Frugal Living for the Budget Vegan

Vegan living on a budget. My guide to living frugal while following a vegan diet. Tips on eating organic, DIY, online shopping, and more!

Have you ever been told “Veganism is just for rich, white people. I can’t make the change because I’m on a budget.”?

Well, I have. And I’m f*cking tired of hearing it!

Here’s the deal:

Veganism is for everyone. Regardless of your ethnicity, food budget or whatnot.. and I’m here to prove it to you!

A post shared by Nick Abell (@servingrealnessblog) on


First, if you follow me on Social Media, you know that I was laid-off from my serving job last month.

Long story short, I worked at this vegan restaurant for almost a year. But, right before slow season, they decided to let me go. Despite my best effort, I can’t help but take it personally. I was devastated. It kills me to know that I wasn’t valued for the positive changes I made for the company.

Now I’m jobless, stuck in a lease, and terrified. How can this even be legal!?

Fortunately, this lit a fire under my ass like no other. It was high-time for me to get my vegan budget in check, now there isn’t an excuse!

This post is my proof that vegan living on a budget is possible! No, I’m not suggesting quitting your job to experience the stress first-hand.. I’ll handle that for you ūüėČ

Here are my top tips that have helped me save money on a vegan diet!

My Vegan Budget Disclaimer:

I wanted to start by saying that veganism is¬†not any more expensive¬†than eating mindfully. Sure, it’s not as cheap as the “McDonald’s-Dollar-Menu-Diet”, but that’s not even real food!

Some people consider eggs “essential” to the diet, so let’s compare some prices.

  • First, if I still ate eggs, I would 100% be eating organic to avoid growth hormones.
  • A carton of organic eggs costs around $3-5 (Around $1.60 per¬†four plain eggs)
  • A block of organic tofu, even with the seasonings, costs less than $2 for Tofu Scramble. Buy in bulk, and it’s even cheaper per serving!

 

See? Eating vegan isn’t inherently more expensive.. after all, some of the cheapest grocery items are produce! My problem is I¬†get caught in the convenience of buying “vegan-branded” foods.

Anything marketed towards a niche this small is going to cost a lot, because people will pay it!

wind turbines

Start Transitioning to Zero-Waste

The first thing I did with my shopping habits was transition to zero waste. The Zero Waste movement seems to be the second biggest to date (right after Veganism!).

How does this help keep your vegan budget in check?
It’s all about reusing, baby!

Zero-Waste might have a bigger up-front cost, but the savings quickly rack up.

We’ve replaced:

 

This one change has reduced our monthly budget substantially (we went through paper towels like crazy). Best of all, we’ve diverted a ton of our trash, reducing the amount of times it needs to be emptied! (Less money, less pollution, and¬†less house-work!? Sign me up!)

Vegan Budget Living = DIY to the Max!

Next on our list is to do it yourself! You wouldn’t believe the amount of money you pay companies to cook, package, and ship your food. Skip two of the steps and do it yourself!

We’ve switched to house-made:


Luckily, DIY goes hand-in-hand with the Zero-Waste effort! It is my goal to eliminate as many packages from my grocery cart as possible.

Sure, those frozen vegan meals are easy and awesome.. they’re just expensive as hell! Save some money and do it yourself!

For a price comparison, let’s look at my coffee consumption:

I was going to the coffee shop at least 5 times a week. (Eeeek! I know!) At $5 per latte, that came out to over $100 a month!

Thankfully, we bought a bag of (orgasmic) locally roasted coffee beans for $12. This might seem like a lot, but that $12 got me 14-16 cups of coffee. That’s like $.86/cup! Account for the soymilk I use, and we’re still only at $1 per drink.. what can beat that!?

computer for buying vegan goodies online

Don’t Forget About Online

Most people don’t think of online shopping when considering vegan budget options. Maybe they’re stuck in the early 2000’s when shipping cost more than the product?

Those days are long-gone, folks! Companies love to offer free shipping (especially when over a certain dollar amount). Depending on how much you’re buying, it could be worth it! (Especially with gas being so expensive!)

Our favorite online retailers are:

  • Amazon
  • Thrive Market

Reasons Amazon is Awesome for a Vegan Budget

Who doesn’t love Amazon!? They have everything from vegan ingredients¬†to kitchen gadgets. They’re priced competitively, offer bulk options, and have free 2-hour delivery for Prime customers. What’s not to love!?

Reasons Thrive Market is Awesome for a Vegan Budget

Thrive Market is like Costco meets Whole Foods (all online!). They have everything vegan A-Z (except for refrigerated items), so you can stock up when you need.

Best of all, they’re offering 25% off and Free Shipping on your first order! Click here for more details

thrive market for vegan budget options

Buy in Bulk

Speaking of Costco, this tip is a no-brainer! Save money by buying in bulk, plain and simple!

This goes beyond your boring bulk department, though.. Think outside the bin!

What do you think they refill those bins with? That’s right: giant-ass bags of bulk food.. And you can (usually) buy the whole thing!

