Meatless Mondays: Can you be vegan on a low budget?

Looking online at stereotypes of a high budget vegan diet and posts of green smoothies or fancy ingredients in dinners, can be discouraging for those who can’t afford vegan products that cost them over 50 dollars a week for meals. There are still many people who can afford the vegan restaurants or the pre-made frozen foods, but there are others who want to be able to save their money and still have a balanced vegan diet. Looking at diets internationally also shows that meat is a luxury item and many eat vegetarian more than you may think. Can it be done? I think so, and it can be easier than you think without laying a finger on the processed vegan items. Let’s look into some tried and true tips that anyone with a vegan lifestyle (or those trying to get into one) can try. 

Tips for being vegan on a low budget

Here are some youtube videos of a creator who showed how they eat a weekly vegan diet on a low budget (such as 30 dollars a week), and a great video filled with some vegan recipes:

  • Buy items like whole grains and dried beans in bulk: Many people may not realize that dried beans in bulk can save quite a few dollars and you can have them for a while in your pantry. They also aren’t filled with sodium like the canned ones. At places like whole foods you can also fill up bags of beans and many whole grain items (that may also be organic) like oats, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, etc. You can get large jars to have in the kitchen to store the bulk grains in and have them for a few weeks at minimum.
  • Try out new spices and make meals at home: You might be asking, how would paying for spices help on a low budget? Well, it is more of the concept that you would be preventing yourself from buying processed or frozen items and be able to make more for your money with meals made at home. Instead, you can spice up and try new flavors of cuisines with spices like indian food, which has many vegetarian and vegan meals that can be created. 
  • Also don’t be afraid of frozen fruits and vegetables: Frozen fruits and vegetables may not always seem so appetizing as fresh produce, but when fresh produce isn’t on sale, the frozen items can be a savior to your weekly meals. The frozen fruit can of course be used for smoothies or on overnight oats as a topping, and frozen vegetables can be added to anything, including throwing into a vegan chili. Frozen produce also won’t spoil easily like fresh. However you can get fresh produce on sale like berries and other fruit and freeze on your own. 
  • Meal Prep for easy recipes and what to buy weekly: Meal prepping and writing out for the whole month what you would like to get can save money since you would know what you can get in advance for bulk items and find seasonal produce on sale (or get frozen items). If you are someone who is more spontaneous and eats what they desire each day, it can be more of a challenge but is worth trying out. It can prevent the impulsive person from going out to get take out.  Some easy meals can include: 
    • Overnight oats with plant based milk and frozen fruit
    • Vegan stir fry with frozen veggies and tofu (and rice from bulk items)
    • Bean, veggie and brown rice burritos for lunch that you can make the night before
    • One pot pasta dishes 
    • Even peanut butter sandwiches on whole grain bread for lunch is simple, cheap and a complete protein for vegans

List of Best Items to get on a low budget vegan diet

  • Starches like: Brown rice, potatoes (regular and sweet), whole grain pasta, oats, bulgur, quinoa, buckwheat, whole wheat bread
  • Beans and legumes: Opt for bulk lentils, dried beans, etc instead of canned, and get containers of tofu when on sale as well. Peanut or nut butters are also an item to have occasionally for lunches or add to smoothies
  • Vegetables: Find seasonal items on sale or get the cheaper produce like onions and garlic, zucchini, canned tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, corn, carrots, green beans, bagged leafy greens like spinach
  • Fruits: Depending on where you live, most fruit is available now but getting it seasonally as well helps since it would be on sale more often. Apples, bananas, pears, oranges, and sometimes berries, watermelon, pineapple or avocado when on sale

Overall for vegans (and anyone trying to save more money) buying in bulk with dried items, meal prepping for the week and calculating the weekly price, opting for seasonal produce and frozen produce when needed, and trying out new spices are the keys to saving money each week. Sometimes you can go out for a splurge on some items like vegan cheeses or vegan meat products if you can get it maybe once or twice a month. Just know that there are always ways to feed 1 person or a family of 4 or 5 on a vegan diet.

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