I’ve had people come to me asking, “Molly, I want to go vegan but I don’t have the time or money to do so…what advice do you have for me?”
Well, I always have lots of advice, so I decided to write a post about how I eat vegan on a budget. It’s my hope that the information you find below will inspire you and help you reach your goals!
Meal Planning & Budgeting
1. Make a meal plan
2. Make a grocery list
3. Look for sales at your local grocery store. I look for sales on bulk items and pantry staples.
4. Price check. This may take some getting used to as you start shopping around, but know the average price for things you buy at the stores you buy them. I know that avocados are usually around 80 each at Aldi and sometimes they go on sale for 30 cents. Sometimes Sprouts has avocados 3/$1. Just keep an eye out on prices!
5. Shop Aldi or Sprouts (or comparable grocery store to your area) for basic items like canned beans, canned tomatoes, rice, bulk flour, lentils, beans, nuts and dried berries.
6. I really love Sprouts produce and Aldi’s organic produce.
7. Farmers markets, especially the River Market in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, have super cheap prices on produce and more.
9. At the farmers market, ask your farmer to tell you how they treat their produce to find out if they use pesticides or not. Many farmers aren’t organic certified it they still use organic farming procedures. + ALWAYS wash your produce to remove any pesticide residue.
When I did my meal plan for this week, I looked in my pantry to see what we could use up.
I found ripe bananas, rice, a big can of diced tomatoes, a can of black beans, stir fry noodles, pasta noodles, oatmeal and chickpeas.
From this, I knew I was making the following meals this week.
1. Chickpea stew with rice + fresh veggies
2. Pasta + fresh veggies
3. Noodle bowls
4. Oatmeal for breakfasts
5. Banana bread
6. Buffalo chickpea salad
Pictures of said food, in no particular order.
My Top Secret Tips & Tricks
I have found that in order to eat vegan on a budget, some prep is necessary. Dedicating some time each week or a little each night/morning will save you time during the week.
1. Dried beans are super cheap in bulk and they can be cooked and frozen for quick additions to meals. I also like to keep some canned beans on hand. Chickpeas and black beans are our favorites.
2. Dried lentils are super cheap and can be easily used in tacos, meatloaf, meatballs, and more. They soak up flavors well. I cook a big batch and freeze for easy additions. You may also keep some canned on hand too. The reason I like to keep some canned beans/lentils on hand is that life happens and sometimes I will forget to soak or cook my bulk beans and lentils and a can works great in a pinch.
3. Bulk nuts and dried fruit. Sometimes I find that these are cheaper at Aldi. Sprouts will have regular sales on bulk items and I’ll find these items cheaper there. I use dried fruit and nuts for snacks, trail mix, baked goods, and more.
4. Unsweetened coconut yogurt has so many uses. Instead of buying vegan sour cream, vegan yogurts and vegan mayo…which can add up quick…I use the yogurt. It works great as sour cream, for smoothies, in place of mayo for mayonnaise dressings, for oatmeal, baking and for parfaits or a snack. So versatile!
5. Smokey Tempeh bacon is the only vegan bacon I’ll eat. Tempeh is fermented soybean and is loaded with protein. It’s also minimally processed unlike some other brands. It also goes on sale quite frequently.
6. Keep some frozen veggies and fruit on hand. Great for a quick dinner or for smoothies.
7. When I make pancakes or waffles I like to double or triple the recipe and freeze the extras for easy breakfasts.
8. No need to buy vegan egg substitutes. A flax egg or lemon juice/vinegar with plant based milk works just fine.
9. Tofu works great for a tofu “egg” scramble. All you need is some veggie broth, tumeric, and some fresh veggies.
10. Keep some canned coconut milk on hand for fudgecicles and curries.
11. I don’t buy a lot of vegan cheese or meat replacements. I find them too expensive and highly highly processed as well as causing me stomach discomfort. I will use them for special occasions. I know they work well for people transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, but don’t feel like you NEED them or that you will have to buy them forever.
12. I like making big batches of veggie burgers and freezing. Not only to use as a burger, but they work well crumbled on a salad, in a baked potato, in a lettuce bun, in a wrap…I also like keeping some pre-packaged frozen ones on hand if I haven’t made any myself. Aldi has several vegan veggie burgers to choose from.
13. When you eat out, call the restaurant ahead of time. I have found most places to be accommodating and excited to help if you call before hand.
Aldi has tons of vegan (mostly organic) staples like:
10. Agave nectar
11. Soy milk
12. Frozen fruit
13. Frozen veggies
14. Peanut butter
16. Veggie burgers
17. Chocolate chips (seasonal)
18. Brownie mix (seasonal)
Links & Resources
Eating vegan is a big life change. Everything around is is meat and dairy, and it can be tough at first to eliminate it. Make sure you plan easy meals at first and have ingredients on hand you can throw together quickly. A lot of recipes will have a long list of things you may buy and only use once. Don’t be afraid to omit or substitute for something else. I find that buying veggies and planning a meal around them with a protein works well. Quick and easy breakfasts, lunches of leftovers, and easy dinners they can be multiplied for freezing. Lastly, don’t forget to read ingredients on labels. You will find certain products contain animal byproducts when you wouldn’t think they would. Here is a list of hidden animal ingredients. It can be frustrating!
Most conventional sugar is bleached using bones. (List of companies that do/do not use bone char).
Other items that may not vegan:
2. Cleaning products
5. Things like plug ins and other home scents
6. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash
Companies that test on animals-
Companies that don’t test on animals-
- https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/are-animal-ingredients-included-in-white-sugar/ (Graphic and more info at bottom of page)
If you have any more additional questions please ask.