A common excuse I hear people make against going vegan is how expensive it is.
I totally understand the concern since we are made to believe that healthier foods are pricy. I mean, you could just go to McDonalds and spend $3 on lunch. Salads can be up to $8. With that kind of price difference, how could the average person afford to eat a healthy, vegan diet? Nuts, seeds, super foods, fake meats, all that stuff is super expensive!!! Only millionaires could afford that stuff!
Well, I’m about to shock you: We (my boyfriend and I) spend less money on food than we used to (the dark days before going vegan).
I know, it’s crazy! And we eat a very healthy vegan diet at that! You would think that we’d be spending hundreds of dollars per month, but not even close!
I’m a full-time student, and we don’t have all the money in the world. I’m 22, and saving money and paying bills is a priority. I don’t want to spend a fortune on groceries, and so I don’t.
I think that new vegans assume that the lifestyle is expensive for a few reasons, and I want to address them, as well as give you some tips on how to make a vegan diet affordable.
Here are my tops tips for affording a vegan diet and how it can be the cheapest diet there is!:
1. Think About What Plant Foods Actually Are
Rice, beans, most other whole grains, most vegetables, certain fruits…what do all of those foods have in common: They are some of the cheapest foods money can buy! That’s right! What is the cheapest option at Subway? The Veggie Delight! Cheapest burritos at Taco bell? The meatless ones. Vegan staples such as fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, oats, pasta, etc. are mostly very inexpensive. Sure, berries are a bit pricier, but bananas and kiwis are less than 20 cents each. Most whole grains (besides the supergrains such as quinoa) are very cheap. Beans are less than a dollar per can (and buying dry beans is even cheaper!). You could easily spend much less money on vegan staples than you ever did on the Standard American Diet. Stick to standard whole foods, and you will be pleasantly surprised by how inexpensive the foods actually are.
2. Limit Nuts, Seeds, and Super Foods to only Occasional Purchases
Ok, nuts, seeds, and super foods such as spiralina, goji berries, maca powder, etc. can get expensive. Here’s the thing though, they aren’t necessary all the time. If you stick to the vegan staples (beans, grains, fruits, and veggies) and only buy nuts, seeds, and super foods on occasion and make them last, you’ll still spend a small amount of money. I buy a bag of chia seeds that lasts about 4-6 months. My bag of maca powder has lasted me several months and I still have more than half of the bag left. A bag of cashews lasts about 2 months for me, and I cook and bake with cashews pretty frequently. Some of the pricier purchases will last you longer than produce (obviously) and other staples, meaning that it may seem like you are spending a lot of money up front, but you will end up spending much less in the long run because the more expensive vegan foods usually last much longer, depending on how often you have them.
3. Limit Processed Foods
Lots of new vegans are dependent on mock meats and other processed foods. I completely understand this since it’s normal to miss the taste and texture of animal products when you give them up. However, the processed foods get expensive…quickly. If you stick to whole foods, you will save money. If you cook most everything from scratch, you will save money. If you only buy processed foods, you probably won’t save money. That’s just the bottom line.
Don’t get me wrong, if you like certain processed foods, you don’t have to give them up. I would just recommend that you buy them in a lower quantity and stick to a diet consisting of mainly whole plant foods if you are trying to save money.
4. Take Advantage of Bulk Meal Prepping and Leftovers
If you are planning 21 different meals in a week, that can definitely get pricy! We have had great luck with bulk meal prepping, which is making a few days worth of meals in one day. It saves time, it saves money, it’s super convenient, and yeah, it may take some planning, but I think any successful diet takes planning (at least for the most part). Especially while I am in school, I like making meals that will last me 3 dinners. I will say that while we are in Summer, I’m spending a little more on food because I have more time to cook different meals everyday, but when I don’t, I bulk meal prep and rely on leftovers. I do it mainly to save time, but I have noticed that we save a lot of money and sometimes our grocery bill is cut in half! No joke! If you don’t mind eating the same meal for a few days, you will definitely save time and money. It’s 100% worth the preparation.
5. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time and Make Grocery Lists
Going off of #4, it is super important to plan ahead. Yeah, plans change. However, if you make the intention to eat certain meals throughout the week, you probably will for the most part. If you plan meals ahead of time and make grocery lists, you will know exactly what you need when you go to the store. A huge mistake Matthew and I used to make was not having our meals figured out and just buying stuff for no apparent reason. We spent more than we should have, and we also wasted some food, which is never good! I have found that it is virtually impossible to be 100% waste-free (though being 95% is more than possible), but you will waste much less AND spend less money if you plan ahead and only buy what you’ll need. I totally get the urge to buy something impulsively, and doing this on occasion is fine. As long as you are buying what you know you will use, you are definitely going to save money.
I know that a vegan lifestyle seems intimidating, and I know that it seems like all of these natural ingredients would be expensive. I think that if you give the lifestyle a try and buy only vegan for a week, you may be pleasantly surprised as long as you:
1. Stick to Whole Foods
2. Buy as Little Processed Foods as Possible
3. Do Your Best to Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
4. Make Sure You’ll Have Some Leftovers
If you do this, you may find that the vegan diet is the most affordable diet out there! Eating healthy is not as big of a sacrifice as the food industry wants you to think! Either way, spending your money on healthy food now may save your some money on healthcare in the future <- always remember that if eating healthy doesn’t seem worth it.
If you have any questions on how to save money on a vegan diet, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below! I am always happy to help!
I hope that I was able to provide some insight on how easy and attainable a vegan diet really is. It’s not expensive. It’s not weird. It’s just a diet consisting of whole, plant foods. Also, the food is delicious, but you can see that from my recipes.
Have an awesome day, and make sure to eat something yummy, healthy, and vegan sometime this week if you aren’t vegan already!
Do you have any saving tips on a vegan diet? Let me know down below!