6 Tips to Eat Vegan on a Budget

There’s a common misconception that a vegan diet is also an expensive one, but I don’t think that has to be the case at all! Sure, if you eat lots of fake meat products and load up your cart with out of season veggies, a vegan diet can definitely break the bank. If an omnivore ate nothing bit filet mignon and fancy cheeses, that would get pretty expensive too, right?

The keys to stocking a vegan pantry without maxing out your food budget is pretty simple: eat real food, and cook from scratch when you can. Does that seem easier said than done? Don’t fret! Here are some tips and tricks for eating a healthy, vegan diet without spending too much money or giving up too much precious free time.

1. Cook from Scratch

Cooking from scratch probably sounds time-consuming, but with a bit of planning it’s very easy to work this into your schedule. Pre-processing your food can go a long way. I don’t mean canning, though. I mean soaking beans and chopping veggies. When you get home from the store, cut up your veggies before you put them away in the fridge. If you know you want to make a bean dish, soak the beans overnight to speed up cooking time. It’s so much easier to make a meal after a long day when some of the prepwork is already done.

2. Essential Cooking Tools

The right tools can help you save a ton of time and money in the kitchen. Here are the things my kitchen would be empty without:

  • Rice cooker. Get one that includes a steamer basket. You won’t be sorry.
  • Slow cooker. Choose one that’s the right size for your family. If there are just two of you, you don’t need a giant slow cooker. For a big family, size it up so that you can cook a whole meal in there.
  • Food processor or blender. Mincing garlic and making sauces is a breeze if you have a good food processor.

>>Next: Low maintenance meals and batch cooking

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by effekt!

3. Cooking Low Maintenance Meals

What’s a low maintenance meal? It’s one that doesn’t necessarily cook quickly, but it doesn’t involve a lot of standing over the stove, either. Your food can cook unattended while you handle household chores and spend time with your family or friends. Here are some low maintenance meal ideas:

  • Put your grain of choice with enough water to cook into the bottom of your rice cooker, then layer veggies and beans or tofu into the top. Turn the cooker on, and it makes the whole meal while you do other things.
  • Toss beans, veggies, broth, onions, garlic, and spices into the slow cooker and let it go. Savvy Vegetarian has a great roundup of vegan slow cooker recipes to get you going!
  • Cook up some pasta on the stove and toss with a quickie vegan pesto for a fast meal. Up the health value by tossing in some steamed veggies, like broccoli or carrots.

4. Cook Big Batches

If you’re going to spend time in the kitchen, make it productive! Instead of cooking enough for just one meal, make enough so that you’ll have some leftovers. You can bring these for lunch the next day or reheat them for a super quick dinner later on in the week.

You can also do batch cooking on the weekends, preparing a few dishes to keep in the fridge for busy evenings. Casseroles, pasta salads, sandwich fillings, and roasted veggies are a few great staples to have on hand for weeknight meals. While roasted veggies might not make a whole meal, Robin Shreeves has some great tips for turning those leftover veggies into a number of easy, healthy, delicious dishes.

>>Next: Grow your own and shop the farmers market and buy in bulk

sprouting seeds for the garden

5. Grow Your Own

Not only is growing your own food gratifying, it can help take the strain off of your grocery budget. Even if all that you can manage is a few herb plants, growing food instead of buying it will save you money! Think you don’t have the space? Try going vertical! Vertical gardens are a great way for apartment dwellers or folks who don’t have a lot of land to maximize food output.

6. Shop the Farmers Market and Buy in Bulk

You might think that farmers markets are expensive, but that’s not always true. A recent study showed that it’s actually cheaper to shop at the farmers market!

Buying in bulk is one of the easiest ways to save money at the grocery store. Instead of buying canned beans or pre-packaged (and often over-packaged) grains, hit your store’s bulk bins for some real savings! You can get as much or as little as you want, and bulk items are cheaper because you’re paying for the food, not the packaging.

I’d love to hear from the vegans out there! Do you have any tips for sticking with a vegan diet while on a tight budget?

Image Credit: Photo by Becky Striepe

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Jane Ketterman
Jane Ketterman2 years ago

thanks for article

Walter G.
Walter g.2 years ago

I try to minimise preparation and energy use by choosing basic foodstuffs not requiring cooking. Simple, fast, and the lack of taste-temptation caused by recipies helps my portion control. It costs less too.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton2 years ago

Thanks for the tips.

Claudia W.
Cynthia Smithers3 years ago

for all of you who don't have a farmers' market nearby: order your produce online and have it shipped once a week or every other week. much more cost effective and energy-friendly and driving around finding local sources that simply don't necessarily exist.

Anne Mueller
Anne M.3 years ago

so glad I found these! :)

Charlotte F.
Charlotte F.3 years ago

Starting a small trading group (especially for those who do not have a green thumb) each of us having a stronger ability in growing, fermenting, pickling, or drying. We all use our strengths and it is beneficial financially and for our bodies.

Sarah M.
Sarah M.4 years ago


Anne P.
Anne P.4 years ago

Excellent suggestions. As a long-time vegan on a strict budget, I also recommend buying one or two vegan cookbooks to make cooking from scratch fun! Two of my faves are "Vegan on the Cheap" and "10000 Vegan Recipes," both by Robin Robertson.

Kris G.
Kris G.4 years ago

heh, I really need help with eating on a budget. Thanks for the article

nancy h.
nancy h.4 years ago

Being a vegan, I think there are more creative recipes using vegan ingredients than there is for using meat.