Our tips and tricks to help keep food costs down, without sacrificing flavour or variety
Eating vegan on a budget is certainly possible, but it depends on what you buy and how you cook.
Below, we share our top tips on creating cheap yet delicious vegan meals.
1. Cook from scratch
Regardless of your diet, it isn’t really possible to eat affordably if you only buy ready-made meals, jars of sauce or premium brand meal deals.
Of course, these are convenient and we all rely on them sometimes, but they certainly come at a cost.
Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be overly complicated or arduous; there are so many one-pot meals you can make in 30 minutes or less. Check out some of our top cheap vegan meal ideas for inspiration.
2. Stock up on tinned food
Tinned veggies, especially tomatoes, are so versatile yet underrated. If you’ve got tinned tomatoes, you can always make something! A tomato soup for lunch, or a tomato sauce to form the base of your dinner.
A great tomato sauce is the foundation of lots of meals, such as:
- spag bol
- pastas like arrabbiata or puttanesca (without the anchovies)
- veggie/bean chilli
- pizza sauce
All you need are tinned veggies and beans and you have loads of cheap meal options at your fingertips.
3. Buy dry
One of our biggest recommendations for eating vegan on a budget is to buy dry foods like lentils and mung beans. They’re great for dhals and curries and are a super cheap way to add protein and iron to soups and stews.
You can lower costs even further by buying dry beans, but if you don’t have the time or inclination for that (you need to soak most of them overnight) then read on for how to keep canned bean costs low.
You can also buy 1kg bags of rice, bulgur wheat and millet, and mix them together or interchange them in recipes for different tastes and textures. See our budget recipe section for some delicious meal ideas.
4. Buy in bulk
If you have the storage space, then bulk-buying store cupboard essentials is a brilliant way to save money over the longer term.
This is one of the great things about the internet, as you can scan the shopping sites looking for bargains and then save that search for next time. If you have a local whole foods store, it’s worth checking out for bulk-buy items.
5. Buy Local Veg Boxes
We are massive fans of these! Local veg boxes can be much fresher than supermarket veggies, and typically with the added advantage of less plastic and better organic options.
Some of the bigger box schemes can be pricey, but some supermarkets like Lidl offer cheap fruit and veg boxes.
6. Shop around
Not all pricing is created equal, and you will find similar products in different shops at different prices.
For example, the little shop around the corner may sell tins of chickpeas very cheaply, while cans of other beans may be cheaper at the supermarket.
Similarly, ‘basic’ veg (such as broccoli, carrots and cauliflower) is often cheaper at the supermarket, whereas the seasonal stuff (like asparagus or sprouts) may be cheaper from your local grocers.
So, try to divvy up your shopping as much as is practical, and you’ll find it does make a difference at the end of the month.
7. Make big dinners
There is something glorious about a leftover lunch! Cooking up a big dinner means you don’t have half-used tins of beans, hanging around (which often go to waste), and also means that you have lunch sorted for the next day.
If you don’t fancy the same thing two days running then you might make the leftover cold rice from a veggie chilli into a rice salad for lunch, and then make burritos for dinner by filling wraps with the chilli.
This also saves on cooking time, giving you the opportunity to whip up guacamole, salsa and a salad to make the burritos more interesting.
8. Make your own dips
Store-bought hummus, salsa and guacamole are not cheap, but you can make your own at home for a fraction of the price and exactly to your liking.
And you can have fun experimenting with bean dips and cashew mayonnaise when you feel more confident. Homemade dips are also a great thing to take along to parties; not a huge outlay for you and people really appreciate the effort.
9. Don’t snub frozen veg
Vegetables that are flash-frozen retain a huge amount of their nutrients and are usually much cheaper than buying fresh.
Frozen spinach is fantastic for curries, mixed veg is ideal for a shepherd’s pie and there are some great stir-fry mixes available too.
Another top tip for smoothie fans is to use frozen berries. You don’t have to worry about them going off, they work out far cheaper and they make your smoothies lovely and cool.
10. Remember the basics
Simple meals rock! Baked potatoes, beans on toast and tomato soup are popular for a reason: they’re easy, healthy, cheap and loved by all the family.
They’re our ‘too tired to think’ meals and make the perfect comfort food.
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