Plant-based eating is becoming more and more widespread as people wake up to the benefits for them personally and the world around them. But, it can sometimes see that eating a plant-based diet is an expensive lifestyle choice. There is some truth to this especially now with the explosion of vegan and plant-based convenience food options popping up on the high street and in supermarkets, which tend to be relatively expensive.
However, by definition, a healthy, wholefood, plant-based diet is actually a really cost-effective option, and with a little creativity and forward planning can be varied, exciting and delicious, all while staying within your budget, whatever that may be!
Below you'll find some of our top tips for eating plant-based while getting the best value out of your groceries...
This is a key, and will help to ensure you always have a delicious meal to look forward to, something easy to make when you don’t feel like cooking, and most importantly that you don’t go hungry when you are out and about without suitable plant-based options!
By planning you are much less likely to waste the food you buy, as you will be purchasing exactly what you need and using it all according to your plan. No more half-eaten bags of spinach lurking in your fridge drawers!
Ideally, once a week, or every few days you would like to plan out your upcoming meals, both at home and out and about. When you are planning your meals, it makes sense to include the same foods in a few different meals so that you can add variety whilst also ensuring you are not wasting anything. Make a list of everything you will require and then do your shopping, sticking to only what is on your list. We’ll talk a little bit later about what foods you can focus on to help keep costs down.
This practice will make your life super simple, as you will always have a meal on hand, and won’t have to reach for an expensive convenience option when you have no time to cook. It will also help to ensure you are using everything you are buying. After you have bought everything you need for your planned meals, it’s time to prep! The idea is to prepare ahead of time as much as you can, so set aside an hour or so to set yourself up for the next few days or the week ahead.
Meal prep does not have to be complicated, but just remember that all the work you put in now will save you so much time in the coming days. Your preparation can be as simple as getting all of your salad and vegetable ingredients washed and ready to eat, or cooking each of your meals or components of meals so they are ready to just re-heat or assemble. Store your prepared food in the fridge or freezer ready to go.
This is a great tip, and worth bearing in mind when you are planning and prepping your meals. This is another great way to reduce any waste and use everything you’re buying. The idea is to cook a big batch of whatever your meal is, portion it, and store it in your freezer. This works really well for curries, soups and stews.
The fruit & veg section is your friend
We've mentioned already the relative expense of some plant-based convenience options, such as ready meals and meat replacement products. However, if you stick to the fruit and veg section of the supermarket or your local farmer’s market and plan your meals around these foods, supplemented with other store cupboard essentials (see below), then it's much easier to keep within your budget.
There is a huge variety of fresh produce available to us now in most towns and cities, and we should make the most of it. Don’t be afraid to try things you haven't tried before and experiment with vegetable combinations. When eating a plant-based diet, we should be eating as wide a variety of plants as possible to make sure we are getting sufficient nutrients, and exploring the fruit and veg section is a perfect way to do this. You could even try your hand at growing some of your own produce!
Store cupboard staples
A well-stocked kitchen cupboard with a few budget-friendly staples is another great way to keep costs down and supplement your fruit and veg selection in your meals. Must-haves include dried or tinned lentils, chickpeas and beans, wholegrains such as rice, oats and buckwheat, nut butters, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, tinned tomatoes and coconut milk. With these essentials, you have endless options for delicious, satisfying meal options.
Always carry food and snacks
When you are out and about, plant-based options can sometimes be hard to come by, depending where you are, or can be relatively expensive if they are available. Avoid going hungry when you are out by always carrying something with you. What you carry will obviously depend on the situation. If it is a lunch or dinner, then you can bring a meal you prepared earlier. In terms of snacks, good options include nuts, seeds, fruit and carrot sticks and homemade hummus.
So there you have some super simple ideas to help you eat plant-based on a budget. Be prepared, and stick to well planned, whole food plant-based meals and you can’t go wrong!