When you tell someone you’re vegan or plant-based, there are two common questions you’ll get in response. After getting the whole where-do-you-get-your-protein thing out of the way, you’re left with “but isn’t that super expensive?” And the answer is nope, not at all. You just have to shop smart.
Filling your cart with mock meat, vegan cheese, and other processed foods add up quickly—enough to make your jaw drop at the register. But in a recent Instagram post, plant-based dietitian Whitney English, RD, is proving how using your money wisely and sticking to healthy, wholesome staples will actually end up bettering your bank account.
“A common misconception about eating plant-based is that it’s expensive. In reality, eating plant-based is actually much cheaper if you aren’t eating out all the time and buying a ton of processed foods,” she writes. “When you think about it, the cheapest foods out there are the staples of a plant-based diet: beans, rice, potatoes, corn, and more.”
To make sure you’re eating a wholesome, balanced diet—and saving money in the process!—follow English’s simple ways to eat plant-based on a budget.
4 Ways to Save on a Plant-Based Diet
1. Buy from the bulk bins.
Not only does buying from the bulk bins at your local grocery store help save the planet by minimizing waste—particularly plastic from packaging. It also allows you to take home more food for less money.
“You know those bins in the grocery store full of chocolate and candy? They also have tons of plant-based staples like beans, lentils, rice, oats, nuts, dried fruit, and more,” English writes. “Bulk bins are awesome because you pay by weight, so it’s generally less expensive than buying pre-packaged foods. Plus, you can buy as much or as little as you want.”
2. Buy frozen produce.
Contrary to popular belief, buying frozen produce isn’t a downgrade. It can actually be better for your body.
“Frozen produce is just as nutritious—and sometimes even more—than fresh, and it’s often cheaper,” she explains. “And with buying frozen, you don’t have to worry about your fruits and veggies going bad if you don’t eat them right away.”
3. Opt for minimally processed items.
Yeah, yeah—vegan cheese is amazing. Just do your best to keep it to a minimum if you’re trying to stay healthy… and, you know, debt-free.
“One reason many people think eating plant-based is expensive is because packaged plant-based foods can definitely be pricey,” English says. “While they aren’t the best option for your wallet, they also aren’t always the healthiest option—though the packaging may try to tell you otherwise. By sticking to foods in their most natural form, your wallet and your body will thank you.”
4. Cook at home.
As much fun as it is to explore all the new vegan dishes popping up at restaurants in your area, those meals add up. That’s why becoming a pro chef at home is better for your wallet in the long run.
“It’s no secret that vegan restaurants can be expensive, which is another reason eating plant-based may seem costly,” she says. “But cooking at home shouldn’t be a chore—it can be as simple as batch cooking a few staples or trying out new recipes.”
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