I used to think that eating healthy was super expensive. When you look at the conventional foods in grocery stores versus the healthier and natural options, there definitely seems to be a price gap. This can make it that much more challenging to choose food that’s good for you instead of the convenient, prepackaged junk foods and snacks. However, eating a healthy vegan diet is far more affordable than you may realize.
One of the best sources of protein and complex carbohydrates comes from beans. There are so many varieties out there with so many different flavour profiles. Beans are versatile and easy to prep and incorporate into any recipe. The big bonus here is that beans are really cheap, especially if you buy them dried. Now, you may be thinking that it’s a total hassle to soak and boil them, and that it’s time consuming, but you always have the option to soak them overnight while you’re fast asleep and boil them in the morning while you’re having breakfast and getting ready for work. Make yourself a big batch ahead of time and then just freeze what you don’t need right away. You can toss any bean into a salad or cook them into a soup or stew, you can even bake with them. Add chickpeas into a blondie batter or black beans into a brownie batter for added protein and fiber. I’ve tried out both, and they are delicious.
Eating seasonally is another great way to keep your grocery bill down, especially if it’s local. Check out farmer’s markets in your area or opt for a CSA service. This way you’ll not only be supporting local businesses, but you’ll also get to try a greater variety of fresh produce that you might not find in your grocery store.
Here are a few examples of what’s in season during summer months:
Fruits – apricots, berries, watermelon, plums, nectarines, peaches, and grapes.
Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, green peas, green beans, tomatoes, rapini, zucchini
Speaking of produce, during winter months when prices rise and fresh produce is less available, a great choice for you is to go with frozen produce instead. The best thing about this is that it is picked at its peak ripeness and frozen immediately which locks in the nutritional content. Many times when we buy fresh produce that’s not in season, it will be picked before it’s ripe and then transported super far just to get in our grocery stores. Ultimately this time gap between its being picked to being consumed leads to loss of nutrients. So not only are we paying more, but we’re also getting less nutrition for it. I suggest that you wait for the next sale on frozen fruits and vegetables, and load up your shopping cart and freezer. That way you’ll have plenty of options on hand, all the time.
Another great option is to choose store brands instead of the popular name brands. Store brands are usually discounted and way cheaper, and they are essentially the exact same thing as the big name brands as well. Also, if you shop at a big box store like Costco or Sam’s Club, then you can definitely find tons of ways to save money buy buying your essential items in large quantities. This is usually my go-to for things like protein powder, oats, rice, olive and coconut oil, crushed tomatoes, almond milk and tofu. All of these are essentials in my diet and buying from these types of stores saves me a fortune.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when following a vegan diet is to focus on whole foods that you prepare yourself. Yes, it is super enticing to try all kinds of fun new things like cashew ice cream, veggie burgers and pizza, but like all prepackaged meals and snacks, they are more expensive. So save these fun treats for special occasions and treat meals.
Being a healthy vegan isn’t as daunting as you may think; there’s such a great variety of foods available to you at a reasonable price all the time. The great thing about this is that you get try so many new things and experiment with a new way of cooking. You’ll see with time how easy this can be for you, by focusing on simple ingredients and integrating a weekly meal prep into your lifestyle. With these habits you’ll be healthier and have greater stamina to tackle your day and crush it every time.