I will often get asked if it’s expensive to become vegan. Well, usually the “question” is posed more like this:
“But vegan food is so expensive!”
Not true. Let me show you.
If you restrict all your shopping to a specialty health food store you most certainly will spend more. However, on a couple of recent shopping trips, I found bargains galore on some of the more common items that should be staples in every vegan kitchen. I did the work, now you get to benefit from my research in frugality.
My youngest, Miss M. and I ventured into a traditional Asian market last week and I was thrilled to find shelf-stable tofu for only $1.49! I love this kind of tofu as we can store it in the pantry and it doesn’t take up space in our tiny fridge. This usually sells for $1.99-$2.25 in most stores.
Check out the bulk foods section of your grocery store or food co-op. Often, you can find items such as nutritional yeast or chia seeds much cheaper than if they were pre-packaged.
We have an Aldi’s about a mile from our home but I usually only shop there when I need canned goods. If you’ve never shopped at Aldi’s, you’re in for a treat. You deposit a quarter in the cart which is refunded to you when the cart is returned. Bring your own bag or you’ll end up paying for one and watch the cashier line carefully to see what the protocol is for paying for your items.
If I haven’t scared you off and you decide to make the trip into this unusual store, you will find many bargain items for the taking. Dried beans of any type imaginable, organic bananas for 59 cents a pound, avocados for 89 cents each and my most recent discovery, organic agave nectar for only $2.49! For those of you not familiar with agave nectar, it’s frequently used as a vegan alternative to honey. At Wegmans, this sells for $4.99. You don’t have to be a math genius to figure out that’s half the cost!
Right next door to our Aldi’s is a store called Big Lots. Big Lots is always a fun place to shop because the inventory changes so you never know what you’ll find. On this trip I was happy to find the biggest selection of Bob’s Red Mill products I’d ever seen! Of course, it may not be there the next time I go.
I picked up some pearl couscous at a great price as well as this for only $2.00:
|Wegmans price: $3.49
For those of you blessed with a Trader Joe’s nearby, you will find many items for your vegan pantry at a much lower price than most grocery stores. I have yet to find raw cashews (a must if making “cheese” sauces) that cost less than at Trader Joe’s. As with any kind of shopping, however it pays to know the average cost of your staples.
One trap a lot of new vegans fall into (myself included) is trying to find substitutes for the food they’re used to. For instance, processed meat substitutes like veggie burgers, soy bacon or sausages and vegan cheeses can be pricey. I’ve learned to only treat myself to those every now and then and to focus more on whole foods that are much more beneficial to your health as well as your wallet.
Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber and average around $1.39 a pound! That’s a whole lot of nutrition for pennies! In my blog post from July 12th, you’ll find a favorite recipe for Masoor Dal where approximately 75 cents worth of lentils will give you four meals.
One of my favorite “fast food” meals is greens and beans. You can use swiss chard, endive, escarole or any of the other kinds of greens you find in your produce section. Saute them in some olive oil and minced garlic and add a can of black-eyed peas (79 cents) at the end. This will make two servings of a filling and nutritious meal.
We use a lot of vegetable broth and usually buy it at the store but making your own vegetable broth is super easy! Save your vegetable scraps and throw them in the freezer. When you have enough for stock, cook them in salted and/or seasoned water and voila! Instant vegetable stock for next to nothing. This website is great for more detailed instructions.
If you’re looking for inexpensive vegan cookbooks to get your creative juices flowing, check out BookBub. The offers are only for a limited time but I found the following titles for FREE:
|Vegan Sandwiches by Ruby Cooper
These were all free when I got them but are now $1.99-$3.99 so sign up for BookBub emails so you don’t miss the next round of free vegan cookbooks!
I’d love to hear about your experience finding great prices on vegan eats. Shoot me a message in the comments section!