Vegan on a budget: 10 essentials

I've often heard fellow vegans (and non-vegans too!) complain that it can be very expensive to eat high-quality vegan food. Even my clients sometimes ask me for cheaper brands or ask me to take a low budget into account. Coming from a family of 5 and being raised by a latin-american minded mother kind of makes you automatically go trough life looking for the best deals. Especially when it comes to food. I am not paying a lot of money just to see two grains of quinoa on my plate with a side of parsley-infused air. I want good food and I want a lot of it! 

That's why I want to share some savviness with you all. These 10 things are a must for anyone actually, who want to get more bang out of their buck when it comes to food. 

Visit local markets and non-luxury supermarkets. You don't always have to buy the most expensive brands to have high quality products. Most products have a very similar quality, so you won't even notice you are using a less expensive brand. This obviously doesn't apply to every single store or every single product, so try experimenting a bit. Canned products can often be very chemical if you buy the cheapest brand available. Same goes for bottled products. The best place to discover all of this is is in a non-luxury supermarket. Less popular supermarkets have a lot of these products and will save you a ton! Also, visit your local market to find great deals on fruits and vegetables. You can often negotiate with the farmers or the salesmen if you buy enough of their products. 

Have oats for breakfast. Oats are super cheap and will last you a very long time. Just 50 grams of oats is enough to make you a firm bowl of oats. So a package of 500 grams will last you 10 days! It also tastes great with a bunch of other products: peanut butter, fruits, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, coconut and a lot more! Super easy, super cheap and super tasty!

Eat pasta and rice instead of quinoa and bulgur. I've personally never really felt much for the quinoa hype. It was expensive and it didn't fill my tummy. I mean I enjoy it from time to time, but that's a rare occasion. Eating pasta and rice makes much more sense when you are living on a budget or don't feel like paying for overpriced bird seeds. Rice and pasta are among the cheapest products in the supermarket. A kilogram of rice from a cheap brand can cost you up to €1,- and pasta just €0.60 per package. It's genius, really. It might not be that genius if you bulk-eat these though.

Bulk buy everything. Most markets give you a discount or free products if you make a large purchase. Try buying in bulk. Keep an eye on discounts and bulk buy those too. Especially products that don't go bad very fast should be bought in this manner! Think of frozen goods, canned food and grains. 

Tofu and Tempeh are not too expensive. If you just buy the commercial brand. Watch out though, you don't want to eat a block of chemical waste. Make sure you are just not buying overpriced tofu. It shouldn't cost you more than €2,- per pack of tofu. Artisan tofu doesn't taste that great most of the time anyway.

Buy raw beans and prepare them yourself. Most vegans eat quite a lot of beans and lentils. The reason is simple: these beans are packed with precious proteins, vitamins and minerals we all need. However, canned beans can be expensive sometimes. Or tofu, if your budget is pretty tight. Consider buying raw beans and preparing them yourself. You usually have to pour warm water onto them, let them soak up for 8 to 12 hours and then cook them for an hour or two. You can do this a few times a week and then storing the cooked beans in containers. Freezing them in might be an option, but I personally don't think that will taste like much. 

Search online for (online) vegan supermarkets. I can't stop saying this guys: thank goodness for technology and google! Everyone's got a smartphone with internet connection nowadays, so use it to your advantage. Search for the nearest vegan supermarket (though sometimes expensive!) or look for online webshops selling vegan products. Sometimes you can buy products in bulk, saving yourself a lot of cash!

Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Since you will need a lot of these because you are super healthy (right?), you can buy frozen fruits and veggies. These are often much cheaper than their fresh counterparts. However, frozen fruits and veggies can sometimes contain higher vitamin and mineral counts due to the fact that frozen goods are often frozen as soon as they are harvested. Fresh fruits and veggies often have to travel quite a distance before they can be sold. 

Have a budget dinner party. If you are on a tight budget, dining out can be a nightmare. Though I love having a good time at a restaurant, sometimes some of us just can't afford it. The solution to this can be simple: have a dinner party at your house or at a friends house. Ask people to team up and make some tasty courses so you can all have one seemingly luxurious dinner party! Decoration and music is also essential. You'll feel the same great ambiance of a restaurant while saving yourself a panic attack once you look at your current account. 

Cut back on fruit juice, soy coffee or soda and drink water or tea instead. Drinking your calories is overrated anyway, so switch up to water or tea instead of all the other options. It may save you a lot of money and a lot of calories as well.

Which tips did you already know about and which are new to you? Let me know in the comments below. Share this with anyone who spends way too much on food! :)

Claudio Fray

Fray Fit, Rosseelsstraat, Den Haag, ZH,