How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Since becoming vegan, I have found grocery shopping on a budget to be much easier. Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian or meat eater, I think setting a budget for groceries is so important. My husband and I have been on the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace journey and he is all about budgeting, so now we budget for everything including food! While eating healthier can be a little more expensive to most, I have found it to be lighter in more ways than one. When it comes down to it, plant-foods are almost always cheaper than animal foods, not to mention kinder to your body. I’m no longer buying large quantities of ground turkey, chicken or fish, so that saves money right there. I buy beans, grains, starches and nuts in bulk and this usually lasts a month or longer depending on the quantity. I buy produce weekly or bi-weekly based on the meals to be prepared. I buy almond milk in bulk because it doesn’t go bad quickly like milk. I find that if I have the basics like beans, rice, quinoa, noodles, then I have more options for the month.
So anyway, let’s get started on some money-saving tips that have been helpful for me and my family.
1. Buy Grains and Beans in Bulk
As I mentioned before I have found it helpful to just have a nice stash of beans, rice, quinoa and oats. I can make a large variety of meals out of these items and I feel like if we at least have these in our pantry, the possibilities are endless. Since we no longer eat meat, the beans will serve as our protein, so just like I often had meat stored in our freezer to go with meals, I now make sure to have a variety of beans.
2. Try to Avoid Trendy Packaged Foods
Since becoming vegan, I’ve found all types of alternatives from Beyond Meat brand to Tofutti brand. We even discovered that Oreos are vegan! Mind blown. While these foods are nice to have as additions to meals, substitutes and great treats to curb cravings, they aren’t essential to a healthy diet or a budget. For example, Tofutti Ice Cream drumsticks which are amazingly good, are $5 for only 4 drumsticks in a pack. If we’re trying to stick to a budget, then something of this nature isn’t conducive AND doesn’t last.
3. Buy Frozen
Frozen greens, veggies, and fruits are my go-to when I want the option of not having to eat them right away. Frozen fruits and veggies can be more affordable than fresh forms and they will last longer. Frozen veggies can be good for meals and the frozen fruits are perfect for smoothies. You may find buying frozen to be more beneficial if you aren’t planning to use fresh veggies right away. For my meat-eating brethren, buying frozen meat is also cost effective. I used to do this quite often.
4. Buy 1-2 Types of Nuts and/or Seeds at a Time
When buying nuts and seeds, it can get expensive. I remember a time when I was on one of my healthy-eating journeys before going vegan and I was into nuts and seeds and didn’t realize how expensive they are. I bought two different types of nuts and two different types of seeds at large quantities which was a big no-no. I would suggest getting one-two types of nuts and/or seeds at a time, rotate so that you don’t get bored with the same type of nuts and seeds and also so that you save money each time. Because I use cashews to make my vegan cheese and vegan sour cream, I have to get more cashews than I normally would, so with each shopping trip I will always get cashews and one other nut like pistachios or seeds like pumpkin.
5. Buy According to Planned Meals
One thing I have to do not only before going to the grocery store, but before writing out my grocery shopping list is planning out on paper meals for the week. This includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast for the week may include oatmeal and fruit, guacamole and toast or toast, peanut butter and bananas. Lunch may be a salad, sandwich or soup. Dinner may be pasta, Mexican quinoa or veggie burgers and fries. Whatever we choose to have for the week, I put the ingredients on my list and also make sure that those ingredients can be included in another meal for the week to help keep costs down. When going grocery shopping it’s best to have a plan and a purpose, otherwise you will be likely to just pick up anything and then when you get home you’re trying to figure out what to make with all the randomness you just purchased.
6. Get Creative
Being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and enjoy life, it means you have goals and you have a plan to stick to and there’s nothing wrong with that. Get creative with your meals. Instead of buying pricey cereals, buy oatmeal in bulk and create your own cereal by making overnight oats or using granola for cereal. Instead of buying the pricey vegan sour cream (which is not tasty at all) or vegan cheese spread, make your own with simple ingredients like cashews and nutritional yeast. Instead of buying guacamole, make your own. Just have fun with it and don’t overthink.
When it comes to budgeting or making lifestyle changes, if you tell yourself it’s hard it’s going to be hard. You MUST change your thinking, you MUST change your mindset. You can do it!!!
What are some of your favorite budget-saving tips? Let me know! Or if you have any questions, let me know that too!
Until next time…