One of the biggest concerns people have about starting a plant-based diet is that it will be more expensive than a typical westernized diet. When people think of plant-based diets they think of expensive meat alternatives, superfoods and specialty vegan desserts and snacks.. However, eating plant-based can be very affordable, maybe even less than a traditional westernized diet, especially if you shop smart. You can create so many different delicious meals like soups, salads, pastas or veggie bowls with plant-based staples for you and/or your family with a little bit of planning. In this blog, you’ll find helpful ways to stretch your dollar through buying all the necessities for your plant-based diet.
1. Bulk Items
Buy items that are staples in your diet such as rice, oats, dried beans or nuts in bulk to save money (and packaging!). At first glance it may seem that there is only a savings of a few cents but if you add up the savings over the course of a year, the difference can run in the dollar amount. Buying a typical canister of oatmeal (2.65 lbs) may cost you up to $3 to $4 dollars but buying oatmeal in bulk will allow you to pay as little as 99 cents per pound. Grocery stores such as Sprouts and Whole Foods have bins where you can scoop out however much you want of an item and you pay the price by weight. This is also a great way to try out new items, such as an unfamiliar new spice in a recipe. You can also shop at wholesale stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club where you can purchase other food items in bulk that you may find at other grocery stores. Purchase frozen fruits for smoothies, granola bars for snacks and olive or avocado oil for salads or cooking if you use them often.
2. In-Season Produce
A great way to save money is to focus on buying produce that is currently in season. Produce that is sold out of season will usually cost more because of the resources it takes to harvest and sell outside of peak season. The new beautiful autumn season brings an opportunity to try new recipes that incorporate seasonal produce like pomegranates, winter squash, sweet potatoes or cranberries. There is also produce that’s seasonal year-round like apples, bananas, lemons, and carrots which means the price of these fruits and vegetables should remain consistent year round.
3. Organic vs Conventional
When it comes to fresh produce the big question is always to buy either organic or conventional. Conventional farming involves the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides while organic farming is free of any fertilizers, pesticides, additives or gmo’s (genetically modified organisms). The primary issue is that conventional produce will have residue of pesticides while organic foods do not, and there is evidence that some pesticides are carcinogenic. Organic produce is typically more expensive than conventional due to the stricter farming guidelines and the lower crop yield. Buying conventional produce will save you more money in the long run over buying organic. However, if pesticides are still a major concern for you, every year a new list of the clean 15 and the dirty dozen is released to help consumers decide which produce they should purchase organic vs. conventional. The clean 15 includes produce that is okay to purchase conventional because they have minimal residual of pesticides. Still, you’ll want to wash them thoroughly when you get home. The dirty dozen list includes the produce that will have the highest amount of pesticide residual — purchase organic whenever possible.
4. Sales or Bogos
Always be on the lookout for sale items! Publix often offers buy one, get one specials, which is a great way to stock up on some of your favorites for half the price. Sprouts' app will offer deals of the week. Kroger has manager's sellout on close-to expiration items. Various grocery stores also have in store ads that change from week to week with special deals on certain items. These are great opportunities to stock up on some of the more costly plant-based foods like frozen meals, meat-alternatives and non-dairy frozen desserts. Fun fact: some stores have a day (usually Wednesday) where their weekly ads overlap, and you can get the most bang for your buck.
Check out this Instagram Post to get the breakdown on the cost of plant-based eating!
What have you found helps with staying budget friendly while eating plant-based?
Hello everyone! My name is Summer Savior and I am a student at Georgia State University in the Coordinated Nutrition Program. I am studying to become a registered dietitian and I'm interested in pediatrics, diabetes, and weight management. I am excited to try my hand at blogging and learning more about plant-based eating.