Food & Drink Magazine

Go Vegan and Save Money

By Chuck Underwood @brandnewvegan

saving money

A friend and I recently had a Facebook conversation involving the rising cost of food.  Her comment was you can spend the fortune she just did to eat healthy, or spend half of that amount on preppie pre-packaged unhealthy junk food.  Her comment was it’s no wonder more people aren’t eating healthy – they can’t afford it.

Of course my friend is not vegan and her shopping list included items like coffee, chicken, eggs, juice, and deli meat.  All items that are set to continue going up in price this year due to a variety of reasons.

The price of bacon is surging and the cost of other morning staples, like coffee and orange juice, is set to rise because of global supply problems, from drought in Brazil to disease on U.S. pig farms.  ”You should expect to see very high prices for your ground beef, and your other meat cuts.   Pork cuts will especially be higher this year,” said Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods.

Have you experienced the sticker shock yet?  It sure sounds like it’s coming.  And for those of you who are still meat eaters – I’m afraid you will be the hardest hit.

So what’s a person to do?

Save Money By Going VEGAN!

Naturally I responded to the Facebook post with some Vegan ideas for saving money.  And of course, there were replies to my comments.  Replies having to do with giving up ‘flavor’ and eating like a ‘bunny rabbit’ …..typical comments I have grown very used to as a Vegan.  But hey, you can only lead the horse to water right?  I gave up on trying to make any of them drink.

My point I was trying to make was that it CAN be very inexpensive to shop for food.  Naturally, if you buy the trendiest, most sought after items – like bacon, steak, milk, cheese, eggs, etc…  it’s going to be expensive.  Duh!  (I can’t believe how much a pound of hamburger cost these days compared to when I used to eat meat.)

And bacon?  What’s with EVERYTHING having to look, smell, or taste like bacon these days?  Did you know there are even Bacon Favored Condoms?  Yeah – let’s not even go there.

So get rid of the Meat and Dairy – and Go Vegan – even if it’s only for a meal or two a week – and I guarantee if you shop smart you will start saving money.  Shopping smart – that’s the trick.  For the unprepared, navigating a grocery store can be like traveling to a new city without your Google Maps or GPS.

So in an effort to help you along, here are

5 Ways to Save Money by Going Vegan

1.  Buy Bulk

Get to know your bulk food section at your grocery store.  Don’t have one?  Try to find a store nearby that does.  Here you will find bulk items like rice, beans, oatmeal, lentils, and nutritional yeast.  What makes this so much better?  You’re not paying for the packaging!  Get a good set of Countertop Canisters (like grandma used to have) and fill these bad boys up.  And if you’re so far away from a store that has a bulk section – try Wal-Mart.  They may not have bulk items but they do have insanely cheap 5 lbs bags of everyday Vegan staples like rice and beans.

2.  Shop Around

Speaking of Wal-Mart – you CAN be completely Vegan and eat healthy from Wal-Mart.  Not every meal has to be an organic gourmet dinner from Whole Foods.  You can find many ingredients to making easy, simple, and healthy meals at Wal-Mart for a fraction of the price of the big box stores.  Frozen Veggies, canned tomatoes and beans, bags of rice, spices, etc.  Not to mention the produce section where you can find organic potatoes, onions, garlic, and a variety of fresh fruit.  Going back to grandma – remember what she used to buy?  Bags of flour, sacks of potatoes, things like that?  Buy those!  Hot pockets?  When do you remember Grandma ever eating a Hot Pocket?  Yeah – never.  Just buy food your grandma used to buy!  Easy.

3.  Simple One Pot Meals

Maybe it’s getting lazy, or maybe it’s just being more efficient (I like the latter) but many of my meals now are all cooked in a single pot.  Boil some pasta – right before it’s done add a bag of frozen veggies and some sauce.  Bam – dinner.  Here’s a quick and easy recipe that does just that – my Thai Peanut Noodles.  

You can do the same thing with rice – right before it’s done add some greens like Spinach or Kale, while it’s wilting add a lentil or bean for protein, pour on some sauce and bingo – instant healthy dinner.  Matt Frazier from No Meat Athlete calls this “A Grain, A Green, and a Bean” meal.  Simple ingredients, one pot, 2 plates – dinner.

4.  Grown Your Own

I don’t know about your neck of the woods – but here in the Pacific Northwest Spring has officially arrived.  Trust me – I know – I had to mow my grass for the first time this year – ugh.  But seeing my empty planter boxes did signal to me that it’s time to get ready for the growing season.  Growing your own food is the ULTIMATE way of saving a ton of cash.  A packet of seeds is (pardon the pun) DIRT cheap compared to how many heads of lettuce, or bunches of peas, you will harvest when the season is done.  And tomatoes?  Please don’t get me started on store-bought tomatoes – I’d rather eat a tennis ball.  NOTHING taste like a sun ripened tomato right off the vine.  Mmmm.

You can also grow your own spices too.  I use a lot of Italian spices like Basil & Oregano,  so one of my goals this year is to grow my own.  Say goodbye to those ridiculous big box prices for a little bottle of old spices.  Nice thing about spices is they don’t take up a lot of room.  Even if you’re in an apartment you should have room on your deck for a planter or two.

5.  Cook

I know – the 4 letter word no one wants to hear.  But seriously, if your really want to save money you going to have to learn to cook.  Maybe you slept through home ec – (do they still teach home ec?) .  Maybe your mom couldn’t cook either.  It doesn’t matter.  Just start.  Try the one pot meal ideas I mentioned earlier.  I got quite a few Sauce Recipes I use over and over that are pretty simple to make and pretty hard to screw up.  Just follow the directions.  Get a good set of pans, and some measuring spoons/cups and you’ll be set.  The thing about cooking for yourself – you get to control what goes in it.  When you buy those pre-packaged boxes of mystery meals you don’t.  And the ingredient list usually looks like something from Biology Class.

What Are Your Tricks?

I’m sure all of you have your own tricks for saving money in this tight economy.  Vegan or carnivore.  Want to share?  What are your favorite money-saving tricks that help you afford to eat this way? Let us know with a comment below.

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