Most of us often associate plant-based diets with the words expensive, inconvenient, and complex.
We think—not only is this type of diet a lot more complicated than the usual ones, but we also have to go through the stress of shopping in a special organic-only healthy food store (unless we find a dedicated vegetarian fridge at our favorite supermarket).
Well, I understand where people are coming from when they perceive veganism as costly.
While transitioning toward a plant-based diet is now easier with a selection of plant-based products like fake meat and vegan cheeses available in supermarkets—these products can still be quite pricey. If you base your diet around them, the costs quickly add up.
You might think that all these pricey processed plant-based products are the easiest way to eat less meat while still cooking your favorite and familiar recipes. The truth is, there are other vegan options that are way less expensive!
The pillars of a healthy, hearty, and delicious vegan diet are beans, rice, and vegetables. These can even be some of the cheapest items in your supermarket. Level them up with seasonings, sauces, and cooking methods to make them anything but boring.
If you’re looking to eat healthier, reduce your grocery bill, and save time in the kitchen—you need to change some habits and approach shopping and cooking a bit differently.
Here are some of my fave money and time-saving tips and tricks for eating a healthy and delicious diet on a budget:
Learn how to really cook with vegetables.
Yes, you can make a hearty and satisfying meal for the whole family without following the usual “vegetable and meat” formula—you just need to have a few trusty recipes.
For ideas, follow vegan food blogs, join vegan social media groups, and check out vegan cookbooks at your local library. Try recipes you’ve never tried before, try the veggie dishes at your local restaurants, and most important, keep an open mind.
You think you hate tofu? Just wait until you try out this recipe below:
Chinese Takeout-Style Sesame Tofu with Brown Rice + Broccoli
Makes 4 servings
· Sea salt
· 1 cup brown rice, rinsed
· 1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
· 2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to serve, if desired
· 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 tablespoon minced ginger
· 1½ teaspoons rice vinegar
· About 1 teaspoon hot sauce of your choice (adjust to your own heat preference)
· 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
· 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil OR cold-pressed organic canola oil
· One 8-ounce package of tempeh, cut into ¾-inch cubes
· 4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
1. In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and season with ¼ teaspoon salt. Turn heat down to low, add rice, cover tightly with a lid, and simmer until all water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes (do not stir). Turn heat off and let rice stand covered for another 10 minutes to steam. Fluff rice with a fork before serving.
2. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Add broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse broccoli under lukewarm water; set aside.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, vinegar, hot sauce, and sesame oil; set aside.
4. Heat cooking oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add tempeh and cook until evenly browned on all sides, tossing occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add soy sauce mixture and toss to coat evenly. Turn heat off.
5. To serve, divide rice evenly among bowls and top with broccoli and tofu. Garnish with sesame seeds.
Buy in bulk.
This one is a no-brainer. Bulk food stores and the bulk food section of supermarkets are almost always cheaper for beans, pasta, flours, nuts, seeds, and grains than prepackaged products.
Don’t discriminate against frozen vegetables.
I know that fresh vegetables look nice and taste better, and frozen ones just seem like the lower-quality option. But that’s really not the case.
Frozen vegetables are actually just as nutritious and fresh (they’re picked at peak ripeness and frozen to preserve all that nutrient-rich goodness). Even better, they’re available year-round even when they’re not in season, and you don’t have to worry about them rotting in a week.
Best of all, frozen vegetables save you time. No needs to wash, peel, and chop them—it’s already been done for you.
Grow them yourself.
It doesn’t matter how little space you have. You can live in an apartment with no balcony and still manage to grow a small variety of vegetables.
Herbs and salad greens are super easy to grow in pots and need very little space. Bean sprouts are even easier—you need no special equipment other than a jar, and they’re ready to eat in just a couple of days.
If you’ve got a patio or a backyard, try your hand at tomatoes and peppers—they’re guaranteed to be the most delicious you have ever tasted!
Are you also on a plant-based diet? Let us know how you make it more fun and exciting (while also being budget-friendly) in the comments!