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Plant-based eating on a budget...any budget

Welcome to vegcurious – the blog for people who are curious about plant-based eating.

Is plant-based eating expensive?

When people tell me that they can’t eat a plant-based diet because it’s too expensive, I always think of something my father used to say. He was a jeweler and he was always asked, “How much does a diamond cost?” Being a kind man, he would take the time to explain to the customer that, like most things in life, from carrots to cars, there are variables that affect how much something costs. It’s the same with a plant-based diet.

Budget-friendly plant-based eating

From beans to Beyond, plant-based foods run the gamut from a can of 99¢ beans to the world’s most expensive black rice. Based on your taste, your budget, and your culinary skills, you can enjoy a delicious, healthy, and well-balanced, budget-friendly plant-based diet with lots of variety regardless of what your weekly grocery budget looks like.

Many of the staples of a plant-based diet tend to be very low-cost grocery items. Think about your beans of all varieties, lentils, rice, tofu, soups and pasta, bread, wraps and crackers. Add to this a variety of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit and veggies, and homemade or store-bought dressing, sauces, spices and condiments like hummus, salsa, mustards galore and vegan mayonnaise.

Moving up the plant-based food-cost ladder you have your ready-to-eat foods like vegan cream cheese, block and sliced cheese, cold cuts, falafel, samosas, and plant-based tunas like Tunah and Gusta.

Nearing the top of the price line-up you’ll find your fully prepared heat-and-serve meals like nuggets, burgers, sausages, frozen pizza and lasagna. Like their nonvegan counterparts, these are more expensive because most of the prep work has been done for you. The less you have to do, the more you generally have to pay regardless of whether you are purchasing plant-based or animal-based products.

And, finally, running the full spectrum of price points are snacks like chips, cookies and pretzels, along with slightly more expensive plant-based yogurt, ice cream and frozen specialty items like vegan cheesecakes or decadent frozen treats.

Eat the seasons

When it comes to fresh produce, plan your meals around what is in season where you live rather than relying on more expensive imported items, and supplement with frozen and canned produce. And if you’re worried that frozen and canned products don’t measure up, nutritionally speaking, you can cross that right off your list of concerns.

"Canned and frozen fruit and veggies are as nutritious, and sometimes more nutritious, than fresh."

According to the health experts at WebMD, because freezing and canning often take place very soon after picking, these processes can sometimes help fruit and veggies retain valuable nutrients which may be lost if the fresh items spend a long time touring the countryside enroute to your table. Just remember, when it comes to canned produce, check the label for added sodium or sugar, if those are a concern for you.

You can also take advantage of bulk cooking and freezing, if you have room. For example, I live in Canada so that means a relatively lower cost for fresh corn in August and September. That’s when I’ll make batches of my favourite sweet and spicy corn chowder and freeze it to enjoy on cold winter nights.

And now for some bold-faced plagiarism

One of the easiest ways to eat plant-based on a budget is to think of your meals like a…just throwing this out there… a food pyramid! When shopping, load up your cart up with plant-based staples. Layer on some budget-friendly snacks, then treat yourself to some ready-to-eat/prepared foods once in a while.

With just a little bit of planning, and your pantry stocked with all the vegan staples, you will be able to enjoy delicious, filling, and budget-friendly, plant-based meals every day of the week.

"Vegan Pro Tip: Do beans make you bloated or gassy? Try this!"

Check out some of my favourite budget-friendly vegan recipe sites:


I hope this blog has helped you find your way to plant-based eating. Remember…the goal is not to be perfect. Do the best you can and enjoy the journey!

Note: It is strongly recommended that you consult with your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet. This blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to recommend or endorse any particular product, diet or eating plan.

Next issue…What is nutritional yeast and why are vegans obsessed with it?

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