Welcome back my friends! (and I just have to say you are not dummies!) I hope you all had a great weekend and day. I was able to take my mother to some amazing Vegan pizza for my birthday today! All I wanted for my bday was some pizza and I would be happy since it's been awhile, and we did just that. My mother has been Vegan now for 4 months and I couldn't be more proud of her. She has seen the benefits of this lifestyle and won't ever be turning back to her own ways. She has had zero issues transitioning to this lifestyle which includes expenses. If I only had a steem dollar for every time I hear people want to go Vegan but can't afford it. I really would love to go back in time and try to understand how this myth even started. I suppose it's no different then all the other myths about going Vegan. How you'll somehow die of a protein deficiency, you'll never get enough iron or calcium, you can't get any B12, you'll shrivel away and never build muscle, the list really goes on and on. So I am putting this together to help people understand how simple and cheap it really can be.
Let's not make the mistake that yes, there are ways a vegan lifestyle can be expensive just like a meat eaters diet, etc. It all depends what you choose to put on your plate. If you go to whole foods and spend money on things you really don't need then you can bet you're walking out with a dent in your wallet. You have to know what to get and what not to get. This is why I do not shop at whole foods because I find other stores that are going to save me money. So first rule is...
Shop Where There Are Competitive Prices
For me I have a store called sprouts. It's a fantastic place to shop because they do not carry your mainstream shit that you find in your average mainstream grocery store. The beauty about sprouts is that they have very affordable prices and a lot of their own line of products which are going to be much cheaper! So look for a grocer near you that carries their own brand which will be cheaper and offer reasonable prices. Do not think for one second when you become Vegan you have to start shopping at the fanciest "health" food grocer near you. This is 100% not what you should be doing. Hell, I could even show you how to shop at a mainstream grocery store that carries 90% of garbage products, you just need to learn the ropes which I will explain below.
First And Foremost, Learn To Cook
If you already can cook then you're going to transition like a champion. You see for me, my idea of cooking before Vegan was toss some chicken breasts into a crock pot, a jar of salsa and I'll see you in 8 hours. So you cannot use the "I cant cook" excuse because look at me! Take one look at my Instagram and then remind yourself I had no clue how to cook 2 years ago, If I can do it anybody can. I will say this forever, but going Vegan is like re-discovering food all over again. My friend who's a little over a month being Vegan now text me today and said "Something about cooking Vegan is really fun" That couldn't be more true and it's hard to explain, you just have to do it and experience it.
Organic v.s Non
Just because you go Vegan does not mean you have to purchase every single item organic now. Mainly this pertains to the USA because in other countries they don't get poisoned by Monsanto like we do. Unfortunately for America GMO's are allowed and not banned like in other countries. It's really F-ed up here but we must educate and help people be fully aware. I personally don't always go organic but I try to as much as possible. I know at times organic prices just don't sit well with peoples wallets so we have to do what we can. If you find your grocers in house brand that they offer, they will always have an organic option and those tend to be relatively cheaper so always look out for those.
Locate Your Nearest Produce Terminal To Purchase Bulk
Every major city is going to have a produce terminal. This has literally saved my life for the longest time. I never knew about these things until a year ago and it blew my mind. Basically what this means is, There is a terminal where everything goes before it hits your grocery stores. So most people have no clue its actually open to the public but in fact it is. It's where most business's go to purchase produce for their restaurant etc, but any person can roll up and load their car and save tons by cutting out the grocery store prices! The hours are usually during non operational times which means opening and closing from 2am-8am. These are some photos of my produce hauls which I split with my roommate that would come out to around $50-$60 a person for all this stuff. Also this is super ideal if you are into juicing like i am. I would juice 2-3 times a day with a 32oz each time, let's just say my insides were cleaning themselves out like clockwork!
Produce terminal where all the magic happens!
First successful produce haul
What Vegans eat baby! This was juicing heaven at the time
I highly recommend getting a rolling kitchen rack this is a seville classics
Got Kale & Cucumbers?
This is what I live for! Eating for health and mental clarity. Look at these beauties
Also you can purchase bulk spices & nuts. We would get 5lb/2.2kilo of anything for $10! I would get 5lb organic raw cacao boxes for $20. Yeah that was not a type error.
These are what i live for medjool dates 11lb box for $24!
So you see this is by far my favorite way to shop and more ideal if you're shopping for 2+ people. If I were shopping for just myself I would obviously limit how much I purchased but it's extremely helpful for 2+ people up to an entire family, but if you're solo and want certain items that have extremely long shelf lives like nuts, seeds, spices, etc this is your spot!
