When talking to people about going plant based, many people talk about how cost prohibitve it can be. While I recognize that many times vegan products are over priced / more expensive, there are ways to save money that actually make veganism cheaper than eating meat. Here are five ways that I have cut down my costs and kept a plant based diet.
Buy in Bulk
One of the best ways to save money is to buy in bulk. Many grocery stores have a bulk section that allows you to buy rice, grains, nuts, beans and other items by the pound. This cuts down on packaging costs and also allows you to buy only what you need. They are usually much cheaper than buying prepackaged foods and also cut down environmental waste, especially if you can bring your own jars or containers.
Community Supported Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture or CSA is a service that allows consumers to buy fresh, in season produce directly from the farms and bypass grocery store completely. There are several different CSA companies out there, and depending on your location you can have them delivered to a convenient drop off location or even right to your doorstep. Because they come directly from farms they tend to be cheaper than buying from grocery stores, which usually add a higher markup. The vegetables are also fresher and many times all organic. It's good for the environment as well because it cuts down on shipping for out of season vegetables and good for the local economy.
It's tempting to eat out or order in when you have no time to make food. One of the ways I have cut down on that temptation is by planning my meals ahead of time. I make a big pot of stew, soup, or curry and a big pot of rice twice a week and then eat it for lunch or dinner throughout the week. This way I always have something ready to eat in the fridge so I don't have to create something new each week. You can also make food an freeze the extra to eat a later date.
Beans, Beans, Beans
I ate so many beans growing up I vowed once I moved out that I would never eat beans and rice again. Fast forward to my first year living on my own and I'm desperately calling my mom asking how long I need to soak these black beans. There are so many things you can do with just one can of chickpeas, if you only had one dollar I would say to buy a bag of beans. They are also super high in vitamins and minerals and can be used in a variety of recipes. I like to buy them in bulk and store them in glass jars.
Fresh Bucks is a program in King County that allows you to use SNAP/EBT at farmers markets to by fresh fruit and vegetables. The program will also match your spending up to $10, so you basically get $10 free for buying vegetables. This is huge, because a major reason why many low income communities are unable to access fruits and vegetables is because of cost and availability.