It’s a common misconception that being vegan is expensive, but that simply isn’t true. Here are 30 expert tips to help you find and cook vegan food on a budget.
Vegan on a Budget
1. Bulk cook & freeze
Cooking in bulk and freezing what you don’t need, is a top tip for saving money – plus, you will have a ready supply of meals to call on when you’re on the go. Freeze them in carry-out portion sized boxes to save waste. Always remember to label!! Citrus fruits can be frozen whole and the rind grated straight from the frozen fruit. Remember organic citrus will not have shellac on it, so itâ€™s suitable for vegans. Return to the freezer to use the juice another time. Nuts can be soaked drained and frozen too, to avoid waste.
2. Money off vouchers
Take full advantage on coupons, store card vouchers, special offers etc to save money when you shop.
3. Farm shop remnants
It’s amazing what local farm shops chuck out – beetroot leaves for example are delicious and very nutritious, broccoli stalks are the most health-giving part of the vegetable and are often thrown away, cabbage and cauliflower outer leaves… can all be chopped and boiled to make stock or veggie soup. You’ll probably get these items for nothing if you say they are for your pets! Carrots too, are often very cheap and make a lovely soup or stock addition.
4. Close of day discounts
Check out the reductions at teatime at your local supermarket. Or ask customer services the best time to buy their reduced stock (including those elusive boxes of reduced ‘wonky veg’ we all hear about).
5. Take it in turns to cook
Why not take turns to cook with a pal because it’s less expensive cooking for two or more than it is as a single person. More sociable too?
6. Frozen fruits for smoothies
Bags of frozen berries are cheaper than fresh and can be added to smoothies or desserts anytime. Frozen peas and spinach are a must to have in any freezer too.
7. Ethnic stores
Very cheap for bulk items like rice, noodles, coriander, onions, garlic, nuts, dried herbs etc and can be cheap for tinned young jackfruit and other veggies.
8. Own brands
Supermarket own brands are cheaper than famous brands. East End is a budget range of tinned goods and ethnic foods.
9. World food aisles
Cheaper to get items here than in the rest of supermarket aisles especially dried herbs, rice, tins of chickpeas, tinned tomatoes etc.
10. Grow your own
The oldest and best tip of all. Seeds, earth, time, light, water is all you need to get started. Allotments are great fun and people share their produce and plants. But just a balcony or patio can produce some wonderful crops.
11. Soups and sandwiches
Make your own soups – soups are so cheap, easy, satisfying and quick to make. They keep well in the fridge or can be frozen. You can also use up older produce, veggie off cuts, leftover beans and lentils etc. They are souper-healthy and the variety is endless. Sandwiches too! Get creative! (Remember, bread can be kept in the freezer to save waste).
12. Beans, peas and lentils
These are vegan cupboard essentials. Great for protein and minerals. You can buy them cheaply in bulk. If you have time you can soak and boil the dried ones. But even tinned ones are pretty cheap if you shop around.
13. Bulk it out
With rice, potatoes, onions and pasta. Whatever you’re cooking, add in more of these cheaper ingredients. You can stretch a sauce, bean chilli or curry further with too, with cheap tinned chopped tomatoes or tomato puree .
14. Cook-in sauces
Can be cheaper to use sometimes, rather than faffing about making your own ones from scratch. Always check they are vegan though.
15. Think about fuel and transportation costs
Whilst things might look like a bargain – if you’ve got to travel miles to get to the store don’t forget to factor-in the cost involved. It’s the same with the cost of cooking. Slow cookers are great because they are very cheap to run and you can make a fabulous one-pot casserole, curry, chilli, or BBQ jackfruit with minimal effort. And of course healthy salads used no gas or electricity at all.
16. Local cafes, ethnic/street food cheap deals
As a single person it may actually be cheaper to eat this way (at least some of the time). Check out your local cafes and markets. It also supports local enterprise and may introduce you to new flavours and textures.
17. Everything tastes better… with chips!
Who doesn’t love a plate of chips? Let’s not under estimate the charm, satisfaction and value for money these beauties have! As an occasional bargain basement treat they are great! Cheap as chips, you could say.
