This is something I’ve heard quite frequently as a reason for not going vegan. Part of me does understand the thought process behind it as taking one look around Planet Organic or Wholefoods would be enough to make you believe that going vegan would eventually lead you to bankruptcy. I do most of my shopping in regular supermarkets and I think I spend less on food now than I did as a meat eater and as a vegetarian (except when I am in a health food shop, I cannot help myself). Here are some staples I always have at home:
- Tinned beans (kidney, cannellini, borlotti, butter, black eyed etc.)
- Sweet potatoes
- Red and green lentils
- Frozen broccoli/ green beans
- Herbs and spices
- Rye bread (kept in the freezer)
Things I buy as and when I need them:
- Soya milk
- Fresh herbs
- Fresh fruit and vegetables (avocados are v important)
I’ve always been queen of the reduced sections in supermarkets, at uni I even took it as far as to ask what time each started reducing items and planned my evenings around those times. I still buy a lot of reduced fruit and vegetables and I buy reduced loaves from the in-store bakeries, slice and freeze them which means it lasts much longer, works out so much cheaper and I can have nice sourdough everyday. I also go to the market once a week and get some vegetables there as they are often cheaper than in supermarkets.
I know that specifically vegan foods can be pretty expensive such as meat and cheese substitutes but these don’t need to make up a massive part of your diet as a vegan. Linda McCartney sausages are always on offer for £1 in one of the main supermarkets and tofu is not much more. I think if you focus more on centering your meals around vegetables, grains and pulses it’s actually a lot cheaper (and healthier) than eating a non-vegan diet! Another thing I would say is when buying fruit and vegetables I’d recommend buying them loose, it works out so much cheaper and you just get what you need so you end up wasting less. I’d say most of my evening meals cost no more than £1-£2 per portion to make, unless I’m feeling flash and splash out on some fancy pesto or tofu wieners.
A lot of the time I don’t plan my meals at all, sometimes I will just roast/fry any vegetables I have in some tahini, chipotle pasta, pesto etc. and serve with rice or pasta. I find that meals like this are often the best and I love experimenting in the kitchen.
Here are a few example meals I have –
I have chilli at least once a week. It’s so easy to throw together, you can use any vegetables you want in there, you can serve it with so many different things, it’s cheap, healthy and packed with protein. I always start off with frying some garlic and onion in some coconut oil, add a tin of beans and a tin of chopped tomatoes and some spices or if I’m feeling lazy I just chuck in a Knorr Mexican flavour pot. Then add any other vegetables you like – carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, green beans, aubergine etc. I also sometimes add soya mince but I think it’s equally delicious without.
I usually serve with rice, pasta, salad or in a wrap and make it into a burrito and sprinkle a bit of nutritional yeast on top. 10/10, my favourite meal to make after a shit average day.
The easiest meal to make in the whole world. Whenever anyone, mainly my mum, says eating healthily is expensive and time consuming, I throw stir fry in their faces (not literally). A stir fry bag is one pound and you just empty it into a pan with a little coconut oil and some sauce and it’s done in minutes. I often add cashew nuts, fresh coriander and mushrooms but again like chilli you can throw in whatever you have in your fridge that needs using up. I sometimes use stir fry sauces from brands like Blue Dragon which are around 60p or I use coconut milk and some spices.
To bulk out a stir fry you can always add/serve with noodles or rice, both of which are very inexpensive. You can also add mock meats, I’ve been peeping at some soy and ginger seitan pieces that I’m definitely going to splash out on soon.
Can you tell I like meals that have no set ingredient list? Again I love making curries because they’re quick and it means I can use up veg. Just fry some garlic and onion, add all of your vegetables and some curry paste with a little water or soya/almond/coconut milk to make it slightly creamier and let it simmer until it’s all soft or until you can’t wait any longer, whichever comes first.
I’m making a curry tonight.
Beans on Toast
Heinz do a range of beans in spicy, peri-peri, barbecue, fajita etc. flavours and these on toast is sometimes just what I fancy for dinner and costs a total of around £1.20.
I’m not a huge fan of salads, I find them a bit boring unless I add so much to them that it no longer resembles a salad. A ‘salad’ dinner for me is a bowl of spinach or mixed leaves with some cucumber, always some raw red onion, balsamic vinegar and then a load of other things thrown on top. My toppings of choice usually consist of a few of the following – falafel, olives, roasted vegetables, houmous, gherkins, avocado, nuts, seeds, capers, chilli flakes, fresh herbs..
What are some of your favourite budget and easy meals?