Sunday, February 5, 2012

Vegan Dollars [Part 1]

Isn't being vegan expensive?
 Answer: No.
There is a rumor going around that being vegan means spending more money than 'normal' people. I would like to take some time to show you that this is not the case.  With a little bit of brains, common sense, and a love for the kitchen, being vegan can in fact be cheaper than being a non-vegan consumer.

Here are a few tips on how to shop with a healthy mind and pocket:

1) Walmart.
Yes I know. It's Walmart. Ugh! Who really likes to go in there anyways? Well, I do because they really do have the lowest prices.  Buy "Great Value" whenever possible, but also check the other brand's prices because sometimes the Walmart brand is not necessarily the cheapest (nor the tastiest). If you still refuse to go to Walmart, try another store, such as Harris Teeter, that also has their own brand of foods. If you have a Trader Joe's in your area, lucky, then of course buy there.

2) Frozen Fruit.
If you are a fruit lover like me then you know that fresh fruit is the best.  Unfortunately, many of my favorite fruits are not usually in season and therefore they are very expensive.  So, instead, I tend to buy the cheapest frozen fruit that I see.  Frozen fruit still has many of the same vitamins that fresh fruit has (because they were frozen, not canned) and therefore you still get the same benefits. Plus, frozen fruit is so versatile and it lasts a long time!  You can put it in oatmeal, smoothies, cereal, and whatever else you want.  Just defrost the pieces you need and keep the rest in the freezer for future use.

3) Bagged Fruit.
Although the fruits sold in a bag are not usually organic, they are cheap. As healthy as I am trying to be, I am willing to sacrifice organic fruits for bulk fruit. For example, a bag of grapefruit with 6 pieces will most likely cost less than buying 6 grapefruits individually.  Compare the prices and decide for yourself which is better for your budget.

4) Dried Beans.
Yes I know, canned beans are so much easier than dried beans. You can just open the can, throw them in the pot, and voila-la! They are finished.  Despite the ease of canned beans, I recently switched over to dried beans because they are cheaper and come without the preservatives that are in the cans.
Just throw them in the crock-pot (along with a few cups of filtered water) before you go to bed and turn it on low.  By the time you wake up you have a ton of beans ready to go!  If you do not have a crock-pot, soak them overnight then boil them the next day.  My advice, add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of cumin while they soak/cook.  This seasons them and makes them easier for your body to digest.

5) Rice.
Any person on a budget knows that rice and beans are cheap.  They are also vegan.  Eat a lot of both!  Buy rice in a bag versus rice in a box. Cook a lot of it at once on the weekend so that you have it at your disposal throughout the busy week.

6) Green bell peppers vs. colored peppers.
I love red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, but sadly they tend to be 2x more expensive than green bell peppers! Instead of buying the colored ones (which can be almost 2 dollars each), buy two or three green bell peppers (which tend to be between 50 cents and a dollar).  With a tight budget comes sacrifice.  In this case I am sacrificing a colorful meal.

7) Must-Haves
There are a few items that I will forever and always buy, no matter the cost.  For me, these items are avocados and mushrooms.  Avocados tend to be expensive here in the states but thankfully mushrooms are not so bad.
If there are 'must-have' food items, allow for them in your budget. If you need to, sacrifice something else for them.  In my last shopping trip I sacrificed a bag of lemons for two avocados and 3 kiwis. Silly? Maybe. But it's my thing, I'm sure that you have your own as well!

8) Cook your own food.
I think that 'being vegan' implies that you do this, but some people still insist on buying their food pre-made and pre-packaged.  Pre-packaged food will forever and always be more expensive than making it yourself, plus it is not fresh and will most likely come with nasty preservatives that scream "I WILL KILL YOU. Eventually." Stay away from that and get yourself into the kitchen!
If you do not know how to cook, teach yourself. Start with something simple like pasta and pasta sauce (read the ingredients before buying the sauce, many are not vegan but many are as well!) and when you get the hang of that add some of your own ingredients to the mixture.  Before you know it you will be on your way to becoming a professional chef! Well, in the eyes of your friends and family at least.

Do you have any tips for frugal vegan shoppers?

1 comment:

  1. Some good tips especially about using beans and using frozen fruit. Many thanks.