A common concern about eating a plant-based diet is that it is expensive. I beg to differ. There are ways to purchase food on any type of meal plan that range widely from simple to extravagant, regardless of whether there are animal foods in the mix or not. In fact, you will likely save thousands of dollars (or more) in healthcare expenses by eating a wholesome plant-centered diet and, further, you can easily live frugally (and still very deliciously) on plants.
Here are 7 ways to save money on a plant-based diet:
1. Buy foods that have a longer shelf life in bulk. Shop warehouses for large packages of whole grains (oats, brown rice, quinoa), dried or canned beans and lentils, dried spices and herbs, frozen veggies and fruits, plant milks, tea, coffee, jarred or canned goods (tomatoes, tomato sauce, marinara sauce, olives), dried fruits, sun-dried tomatoes, dehydrated mushrooms, whole grain pasta, nuts, and seeds. Or buy from the bulk section at your local health food store.
2. Shop local farmer’s markets for fresh, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Try to show up towards the end of the day, when farmer’s will typically discount their remaining items. You can opt to buy from farms that may not yet be certified organic (it takes years and costs money to be certified), but do not spray their crops with pesticides. This is the next best thing to organic.
3. Minimize or avoid processed and convenience foods at the grocery store. Packaged food costs more because of the convenience factor, the marketing and production costs, etc. You are better off health-wise and wallet-wise to eat the most whole form of foods, found as close to nature as possible.
4. Cook more often. Simple skills – such as cooking grains and legumes, whipping up soups and stews, blending smoothies, dressings, and sauces – are easy to learn and will save you tons of money. These are the healthiest meals to create, keep in your fridge and freezer, and enjoy as regular staples. Batch cook foods so you can freeze some, and have plenty left for your week’s worth of dishes.
5. Prepare. Decide what you will make for the week ahead, check your kitchen to see which ingredients need to be purchased, and shop with grocery lists to avoid impulse purchases, and avoid overspending.
6. Never shop hungry. This is a recipe for purchasing less healthful, more expensive, and unnecessary items, racking up your bill.
7. Try growing your own food. Planting a garden – if you can – is a great way to save money on fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs. There are multiple ways to do this in small spaces, indoors, using hydroponics, aquaponics, and small or large pots outdoors if you are limited in space or land.
—>Bureau of Labor Statistics Average Retail Food & Energy Prices
—>“Eating Healthy on a Budget” on PerezHilton.com
—>My interview with John McDougall MD about eating well on a budget on Veria’s What Would Julieanna Do?
—>Learn how to cook plant-based online from home at the Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional Certification Course
—>Eating On a Budget on Fox 13 Seattle
—>Richard A Oppenlander, DDS, PLC’s The Cost of Eating Animals
—>My Veria Do’s and Don’ts for Food Shopping
—>Plant-Based On A Budget
—>Eco-Vegan Gal’s video series on eating healthy, organic, and vegan on a budget
—>How Important Is It To Buy Organic
—>Ellen Jaffe Jones Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day
*Graphics by Vegan Sidekick