Support Your Local Farms / Markets
If you're near any farm areas its even possible to go straight to the source and get amazing deals. This also includes farmers markets or your local mom & pop markets that will always offer lower prices than competing giants. This is a great way to save money and not get caught up in the hooplah of blowing a paycheck just to grab some organic apples & kale. You can almost always find at least one of these three options within driving distance from you.
Minimize Your Fancy Vegan Products
Getting real with you here but there are so many fancy Vegan brands especially in Los Angeles they can run you dry real quick. Hop into one of these stores like Erewhon in LA and grab two glassed bottle juices and it will set you back $25. Or you can take notes on how I do things and feed an entire family for under $20 with a huge meal with left overs. For everything you see me post on my Instagram I spend no more than $70 per week on groceries. If I wanted to go insane and splurge on useless stuff I didn't even need I would top out at $100 a week. So I personally do not indulge in fancy treats unless I have money to blow for no reason which is really never. In the beginning for some people you might be splurging on those replacement foods like your fake cheeses, meats, etc. Then eventually you will start moving away from those foods and going more towards how I eat which is a whole foods plant based diet, which we will get into now. This is a perfect example of being expensive or cheap by making proper food choices, check this video out.
Learn To Shop In The Produce Section & Get Familiar With These
- Veggies / Greens
- Beans / Legumes
- Nuts & Seeds
These are the holy grails in my opinion. The easiest way to put it is, eat the ingredients, not foods full of a bunch of ingredients. Eventually as we transition we will lean more towards these foods. The simplest forms of food from mother nature itself. What comes from the ground and not from some factory producing processed chemicals they try to pass off as food to the public. Now I know some of you might be thinking well what the F am I going to do with some lettuce and a potato but ooooooooh boy don't even get me started on the possibilities! These food groups are your brushes so to speak, and now it's up to you to paint a picture with them. How will you utilize the tools you are given?
Depending where you live you will almost always be able to find fruits at sometime of the year. I personally eat fruit in abundance because its natures candy to me. Delicious carbs straight to my soul I tell you! You can't tell me a bag of apples is going to be more expensive then your box of cookies or whatever chemically processed foods might be. My personal favorites are berries, apples, pineapples, coconuts, pluots, bananas, I can go on for days. Try to avoid purchasing pre cut or packaged fruits because you are basically paying for the convenience. Dont be too lazy to chop your own fruits up! You'll save money and have a greater connection to the food you are eating
Veggies & Greens
Usually the cheapest food you can buy with high volume. If you ate 500 calories of produce as opposed to 500 calories of fast food the volume in the whole plant foods will keep you full for hours. I personally eat a massive and I'm talking massive bowl of greens & veggies every day. I just feel incredible and light every day I do this. You can also usually get organic greens for only a few more cents then non organic too which is also nice to have. Some of my favorites are cilantro/coriander, romaine, kale, cabbage, spinach, swiss chard, cucumbers, red bell peppers, zucchini, squash, avocado, celery, carrot, beets, potatoes, onion, micro greens, watercress, arugula, is that a few? I can keep going.
Beans & Legumes
One of my favorite ways to smash in tons of protein and high volume foods. I personally purchase canned beans but some people are against canned foods for various reasons like possible BPA's. You can always purchase them raw for cheaper and cook them yourself. I usually go with canned because its precooked and extremely cheap per can. For a can .99cents is usually going price for anything organic like black beans, pinto, navy, kidney, lentils. I personally love chickpeas/garbanzo beans and I know some people may be sensitive to beans so go with chickpeas instead as they are more alkaline to the body.
Rice, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, rye, farro, the list goes on. You can purchase these in the bulk bins at most grocery stores as they are cheaper this way. You can purchase pounds/kilos at a time for a fraction of the cost as opposed to a grain that is pre-bagged and weighed out for you. So personally when it comes to grains I will purchase them from bulk bins and refrain from paying for convenience. The beauty about grains are the shelve life is ages long and you can yield high amounts each time you prepare it! I used to purchase a 5lb box of quinoa for $10 and it would last for months, okay it lasted forever because I could never finish it haha.
Nuts & Seeds
Now these can get pricey depending what you pick. Peanuts, walnuts, tend to be cheaper while macadamia or brazil nuts might empty out your wallet really quick. I personally don't get too many nuts or seeds unless I need them for an ingredient. The Trail mixes tend to be cheaper a lot of times. Many seeds are very affordable compared to most nuts. I personally like to make my peanuts last longer so I'd rather purchase fresh made peanut butter instead of actual nuts. This tends to take much longer to finish and will save you money in the end. If you tend to purchase fancy packages you're just paying for convenience, so avoid it and go to the self serve bins!
