Some people assume a vegan diet is cheaper than an omnivore’s diet, as meat can be pretty expensive. But what these people are forgetting is that instead of meat, vegans eat other (and expensive) foods too, like nuts, beans, tofu, and “fake meats”. Vegans may also choose organic produce which can also add to the grocery bill.
Lately I have been budgeting and trying to lower our expenses and increase our savings. We used to spend between $150-$200 each week on groceries but now I aim to spend no more than $150. I buy organic produce where possible, even though it can be twice as expensive. But to make that $150 stretch as far as possible, I make a lot of things from scratch – wraps, jams, cordials, cookies, desserts. Plus all meals are made from scratch – I never buy premade/canned/packaged meals these days (not that there’s a lot of options for premade vegan meals anyway!).
Here are some ways I have tried to save on our weekly grocery shop:
- Making my own almond milk (however this turned out to cost the same as store bought, so now I buy rice or oat milk which are cheaper…they would probably be cheaper if I made them myself though!)
- Making cookies, museli bars, etc instead of buying them – a bit of flour and sugar costs a lot less than a $4 packet of 10 vegan cookies!
- Meal planning – planning my meals means I can plan my shopping list, so if I stick to the shopping list I won’t be buying anything I don’t need
- Calculating how much everything on my shopping list cost approximately before I head out to the shops, so I can be sure I am not going to spend more than I want.
- Buying seasonal fruit and vegetables is cheaper than buying tropical fruit during winter! Also, you probably don’t want to be eating something that was grown on the other side of the world…think of all the time it spent travelling to get to your grocery store! Not fresh…
- Seasonal fruit/vegetables are also perfect for when you want to make cordials, jams, chutneys or other preserves. When I need to make some more cordial for example, I choose whatever fruit are seasonal (and thus, cheaper) otherwise it can end up being more expensive to make it myself.
- Although I try to buy organic, there’s no denying that organic often comes with a higher price tag, so there are some things I will compromise on and buy conventional rather than organic.
- Instead of buying canned beans, buy dried beans to soak and cook (that might seem like a pain for everytime you want to use a can of beans, but I cook up the whole packet of beans at a time and freeze whatever I don’t plan to use in the next few days. You could also plan your meals accordingly – one week you could have falafels and a potato chickpea curry plus make a batch of hummus and there goes that packet of dried chickpeas!)
Another idea I tried was calculating just how much each meal was costing me to make (although this was a bit of a pain to calculate so I only managed to work out the price of a handful of our favourite meals). However it is worth knowing that if you buy a litre of oat milk for $2, each cup of that oat milk is costing $0.50, or each slice of bread costs about $0.30, etc.
One of the cheapest meals I calculated turned out to be soup, which is no surprise really – soups usually are primarily water and vegetables, with some legumes or beans. No terribly expensive ingredients! And if you use seasonal vegetables, the prices are cheaper still!
Lately my favourite soup has been made with the latest seasonal vegetables. I call it “Spring Soup”.
Makes 4 servings
1.25 litres vegetable stock
1/2 cup dried barley
1/4 sugarloaf cabbage
1/2 head broccoli
1/2 cup snow peas
1 tbsp soy sauce
Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a medium saucepan while you prepare the vegetables.
Add the barley to start cooking first (the soup will be ready about 30 minutes after you add the barley).
Peel and dice the onion, dice the carrot, finely shred the cabbage and add to the saucepan, reduce the heat to a simmer.
Dice the zucchini, peel and dice the mushrooms, chop the broccoli into small florets, chop the snow peas, and add these to the saucepan too.
Add the soy sauce and continue to simmer until the vegetables are soft and the barley is well cooked.
Serve with freshly baked cornbread.