Vegan on a budget: 10 money-saving tips

Veganism was considered ‘extreme’ and ‘radical’ not so long ago, but this way of life is rapidly shedding its stigma and earning widespread respect, and it’s no wonder. A growing number of people are going vegan to improve their health, take better care of Mother Nature, and advocate for animals.

Eating vegan is beneficial for a multitude of reasons, but abstaining from buying animal products can be stressful when you first embark on your veganism journey. If you don’t know what to buy (particularly if you’re money-conscious), you can quickly feel overwhelmed. This is where having a seasoned vegan friend to show you the budget-friendly shopping options can be incredibly helpful!

But, if you don’t have someone to show you the ropes, there are some general wallet-friendly suggestions you can follow. It is possible to eat nutritious food and keep to a budget on a vegan diet – it just takes time and a bit of trial and error to know where to go and what to get.

So, how can you save money whilst eating vegan?

1. Make a list

Aim to sit down every week and create a shopping list. This might feel like a time-consuming chore to begin with, but it’s important to remember that this task will save you time and money in the long run! With a well-thought-out list in hand, you can confidently and efficiently grab the items you know you need and breeze through the supermarket without hesitation. 

Not knowing what you want often leads to hovering around the aisles and temptation-purchasing. Those extra items you don’t really need will add up and surprise you at the checkout counter. So, take some time to plan ahead!

My weekly list usually consists of a variety of items such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, legumes, nuts, tofu and chocolate. Once you’ve done a few shops, you’ll start to notice the foods you enjoy eating and cooking with. You’ll find your shopping list groove and writing it won’t take up as much time as it did at the beginning. The more you shop vegan, the easier list-making will get, and you’ll become more of an intuitive and seamless shopper!

2. Steer clear of vegan eating trends

It’s important to eat the foods that satisfy our unique bodies rather than following food trends. We can do this by practising Intuitive Eating and tuning into our body’s needs. 

What foods make you feel energised and content? What foods bring you happiness and health?

Whilst the exciting recipes and food inspiration on social media are fun to watch, we must remember to align with our needs and circumstances rather than blindly emulating others. Our favourite vegan influencer may drink a passionfruit and avocado smoothie every morning but that doesn’t mean we have to. 

Maintaining a state of healthiness is feasible even without resorting to the expensive recipes from Instagram. The wonderful content online can inspire us but we must remember copying other people’s eating habits won’t necessarily fulfil our needs. Our bodies and financial situations all vary and it’s important to honour those differences.

3. Get herb plants for your home 

The herb plants living on my windowsill need little maintenance yet they enhance all my meals year-round! Fresh herbs can be pricey but they’re a luxury many of us are willing to splurge on at the supermarket as they dramatically enhance our meals. To be more cost-effective, we can either buy our own herb plants or grow them from the seed, both ways will save us money and level up our eating experiences!

4. Avoid the flashy vegan alternatives

When transitioning to a vegan diet, we may gravitate towards alternatives that replace the foods we once loved before veganism. I certainly like to treat myself to a blast from the past now and then but eating vegan can get expensive if we heavily depend on ‘Beyond Meat Burgers’ and ‘chicken-free strips’. Not to mention, most of these alternatives are low in nutritional value, hence fancy packaging is used to convince consumers to actually buy them.

You don’t need vegan alternatives to make a delicious and exciting meal! The best thing about going vegan is the excuse to get creative in the kitchen. There is nothing more satisfying than ditching the traditional ‘meat and vegetables’ and experimenting with different ingredients and flavours! I believe the best dishes are created when we cook intuitively – so let your culinary curiosity lead you!

5. Bulk buy and discover your ‘lazy day dish’

Purchasing your favourite basics in bulk at the supermarket is almost always cheaper per unit. Moreover, when we buy in bulk, we save ourselves from having to do the last-minute supermarket rush when we find ourselves low on food. Taking advantage of bulk purchasing also means less packaging and waste, which is an environmentally friendly choice!

