A Guide to Eating Plant Based on a Budget
So, you’re thinking about diving into a plant-based diet! But Maybe you’re also thinking it’s too expensive. Organic greens, fancy nondairy milk, and meat substitutes….. you just can’t seem to wrap your head around how much eating this healthy could cost. Well, lucky for you, we have good news. Eating plant-based doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, eating a whole food plant-based diet can be even more economical than your traditional American diet. Some of the cheapest foods on the planet (rice, beans, oats, etc.) just so happen to be plant-based and also amazing for you! With discount grocery stores like Aldi and Trader Joe’s, options are easier and more affordable than ever. And, with the potential health benefits, you may even cut down on medical care costs and medications as well.
First and foremost, it’s very important that you create a weekly budget for food. It’s a good idea to make it a bit higher in the beginning and then see if it’s doable for you. If you find that you still have money left over, you may be able to lower it even more. Next, write down everything you purchase and how much it was. Not only does it help you to focus on a certain number and be conscious about what you buy but you might also find a few “offenders” that increase your grocery bill more than you would want! If you find that you’re spending more on certain things, perhaps you’ll be able to find good replacements for these items, which brings us to our next tip!
Don’t be afraid of store/off-brand items! Companies often charge a premium just for the name of something. You can find so many good items that are almost identical to the name brand for half the cost! It’s also important to center your diet around budget-friendly foods like rice, whole wheat pasta and bread, dried or canned beans & lentils, potatoes, seasonal produce, and tofu. These ingredients might not sound super exciting but you can create so many dishes out of them from chilis to pasta marinara, french fries, stir-fries, sandwiches and so much more. You can also save some extra cash by buying frozen food. Frozen fruits and vegetables are extremely convenient and often cheaper than their fresh counterparts. Frozen foods are picked ripe and then flash-frozen right away to maintain a great nutritional profile. Especially in the wintertime, when the variety and quality of fresh produce aren’t optimal, buying frozen could be your best choice.
A great option for you, if you are prepping for your whole family, would be to buy in bulk. Big packages or family packs usually provide much better value for the cost than small containers or bags. A good tip is to look out for the unit price which tells you the exact cost per pound, liter, etc. This makes it easy to compare products and choose the cheapest option! You can also compare which grocery stores offer the item for the least money.