A lot of people assume that this lifestyle is difficult and expensive. But that has not been my experience. After a few months of practice and changing the way I view my meals, I have found eating a plant based diet to not only saves me money but is also very simple.
Here are my tips on how to make a vegan diet work for you, no matter your income or lifestyle.
1. Decide What Kind of Vegan You Are
There are SO many different ways to be vegan: Raw vegan, 80/10/10, Raw before 4, High Carb, Low Carb, More Fruit based, More Veggie based…you get the idea. By researching and choosing what will be best for your body, you can become organized with your food shopping. However, be careful. Sometimes the research can be overwhelming. Remember that everyone’s body is different. You might need to experiment for a few months with different diets to see which one your body responses to the best. But knowing your goal is an important part of this lifestyle.
2. Make a List
This may seem obvious but it helps me. There are so many amazing vegan substitutes out there and the choices can easily cause you to veer off your budget. After you decide what kinds of foods you want to be buying, write them down and stick to the list.
3. Shop at Multiple Grocery Stores
Whole Foods is wonderful and all, but I can’t afford to do all my grocery shopping there. Trader Joe’s is also wonderful, but they don’t always have everything I want. Don’t get discouraged. Set aside an hour or two for your weekly shopping and visit more than one grocery store. Again, this takes practice. When my boyfriend and I first moved to California, we solely shopped at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods because we thought these were the only places that stocked our vegan necessities. Later we discovered Sprouts, which had all the brands of Whole Foods for half the prices, and a grocery discount store that had organic frozen fruit and pea protein meatballs for a fraction of the price at the other stores. Yes, this will take up more of your time, but it will save you money in the end. Plus, our health and well being is worth putting effort into.
4. Plan Your Meals Around Your Veggies
Most of us are use to our dinner plate containing meat as the main course, potatoes or pasta (probably with cheese or a creamy sauce) as the side and some veggies are thrown in. With this picture in mind, most will be at a loss as to what a vegan meal should look like. What I like to do, is plan my meal around what vegetable I want to have. For example, if I have zucchini and spinach in the fridge, I will sautee these together with some garlic. Then I plan the rest of the meal off these flavors. Maybe I’ll make some rice with soy sauce. Or sweet potatoes and beans. For me, getting my greens in as much as I can is important to me. So if I base my whole meal around this, I can be sure I’m getting the nutrients I need AND I can plan a solid meal.
5. “Throw Together” Meals Are Your Friend
If you are on a budget, this idea works really well. Say it is coming close to the end of the week and you will need to go grocery shopping again. But you still have some veggies and other items that you need to eat first. Well, take whatever you have left and throw it together. This started off as a joke between my boyfriend and I because he is one of those people who mix all the contents of his place together and eats it this way. (Where I usually eat each food separately). He convinced me that we had plenty of food left in the house for dinner because we could make everything we had left together. We have made some pretty delicious and unexpected meals this way.
Here is an example of one of these “throw together” meals.
We didn’t have enough noodles to make a large portion for both of us and our zucchinis were about to go bad. I topped them off with the leftover tofu and baked some sliced sweet potatoes because they are my favorite.
6. Food Isn’t Everything
It has taken me a long time to accept this. I love eating and I love food and I have been known to get irritated if my meals are not the way I think they should be. But once I realized that I am eating for my health and wellbeing, this idea helped me mellow out about food and allowed me to enjoy what I had and what I could afford to buy. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of switching to veganism, take this notion into mind. Yes, food is delicious and necessary, but we don’t need to be a slave to it. In most other cultures, they don’t have much of a choice when it comes to their meals. They eat a lot of the same things every day. It is we Americans who demand something new and exciting everytime we want to eat. Reject this and be grateful for what you can have. Eat to nourish and take care of your body.
I hope you found these tips helpful! I would love to hear what works for you. Comment below with any thoughts or suggestions 🙂