sale when the grocer is trying to get rid of them as the season winds down and that will be your cue to stock up and freeze!
Have fun with it
This is your road to a healthier lifestyle so have a little fun with it. Try out a couple of new dishes every month to keep building on your meal options. In no time you’ll be making up your own dishes and impressing the heck out of yourself!