In this article, we will explain how you can keep the costs of a vegan diet low and to give you some budgeting tips that we have picked up on our journey to a plant-based diet.
A vegan diet does not have to be expensive. Your shopping bill will only start to add up when you start throwing processed meat alternatives, vegan ice creams, and nut butter into your trolley.
It is worth mentioning that we do buy some processed alternatives occasionally- such as vegan nuggets and vegan cheese. It’s an easy option for when my partner and I get home late from work and neither of us can be bothered to cook (even if she did lose at rock paper scissors). We also love those delicious little nuggets and need some sort of cheese in our lives. It is okay to throw them in the trolley every now and then – but it’s important to keep in mind that they do add up.
How to keep the cost of food down on a vegan diet
- Avoid processed meat alternatives and ice creams
- Avoid nut butter
- Pulses are your friend
- Buy seasonal fruit and veg at your local market
- Stock up on pasta and rice
- Stock up on herbs and spices
- Plan your meals and research recipes
1. Avoid processed meat alternatives
We have found that vegan alternatives, such as prepared steaks, burgers, sausages, and ice creams, tend to be the biggest driver when looking into our shopping bill. We have found that looking into recipes online and making our own alternatives in bulk to be a lot cheaper. Homemade alternatives are usually much healthier for you than processed alternatives, so that’s a plus!
2. Avoid nut butters
Even when we weren’t on a vegan diet, nut butter would always contribute to a sizable portion of our shopping bill, especially as we like to get the good stuff – 100% nut with no added extras. Now that we are vegan, we are using even more than before!
The most expensive nut butters are the speciality variety (almond, cashew, pecan, etc) followed by the standard, good old peanut. If you want to add these to your diet without hurting your wallet, making these at home in bulk can work out cheaper.
3. Pulses are your friend
So, you can’t eat any ready-made alternatives or butter, what can you have?! Well, pulses are here to save the day and they are super healthy and super cheap! As an example, you can pick up a 500g bag of red lentils from Aldi for 0.79p. Love falafel? Buy a bulk bag of chickpeas and make your own!
There is so much you can do with pulses!
4. Buy seasonal fruit and veg
Seasonal fruit and vegetables will always be cheaper than those that are out of season, simply because farmers will have a mass amount and want to shift as much as possible. Out of season fruit and veg can cost over double the amount than when they are in season as the conditions have to be artificially created or they have to be imported. Makes sense, right?
We have also found that you can buy bulk amounts of fruit and veg at your weekly town market (usually on a Saturday). A quid for a bowl of peppers? That’s what I call a bargain. If you are worried that the product has a low shelf life, simply chop them and freeze – this also speeds up the process when cooking them later!
5. Stock up on pasta and rice
Since Sharne and I became vegan, we have noticed that we are consuming a lot of rice and pasta This is due to us prepping our lunches for work in addition to using them for dinners – making your own lunch will also save you a decent amount of money if you are used to always buying it (the Tesco meal deal is a good bargain – but it’s still more expensive than making your own!).
Buying regular size packets of rice and pasta added up over time, so we decided to buy a 5kg pack of penne from Sainsburys for £4 and a 5kg pack of rice from Tesco for £4.99. Both of these last us just over a month!
Bulk buy for the win.
6. Stock up on herbs and spices
Some might wonder why stock up on herbs and spices, as surely that will increase costs. I can understand why you may be thinking this but stay with me.
Simply put, if your food doesn’t taste good, you are more likely to purchase the meat alternatives (or even takeout!). Nobody wants bland food, so if you are going to avoid processed and pre-prepared alternatives, you need to make your homemade versions taste amazing and herbs/spices are an easy way to do this.
Also, stocking up on herbs and spices is not necessarily as expensive as you may think. Each jar typically lasts a couple a few weeks, even longer if you can find a larger container.
Luckily, we have managed to find a local shop that sells large bags from 0.50p to £3, depending on the herb/spice. So take some time to search around your local shops and markets for the best deal.
7. Plan your meals
Perhaps most importantly, plan your meals!
Researching recipes in advance is massively beneficial before you go on your weekly shop. It gives you an idea of the ingredients you will need to make each meal. This should help prevent you from throwing random products into your trolley that will just be sat at the back of your cupboard, or even worse, thrown in the bin! It also stops you from looking in the fridge/ cupboards repeatedly trying to figure out what to cook and then ultimately ordering a takeaway (we have been guilty of this).
There are many websites and books available to help with this, including:
- So Vegan in 5 – Book
I hope this guide has been useful! Please contact us if you have any questions!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet is one where you only consume plant based foods and drinks, such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, and pulses. Vegans do not consume any products that come from animals.
Why is vegan food expensive?
The vegan foods that are expensive are the prepared alternatives and they cost more due lower demand as well as animal comparatives being heavily subsidised. Natural, unprepared vegan foods are not expensive, though.
Is being vegan more expensive than eating meat?
On average, it is not more expensive to be vegan than it is to eat meat. However, if you are adding in prepared alternatives to your weekly shop, the cost is about the same as eating meat.
James Banerjee is an Account Director who graduated from the University of Kent in 2014. He works in SEO on clients such as HSBC UK and Nestle and he has a keen interest in personal finances and money-saving advice.