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Being on a budget is pretty easy to do if you’re vegan, but there are some extra tips you should be aware of to save the most money possible. When it comes down to it, plant-foods are almost always cheaper than animal foods, not to mention kinder to your body and the planet. However, like many of you, I head into the store and get a bit giddy to buy healthy foods, and can find myself going way over budget in no time. To prevent that from happening to you, I’d like to share my top money-saving tips that I use every single week. It’s pretty easy to stick to your budget if you follow these tips, and you’ll even have plenty of food leftover at the end of the week as a bonus. Definitely let me know if you have any money-saving tips to share too. I’m always looking for more ways to save money!

1. Stay Away From Trendy Packaged Foods

Hey, we’ve all bought them, whether it be kale chips, fancy raw cookies, raw chocolate, overpriced superfoods at the store, or nondairy ice cream we just “had to have”. While these foods are nice to have (and I admit the really help nix cravings), the truth is, they’re not essential to a healthy diet and especially not to a healthy budget. Staying away from these products is the best way to save money that you can use for more filling items like grains, produce, beans, seeds, and nuts.

2. Buy Grains in Bulk

If you’re like me, you get tired of eating the same thing everyday, so I suggest instead of buying three or four packages of different grains, to just buy three or four servings of those grains from the bulk section to try throughout the week. Then you can rotate your grains each week and won’t get stuck with a whole box of something you find you don’t enjoy. Grains costs cents in bulk but can cost much, much more in a package.

3. Rotate Your Seeds

Seeds like chia, flax, hemp, and pumpkin are all great sources of omega 3 fats and fiber to include in a vegan diet, but buying them all on a regular basis can add up quickly. So, what I suggest doing is using two different kinds at a time until you run out. I’m partial to flax over chia since it’s higher in omega 3’s, and I love the added crunch and inexpensiveness of pumpkin seeds over hemp, however choose whichever seeds work for you since those are the ones you’ll enjoy and eat the most of.

4. Buy Organic if You Can

I’m a firm believer in buying organic produce to avoid pesticides, however when you’re on a budget, it’s much better to choose what you can afford over not having it at all. Choose items that rank low in pesticides when you can and the other times, buy organic only if it’s on sale. Treat yourself to one or two organic items per week and learn to shop at the farmer’s market to find organic foods at a lower cost.

5. Buy Nut Butter in Bulk

Ten dollar jars of nut butter do not last long and they’re extremely hard to keep your hands out of! I like to buy nut butter in bulk from the produce section where it’s half the cost and you can even grind it yourself so it’s fresher. You can also buy whole nuts and seeds and grind them at home in a food processor or high-powered blender to make nut butter and save even more money.

6. Buy Frozen

One tip I would give to anyone, vegan or not, is to buy frozen foods whenever you can. Frozen greens, veggies, and fruits are far more affordable and possibly more nutritious than fresh forms, not to mention they won’t go bad before you can use them. I realize you can’t do this with all fruits and produce but doing what you can here and there makes a huge difference. For instance, I love buying a couple different bags of frozen mixed veggies so I can make different soups each week. I just mix them with some vegan cooking broth, spices, and maybe some frozen endamame, lentils, or canned chickpeas. Then I’ve got an entire lunch or dinner for under 50 cents per serving. You can also buy frozen berries, cherries, acai packs, spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, and many more items in frozen form too. These items are frozen just hours after harvest so they’re possibly more nutritious than fresh counterparts that take days or even a week to get to the store.

7. Buy Generic Labeled Items

Whole Foods’ 365 brand carries amazing non-GMO, vegan items like beans, legumes, grains, spices, produce, nondairy items and more. These are half the cost of their equal name-brand counterparts and every bit as delicious and nutritious. This one tip can cut costs by almost 50 percent if you practice it every single trip on as many items as possible. Unless there’s a coupon for a brand name label that can save you more, always go for generic as the best option.

If you’d like more ways to save money, check out a few of these helpful articles as well: Healthy and Budget Friendly Vegan SnacksTop 3 Superfoods to Choose If You’re On a Budget and How to Make Tasty, Affordable Vegan Meals on a Budget

Last but not least, if you find yourself getting bored with basic foods, try out a new spice that’s inexpensive and that you can flavor your meals with, or look for new recipes for items you already have on hand. Being on a budget might mean sacrificing pricey items but it doesn’t have mean you have to sacrifice creativity and flavor.

What’s your favorite budget-saving tips?

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Lead image source: James Mattil/Shutterstock