With Live Vegan for Less, we’re countering the misconception that vegan food is always more expensive.
Of course, there are as many kinds of vegan diets as there are vegans – so there’s a lot of potential there for costs at both extremes of the spectrum. But if you want to keep an eye on your budget when you head out for a plant-based shop there are plenty of cheap and cheerful ingredients which can be whipped up into a tasty meal.
Dried rice and pasta
If you have both on hand, the possibilities for delicious vegan dishes are endless. Go for wholemeal to benefit from the extra fibre, and always buy a big bag if you can. This will make each portion as cheap as possible.
Superbly versatile – not just for spreading on your toast, but also for adding a creamy texture to curries or stir-fry dishes. Try adding a spoonful to your morning smoothie, shaking into a salad dressing, or using it to make peanut butter cookies.
Dried beans, chickpeas and lentils
A fantastic way to ensure your meals are protein-rich and filling. Making use of them requires a bit of planning because they need to be soaked before cooking. If you’ve got a pressure cooker, this will significantly reduce the preparation time. Red split lentils are a more convenient option because they don’t require soaking. Use them to thicken sauces and add nutritional value.
Frozen fruit and veg
A lot of fresh fruit and veg goes off before it’s used up, whereas frozen varieties can be stored for months. Bags of frozen berries pack a nutritional punch and are cheaper than buying fresh. Frozen spinach can be added into soups, stews, curries and more – as can frozen peas, which add a super cheap portion of protein into a meal.
Nuts and seeds are a great way for us vegans to meet some of our nutritional needs, but they can be on the pricy side. Sunflower seeds are often the most affordable choice. Toast them by tossing them in a frying pan for a minute or so to add a flavourful crunch to almost any dish – sweet or savoury.
If you usually buy olive oil, it’s worth considering switching to rapeseed oil (often sold as vegetable oil). Not only is rapeseed a cheaper option, it’s most likely UK-grown and also contains essential omega-3 fats.
Oats are a super heart-healthy ingredient. Use them to make porridge, overnight oats, flapjacks, cookies or crumble topping. You can even make your own oat milk (although it’s worth bearing in mind that it won’t be fortified with key nutrients).
Dried herbs and spices
Much more affordable and long-lasting than fresh herbs and spices, these will liven up even the plainest of meals. A sprinkle of cinnamon in a crumble or a dash of garlic granules over a tray of roast veg is all you need to take your dishes to the next level.
Often sold as ‘gram flour’, this is an incredibly cheap, versatile and protein-packed ingredient. It can be used to make a lot of meals traditionally made from egg, such as omelettes, quiches and fritters. You can also make pakoras, bhajis, savoury pancakes and more.
Accidentally vegan treats
Did you know that supermarket own-brand treats can often be accidentally vegan friendly? Many biscuits, crisps and chocolate bars are made without the use of animal products. These are not specifically for the vegan market but are made this way because it might be cheaper for the manufacturer. Get used to scouring ingredients lists and you’ll likely stumble across some great options.
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.