It’s hard to believe that cutting animal products from your diet doesn’t always mean that you’re cutting your food budget, too. Good fruits and vegetables often cost a higher price, and convenient, pre-made meals that you can grab on-the-go are especially more expensive than their counterparts that include animal products.
Of course, this shouldn’t make you shy away from going vegan; in fact, the lifestyle boasts a slew of health benefits, including clearer skin and more restful sleep. Better yet, you’ll find that there are plenty of ways to eat a vegan diet without breaking the bank. Below are six strategies that’ll make both your belly and your budget happy.
Get Familiar with Farmers’ Schedules
The most budget-friendly produce is produce that’s in-season. If you’re buying, say, watermelon in the middle of winter, you’ll see that it’s a whole lot more expensive than if you’re buying it during the warm summer months when it’s harvested. Knowing when fruits and vegetables are in season will help you make informed decisions as to what’s worth buying and what’s worth waiting for. For a foolproof shopping trip, try out the local farmers’ market. They’ll bring what they’re harvesting so that you know for sure that it’s in season.
If you simply can’t wait for the proper time of year, try out frozen vegetables and fruits. While their fresh counterparts are the best option, frozen produce still boasts many of the same vitamins, minerals, and other healthy components that you’ll need as a vegan.
One of the downsides of buying fresh food is that it can go bad, and go bad quickly. As a vegan, you’ll have to take advantage of when you have fresh, ripe produce on hand. That means you’ll have to plan your meals ahead of time. This ensures that you use everything before it goes bad.
It also helps you avoid the need for one of those expensive, pre-made vegan dinners that, while occasionally helpful and convenient, can get pricey if you rely on them too much. Having dinner plans — or better yet, a few dinner options pre-made at the start of the week — will keep you on track in your vegan pursuits and on budget.
Break Ground on Your Own Garden
Another great way to save funds, no matter whether you’re vegan or not, is to grow your own produce in your very own backyard. You don’t need to turn the entire space into a field for harvesting. You could start simply with a few pots or a small tilled area of your backyard and plant a few items that you commonly use, that grow well in your area or that can be costly at the grocery store.
Most at-home gardeners find that their own harvests taste better than what they buy at the store, and it’s no wonder considering they’re eating just about the freshest piece of produce possible. It’s a bit of work, but it will improve your quality of food and quality of life for years to come.
Don’t Dismiss Dried Goods
You probably imagine your vegan menu to be one filled with raw, crispy, beautifully colored vegetables. That’s partly true. But in order to stay within budget — and to boost your body’s levels of important proteins and carbohydrates — you need to have a stock of dried foods, too. Dried beans, for example, cost less than ones in cans and yield far more meals from one container than a can. That means that you can have a few bags of beans on hand to be the basis of whatever you’re going to eat. Then, add whatever ingredients you have on hand to create a full meal. Yum.
Buy More at Once
You’ll find that items like beans and rice are also a great addition to your vegan lifestyle because they’re extremely budget friendly. Not only can you buy them dried so that they last longer, but you can also buy them in bulk. This means that you have meals for weeks and months to come with the super-cheap stockpile that you’ve created. You can also buy other dried items like pasta, as well as body-care and hygiene products at a lower price if you buy more of them at once.
Stick to Your Guns
It’s the easiest concept but sometimes the hardest one to follow: stick to your budget. At the end of the day, a vegan lifestyle shouldn’t cost much more than a vegetarian or omnivorous one would. If you’re having trouble purchasing budget-friendly fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans, give yourself a spending limit. If you have problems with that, take the exact amount of cash you’re okay to spend with you to the store.
Once you get the hang of smart shopping and spending, you won’t have to be so hard on yourself. You’ll be more carefree and happier. And, once you get the hang of vegan eating, your body will be happier, too.