One thing I think everyone should learn is budgeting. I feel this way because I didn’t learn how to budget. I got pregnant young and was forced to grow up, which included being smart about money. I feel like budgeting is a lesson everyone needs when they first go vegan because if you’re not shopping smart and living off mock-meats and take out then you’re going to be struggling.
Now, I’m not knocking mock-meats. I love a Gardein fishless filet as much as the next girl, but it isn’t reasonable, from an economic stand point, to consistently buy products like those.
These are my tips for being vegan on a budget:
1. Buy in bulk! – Seriously, go bulk shopping. You will save much more if you’re buying as much as possible from the bulk section of your grocery store. I happen to be fortunate enough to live in an area with Winco stores. Winco has an amazing bulk section. You can get everything from pet food to candy. We get our nuts, pastas, beans, nutritional yeast, vital wheat gluten, dried fruit, and so much more in the bulk section. Prices in the bulk section are comparatively lower when you compare the amount of product you’re buying than if you were to buy in plastic or cans. Buying in bulk will also save you unnecessary trips to the store, which is always a bonus.
2. Make a list. - Having a list will not only save you time, but it can also help prevent you from buying things you don’t need. My favorite part of having a grocery list is that it keeps me out of the junk food aisle. If you make a detailed list, only buying what you need, you’re going to save money in the long run.
3. Meal Prep – I know, I know, everyone tells you to meal prep but that’s because it works. Whether you’re a broke college student, a working parent, or a stay-at-home-parent, meal prep will not only save you time, but it will help you shop smart. When you’re making a meal plan, it gives you a reference for your grocery list. You can take stock of your pantry, use what you already have, and make a specific grocery list. Trust me on this, meal prep may seem daunting, but it truly does help.
4. Batch cook and chop – This has helped me so much in the past, especially when supplies get low. I like to soak some beans over night on Saturdays, cook them up on Sunday, and then we can eat them throughout the week. I like to prep my veggies for the week as well because it helps give me an idea as to how far our fresh produce can stretch. I feed a family of five on weekdays and six on weekends, so we go through quiet a lot of food, but batch cooking and chopping has helped so much. It helps me see how much we have for snacks and meals.
5. Shop seasonally – No joke. Seasonal produce shopping saves you so much money. It also gives you variety, so you don’t feel like you’re eating the same things over and over again. Eating seasonally, whether you purchase conventional or organic, can really take a chunk out of your bill because this produce doesn’t have to travel as far and doesn’t cost the store as much to sell. This means that they’re more likely to sell at a lower price during in order to push more product. For instance, sweet potatoes/yams are less expensive in the fall and winter than they are in the spring or summer because of the growing season.
I know it doesn’t seem like much, and it is a bit repetitive, but these tricks really do work. I used to be one of those people who said I couldn’t be vegan because it was too expensive, but once I started implementing the tips listed above, I realized that being vegan actually saves money (provided you’re not living off of processed food).