Debunking The Misconception That Plant-Based Food Is Expensive
Something I hear often is how expensive it is to eat plant-based food. I’m not quite sure how this misconception came about but I’m here this week to debunk it.
Plant-based diets are actually very accommodating to budget living and eating. The foods considered staples in a typical, healthy plant-based diet are usually the most affordable in the supermarket – things like vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, and legumes are all perfect examples of affordable foods.
You can whip up a multitude of delicious plant-based meals on a tight budget! Things like vegetable, bean or tofu curries with rice, creamy or vegetable or legume-based soups, vegetable stir-fries, Mexican bean chillies and tacos, pasta, pasta and pasta, and salads are all very affordable meals.
Sure, eating plant-based can be expensive when you choose expensive products and processed foods, just like eating those foods on an omnivorous diet would be. If you decide to get back to basics and eat healthy wholefoods it will actually cost much less than a diet including animal products.
Where some people find the affordability an issue is when they find themselves wanting to try some of the ‘superfoods’ or meat and cheese substitutes on the market. However, these pricier foods aren’t necessary to achieve a balanced, plant-based diet.
The frozen plant-based ‘chicken’ nuggets are still more expensive than the animal-derived chicken nuggets, but this is more to do with supply and demand. You will notice that as more people go plant-based and purchase those products, the more affordable they will become. You may even have noticed that soy milk is a comparable price to cow’s milk in the supermarket now, and that vegan cheeses in supermarkets are a similar price to the cheeses made from cow’s milk. Plant-based products are coming down in price all the time as people start to purchase them and more competition enters the market.
Another thing that I hear is that plant-based food is restrictive. I agree that it may feel that way initially when you are making the transition, but once you’ve worked out there are plant-based alternatives to everything you used to eat, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.
Ten Top Tips To Cut Grocery Costs!
A plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to be eating expensive organic fruits or going to juice bars all the time. The foundation of a healthy plant-based diet is affordable and accessible foods which are much cheaper than animal products.
The tips below are useful for anyone wanting to make some savings on your grocery shopping – plant-based or otherwise.
Get active in the kitchen
Prepare your own food and avoid buying processed and convenience foods. It sounds so simple – it just requires a little planning. By setting aside some time over the weekend to prepare some meals in advance you will save yourself loads of money. You can freeze these meals and heat them up in a jiffy at those times you’d usually head to the convenience foods. Preparing your own meals also means you’ll be aware of exactly what’s in your food.
Build your meals around wholefoods
Luckily most plant-based staples are cheap! Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds are typically very affordable. Stock up on good deals when you see them and work your menu around those food items. When fruit or vegetables are in season and at their cheapest, buy up big and consider making some meals to freeze, or if viable simply prepare the fruit or vegetable and freeze for easy use down the track.
Look for markdowns and clearance items at your supermarket – these items usually have a fair bit of time until their expiry so they’re a great item to pop in your trolley to save money.
Limit the packaged, processed and convenience vegan fare
Whilst these items are delicious and perfect whilst transitioning, I often find that a lot of packaged plant-based ‘meat’ and ‘cheese’ substitutes are similarly priced to animal products. Consider making your own plant-based burgers, they’re really easy and affordable to make, and more fresh and nutritious than most store-bought veggie burgers. Try this Lentil & Walnut Burger recipe.
Schedule your shopping jaunts
Try to consolidate your grocery shopping and schedule a time to shop. I go weekly as I find it is the most cost-effective way to stock my family pantry, and it is just the right frequency that my fresh produce makes it through the week. Occasionally I need a quick trip to stock up on bread or more fruit and vegetables, but that is it! Shopping on a schedule means I run less of a risk of making too many impromptu purchases – I always leave the shop with a few unintended items so limiting how many times I go there means less of those costly impromptu items come home with me.
Plan your meals for the week
If you loosely plan your weekly meals you will be better equipped to purchase wisely and within budget. Work out what will be on your menu – salads, Italian, Mexican, Indian, soups, stir-fries, smoothies? Check out our blog on Meal Planning Magic and download your Free Meal Planning Guide.
Buy bulk if you have space
If there are products you use often or have a long expiry date, then consider buying bulk. Purchasing some items in bulk can be a great way to save money, especially those items you use often like flour, rice, seeds, nuts, pasta, grains and dried fruit.
Organic vs non-organic
Yes, organic is usually more expensive but I suggest you always check the organic section as often you can pick up some great bargains as the items go on sale or clearance.
Look out for generic brands
Sometimes the generic versions of basic items are not differential in quality to the branded versions so it is worthwhile giving generic a try. Things like baking supplies such as flour, baking powder, oil, oats, pasta, rice, nuts and seeds, and dried fruit are usually perfect in generic form.
Frozen is a great option
If you use fruit to top your porridge, make your muffins, or throw in your smoothies, then you may find frozen fruit is an affordable option. Very often it is cheaper than fresh fruit and keeps much longer. And remember, if you see a great bargain on fresh fruit consider stocking up and freezing it, the nutrient value remains the same, and in some cases actually increases being frozen.
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