Some Helpful Links For Cheap Meal Ideas
To help you get started with trying to figure out what the hell to do with all this produce here are some creative easy places to get recipe ideas that I enjoy.
- minimalist baker - usually 10 ingredients or less and not much prep time. the ingredients here will save you money and that's always a nice bonus.
- Forks Over Knives - They have a downloaded APP you can purchase for cheap that always updates with new recipes or you can find their various cook books that are all based around a whole foods plant based diet which means, all the categories above, and what the heck to do with them!
- Plant Strong - A whole foods plant based cookbook that is one of my favorite. a lot of these recipes are extremely clean and healthy and not many fancy ingredients that will set you back
- Hot For Food - Brand new cookbook coming out and this ones a bit different from Plant Strong. This book you're going to get a bit more, how do I put it...glutinous? Yeah youll find amazing remakes of classics you enjoyed as a meat eat and all sorts of treats.
- Chocolate Covered Katie - cheap, simple, delicious ideas for you and the family to try. Nothing complicated about any of these recipes and even the newbies can master them
Some Of My Personal Cheap Meal Ideas
- Jackfruit Burrito Bowls - Ironically Whole Foods featured this recipe on their Instagram page
- Raw Sunflower Chorizo Tacos - Yeah that's right, I made meat from nuts !
- Quinoa Bean Burgers - Probably one of my favorite recipes I've done, so much flavor!
- Cornbread Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich - Soul food recreated from the heart for us plant eaters
- Taco Pasta - Best of both worlds, tacos and pasta great for the kids too
A Few Of My Favorites I Like To Throw Together
I Love my huge bowl of greens & veggies with my homemade dressing. It's simple, literally grab any green of preference and any and all veggies you can find in the house it really doesn't matter. The more variety the better and after that's in a huge bowl make my favorite salad dressing to finish it off! You can eyeball the measurements for this and if you want a huge portion to bottle up use more. If you find the dressing too acidic just cut it with a sweetener like maple syrup or agave.
- juice of a lemon
- tahini or hummus
- soy sauce / tamari sauce
- water if you want to thin it out
Another favorite of mine is very very simple which is oil free roasted potatoes and chickpeas. Starches keep me really full for hours so this is an extremely cheap way to have high volume meals that last long. All you need is a huge bag of potatoes of your preference, I personally go with yukon/gold potatoes but you can use russet, purple, red, etc. Then you'll need 1 can of chickpeas as well. I prep my potatoes and throw everything together into a large bowl and I do not add oil for roasting. Simply squeeze a lime over everything and then season with anything of your preference. I like garlic, onion, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, basil, and whatever else smells nice! Mix with your hands and lay down parchment paper over a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at around 425F/220C. All I do to finish these off is mix some hummus with salsa and pour that on top and it's done! One of my absolute favorite simple as heck meals and it keeps you full for hours.
A few other favorites of mine as of late are making my own avocado, cucumber sushi rolls with ginger which is dirt cheap, literally you buy some rice, 1 avocado, 1 cucumber, some nori and you're ready to roll. If you want to get even fancier spend another $2 buy some tofu, cook that up and put it inside the rolls as well. Chickpea pasta with your favorite marinara sauce is also cheap and simple. Oh my god how can I forget my mac & cheese recipe that's insanely cheap and easy as well. I will have to post that recipe for you in the next few days. You can make the cheese sauce a few ways but either way is extremely cheap, dairy free and delicious!
- Do not dine out & learn to cook yourself, become a master chef!
- Locate your grocery store with competitive prices that are affordable
- Don't always go with organic if you want to save a few bucks here and there, its okay to do
- Locate your nearest produce terminal / shop in bulk
- Support & locate local farms mom/pop shops in your neighborhood
- Minimize fancy Vegan products as much as possible
- Shop in the produce terminal, eat ingredients not processed foods full of ingredients
- Get familiar with fruits, veggies, greens, beans, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds
- Do research to find cookbooks & blogs. Pinterest, Youtube, Google is your best friend these days!
So my friends I hope this has helped you in some way. I will continue to do these types of posts as often as I can think of helpful topics, they seem to work really well and I am here to help all of you. That was the whole point of getting started on steemit, to have a platform I can actually give useful information to get you all on your way to being a healthy happy plant eater! Alright my friends, I am pooped, I have pizza & ice cream in my belly but it was well worth it on this awesome birthday. I am grateful for you all reading this my friends and I will be back soon with another helpful post & recipe, Namaste !!