Many people are under the misconception that a vegan diet costs significantly more than an omnivore one. However, this isn’t the case at all — and we have proof.
Combing through vibrant recipes that have desiccated coconut flakes and soaked cashews in every dish can be stimulating, but also overwhelming: it’s the reason why some people think a plant-based diet would take a major hit on their wallet. But, they couldn’t be more wrong. YouTuber Caitlin Shoemaker even challenged herself to eat for only $1.50 a day, raising awareness of extreme poverty while also proving how inexpensive a vegan diet can be.
Here are a few tips to get you started eating clean — and cheap!
1. Prepare Your Own Food
Stepping into the kitchen will end up saving you a lot of money, as prepackaged foods and going out to eat are typically more expensive. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing exactly what’s going into your meals. But with that being said, try to avoid buying vegan substitutes like mock meat and cheese, which can be a little more pricey.
2. Buy in Bulk
The largest package might be labeled as the most expensive, but it’s usually the cheapest by weight. Spices, flours, and grains are great items to buy in bulk. And, if you have the space for it, you can stock up on frozen fruit and veggies, canned beans, and other staples, too. You may even want to consider getting a wholesale membership at somewhere like Costco. You have to pay a yearly membership, but you’re still saving a lot of money in the long run.
3. Go for Generic Brands
Name brand products tend to be marked up just because they have a specific label slapped on their packaging, so opt for generic brands to save money without sacrificing quality. If you compare the products in a taste taste, there’s a good chance you won’t even be able to tell the difference.
4. Make a Grocery List
Ever since I started compiling a grocery list before I went to the store, I’ve saved around $40 each trip. Having an actual list stops me from picking up random snacks and extras I don’t need and might not ever eat. Plus, if you’re interested in meal prepping, a grocery list will be extremely helpful in ensuring you have exactly what you need for the week.
5. Don’t Skip the Frozen Section
When certain fruits and vegetables aren’t in season, the frozen section is a good place to look for better prices on your favorite produce. And contrary to popular belief, frozen goodies are just as healthy — if not more healthy — than the fresh varieties. Since they’re frozen right after being picked opposed to being shipped fresh across the country, all the nutrients are locked in and ready for you to eat.
6. Make Recipe Substitutes When Necessary
You might be dying to make a certain dish, but then you look at the ingredients and realize it calls for twelve different spices. Instead of spending all your money stocking up your spice rack, skip some of those ingredients at your discretion. Because are you really going to miss that 1 teaspoon of cardamom? Probably not.
7. Plan Your Meals Around the “Big 3”
This tip comes from No Meat Athlete, who suggests centering your meals around either pasta, a variation on “a grain, a green, and a bean,” or soups and stews. All of these staples are easy to prepare, satisfying, and most importantly, affordable.
8. Explore Your Options
If you’re afraid of getting stuck eating the same meals every week, check out some vegan YouTube channels and recipe blogs — like Cheap Lazy Vegan and Minimalist Baker — to learn how to mix up your diet without ruining your budget.