There you are at the shiny grocery store, admiring the vast colors of produce and packaged goods. You want your diet to be more veg-friendly, more whole food and plant-based. But then, you see meat on sale for a mere dollar, yet you know that it’s not really a dollar once you factor in the environmental, moral, and health costs of producing said meat. Still, you don’t want to break the bank on groceries. So, what do you do? There are several things you can do to avoid going into debt to finance your plant-based diet:
1. Buy in Bulk
Bulk bins allow you to buy only what you need so you don’t end up wasting your money on expired food. You can use bulk beans and bulk flours to make your own staples (as described in number three on this list), but you can also use bulk dried fruits to make energy bars or to simply add to your oatmeal. Bulk products are cheaper. In bulk at Winco, you can buy 16 ounces of steel cut oats for $0.86, but if you bought steel cut oats at Trader Joe’s, in a big 24 ounce tub, it costs $2.49. Your best bet is to buy a little of what you want or a lot of what you want for a bargain in the bulk section.
2. Scope Out Your Local Farmer’s Market
If you live in the middle of the Mojave Desert like I do, farmer’s market produce is a bit expensive, but if you don’t, then you’re in luck. When I was vacationing in Carlsbad, Calif., I got about 20 tangelos for a measly dollar! So, if your local market has good prices, then go ahead and scope them out! You can get a ton of produce for a reasonable price, maybe even for less than the supermarket.
3. Make Your Own Staples
Canned beans, plastic enrobed bread (gluten-free or otherwise), packaged alternative milks: they all cost more money than they need to. If you buy dried beans in bulk, flours in bulk, and almonds in bulk, you can then make your own beans, breads, and almond milk without spending a ton of money, plus you’re not contributing to the landfill so much.
4. Try Gardening
Gardening has become a bit gangster: you’re growing your own food and rebelling against the system of consumption that runs America. If you grow your own food, then you don’t have to spend your money on grocery store food and stops at the gas station along the way. Reconnect with your backyard; it’s free.
5. Shop Around
If you take a religious pilgrimage to one and only one grocery store every Saturday, you probably won’t get the most bang for your buck. Trying new things, going to new stores, taking risks, going on adventures—they are all hard and push you out of your comfort zone. But, you need to get over your fears, Mr. Baggins, and sign the contract to officially signify and begin a new (and cheaper!) chapter of your life. You’ll never be the same, but that is a good thing! Life is about changing. If you visit ethnic markets, you’ll find inexpensive yet delicious vegetables and prepared foods. If you visit mom-and-pop grocery stores, you’ll find kind people and quality goods for a decent price. If you visit warehouse stores, you’ll get a ton of products for almost half the price. Don’t get into a grocery store rut! Shop around and mix it up!
Adopting a meatless diet — or just trying out meatless Monday for a change — does not have to mean going to expensive health food stores and wasting your whole paycheck on a bag of groceries. If you follow these five tips, you’re guaranteed to succeed in your plant-centric diet without your wallet screaming for a bloody Mary.
Image Source: Maple Sweet Potato Pecan Burgers
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