Being vegan sounds expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Staples in a vegan diet are affordable and easy to come by. Being vegan on a budget does mean you will have to do some planning, cook from home, and be willing to eat the odd veggie or two.
Our budget for food and groceries every month is $800. This includes food for our 4 animals and the purchase of soap or such from Costco we might need. This budget excludes dining out and alcohol. Our dining out budget is $120 per month and our alcohol budget is $200 per month.
Do we need to have such a large alcohol or dining out budget?
No. We just really love wine, whiskey and the fancy cocktail. When we do go out for date night or happy hour with friends we like to get a drink. It is more of a splurge budget than anything really. We also do not have a entertainment section in our budget, as we consider eating out and having fun with friends our entertainment. We love food way more than we love to sit in the movie theater, so we have decided to make our “entertainment” budget about social events and trying new things to eat. (Surprisingly easy in the PNW as a Vegan)
Do we stick to it?
For the most part, yes. Some months, like during the holidays, our dining out budget increases with family outings and get togethers. As with any budget categories it stretches at various times in our lives. Every 6 months or so we have to make a “big Costco run”, which includes stocking up on toilet paper, bulk items, and the odd cleaning item we may need. This sets us over our budget, but we still average the same for food.
Tips for Saving Money on your Vegan Lifestyle
Easting vegan on a budget is possible, and here is how we do it.
Compare Prices for your Grocery Stores
We all know to compare prices of items in the store. Look for generic before buying name brand. However, I encourage you to do an experiment and compare prices between your favorite grocery stores too.
I love to shop at the store down the road that is a bit more Hippie and has the widest selection fo produce. We often have a coupon for $25 off our purchase and it felt like a good deal. But it was not! On average we spent about $40-$50 more each shopping trip at this store than if we went to our local Safeway instead.
We do not like to make 5 stops at different stores for the best deals each time we need to get groceries. So in that way, we are not the most frugal shoppers and instead lean towards convenience. However, by choosing the stores that are inherently cheaper for us, we were able to cut down our budget even more.
Buy in Bulk
We love Costco. Buying bulk saves us money and keeps staples like rice, beans, nuts, seeds, and plant based milk stocked in our pantry. We share out Costco membership with Charles sister making it even cheaper for us. Not only is buying in bulk cheaper for us, but it is also cheaper for our animals. When we have 4, we need to buy our dog food, treats, and cat litter in bulk.
Buy what is in season, fresh
Safeway, and many other local grocery stores are partnering up with local farms for produce. This is typically labeled and has whatever is in season in this section. Avoid buying blueberries in the middle of winter and paying $8 a package for them if you can.
This may mean trying new things like rainbow chard, asian sweet potatoes, or acorn squash. We find it fun and exciting to learn how to cook with new foods and experiment.
Buy what is out of season frozen
Back to the blueberries, buy those frozen unless in season. Same goes for things like snap peas and even avocado. We buy berries and fruit in bulk frozen at Costco all the time for smoothies and berry compote to go on waffles.
This is one I have written extensively about. You need to meal plan in order to stick to a budget and to not waste food. This also includes cooking at home regularly. Recently we have started using the app called Mealime which allows you to select vegan meals for the week and generates the grocery list. It has been a good way to break from our traditional meals and try some new ways of cooking. The app is on both our phones and we share the same log in so we can have access when it comes time to make our dinner.
Take a look at how we meal plan for the week.
Be willing to go get fresh veggies and fruits each week
This was something we really had to get used to when we first went vegan. That and learning to cook meals around veggies instead of meat. We used to only go to the grocery store every two to three weeks. Since we eat way more plants now, we need to go to the store for fresh ingredients once a week. I don’t mind really, as it feels good to be able to eat fresh food.
Don’t buy “vegan” products
The vegan product market is booming, especially her in the PNW. These things can be expensive and are processed. It is cheap to eat vegan when you eat plant based. Buying the packaged food is where things can start to add up. Stay to the bright and beautiful veggies and fruits avoid the packed items when possible. One area we do splurge on sometimes is vegan cheese when we want to have a pizza night. I would say we buy a bag of vegan cheese for $4.99 once a month for our treat.
If you are going plant based, or have already done so know that you can do it affordably and without sacrificing taste. We had to re-learn how to cook and how we looked at food, but now it feels much easier. Most meals are built around foods that are some of the most inexpensive like lentils, beans, etc.