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Eating Vegan on a Budget

One of the best things about going vegan—aside from the whole “being healthy, feeling great, saving animals” thing—is that if done right, it can be a very cheap way to eat. Yes, you can spend an arm and a leg if you’re only buying prepackaged items or hard-to-find soy cheeses, but if you go the more natural route, you can really save.

The best money-saving trick is to stick to staples like dried beans, rice, and pasta. All three of these can be purchased for less than a dollar, can last a long time, and are healthy.

Loading up on veggies is a necessity for any healthy diet, and you can save a little cash by buying frozen veggies. They usually contain more vitamins and nutrients than the canned options and last longer than the fresh stuff—meaning that you never have to throw out that broccoli you never used and waste money.

Creative, ethnic dishes are a great way for vegetarians to add flavor to their meals while still cutting costs, and you can make easy at-home versions. Pick up a soy-based sauce (around $2 at many stores), add it to those veggies I told you about, tofu (four servings can be purchased for $1–$3), and rice or noodles, and you could have an easy stir-fry for four that comes in under 10 bucks.

Or if stir-fries aren’t for you, try simple sandwiches. Peanut butter can be purchased for, well, mere peanuts at most stores. Spreads like hummus, mock-tuna salad, and mock-egg salad might be expensive if you buy them already prepared, but making them on your own is cheap and easy. 

And for those of you who are totally against all things green or natural—processed vegan items, like soy cheese and faux meats, are now readily available at just about any grocery store, and they’ve become much more affordable. If you ate only these items, you might not see any savings, but adding them to your menu sometimes definitely won’t break the bank.

These are just a few pointers, and there are many other ways to save while eating vegan. To find out more about specific budget-friendly meal ideas, check out our guide to going vegetarian.

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  • Marie Piguet says:

    One of the best ways to avoid the temptation of buying expensive fast-food is to take the slow-cooker. after supper, I just assemble the ingredients in the pot of the slow-cooker and refrigerate. In the morning, I just pop it the cooker and after a long day at work, I come home to the delicious smell of a slow cooked meal: Dal (Indian style lentills), comfort food red-bean chile, spaghetti sauce, heathy soups, etc… It’s the best!

  • Marilynn says:

    My granddaughter and I both love an unusual snack. We put some frozen green peas in a small bowl, let them thaw a TINY bit, and nibble away! Buy the tiny, sweet ones.

  • Julie says:

    If you’re a coffee shop junkie like I am. You can save a lot of money and still feel like you’re taking time for yourself by making your own coffee and putting it in an (ecco friendly) thermos and bringing a good book to the park for a quick break in your day…. plus you’re getting some healthy sunshine.

    I also make my own granola and take that to the park sometimes.

  • Cris says:

    I have not been vegan for very long–2 months– however, I found that the Farmer’s Market is where I save a ton of money!! I eat a ton of fresh fruits and veggies and avacadoes go on every salad…beans I buy in the cans and rinse well (have to have convienence), I have not bought much as far as frozen meatless items,,,as I cannot eat soy ( I am allergic)…so that keeps that under control. But it makes things more challenging for sure! I try to stick with smoothies both fruit and green, whole grain brown rice and pasta (not a ton), ezekial breads, and virgin coconut oil to cook with and olive oil to eat on salads. Flax seeds ground in smoothies. Lots of water. Although I get sick of water at times…and give into an occasional soda (this is rare though)…I am not losing a ton of weight like others…maybe3 I am eating too much fat…but if I do not eat fat my skin gets dry and hair and i feel hungry all the time. The coconut oil is supposed to help you lose. I don’t have a ton to lose but I would like to lose 10-15 lbs..Maybe I am still detoxing as I had some health issues due to dairy and soy…??? Need to start excercising but have not found the energy yet…am trying to get used to eating so radically different…I need to just make myself do it. Are there supplements I should be taking? For energy?

  • Vegan Eating Out says:

    These are excellent tips. A cheap meal is reddily available when you buy cheap vegetables – fresh, canned or frozen. When buying speciality vegan items I find I only spend a little bit more at the supermarket – hardly a noticeable difference!

  • Laura Congema says:

    I have always wanted to follow a vegetarian diet..

    I already love veggies and beans so it was a no brainer..

    We do need guidance though in order to understand the food choices which provide proper nutrients.

    Thank you for your help..

    All the perks are well worth it..now my daugher is following her mother’s advice..

    Laura

  • Chris Kees says:

    MY HUSBAND IS A VEGETARIAN, I AM NOT. PLEASE SUGGEST SOME RECEPIES THAT WE BOTH MIGHT LIKE!
    THANKS,
    CHRIS

  • Isabelle says:

    I have to honestly say that my food bill has decreased dramatically since I became a vegetarian. I usually buy the pre-packed products who are more expensive but hey, if I could spend 7 bucks on a chicken, what’s 5 bucks to get a vegan hamburger that I have to admit tastes better than those I used to make with real meat? Thanks for the info!!