The best part?

Most grocery stores offer a Case Discount (usually 10%) on the big bags. Even more of a reason to buy it all at once! Plus, who doesn’t love having a 50 pound bag of rice at home!?

Costco is the best known bulk-heaven. While they don’t offer case discounts (you’re expected to buy the case here!), the prices are unbelievable. Did you know they carry a dizzying amount organic food? I had no idea! Now we buy¬†huge bags of organic frozen berries (for smoothies!).¬†

Holding me back from these changes¬†was pure laziness. Welp, I’m jobless now, so I can definitely find the time to soak beans overnight. (Why did I wait¬†so long!?). Best of all? They taste MF’n incredible! I wasted so many years eating sub-par store bought canned beans.. don’t make the same mistake!

Other things we love buying in bulk:


Farmer's market haul - my secret to sticking to a vegan budget!

Eat In-Season and Local

Have you ever noticed how often produce prices fluctuate? Last month, organic strawberries were $9.99/pint. This week? They’re on sale for $2.50/each!

Why does this happen?

Seasons change! Instead of flying strawberries from across the world, these beauties were grown here in my state.

By eating locally and in-season, you’re getting the highest nutrient content for the lowest cost. That a win-win in my book!

That’s not all!

The best thing about eating seasonally is the cheap produce from local farmer’s markets!

(Speaking of organic, I try to eat it as often as possible. On the other hand, I’m more lenient towards¬†Clean-Fifteen produce.. Especially if there’s a big price difference!)

Tied into this tip would also be: Growing Your Own Food!¬†Nothing is cheaper than something you grew at home. If you have the space, go for it! Best of all, if you started a compost bin (mentioned above), you’ll have all the free fertilizer you could want!

Vegan Meal Prep on a Budget

My biggest expense was (by far) eating out. When I’m busy with the blog, the last thing I want to do is cook something. (Convenient for a food blog, huh?). This leaves me hangry, and you won’t like Nick when he’s hangry.

My solution to this growing problem? Vegan meal prepping!

If zero-waste is the second biggest trend, Meal Prep is definitely number three! Basically you map out 3-5 days of vegan meals, and batch cook it all one day. This means all the kitchen work is done at once, you don’t even have to think about it for another couple of days!

I love to meal prep vegan meals because:

  • I can batch cook and freeze leftovers for the week
  • I’m not tempted to eat out, since it’s all planned beforehand (and ready to eat!)
  • Especially when you have beans/nuts to soak, it relieves the chaos of scrambling to find something to eat

budget friendly meal prep container

Any container will work for food-prepping, but we love¬†these budget-friendly glass containers!¬†They’re BPA free¬†and machine-washable. Woot woot!


Don’t Forget These Basic Grocery Store Tricks

Remember when I told you I worked 5 years in the health food industry? Thank god, because I learned some vegan money saving tips I’d never forget!

Here’s the scoop:

First, shop private label when you can! These are the “store brand” products you see, and they’re usually a lot cheaper.
A common misconception I hear is that “Private label is almost the same thing as store brand”. In fact, most¬†of the time they aren’t just similar, they’re¬†the exact same product!

When comparing items at the store, check the¬†“Unit Price” on the shelf tag! This means they’ve done the math for you and figured out how much the item is “per ounce” (or what-have-you).¬†Just make sure both items are in the same unit, and you’re ready to bargain shop*!
(*note: most stores don’t change the listed Unit Prices for sales, so factor that into your decision!)

Lastly, don’t forget to check out your grocery store’s clearance section! Especially if it’s a slower store, the vegan products may expire faster than they can sell. I’ve scored a $10 vegan cheese spread for $2.99. Talk about a killer deal!
Just make sure you consume it before it goes bad, otherwise you wasted $2.99 (rather than saving $7.01).

Wondering which grocery store has the best deals? Check out this price comparison!

Sprouts sprouting because they're happy you went vegan ;)

Vegan Budget Living Conclusion

Vegan living on a budget is absolutely possible!

In summary, I saved the most money each month by:

  • Eliminating as many packages as possible (DIY, yo!)
  • Shopping around! Sometimes Amazon has sales better than Costco, you never know!
  • Loading up on the starches! I love me some potatoes, rice, oats, and beans… Even better if you find them in bulk!
  • Grow your own food, if possible. At the very least, eat seasonally!
  • Prepping my meals (or at least planned them out). This way I wasn’t tempted to eat out, or stuck (starving) waiting for beans to soak.
  • Keeping my eye on that clearance section and store-brands. It’s easy to find the cheapest item (check¬†the unit price!) at each store.

Do you have any vegan money-saving tips I should know about? Please let me know! ūüėÄ

Want to know how to survive as a vegan on a budget!? I'm here to help! Here are my top tips and tricks to help save the most money while following a vegan diet. Includes DIY, zero-waste, bulk, and grocery shopping secrets.

2 Comments

    • Nick Abell

      May 19, 2017 at 12:08 pm Thanks so much, Mary! I appreciate you stopping by :) Reply

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