18. Don’t buy more than you can use or store
Bulk buy offers are useful only for items you know you are going to use before they spoil. Beware of buying too many nuts or seeds at a time for example, as (although cheaper to buy this way) the don’t have a massively long shelf life, and it’s an expensive mistake to make if you find yourself chucking away rancid nuts.
19. Cut out treats like vegan chocolate and cakes
Boo! But hey, this is about saving money but at the same time getting as much nutritional bang for your buck. Highly processed foods are often expensive and nutritionally lacking. If you really must have chocolate you’d be better to splash out on some cacao power and add it to a vegan milk shake. Don’t waste money either on protein bars… they are so much cheaper to make yourself with some dates, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. You can freeze them too and just pop in your lunch box as you need them.
20. Eat seasonal foods and forage
There are books on foraging for food and it’s fun to do as well. Nettles for soup, dandelions, berries, apples, crab apples for making crab apple jelly… Just make sure if foraging for mushrooms or fungi you REALLY know what’s safe.
21. Bypass exotic/ imported foods like cashews, maple syrup, unusual tropical fresh fruits and veggies etc.
Once again.. these are luxuries. Golden syrup (not exactly a health food I know) is a cheap and tasty sweetener. It’s nice for shakes porridge and smoothies if you can’t afford trendy maple syrup or agave nectar.
22. Shop at Aldi and Lidl if you can
Cheapest by far for fresh fruits, soya milk, nuts and lots of other vegan goodies. The discounters like Poundland and B&M bargains can also produce some cheap finds. Holland and Barrett regularly have various money saving promotions so wait until one of these is on before shopping there and don’t forget to use your store vouchers which they email to you as a member. Markets and boot sales have ridiculously cheap vegetable and fruit stalls, although the quality might not be top notch.
23. Eat bananas!
There’s a reason chimps swing from trees y’now! ???. Cheap, filling healthy, energising, versatile. They even come in their own unzipable carrying case! The brown ones are often reduced, yet these have the best nutritional value. They can be frozen to make nice-cream with. Bananas when mashed, can be used as an egg replacement in baking too.
24. Have a few cheap meal recipe idea up your sleeve
Beans on toast, baked potatoes, stir fry meal deals from supermarkets, pitta pockets, roasted cauliflower, stuffed roasted vegetables, casseroles, soups, Linda McCartney sausages and chips, pasta dishes, peanut butter/ jam/ mashed banana/ Marmite / hummus on toast or rice cakes – all tasty snacks that won’t break the bank.
25. Overnight oats and homemade oat milk
Cheap and delicious! Never underestimated the power of the lowly oat! ??????. Whizz it up in the blender with water and a little sweetener of your choice for cheap creamy quick fresh vegan milk. Or make overnight oats for a healthy cheap no fuss brekkie!
26. The lower shelves have the bargains!
Supermarkets often put their cheapest items low to the floor, so don’t forget to check them out.
27. Microwave to save fuel costs
Love them or loathe them, there is no denying they are cheaper to use than a kettle for heating water for hot drinks or cooking things.
28. Take a flask and a packed lunch
Have you seen what Starbucks and Costa charge for coffees these days? Extortionate! Much wiser to take a flask with you to work. And pack yourself up a little picnic for lunch rather than buying ready made salads, paninis and the like.
29. Bin the bottled water
If you tot up what you may be spending on bottled water in a year you might be in for a shock ! ? If you really must have it then buy as large a bottle as possible to save money and packaging.
30. Step up to the plate, leafy greens
Kale, cabbage, spinach, spring greens – all cheap and super-nutritious. If you aim for half your plate to be of brassicas and green leafies… you’ll be doing just fine! Kale is delicious if you just massage it with salt or lemon juice until it give up its moisture and wilts. No need to even cook it!
This Guide was written by Cherie Catchpole – a qualified Rouxbe chef
You can follow Cherie on her Instagram page to see her wonderful food creations.
If you found this guide helpful, then maybe you will also like the Vegan Food UK Time Saving Tips for plant based food