One common myth I hear quite often, is that being on a plant based diet is expensive. Sure, if you choose to eat organic foods they are going to add up. Especially feeding a whole family. For now, I’d like to share ways you can easily succeed on a WHOLE FOOD plant based diet, if you’re on a budget. Don’t be surprised if you find that you spend less money than on a meat-based diet.
Ever wondered what life was like (or still is in many countries) before big food chains opened their doors? Well, your forefathers would have grown or traded their own fresh crops, which they would rotate, and harvest with the seasons. In other words, they weren’t eating broccoli in summer, a vegetable that thrives only in cooler seasons.
Think about it, say you live in Queensland (Australia), and you head to Woolworths (major grocery store) to buy broccoli in the summer months. That broccoli has travelled a long way from the colder states of Australia, rather than grown by the farmers close by.
This involves significantly more transportation and refrigeration costs. For this reason, you can expect to pay up to $9.00 per kg for broccoli in the peak of summer. Conversely, you might only pay $2.50 per kg in winter. Now is the time to start flowing with the seasons! It all adds up when you’re buying lots of out-of-season produce.
Below are some helpful infographics that I have found online for determining when fruit & veg is in season for those in the USA, UK and Australia. If you are from elsewhere simply google Fruit & Vegetable season chart for (insert location) and you are bound to find a specific chart that has local information for you to work from.
United States of America:
One way of life that goes hand-in-hand with a plant based diet, is growing your own produce from seed/seedling. This saves you lots of money, and you always have something available on hand, to transform simple, staple foods into a nourishing and flavoursome meal.
The best part is that you can go totally organic, by not using harmful sprays or pesticides, making your garden a true asset! Here are some tips you can incorporate right now:
Herbs that grow great in cooler climates or seasons are: Rosemary, parsley, thyme, basil, mint and chives.
Herbs for hot climates or seasons: Coriander, dill, fennel, sage, chilli (plant I had to throw in there), lemongrass and basil again (good all rounder).
You don’t have to live on acres of land to start growing your own produce. Even in a small city apartment, I’m sure there are plenty of windowsills or balconies for pots. Just make sure there’s ample natural light and a bit of sun.
It might seem obvious, but with the internet, this super-saver trick has never been easier to incorporate. You can compare prices across multiple supermarkets online, without even leaving the house.
There are multiple apps out there, that will even price compare for you. Generally, the larger supermarket chains will release their specials weekly on a Wednesday. There are also some great online websites that offer discounts when you buy in bulk or have lower pricing simply because they do not have the ‘lease’ costs that physical stores do. If you live in the USA checkout Thrive Market who often have 25-50% cheaper pricing on organic/natural goods and if in Australia checkout Honest to Goodness.
This is a great way to save plenty of money, while filling your pantry up with all the best plant-based staple items such as beans, nuts, legumes, grains and frozen berries. Like a wise squirrel stocking up for all those cold winter days!
A prime cut of 250g scotch fillet steak at Woolworths will cost you $10.75. If you enjoy some form of meat such as chicken, pork, beef or seafood most nights, then it starts to add up pretty quick and you are paying for foods that contain antibiotics, hormones and have less micronutrients per calorie compared to plant foods.
However, if you switch your scotch fillet for plant based items, here’s what you get for the same price:
(One cup of quinoa expands to around three cups)
You’ll notice that the above items can be spread out across multiple meals. You will be amazed at how such a small amount of spices, herbs and other garnishes (from your new garden?) can bring these items to life.
Now we have the staple plant-based items covered, I want to talk about additional superfood items, or special plant-based foods that have a higher price tag, due to their unique health properties. Don’t worry, you’re still not going to spend much more than a prime-cut of steak per item! And again, these foods spread out across multiple servings.
Let’s say you want to integrate some plant-based omegas into your diet. I personally select from the below variety of seeds:
As you can see, I’ve cascaded the prices down, and as they are all excellent sources of omegas, you can choose the one that best fits your budget. You only need a light sprinkle of any of the seeds on most meals or smoothies, so these bags will last you weeks or even months (a steak is gone in one sitting hehe).
