We’ve all done it. We’ve made a list, mentally decided how much we’re going to spend, and made our way to the store with the utmost determination.
You get to the checkout line and your budget was blown out of the water. $40 budget but you spent $60-$70? It’s okay to cry a little.
So, what do you do when this happens?
- Analyze what you bought. Did you buy things you didn’t actually need? Are you just super hungry?
- Look at the big ticket items on your receipt. $6 may not seem like a lot but two items at $6 just added $12 to your budget (MATH IS GOOD!)
- Always try to avoid “Buy 2 for $10” sales UNLESS you genuinely needed two of that item at the moment. Maybe you don’t need two bodywashes for yourself.
- Mark the items on your list that you could have done without, add the amount, and see how much that total added to your budget.
We’ll call this the ALAMC method because it’s super catchy. So now that you’re aware of your mistakes, let’s give you a few tips on how to buy cheap plant-based items on a budget!
- Graaaaains! Grains are cheap and there’s usually millions of them in a bag. A pound of rice costs about $1.99 (where I live). That’s about 3-4 cups of uncooked rice. That would be 6-8 cups of cooked rice. I average out about 1 cup of rice per meal. That’s 6-8 days of rice. Oatmeal is also a great grain to have at about $2.00 for an 18oz tub of it.
- Veggies! Don’t forget them! Not only are they fantastic for you, but they are also relatively cheap. A 5lb bag of potatoes cost about $4 here and that can last me anywhere from 1 week to 3 weeks depending on if I’m feeling starchy. My best tip I can give you is to definitely shop for deals and season for vegetables (not bodywashes). You can never have too many vegetables and they are usually cheaper while in season.
- Beans! Truly magical. Also cheap! While it’s definitely cheaper to buy the dried beans, I personally buy the canned beans. I know, how dare I! At $0.79 a can, I usually buy 1-4 cans of beans and they can last me 1-2 weeks for myself.
- Once you buy these items, I would focus the remaining of the budget on items such as plant-based milks, nuts, seeds, tofu, and frozen fruits or veggies.
So let’s see this plan in action, yes? Yes! I will plan out a grocery list for the week for myself purely as an example. It will be super similar to the things I buy weekly anyways.
- Bag of rice- $1.99
- Tub of oatmeal- $2.00
- 4 Cans of beans- $3.16
- 2 Boxes of pasta- $2.00
- Bunch of bananas (6)- $1.10
- Coconut Milk- $1.89
- Green Peppers (2)- $1.80
- Bags of frozen veggies (3)- $3.90
- Bag of Potatoes- $3.99
- Almond Milk- $1.80
- Salad Greens (2 bags)- $5.00
- Peanut Butter- $2.00
- Bag of oranges- $3.00
- 5 Apples- $3.40
- Pasta Sauce- $2.00
Here’s some ideas of meals I would make. Some of these meals would have items I didn’t buy such as spices, sauces, or any additional pantry items. Budgets can easily go astray when you’re forced to replenish an item (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, MAPLE SYRUP). You need to remember that you’d divide the cost of the maple syrup now between the amount of days you’d be able to use it for. Then it doesn’t seem so expensive.
- Rice, beans, potatoes and vegetables
- Chickpea Potato Curry
- Overnight oats (check out my recipe on this!Easy Peanut Butter Overnight Oats)
- Salads with rice, beans, veggies, and a homemade dressing (mustard, cider vinegar, and maple syrup)
- Pasta with sautéed greens and veggies.
- Just a big ol’ plate of frenchy fries.
- Fruits can be added to oats, salads, or eaten as a snack.
Plant-based eating doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be very filling, delicious, and not break the bank! It’s very easy to get caught up in those meat and cheese substitutes and that’s okay! As long as it’s a once in a while item for a fun night of vegan fish tacos or grilled cheese sandwiches, then by all means indulge! Stay tuned for more tips on plant-based eating. I will be doing a Budget Grocery Challenge soon! Until then, happy shopping!