A friend and I recently had a Facebook conversation involving the rising cost of food.
Her comment was "You can spend a fortune to eat healthy" compared to buying cheap fast food or pre-packaged unhealthy junk food. "No wonder more people aren't eating healthy - they just can't afford it."
Of course my friend is not vegan and her shopping list included items like coffee, chicken, eggs, juice, and deli meat, all items that are set to continue going up in price due to a variety of reasons.
The price of bacon is surging and the cost of other morning staples, like coffee and orange juice, is set to rise because of global supply problems, from drought in Brazil to disease on U.S. pig farms. "You should expect to see very high prices for your ground beef, and your other meat cuts. Pork cuts will especially be higher this year," said Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods.
Have you experienced the sticker shock yet? It sure sounds like it's coming. And for those of you who are still meat eaters - I'm afraid you will be the hardest hit.
So what's a person to do?
Save Money By Going VEGAN!
Naturally I responded to the Facebook post with some Vegan ideas for saving money. And of course, there were replies - like 'giving up flavor' and 'eating like a bunny rabbit' …..typical comments I have grown very used to as a Vegan.
My point I was trying to make was that it CAN be very inexpensive to shop for food.
Of course if you buy the trendiest, most sought after items - like bacon, steak, milk, cheese, eggs, etc… it's going to be expensive. (I can't believe how much a pound of hamburger cost these days compared to when I used to eat meat.)
And bacon? What's with EVERYTHING having to look, smell, or taste like bacon? Bacon flavored envelopes? Seriously?
So get rid of the Meat and Dairy - and Go Vegan - even if it's only for a meal or two a week - and I guarantee if you shop smart you will start saving money.
Shopping smart - that's the trick. For the unprepared, navigating a grocery store can be like traveling to a new city without your Google Maps or GPS.
So in an effort to help you along, here are
5 Ways to Save Money by Going Vegan
1. Buy Bulk
Get to know your bulk food section at your grocery store. Here you will find bulk items like rice, beans, oatmeal, lentils, and nutritional yeast. What makes this so much better? You're not paying for the packaging!
Get a good set of Countertop Canisters (like grandma used to have) and fill these bad boys up. And if your favorite store doesn't have a bulk section? Try Wal-Mart. Seriously, they may not have a bulk section but they do have insanely cheap 5 lbs bags of everyday Vegan staples like rice and beans.
2. Shop Around
Speaking of Wal-Mart - you CAN be completely Vegan and eat healthy from Wal-Mart. Not every meal has to be an organic gourmet dinner from Whole Foods. You can find many ingredients to making easy, simple, and healthy meals at Wal-Mart for a fraction of the price of the big box stores. Items like frozen veggies, canned tomatoes, beans, bags of rice, spices, etc., not to mention the produce section where you can find organic potatoes, onions, garlic, and a variety of fresh fruit.
Do you remember the kinds of food Grandma used to buy? I bet it was bags of flour, sacks of potatoes, things like that. That's what we should be buying. Hot pockets? When do you remember Grandma ever eating a Hot Pocket?
Yeah - never. So just buy food your grandma used to buy. Real food. Real easy.
3. Simple One Pot Meals
Maybe it's getting lazy, or maybe it's just being more efficient (I like the latter) but many of my meals now are all cooked in a single pot. Boil some pasta - right before it's done add a bag of frozen veggies and some sauce. Bam - dinner.
Here's a quick and easy recipe that does just that - my Easy Peanut Noodles.
You can do the same thing with rice - right before it's done add some greens like Spinach or Kale, while the greens are wilting add a lentil or bean for protein, pour on some sauce and bingo - instant healthy dinner.
Simple ingredients, one pot dinners.
Cheap, fast, and easy.
4. Grown Your Own
I don't know about your neck of the woods - but here in the Pacific Northwest plants grow pretty easy. And growing your own food is the ULTIMATE way of saving a ton of cash.
A packet of seeds is DIRT cheap compared to how many heads of lettuce, or bunches of peas, you will harvest when the season is done. And tomatoes? Please don't get me started on store-bought tomatoes - I'd rather eat a tennis ball.
NOTHING taste like a sun ripened tomato right off the vine. Mmmm.
I know - the 4 letter word no one wants to hear.
But seriously, if you really want to save money you are going to have to learn to cook. Maybe you slept through home economics (do they even still teach home economics?) or maybe you had no one to teach you. It doesn't matter. Just start!
Try the one pot meal ideas I mentioned earlier.
I have quite a few Sauce Recipes I use over and over that are pretty simple to make and pretty hard to mess up. Try those, just follow the directions. A good sauce can spice up any meal, especially inexpensive staples like rice, pasta, or potatoes.
Get a good set of pans, and some measuring spoons/cups and you'll be set. Right now the Instant Pot is a big seller on all the Veggie Boards - perfect for quickly cooking one-pot meals, rice, or even potatoes.
The thing about cooking for yourself - you get to control what goes in it. When you buy those pre-packaged boxes of mystery meals you don't, and the ingredient list usually looks like something from Biology Class.
Have your own tips? Would love to hear them. Be sure and comment below and let's show those non-believers that we can eat healthily AND inexpensively too.
Where do I find PB2 without added sugar and salt? I have been looking for.
I've gotten my grocery bill down to about 25-35 dollars a week, depending on what I have to buy in a specific week. Of course, it's just me, but I know some single people whose weekly grocery bill is bigger than my monthly one.. The bulk of my diet is potatoes, beans, pasta, with frozen veggies.
as for the cost of cashews, I've found that sunflower seeds give the same creaminess with not a huge taste difference. The best part is that they're about a quarter of the price of cashews.
Good tips, but you didn't address some of the things that make healthy eating expensive. If you feel compelled to buy cashews by the gazillion, goji berries, hemp hearts, and every sort of "superfood" or gourmet ingredient; healthy eating truly can be expensive. (for example, I had sticker shock at the cash register the other day when I realized that the small amount of purple potatoes came to $6.79)
I am new to your site, but appreciate the emphasis on common ingredients because, although purple potatoes really are a nutrient dynamo, they are not necessary...red cabbage will give you those same red/blue/purple phytonutrients for a fraction of the price.
I am new here as well. For me, it can be cheap if I'm making red beans and rice or something which is basically a bag of beans and rice. But I've tried recipes that want you to make your own dressing or something and it can get expensive when they want you to use raw cashews. A regular bottle of dressing is a fraction of that.
Then I have the dirty dozen to consider so I try to get those in organic when I can. Bell peppers are on that list but are pretty cheap when compared to the organic ones, especially those that aren't green. I was recently upset when I had to buy raw apple cider vinegar for a recipe (I'm frugal). It was like $6 or $7 dollars. The store brand was like $2. Then there's pure maple syrup vs the kinds like Aunt Jemima.
I don't find myself complaining a whole lot but it can get pricey. Y
pay the grocer now, or pay a lot more to the doctor later.
When your fruit/veggies start to wilt & turn brown, don't throw them out! Cut them up & freeze them to use in soups/stews, desserts & smoothies.
Ethnic shops sometimes have great bargains for the same items one buys in a conventional supermarket (or sometimes ethnic sections in the same supermarket). Spices, beans/lentils, grain products, tea pops into mind immediately.
All good tips all of which I use and have done so for as long as I have been vegan and even before that as a vegetarian.
Make sure to check home branded products. Often there is no difference between the quality of these products compared to 'brand' names.
You might be surprised as to what fruits you can forage when in season in your neighbourhood. One season for instance I picked over 12kg of mulberries for one particularly large tree - I then froze the mulberries which lasted me through to the next season.
Thanks for the tips Peter!