There are plenty of other items you can slowly integrate into your budget. I recommend treating yourself to just one special item per week:
This will give you an idea of what the day-to-day costs are for a plant based diet, based on a shop at Woolworths stores (prices as at April 2018). You will see some prices left blank, as they are too minuscule to calculate- so this is going by the fact that you would have that item in your pantry already. This budget might have you thinking twice about the price you pay at trendy health food shops for simple healthy meals:
Smoothie: 1x banana 50c/handful of spinach leaves $1.25/ 100g Select frozen mix berries: 80c/ cup of water- $0 = Total cost $2.55 aud
Oats: Homebrand Quick Oats: Less than 60c (1/2 cup dried oats serve), 1x banana 50c = Total cost $1.10 aud
Mid morning Snack:
Small handful of almonds: Total cost: 80c aud
1x royal gala apple: Total cost: 61c aud
My Plant Proof Tempeh Buddha Bowl (find recipe here)
1x 300g Chickpea Tempeh (Organic Village) or Soy Tempeh $7
1x 200g Baked Sweet Potato 0.78c
1.5 cups Brown Rice (Cooked) Less than 0.33c
1 bunch Kale $4.50
1 bunch Spinach $1.25
1 bunch Pea Shoots $1.10
1 Shredded Cabbage $4.80
1 Shredded Carrot 0.37c
1 tbsp Hemp Seeds (available at a health food store- $1.24tbp)
3 tbsp Jalapeños $1.50
2 tbsp Cashew Cheese (available at a health food store- 0.63c)
1 Lime 0.48c
1 packet Fresh mung beans $2.20
1 pinch Pink Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp olive oil (sparingly)
1 tsp cumin
Split total cost $26.18 by the 2-3 serves Total cost= $8.72-$13.09 aud per serve.
Hummus on rice cakes: Hummus $1 for 50g/ rice cakes: less than 0.33c for 5 cakes Total cost= $1.33
Fresh berry yoghurt: Nudie Coconut yoghurt 170g $3/ 100g defrosted Select mix berries: 80c Total cost= $3.80
My Plant Proof Vegan Mac & Cheese (find recipe here)
3 Potatoes (Red or white) $1.20
5 Baby Carrots (yellow or orange) 0.93c
1/2 large Yellow Capsicum $1.10
1/2 cup Soaked Cashews $3.70
1/2 Onion 0.21c
2-2.5 tsp Chickpea Miso (avail from health food stores: 0.36c
4 cloves Roasted Garlic 0.45c
3 tsp Mustard Seed Powder – (avail from health food stores: just over $1)
3 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar 0.11c
1.5 cups Water
2 tsp Pink Sea Salt
700g Gluten Free Penne Pasta – Barilla Brand x 2 boxes $7.60
1-2 tsp Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 slices Gluten Free Bread 0.66c
1/2 cup Hemp Seeds (avail from health food stores $11 )
= $28.32 for this 10 serve dish = Total cost 1 meal: $2.83
Note* Obviously the above serves as an example. The portion sizes for you will be dependent on your size, age and activity level. You are the best judge of the amount of food you need however I have a blog on calculating macro-nutrients/calories which is helpful for those that want a little bit of ‘science’ behind their portion sizes.
You will begin to truly value all your little superfood items in your pantry, as you realise just how much potential rests in each and every one, for dramatically boosting your health and energy levels.
A plant-based diet uses many simple, staple items that are very affordable if you’re on a budget. More expensive superfoods can be slowly integrated into your diet across time. Remember, your biggest saving is in your overall health, by indulging in purely plant-based foods for a thriving spacesuit. You’ll be taking far less costly visits to the doctor or the pharmacy for medication, for all those illnesses and ailments, that are a result of a refined diet. So if you are thinking ‘I don’t have $25-30 a day for food’, I suggest you look at your overall priorities, and perhaps other areas of your life you can reduce your spending, in order to feed yourself with foods that not only heal, but prevent chronic disease. Further to this, if you’re in your teenage years, or perhaps 20’s/30’s and think that animal based foods won’t affect you, because chronic disease only affects ‘old’ people…think again! The silent symptoms of chronic disease, start from as early as your childhood years, and diet is a SIGNIFICANT contributing factor, if not the largest. If you need further information on reasons why you will benefit from removing animal products from your diet, be sure to read my blog on Animal Protein & Disease.
Keep your Space Suit Plant Proof,
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