Vegan Grocery List On A Budget - What Not to Buy

Homemade Tahini Salad Dressing
Homemade Tahini Salad Dressing.

A vegan grocery list on a budget is just as much about the foods you put on it as the foods you leave off it. Foods that might not seem like a big expense in the store will add up over time.

When I first met Phil, he would only buy the bags of 'baby' carrots. I showed him the immense amount of money he could save buying regular carrots, and now he thinks the baby ones are a rip off as much as I do.

Some of the foods that I used to buy and now skip to keep a vegan grocery list on a budget are:

  • Pre-made sauces and condiments, like tomato sauce, salad dressing, ketchup, mustard and so on. I make my own tomato sauce from fresh or canned tomatoes, and my own sauces and dressings. I use things like avocado, miso or tahini to make delicious creamy salad dressings.
  • Bread, pasta and pizza crusts - especially ones made with white flour. I use whole grains instead, and have been experimenting with a pizza crust made of whole grains. Phil still likes whole wheat pitas or wraps sometimes, and I like to do wraps with lettuce or nori sheets. I usually use whole grains as the base of any kind of pasta-like dish, but if I do want to have pasta I get Kamut or another whole grain pasta like buckwheat soba noodles
  • Cereals and instant oatmeal cost a lot more than whole grains, and have lots of added sugar, salt and oils. We eat cooked whole grains like rice or soaked rolled oats for breakfast, which are a much cheaper and healthier option.
  • Cookies and granola bars can be handy when you're traveling, but I make my own healthy cookies at home to keep Phil happy. I can use the exact ingredients I want, plus they cost a lot less.
  • Juice - we mostly drink water, and occasionally make iced tea or steep some fruit or herbs in water
  • Kraft dinner - actually, I never bought this because I'm allergic to dairy, but you can make a creamy sauce with pureed beans and get a cheesy taste with nutritional yeast.
  • Meat - I don't think about replacing meat, I just make fantastic meals with all of the fun plant foods I buy.
  • Dairy - I make my own rice or oat milk, use coconut oil in recipes calling for butter, and make a sunflower seed-nutritional yeast crumble for a cheesy topping on pizza.
  • Eggs - pureed banana or ground flax mixed with a bit of water are great binders, arrowroot or kudzu will thicken sauces perfectly, and a bit of apple cider vinegar in baking will activate the baking soda and help muffins or cakes rise.
  • Frozen french fries - I make my own fries, not only from potatoes but also sweet potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, zucchini, or other veggies.
  • Salad greens in a bag or box - they're expensive and not very fresh, so Phil grows sprouts for us on the windowsill and I get whole heads of lettuce, kale and other greens.

I can't leave this topic without pointing out the metaphor to nutrition. What you don't eat - or buy - is just as important as what you do. Maintaining a vegan grocery list on a budget has so many similar themes to maintaining a healthy vegan diet plan. I talk about this more in the free lessons you can sign up for at the very top right of this page. Be sure to check those out if you haven't already.

What are some things you've started to skip in the grocery store, and what do you replace them with? I'd love to hear, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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