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How I Maintain a Very Humble (Low) Budget Eating Vegan, Without Any Sacrifice


Every time I hear someone claim that eating vegan is just too expensive, it really makes me wonder where he or she is shopping. Because I have shopped as a meat-eater, vegetarian and vegan, and without a doubt, the cheapest choice for my budget came when choosing vegan.

Now, of course, there are certain ideals of eating that must be established. Namely, buying a bunch of store-brand frozen pizzas and burritos, packs of ramen noodles, doesn’t constitute real shopping. This is the best diet that will provide anyone with the nourishment that we need. In fact, if we really get down to it, anyone who is trying to eat vegan could shop this way as well. There are — by default — vegan packs of ramen, cans of soup, chips and salsa, whatever else. But, that’s no way to live.

Let’s assume the goal is to shop as if to cook well-balanced, nutritious meals. This, then, will only help the vegan shopper’s cause. Here’s what I do.

Buy Various Starches to Carry Meals

sweet potatoes

Starchy carbs are super cheap and filling, even in more nourishing varieties like brown rice or whole-wheat flour. Essentially, assume that a starch will be the bulk in each meal, but not necessarily that it must be the same one. There are pastas, noodles, rice, oats, barley, other whole grains, as well as good old-fashioned breads. Then, even for those out there trying to avoid too much processing or gluten, there are also cheap veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes and any other host of starchy root vegetables.

  • Two Tips: Be sure to change up the starches. Rotate them so that nothing gets overplayed and the nutrition you are getting from them varies. As well, buy it all in bulk, such that the price drops, and there will always be something filling around the house to make.

Buy Fresh, Seasonal Vegetables and Fruit

 farmers market

Of course, going to the farmers market would be ideal, as would an all-organic menu; however, this may not be possible for everyone. Regardless, meat or not, the cost of an appropriate amount of vegetables would be the same. The trick is to buy things on special, to choose things that grow locally or nearby and to not focus only on your favorites. Sure, just about any produce imaginable is available at any time, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for our health, our environment or our budgets.

  • Two Tips: Finding the local, independent fruit and vegetable market is sometimes a bit easier than making it somewhere on market day, and these markets are often better priced than big chain supermarkets pushing products over produce. Also, always keep an eye-out for sell-by tables, with prices dropped to next to nothing.

Try DIY Over Canned, Packaged and Processed


It doesn’t take much investigation to figure out that the cost of a pound of dried beans or other legumes is less than buying the canned versions, so it is much cheaper and healthier and flavorful to make them DIY-style. The same is true for many things: pasta sauces, soups, and anything bought in individually packaged sizes or as an all-in-one kit. Cook in bulk and portion it with the bowl or plate; otherwise, the cost goes up for more packaging, for having cooked and preserved the food and for having put it all together, even though it’s not as healthy.

  • Two Tips: A pressure cooker saves time and energy with dried beans. Put them to soak in the morning, and they’ll cook in a pressure cooker in twenty minutes that evening. Snack stuff—health bars, cookies, cakes, etc.—are much cheaper done at home, and they more readily become something special and enjoyed when our time and effort goes in to them. Try some of our recipes for lots of ideas.

Buy What You Need for Good Health

It’s important for vegans (and everyone) to make sure all their nutrient bases are covered. A whole foods diet will provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals, but certain vitamins such as Vitamin B12, should be prioritized in the budget. We have to keep this in mind when shopping, and when we splurge on something it should be in aid of getting the most nutrients into our diet through our food choices. You can choose a supplement, while some people opt to get fortified Vitamin B12 from plant-based milks or nutritional yeast. The point is that, if we are going to buy something that pushes the budget, better to buy something that’s useful than being marketed junk.

  • Two Tips: Having a routine shopping list helps, starting with the beans and the grains then finding the fruit and veg and, finally, filling in the rest to meet needs. Impose limits as opposed to doing without, which for many of us equates to one bar dark chocolate as part of the weekly shopping list and learning to make it last.

BONUS Recommendation: Download the Food Monster AppRed Lentil Tikka Masala

If you enjoy articles and recipes like these and want more, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App. For those that don’t have it, it’s a brilliant food app available for both Android and iPhone. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to cut out or reduce allergens like meat, dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, grains, and more find awesome recipes, cooking tips, articles, product recommendations and how-tos. The app shows you how having diet/health/food preferences can be full of delicious abundance rather than restrictions.

The Food Monster app has over 8k recipes and 500 are free. To access the rest, you have to pay a subscription fee but it’s totally worth it because not only do you get instant access to 8k+ recipes, you get 10 NEW recipes every day! You can also make meal plans, add bookmarks, read feature stories, and browse recipes across hundreds of categories like diet, cuisine, meal type, occasion, ingredient, popular, seasonal, and so much more!

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552 comments on “How I Maintain a Very Humble (Low) Budget Eating Vegan, Without Any Sacrifice”

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ThrllRacer, Esq.
2 Months Ago


3 Months Ago

I love the sound of the app but, although I have a small Iphone, find it too fiddly and small compared with my laptop which I can make much bigger in print AND print it if its a favourite recipe. WHY - if you really want to share the joys of vegan food do you not have it as a computer friendly product. I don\'t understand the rationale of excluding computers from accessing Food Monster PLEASE PLEASE change your mind and let us all get with the program. Thank you.

Theresa FitzGerald
6 Months Ago

I would love to have the Food Monster app but it is only available for smart phones and I only have a computer as I can\'t afford a smart phone. I know the world is becoming concentrated into the tiny screen of smart phones but as an older and disabled and poor person this isn\'t possible for me. Just wanted to let you know so that you can perhaps think a little wider. I find your site very useful but would like to be able to download some of the recipes to my computer.

Lorri Adams
23 Jan 2017

Hi Theresa, I don\'t have a smart phone, I copy and paste the recipes I like into a word document and save them that way.

09 May 2017

I have a smart phone and I don\'t have the app the screen is too small. I\'m one of those weird people that only use my phone for calling/texting, navigation and a couple games for when I\'m bored. I have all my recipes in a data base on my computer (my husband made it). I copy and paste the ones that look good. No need for the app when you have all the recipes you could possibly want at your fingertips on your computer.

Gia Amar
8 Months Ago

I think the first step for meat eaters should be to cut down on meat and adopt a vegetarian lifestyle first. Then you can slowly transition to vegan..Step by step seems to have more likelihood of sticking to this lifestyle, whereas going cold turkey(excuse the term!) might be difficult. Also a vegan diet is not more expensive than buying meat! Its more or less the same.

21 Jan 2017

That is what I am doing. I have cut down to veggie - no meat and going to cut out dairy - and will try and cut out eggs although I don\'t eat a lot. I have spent a bit more of late as I need a new oven and harder to cook veggie dishes unlike meat which I could cook on the Foreman grill (don\'t want to just eat chargrilled veg).

Lorri Adams
12 Feb 2017

That\'s how I\'m approaching it, and am having no struggles at all. I WANT this to stick, so am willing to take my time. As for the cost, I\'m finding that this is costing me less than the way I used to eat, very happy with that. Plus, I think I\'m eating more veges and fruit that I used to. That\'s gotta be good for me.

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