Food tips for vegans on a budget

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People often ask us if vegan diets are expensive and this question is now more relevant than ever. Dietitian Heather shares some tips from Vegan Society staff about getting the most nutritional bang for your buck.

Currently, the coronavirus pandemic is having a major impact on incomes and food shopping. Here at The Vegan Society, we’re passionate about supporting new and seasoned vegans to make the most of their diets, including those of us who are watching the pennies. Furthermore, we want to address the perception that vegan nutrition is inherently expensive.

Cheap fruit and veg

When you’re shopping, look out for wonky and reduced-price vegetables. Switching to canned and frozen fruit and vegetables can reduce food waste and save you money. Adding frozen spinach to a curry instead of the fresh stuff is around half the price. Frozen berries can be defrosted as required – a great topping for your morning cereal.

Value and own-brand products

Choosing value and own-brand products doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on nutrition. For example, supermarket own brand fortified soya milk might be around half the price of a branded product but it’s still a great source of calcium and other nutrients. Bear in mind that products in specialist aisles may carry a premium, suitable alternatives could be available elsewhere in the store.

More tofu for your tenner

Have you considered shopping in supermarkets specialising in East or South Asian products? You can stock up on spices, a wide variety of vegetables and firm and soft tofu. If you live under the same roof as several other people, you might be able to keep your food bills down by buying a huge bag of rice and sharing it out.

Shopping online

You can cut down on the cost of nuts and seeds by buying them in bulk from online retailers. Linseed (flaxseed) is a rich source of omega-3 fat that you can buy whole, mill in small batches and keep fresh in an airtight container in your fridge.

Dried beans, chickpeas and lentils

Dried chickpeas and beans are really economical sources of protein. 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.

Batch cooking

Cooking from scratch instead of buying plant-based convenience foods can make your budget go much further. You can save time and money by preparing meals in big batches and freezing them in small food containers. Add plenty of vegetables to curries, casseroles, soups and pasta sauces for nourishing homemade ready meals. They could come in particularly handy if you become too unwell to cook.

Take-away tips

  • Look out for wonky and reduced-price vegetables and value own-brand products like fortified soya milk
  • Make use of canned and frozen fruit and vegetables
  • Consider shopping in supermarkets that specialise in East or South Asian products
  • Buy nuts and seeds in bulk from online retailers
  • Get into the routine of soaking and cooking dried chickpeas and beans
  • Batch cook and freeze meals like curries, casseroles, soups and pasta sauces

For further information about vegan diets, check out the resources in our nutrition zone, including the free VNutrition app.

The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.

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