Are you afraid of going vegan because you think you’ll go bankrupt? Do you think veganism is a lifestyle designed only for the elite? Think again.
Believe it or not, veganism doesn’t mean you have to fill up on $10 pressed green juices and $20 frozen vegan pizzas. Of course, it doesn’t mean you’re “wrong” if you want to spend lots of money on a vegan diet – but the point is that veganism does NOT have to be expensive and can be very cheap. I believe there are various different reasons why people falsely think that veganism is too expensive (Check out my Tumblr post). In this post, I will give you some of my tips on how to make veganism affordable and fit with your lifestyle.
Tip #1: Buy food, not food products
So many people falsely believe that veganism is expensive because we’ve shifted our way of eating and how we look at food. We no longer see food as food… but rather, as food PRODUCTS. So much of what we eat now is bought in a plastic package with an extensive ingredients list. It’s normal to eat a bag of potato chips and less normal to eat a baked potato as a snack. So when people think of vegan food, they are thinking of vegan food products – something with a label that says “vegan”. Those products are going to be more expensive because they are specifically designed to cater to a certain small demographic with specific dietary requirements. However, foods that are just vegan by nature – rice, potatoes, pasta, beans, corn, lentils, bread, etc. are some of the cheapest foods you could get. If you stick to these staples, you’ll end up SAVING money.
Although there is nothing wrong with eating vegan food products such as processed fake meats, fake cheeses, vegan ice cream, vegan frozen dinners and the like, having them as a bulk of your calorie source will be a bit painful for your wallet. I definitely am a fan of vegan food products, but I see them as a treat rather than a staple.
Tip #2: Stick to a starch-based diet where the majority of your calories come from starches
What are starches? PEASANT FOODS! Also known as rice, beans, barley, pasta, oatmeal, bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc… these are some of the cheapest foods out there throughout the world and starches are what has fed humans generation after generation. If you have starches as your staple and add other foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc., then you are golden! Please refer to The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall for more information regarding the health benefits of a starch based diet. And don’t worry, you can make some amazing and delicious dishes using starches as your base and it will be super satisfying. You can make SO many different types of dishes and I always enjoy what I’m eating. After all, food = life!
Tip #3: Buy the “no-name” brand or the store brand of products
Do you really need to buy super fancy rice or state-of-the-art barley? When you stick to a starch-based diet, buying the “no-name” or the store brand doesn’t really make much of a difference in terms of quality from my experience. You can save so much more money buying the store brand compared to a name brand. For example in the UK, you could get 500g of spaghetti for approx. £0.29 at Tesco or Asda!! I recently did a challenge on my YouTube channel called “How to Live on £2 or $3 a Day” – pretty self explanatory. Most of the products I bought were the in-store brands and they were DIRT CHEAP.
Tip #4: Make eating out a treat, rather than a routine
Don’t get me wrong – I love eating out just as much as the next person. I love trying out new vegan and vegetarian restaurants and having a nice dinner out with friends. However, I try to look at eating out as a TREAT rather than something as part of my daily routine. Very often, I see people buying their lunch every single day from takeout places (that generally are not even that good…) and easily spending £5-10 a day. It really doesn’t take that much extra effort or time to make lunches and bring them to work – so try to look at eating out as something you do with your friends as a fun activity, rather than something you do for convenience. After all, the more money you can save on food on a day to day basis means more money you’ll have to treat yourself to a lovely meal at your favourite vegan restaurant 😉
Tip #5: Plan and prep your meals
I always stress the importance of prepping your meals in advance so that you have food readily available when you need it. Meal prepping does NOT have to be a lot of work and can be done super quickly. Lots of meals can be made in bulk and stored in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for months. You could even make a big batch of whatever for dinner and have leftovers for a couple of lunches. When you already have food prepped in advance, you have less of an excuse to go out and buy food…! Watch my meal prep videos for some ideas on preparing food.
Tip #6: Buy staples in bulk
This might seem like the most obvious tip in the world, but I don’t necessarily see a lot of people following this tip. If I know that there are certain foods that I will always be buying with a long shelf-life (such as rice and other grains, beans, lentils, etc.), then I am almost always better off buying them in bulk than buying smaller bags. Unless you live in a smaller accommodation and you have a storage issue (very likely in a place like London), why not just buy a bunch of food in bulk?
Tip #7: Shop around online
I’m not sure if this tip would be applicable to everyone as I don’t think every grocery store has an online option where you can browse. If you have the ability to do so, this is one way you can look at different stores and compare prices of certain items. Depending on the store and the item, the prices can vary sometimes significantly! I did this before I did my “How to Live on $3 a Day” challenge. I shopped around online and compared prices for various items and picked the cheapest version before purchasing anything.
Tip #8: Make a grocery list and stick to it
I often get distracted with new vegan food products that I see in supermarkets and grocery stores… but if you really want to save money, it’s definitely important to make a grocery list and stick to it! I already have a list of grocery items that I buy on a regular basis so I have the basics and I add whatever I feel is necessary when I go shopping. Sticking to a list will prevent you from buying too many things that you don’t need and end up wasting food!
Tip #9: Learn a handful of cheap go-to meals that you love
Many of us have full-time responsibilities such as a job or school and we don’t always have time to go through Pinterest and look for super exciting new meals to make. Sometimes it can be daunting to think about what to eat on a daily basis, so it can help to keep a mental (or physical) note of the meals that are cheap and easy to make. I have a video on my top 12 go-to meals and snacks, so have a look if you need some inspiration.
Tip #10: Reduce food waste with your pantry and freezer
We really should all be ashamed of ourselves for the amount of food that we waste in the developed world! Nothing makes me sadder than spoiled food and food going to waste (note: slight exaggeration). This is why it’s so important to have a list of grocery items so that we try our best to prevent over-purchasing and letting food spoil. Another great thing to do is to buy plenty of pantry and frozen items which have a very long shelf life! This is why I stock up on grains, dry & canned beans and legumes, noodles, pasta, frozen fruit and vegetables, etc. and buy fresh produce and other items as I go through the month. Most of these foods are (once again) very affordable! Frozen fruit and vegetables are great to have on hand for when you don’t have fresh produce available.
For recipes and more tips on cheap lazy vegan living, subscribe to my YouTube channel.