Lentils and chickpeas are great items to stock up on as they maintain their delicious flavour and have a long shelf life! Not to mention, they’re packed with nutrients that your body will thank you for!

When I’m feeling tired and there’s little food in my fridge, I reach for pasta, olive oil and herbs. I can effortlessly make a satisfying pasta dish, so I’m always stocked up and ready! 

Discover your ‘lazy day dish’ – the meal you can whip up quickly without having to think. Ensure you buy the necessary ingredients in bulk so you can make this dish whenever you feel unmotivated to cook an extravagant meal. This will help you avoid spending money on an expensive takeaway!

Some items you can buy in bulk:

  • rice
  • beans 
  • legumes 
  • grains
  • salt
  • nuts 
  • pasta 
  • olive oil 
  • soy sauce 
  • balsamic vinegar
  • seeds
  • dried fruit

6. Eat before you shop

Going to the supermarket on an empty stomach often leads to us buying more than we need. At some point I’m sure we’ve all been told “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach” and this is something we want to watch out for when shopping on a budget. 

To avoid this tendency, consider scheduling your shop after you’ve eaten a meal or have a snack before leaving. I like to eat a few dates stuffed with peanut butter before I go food shopping. This snack fills me up quickly and gives me that much-needed energy boost that is especially helpful when I feel anxious and drained. Having a full belly helps me stay grounded and allows me to make more thoughtful purchases which saves me a surprising amount of money!

7. Make too much dinner

When we have little time or motivation to cook at lunchtime, it can be tempting to go out to get an expensive and potentially less healthy vegan sandwich from our local shop. That’s why I recommend planning in advance so you have a delicious and nutritious meal to hand! 

I love to cook too much dinner and put the leftovers into Tupperware boxes in the freezer! Cooking extra food at dinner time is a hassle-free way of ensuring you have a homemade meal for lunch that not only saves you money but also tastes incredibly satisfying.

8. Embrace frozen peas!

Add frozen peas to your weekly shopping list! Peas are astonishingly versatile! You can substitute your expensive avocado for peas on toast, or make a pea and garlic pasta sauce. I would recommend frying peas with a dash of olive oil, lemon juice, a sprinkle of garlic powder and salt – they lose their earthy undertone and taste wonderful like this! 

Not only are peas good value for money, but they’re also a fantastic source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, making them a brilliant addition to your diet!

9. Go foraging

Nature’s gifts are surrounding us, waiting to be embraced! With every season, new flavourful offerings blossom and the best thing is… they are free! So, consult the seasonal guides and get out there! Gather some fresh blackberries, give them a wash and make a delicious jam!

You can go foraging for:

  • berries 
  • nettles 
  • nuts 
  • flowers
  • wild garlic 
  • herbs

10. Learn to improvise

When we follow recipes, we end up purchasing numerous ingredients that we never use again. So, I like to stock up on the foods I love and feel comfortable cooking with. I simply experiment with the different flavour combinations I have readily available – my personal favourite is coriander and apricot jam! 

This approach to cooking may seem a bit out there to begin with, but you’ll quickly notice what flavours work well together and, before you know it, you’ll be creating delicious sauces and wowing your friends with your inventive recipes! Not only does getting ingredients we know we’ll use eliminate waste, but it also enables us to utilise our artistic flair, which makes cooking immensely enjoyable!

We all enjoy and thrive from consuming different foods so remember to honour your unique wants and needs. While it’s good to get inspired by other people’s food creations, don’t lose sight of your circumstances and trust your intuition. By being patient, dedicated and curious, you’ll soon discover where to go and what to get to save money on a vegan diet while reaping the benefits!

If you’d like more support, a nutrition professional can provide you with one-to-one guidance on how to get the most out of a vegan diet. Connect with a nutritionist today.

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Written by Alessia Sutherberry
Alessia is a vegan food enthusiast, content creator, women's self-love coach and writer. She's committed to making people feel good about themselves and helping them embrace their unique bodies.

Written by Alessia Sutherberry

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