I get so excited about the sheer breadth and depth of the benefits of plant-based eating. It’s amazing for our health, the environment and the plight of factory farmed animal, but it’s also a way to economize! For low-income households, or those simply wanting to save a substantial amount of money, plant-based eating has you covered.
Research has shown that when measured on a cost per serving, cost per weight, and cost per nutrition basis, fruits and vegetables beat out meat and junk food.
Reducing or eliminating animal products from the shopping list is already one way to save money. Here are my favourite tips and tricks for saving even more.
- Eat homemade meals as much as possible. Planning ahead really facilitates this. It helps us to avoid impromptu decisions to eat out or order in when we already have a meal ready to eat, or the ingredients to quickly whip up a meal, or something from the freezer to simply defrost.
- Minimize processed vegan products. There are quite a few vegan packaged goods that are really convenient and help us eat better. But they are optional, and can increase our grocery bills. Examples include: granola bars, cereal, yogurt, cheese, and frozen goods like burgers. If we’re so inclined, we can make these items ourselves from scratch.
- Shop for produce at discount grocery stores. Examples in Ontario include No Frills, FreshCo and Food Basics. We find the produce to be significantly cheaper than the regular stores and just as (or nearly) as good.
- Buy frozen produce.
- Buy larger quantities when it makes sense. Buy larger bags of potatoes, onions, etc. if you’ll be able to eat it before it goes bad, and if you have the storage space.
- Shop the sales…of course! We certainly stock up when something goes on sale. Canned goods, pasta, rice and many other items have a very long shelf life.
- Plan meals and snacks in advance. This will reduce the chances of last minute eating out or ordering in food, which is generally more expensive.
With that, here’s a list of what we buy where. We tend to shop at our local discount grocery store weekly, and a health food store and Costco monthly.
Discount grocery store:
- Fresh produce
- Whole wheat pasta
- Rice noodles
- Non-dairy milk
- Dried and canned lentils
- Dried and canned beans (except for black beans and chickpeas, which I buy at Costco)
- Other canned goods such diced tomatoes, tomato paste, coconut milk
- Large flake oats
- Maple syrup
- Baking soda, baking powder
- Spices (except I buy Ceylon cinnamon at the health food store – read why here)
- Apple sauce
Health food store:
- Nutritional yeast
- Flax seeds
- Earth Balance
- Vegan dairy products
- Veggie burgers
- Salad dressing
- Miso paste
- Lundburg brown rice
- Vegetable broth (I like Pacific Foods Organic Vegetable Broth)
- Ceylon cinnamon
Note: some, or all, of the above items are also available in the ‘natural’ section at non-discount grocery stores and Bulk Barn, where they may be less expensive.
- Almond and peanut butters
- Chia seeds
- Hemp hearts
- Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats
- Frozen vegetables
- Frozen berries
- Sprague Foods (Canadian) canned, BPA-free, organic chickpeas and black beans (at just over $1 per can they cost only slightly more than conventional canned beans)
- Medjool dates
- Almond and peanut butters
- Brown sugar
- Olive oil
- Vanilla extract