One of the biggest concerns I hear about a plant-based diet is the fear that it’s really expensive. In today’s blog post for Baobab, I want to explore this myth, break down what is constituting the bulk of spending, and give you some healthy and inexpensive plant-based recipes, whether you’re a family of 2 or a family of 6.
First, which plant-based diet are you following? This is a really important question because it will determine which groceries you are actually buying. If you’re following a vegan diet that is made up primarily of processed and packaged vegan foods, it’s going to get pricey. As the world becomes more cognizant of cruel animal agriculture, environmental health, and human health, the trend is towards more plants. As a result of this direction and the demand, the prices of these items are driven up as more and more people gravitate towards more plants. We have already seen this effect. Consider the dairy industry, milk and cheese specifically. Some dairy farms are closing and others are taking major losses as the demand for cow’s milk and cheese dramatically drops and the demand for plant milk and plant-based cheeses increase.
If you’re following a plant-based diet that is mostly centered around whole plant foods that are grown in the ground and not made in a plant, then it’s going to be less expensive. For example, I can get a 4 pound bag of lentils for 14$. With four pounds of lentils, I can make an inexpensive lentil soup (packed with protein, fiber, iron and other vitamins and minerals), 8 times for a family of four. I would be hard-pressed to get two steaks with fourteen dollars for one meal which would hardly feed my family of four.
Can fresh produce be expensive? Yes, it certainly can be depending on where you live and what season you are buying in. One way to lower expenses is to buy frozen veggies. Despite contrary belief, frozen veggies are very healthy for you and still manage to retain most of their nutrition profiles. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using frozen vegetables. If you have a busy work or school life or if you are cooking for one, I’d even argue that frozen veggies are the best route to take! Fresh produce is wonderful but will rot if not used in due time – as a result, it ends up being a waste of money. The same goes for fruit. It’s perfectly ok to use frozen fruit!
The other important thing of note is that you do not need to buy organic or non-gmo, unless that is your preference. There is this misconception out there that if you can’t afford organic produce, then it’s best to not buy it at all. I would rather someone actually get their daily servings of fruits and veggies from non-organic produce rather than not getting it at all! Is organic really better? In my research, the data isn’t clear. So don’t feel bad about using frozen or using non-organic produce!
There is also a movement in growing some of your own produce. Now, let’s be realistic: this is not an option for everyone. Some don’t have the space. Some simply don’t have the time. But if you do have the space and the time and the willingness to try it out, I highly recommend it! My family hasn’t purchased any zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes or herbs for an entire month due to our backyard garden. Every penny counts, especially when you’re budgeting! Not to mention, the taste is far more delicious.
Some of the pantry staples for a healthful and balanced plant-based diet that are relatively inexpensive including whole grains and beans. Canned beans are easier and cheaper than dried beans, too. They’re loaded with protein and fiber and micronutrients and a great staple of any plant-based diet. Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans; you name it, they’re delicious, easy and healthy. Rice is another inexpensive whole grain, in addition to whole wheat, farro, split peas, oats, barley, and more. The great thing about a lot of these staples is that they can also be purchased in bulk and prepared in bulk to help you with meal prep!
Healthy plant based eating, even on a budget, doesn’t have to be tasteless or boring. Give me a can of beans, some rice and some veggies (frozen or fresh), and I’m sure I can convince you otherwise! In fact, let’s get straight to it and explore some of these budget friendly plant based options!
Overnight Oats or Oatmeal
Oats can be purchased in bulk and they’re easy to prepare. For a super quick breakfast option, prepare overnight oats. For a cozier and warmer effect, go with the fresh hot oatmeal. I have recipes for both!
- Lunch and Dinner Options:
- Lentil Soup
- Chickpea Curry with Rice
- Loaded Vegan Chili
- Greek Style Stewed Peas and Potatoes
- White Bean Soup
And so much more! All of the recipes listed above can be made with pantry staples like lentils, canned or dried beans, frozen peas and other veggies. The fresh produce that is generally used in these recipes (like fresh parsley or potatoes) is relatively inexpensive.
All of these recipes can be found at www.thewholescoopblog.com . We hope you’ll give it a try and see for yourself that plant-based eating can absolutely be budget friendly.
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