Eating vegan on a budget
Is it possible to eat a healthy plant-based diet whilst counting pennies? By plant-based dietitian Yvonne O'Halloran
Veganism can easily be followed even if you are on a budget. In fact, it may be more affordable to eat vegan than to eat meat, dairy and eggs. Here's how.
Cheap vegan staples
Contrary to popular belief, vegan foods are not expensive, but the packaged convenience foods can be. Staple foods for vegans such as potatoes, oats, vegetables, rice, beans, lentils, grains and pasta are all relatively inexpensive, especially if bought in bulk. If you find that vegetables are a little pricy in your area, there's nothing wrong with buying the mixed frozen vegetables which can work out quite a bit cheaper. Nuts and nut butters can be a bit more costly but if you can bulk buy your nuts and seeds, the price tends to be more affordable.
Make your own
You can easily make your own nut butters by blending them at home. Plant-based milks can cost a little bit more than dairy milk so if this is a problem, simply make your own plant milk - you can use soaked soyabeans, hemp seeds, almonds or oatmeal to make homemade milk. Add filtered water, a pinch of salt and a date, blend and strain it and you have a delicious homemade milk. Be aware though that you will miss out on the fortified options if you do this, particularly calcium, so it is important you are taking in calcium-rich foods elsewhere.
Houmous can also be made at home if buying it seems expensive. Blended chickpeas, tahini, garlic, salt and cumin topped with paprika will make a very tasty houmous that should keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in a sealed container.
Even snacks and desserts, like bliss balls and muesli bars can be made cheaply at home. Likewise, instead of buying ice cream, peel and freeze ripe bananas and blend them with a little peanut butter and dash of soya milk and you have yourself a delicious homemade, healthy ice cream you and your family will love.
Fresh versus frozen
Buy your fruits in bulk and freeze them, particularly if they are going cheap, and use them for smoothies, in oatmeal or in desserts. Frozen foods are just as healthy as fresh foods and maintain their nutrition.
Buying in bulk can save you quite a bit in the long run. Foods you can buy in bulk and save include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Dried fruit and snack items
- Spices and herbs
Join up for discounts at your store
If there is a way for you to save money while you shop, like coupons or gaining points through shopping, make sure you do that to save money. Many stores now offer a membership scheme. Supermarket chains such as Asda, Marks and Spencer, Sainsburys and Tesco offers loyalty schemes that should save you money in the long-term.
Making a shopping list and planning your meals for the week is a great way to stick to a budget and will also help you to know exactly what you will be buying and cooking for the week. Great affordable recipes include tofu curry, vegetable soup, homemade pancakes, sandwiches, fruit, stir fry with rice, veggies and tofu, pasta dishes, salads and homemade ice cream.
Use easy vegan substitutions
Plant-based meat substitutions can vary in price, from affordable to pricey - but there are lots of whole food ingredients that can be used to make your own substitutions or as straight swaps. Beans, lentils and mushrooms are great substitutions for minced beef or lamb that's used in shepherd's pie, chilli, pasta dishes and stir fries.
You can also go for TVP or vegan mince if they are affordable at your store.
Make easy meals
One-pot meals and slow cookers are a great way to bulk-make a hearty delicious meal that can be frozen and enjoyed at a later date. Casseroles, vegan stews, vegetable soups, and curries are great examples. You can serve with rice, couscous or quinoa and use whatever leftovers you have in these meals with some legumes and spices, and you have got yourself great meal.