I am constantly hearing people spread the nonsense that vegan food is more expensive than omni food, and that some people just can’t afford it.
I have struggled to get on my feet financially for years. There have been times when I would not have eaten if it were not for collecting foodstamps. When I first struck out on my own, $160 per month was the most a single person with no children could receive in food aid. That means just $5.33 per day! I had to learn how to make a little go a long way.
Being broke often means making compromises about your food, but those compromises do not need to mean including animal products. If you plan your budget well, you can build up your pantry and refrigerator, little by little, and stay full, healthy, and happy in the meantime.
Poor Vegans’ Staples:
1. Spinach. With everything.
2. Beans, cooked at home.
3. Brown rice and quinoa.
4. Whole grain pasta.
7. Tortillas, Pitas, or Whole grain bread.
8. Carrots, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, onions, garlic, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, or whatever veggies are cheapest.
9. Canned pineapple (in 100% juice), frozen berries, apples, dried fruit, or whatever fruits are cheapest.
10. Avocados, when under $1 at the store.
11. Peanut and almond butter.
12. Nutritional yeast from the bulk bins.
13. Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the bulk bins, or bribe your friends with a Costco card to get you a gallon there.
14. Extras, as available; especially flax products, nuts, seeds, beverages such as green tea, supplements such as probiotics, spices and flavorings, etc.
- Don’t waste a damn thing. Scan your fridge daily for anything that’s going bad soon, and eat that first. Use the ends and bits of your veggies and fruits to make broth. Freeze old bananas for banana bread later. Make croutons out of stale bread.
- Invest in a couple of cheap vegan cookzines, such as ‘The Frugal Vegan’s Harvest and Holiday Survival Guide,’ by Lisa Van den Boomen.
- Keep your eyes on your local thrift stores and craigslist ads for used time- and energy- saving tools such as a bread maker, blender, crock pot, or rice cooker.
- Check out local ‘ethnic’ markets. The carniceria around the corner probably has bulk pinto beans for half the price of the super market. The Middle Eastern market might have super cheap dried fruit. If it’s close enough to be convenient, it might save you a lot of money over time.
- If you’re able to, make a trip once a month to a grocery store with low-priced bulk bins so you can stock up on dried staples. (Winco in CA.)
What do you do to stay vegan when your budget’s tight?