This week we're discussing eating plant-based on a budget.
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding plant-based diets is that it’s way too expensive to maintain for very long. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A plant-based diet can be very budget-friendly and may actually even save you money in the long run. When you go into it armed with a meal plan and a smart shopping mindset, you’ll find several ways to add more plant-based foods to your diet without breaking the bank. Here are some simple ways to do just that – let’s go shopping!
- Buy Frozen/Canned Foods: When it comes to buying fresh produce, it can get a little pricey at times, especially if the produce you're after is out of season. Instead, try heading over to the frozen and canned goods section and stock up on the huge variety of plant-based choices at a fraction of the cost. You can buy in bulk and stock your pantry and freezer without having to worry about food going bad within a few days and you’ll always have go-to items on hand for a quick meal. When going the canned food route, always make sure to read the labels and keep an eye out for added sugar, salt or other sneaky ingredients and preservatives that may be added.
- Farmers Market: Hitting up your local farmers market is a super smart way to stock up on plant-based foods without having to pay grocery store prices. Try arriving towards the end of the day to find special offers on items that need to go before they pack up. The only downside to arriving late is you may miss out on some of the selections that could be found earlier in the day. This is a great, budget-friendly way to buy fresh fruits and veggies while supporting your local farmers at the same time.
- Grow Your Own Garden: This idea takes a little more time, effort and planning but can be a great way to save money and ensure you always have fresh food right at your fingertips. You don’t need special skills or talent to make a garden grow – you simply need a backyard or balcony space with ample sunlight, a good water source and enough patience to wait for those seedlings to grow into something edible. If you are a complete beginner, have no fear. There are a ton of resources available on Pinterest and YouTube to help you get started. While this won’t be something that happens overnight, a garden is one of the best things you can do to keep your health and wallet intact. Plus, many people find gardening therapeutic and if you have children it's a fabulous way to teach them about where their food comes from and delayed gratification.
- Eat In-Season: A great way to save money on fresh produce is to buy in season when it tends to be cheaper. When the grocery stores have an abundance of fruits and vegetables, it’s the perfect time to buy in bulk and stock up so that you have more than enough even in the offseason. Freezing or canning the produce you aren’t using immediately is a great way to make sure that no food goes to waste, yet you still preserve all those healthy nutrients for a later date. It’s almost like having your own personal grocery store within arm’s reach and you don’t have to pay a penny. That’s a win-win.
- Stock up on Legumes: Ingredients such as chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and cannellini beans are all staples of a plant-based diet. The bonus to this is that they're also super cheap and filling! They can be purchased dried (needing to be cooked/boiled for many hours before eating) or ready to eat in cans. Along with rice (preferably brown) lentils can be purchased in bulk if desired and stored in your pantry for use all year round.
As you can see, plant-based eating doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, you’ll be surprised at how much money you save by opting for more fresh produce and a little less meat on your plate.