  • Niki says:

    Thanks for a great article! :) I love eating a vegetarian diet and have been doing so for about 4 months now. I love how I feel and how incredible my skin looks.
    Just one concern though, with all the new information about the negative effects of soy products, should you really be promoting them as a safe and healthy alternative to animal protein?! I seem to get all my protein requirements without adding soy to my diet…
    I really feel those eating a veggie diet should educate themselves about soy and then decide whether or not they want to include it in their diet, or worse, feed it to their children. Food for thought.
    In good health, Niki :)

  • Anna says:

    Love this article. I’m sending the URL to all my friends who think I’m spending a fortune by not eating animal flesh. Keep up the fabulous work; thank you!
    Anna

  • Daisy says:

    Hi! Thanks so much for writing this blog, it’s awesome. I’m pretty new to being a vegitarian, I started about three months ago, and i’m a sucker for grazy on mashed potatoes, but I havent been able to find a good alternative, have any suggestions?

  • Dustin says:

    I would personally like to thank you for writing this blog. Seriously, the tips that you have provided have been invaluable. I have been having trouble staying vegan because of the expenses, but thanks to this blog, and also a lot more common sense, I can save some cash!

  • Heidi says:

    Wait, a couple more things: Drink a lot of tea (especially green tea, it boosts the metabolism.) Also, add veggies to everything, especially hot peppers. The spice in peppers is really good for the metabolism as well, and the more vegetables you eat, the more water you are consuming in your food, which processes everything in your digestive tract very cleanly. You’ll see what I mean! Ha! People who eat a lot of veggies really clean their system, if you know what I’m sayin’!

  • Heidi says:

    I have been a vegetarian since I was 12, which makes that about 13 years now. What I have found to be the best way to stay fit while having a vegetarian lifestyle is to always include a delicious and interesting salad to my meals. Imagine, you keep a bag of mixed greens in the fridge, and all you have to do is come up with either a simple homemade dressing or a delicious store-bought vegan dressing, add your choice of raw or toasted nuts and fresh or dried fruit, avodaco, and poof! a fantistic side dish. You can opt for a more savory route by sauteeing some onions, garlic, mushrooms and tempeh or tofu, and just add some balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to your greens. Avocado also adds a nice creaminess. Honestly, no matter what else you make to acompany the salad, the greens will keep you full enough to not overeat on the heavier stuff. Plus, they naturally make you feel fantastic. You could really venture out into other salads as well by checking out recipes on this blog and some cookbooks. That’s how I stay thin, and I am a big eater, who always clear her plate.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I would also recommend shopping farmers markets for low cost fruits and veggies; choosing foods that are in season (and inexpensive) and then freezing those for when they are no longer in season; and cook in bulk (soups, stews, pastas) and freezing extra food for future meals. If you bake, double or triple the recipe so that you will have quick and healthy snacks in the future.

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you for posting these tips!

  • Tiffani says:

    I am new to this whole vegetarian thing…but I would like to know how can I go about loosing weight being a vegetarian, like the kinds of pastas that are alright to eat, and the breads and such..

  • Julie Ann Zserdin says:

    Eating vegetarian is basicly low carb unless you eat just breads and pasta. I buy the low carb breads and pasta which help and almost all veg and most fruits are low carb. If you eat alot of veggies, fruit and whole grains you will not have to worry about gaining wieght. I was on the atkins low carb before going veg/vegan and lost a lot of weight but my diabetes went nuts. Anyway when i went veg/vegan I was worried I would gain wieght.Wow Not only have I not gained wieght, I am losing, and eating more healthy and able to eat more and more variety.The only way you will gain wieght is if you start eating all kinds of sugary stuff or eating junk food stuff. Being veg is not really any different than eating a healthy meat eater diet. You just are not eating the flesh and dairy products and replacing them with healthy legumes and soy or veggie substitues. It is easy to be vegetarian, it is hard to change poeple into a vegetarian because poeple have this crazy idea vegetarians eat just lettuce and carrots and live in communes. LOll I have heard more poeple say I am not going to live on rabbit food. I laugh because the only thing I have changed is the flesh and dairy to healty soy and veggie products.

  • Liz Litts says:

    YES!!!
    I have been trying to start something in my community to inform people that eating vegitarian/vegan is economcial.
    I am on a fixed income and I have found that since I started eating veggie, I eat better, feel better and save more on my food bill.

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  • Vicki Anderson says:

    Loved the article about being Vegan cheaply…I’m new to this way of life and have spent aton of money so far. However,how do I eat cheaply and low carb so I don’t gain weight. Thanks for the info.

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