A common misconception about veganism is that everything is so damn expensive! I’m here to show you that it really doesn’t have to be. A few simple changes in your spending and cooking habits can make going vegan just as cheap, if not cheaper, than a meat eaters diet.
It is true that a lot of vegan independently owned brands are quite pricey sometimes- but, you have to remember that some types of products (such as gourmet vegan cheese) are not mass produced, and therefore it’s expected. Think about why McDonald’s foods are so cheap- because they sell millions, and can afford to put their prices so low! (Plus most vegan brands use higher-quality ingredients which again, ups the cost).
I’ve been vegan for over a year now and have really learnt how to cut my spending when it comes to food. Here are some of my top tips!
- Reduce processed foods: I’m talking about microwave meals, pizzas and (some) ‘mock’ meats. New vegan products are constantly thrown at us, and everyone wants to be the first to go out and try them- remember when Oumph first launched their range?
I’d buy microwave ready meals and vegan fake meats as I thought it’s just quicker, easier, and of course, I love to try anything labelled as vegan! However, I quickly noticed how expensive shopping was becoming. So, instead, I now try to replicate meals I see in the store, using cheaper ingrediants- I tend to buy from Aldi or if I’m shopping at somewhere like Tesco, I’ll buy their everyday value range. So instead of heading for a £4 microwave Chinese noodle meal at Tesco, I make my own for less than half the price.
Another tip is to head to your local store and purchase the processed meals when they go on sale- Tesco stores usually reduce their items by quite a bit around 7-8pm! You never know what bargains you can find.
- Tinned and Frozen veg: When purchasing veg, it’s so much cheaper to buy it tinned or frozen- and it lasts a lot longer! I tend to buy tinned sweetcorn, chickpeas, small potatoes and carrots- things which you can pretty much use in most meals. Frozen veg is also a great one for making stir-frys- wack on a bit of sauce and you can’t tell the difference!
- Freeze leftovers: I can’t stress this one enough! Freezing your leftovers is a great way of preventing waste, and is also really helpful for days where you just don’t feel like cooking. I sometimes make a big batch of pasta using up items in my fridge and cupboards, and will freeze a couple portions for later on in the week. Not only will this stop you going out to buy a quick ready meal, but you will also find yourself shopping less for certain items because they’re already sat in your freezer!
- Store-own brands: I’ve got to admit, I never would buy Tescos ‘everyday value’ range before I was vegan. There seems to be a stigma around it in a way, and people think the items are of low quality. Well, after watching some documentaries and programmes on television, I can assure you they’re not! Taste tests on a recent programme I watched revealed that people couldn’t tell the difference- and most of the times the store-own range will have the exact same ingredients as their more expensive versions- it’s all about the branding! The ‘expensive’ looking branding on some products makes you think items are of higher quality. Next time you’re out shopping, try replacing items you’re purchasing with store-own branded versions.
- Coupons: I’m pretty sure everyone loves grabbing a bargain! Keep an eye out online or in-store magazines for coupons and discount codes. Tesco is usually great for this- I once found a coupon in their magazines for £1 off vegan magnums, days later I found one on the Veganuary Facebook page for £1 off vegan magnums too! Put them together, and yep, 1 free box of vegan magnum ice creams for me. You’ll be surprised with some of the discounts you can find!
- Don’t go shopping hungry!: I’m sure you’ve heard of this one before, but it’s true! If you go shopping on an empty stomach you are more likely to buy more items based on how you’re feeling. I’ve done this a couple times myself, went shopping hungry and came out with loads of snacks I really did not need.
- Grown your own: Grow your own food when you can. Obviously, this isn’t easy if you’re a student and living in a tiny student dorm. But, you can still do it! Herbs, for example, are so easy to grow and can save you so much money. I have a basil plant in my kitchen and it’s lasted me so long, and I haven’t had to go out and spend money on buying fancy herbs in a bottle.
- Plan meals: By having an idea in your mind of what you want to eat, you’ll find shopping a lot easier! For example, if I’m doing a weekly shop I’ll think ‘pasta one day, curry another day…’ and so on. Then, when you’re out shopping you will only be looking for items you actually need, reducing your chance of buying things on a whim just because they look nice.
- World Food Isle: This one is a game changer! Many supermarkets now have a ‘world foods’ section, containing items from countries such as India, Japan, China, and Jamaica. I never used to pay much attention to these isles, but now I use them all the time! It’s unbelievable how much cheaper certain items are here- for example, usually with the Indian foods, you can buy huge bags of rice and flour which are considerably cheaper than other options within the store. Don’t believe me? Check out this bargain! Tescos own chickpeas – two for £1, East End (found in their world food aisle) chickpeas- FOUR for £1. You can thank me later.
- World Food Supermarkets: Same point as above, but with whole supermarkets! A lot of foreign food supermarkets are located all over large cities, and you can really grab a bargain. For example, in Birmingham, we have the ‘Chinese Quarter’ which has around 2/3 Chinese supermarkets. On one visit I found so many cheap fruit and veg, alongside some vegan mock meats! Head down to your nearest foreign foods supermarket and grab some deals.
I hope this post helped and gave you some ideas for when you next go food shopping!