This one is for all those people out there who think that they can’t eat more whole, plant-based foods because it is too expensive for their budgets. In reality, whole, plant-based foods are one of the cheapest options going!
When you start eating plant-based, it can be easy to get caught up in the hype of processed meat and dairy alternatives, which will inevitably drive up the cost of your next grocery trip. But, if you choose more natural, whole food options instead of processed meats and snacks, you’ll not only end up saving money but likely improve your health in the process.
Just think of it this way: real food is not a product; it is something natural, without need for branding or fancy logos. Real food often costs less than a dollar per pound, all the while filling the belly and the body with valuable nutrients, minus the chemicals, preservatives, and additives.
Bananas (Other Fruits Included)
These are basics on the fruit list, foods that just about everyone likes and that are also available just about everywhere for less than a dollar a pound. Even organic and fair-trade bananas usually fit this low-price quote. Find the right season and loads of fruits are available for around a dollar a pound. They come in a healthy rainbow of colors and nutrients.
Average cost of bananas per pound: $0.86
Black Beans (Other Legumes Also Available)
Worried about protein? Don’t. Beans of all sorts of varieties, colors, shapes and sizes come for under a dollar a pound (or even a processed can for that matter). Beans, peas, and other legumes are an amazingly filling food, stuffed with dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Dried beans (and other legumes) come for under a pound and fill a pot up.
Average cost of dry black beans per pound:$1.59
Grains (The Whole Thing)
Avoid the instant, pre-measured and otherwise overly processed choices and the cost of common grains like oats, barley and rice drops significantly. But, also GMO-free corn (and popcorn), whole wheat, and rye are all valuable sources for staple foods that can keep the hunger pains away while fueling our tanks.
Average cost of oats per pound: $1
Greens (And Leaves by the Bunch)
Somehow we’ve all been duped into thinking lettuces and cabbages must come in one-pound bags, chopped, sorted and prewashed, in order to qualify as edible. Well, move over to another part of the produce section (or better yet, farmer’s market), and there will be heads of lettuce, cabbage, kale and so on for a fraction of what the bags cost. They can be washed, chopped and combined at home.
Average cost per pound of cabbage: $1.24
Onions, Celery, and the Soulful Seasoning Vegetables
Down south in Louisiana, where cooks get slow and sultry with their simmering, folks know that a pot of anything just ain’t right without a healthy host of seasoning vegetables. That’s stuff like onions, garlic, celery, green bell peppers and carrots. Be it the New Orleans culinary holy trinity or the mirepoix, good cooks use seasoning vegetables, as they come cheap and packed with flavor.
Average cost per pound of celery: $1
Average cost per pound of carrots: $1.05
Average cost per pound of onion:$0.73
Potatoes (Sweet, Golden and Brand New)
Potatoes, like grains, are the commonest of common stomach stuffers, and it’s really no surprise that they come pennies for the pound. For many, a baked potato can constitute an entire meal, which is some cheap eating, but by no means is that the extent of what the potato can do. They can mashed, whipped, roasted, fried, scalloped, casseroled, hash-browned, and much more. Go with sweet for more nutrition.
Average cost per pound of Russet potato: $0.86
Average cost per pound of sweet potato: $1.61
Look at this list and it’s the basics of what constitutes a plant-based diet. Whole food meals can come cheap. That’s not to say that the occasional quinoa or handful almonds don’t fit the bill; however, for those of us with tight budgets, it is entirely possible to eat real food all week for under a dollar a pound. That’s smart and simple shopping.
Lead image source: Vegan Creamy Ginger-Coconut Kale Zucchini Spaghetti