Vegan on a dime

One of the most common reasons I hear from ominvores about why they haven’t gone vegan/vegetarian yet is the cost. However, if they really looked and considered the prices of most veggies, beans & whole grains against the cost of meat and dairy, they would see very little difference – in face, a veg diet would afford more variety and nutrient dense foods.

I’m bringing this up now in particular b/c I just reevaluated my budget for 2010 and as I’m trying to pay off debts and have allotted a mere $150 per month to food – that’s about $37 per week [as I recall, this is slightly above the food stamp allotment in circa 2005]. At first I was scared, but when I went to the local supermercado (NOT Whole Foods!!) I realized that is is actually doable with a little industriousness and creativity. After all, I rationalized, people have been cooking from scratch with very little animal product for thousands of years. Peasants seldom have access to much animal protein and make do on beans, grains, and vegetables, and fruits. In fact, the price on avocados, a staple of most vegan diets, is lowest at el supermercado (50 cents!). Forget organic! I can do that later when I’m growing my own. for now, I need to make it through the next 12 – 18 months on this slim budget.

So anyway, here’s a sample of my shopping list from January (for 3-4 weeks) for all you non-veg so you can see how ‘the other half’ lives. All this cost me about $100.

I don’t plan my meals strictly, but I have a pretty good grasp on what types of foods & flavors go well together and I am quite creative in the kitchen … I like to cook Mexican b/c it’s easy, nutritious (protein!) and there are infinite variations on the theme.

Sundays I try to make a large batch of something & bake bread if needed, to last for weekday lunches [yes, I pack my own lunch!] I had to go to a couple different stores, and I returned about $10 in bottles also towards my bill … I will admit that this month I did shop at Trader Joe’s, Whole foods in addition to the supermercado but I plan on reducing my dependence on those next month.

I already keep a large supply of flours and rices & oils, & onions, spices etc. in my cupboards … I still make room for [cheaper] luxury items such as tea & chocolate [most chocolate darker than 75% is vegan; read the label!].

January Groceries:

Coconut milk

5 lbs. Spelt flour

Agave nectar & giant tub of hummus (Costco)

Guacamole & Salsa – handmade

4 roma tomatoes

2 tomatillos

3 limes, 2 lemons

3 lb. bag of organic gala apples

whole baby mushrooms

2 blood oranges

2 persimmons

3 lb.s of sweet potatoes

Celery Hearts

bag o’ baby spinach, romain hearts

1 chayote squash

Apple Cider

3 gal filtered water refill [I bring a jug & refill it for $1]

Almond milk

2 cans black beans, 1 can garbanzo, 2 cans vegetarian refried beans

white corn tortilla chips

Whole wheat tortillas (locally made)


Organic Tofu, veg ‘chicken-less’ strips

fake chicken patties [I do not recommend eating this much soy, or buying vegan convenience foods, b/c they ARE expensive]

Instant Oatmeal (about 25 cents per breakfast!)

Cinnamon raisin bagels (I’m sort of addicted to these for my morning snack, smother with sunbutter)


Box o’ jasmine green tea

Roasted salted cashew (not cheap but they pack a lot of calories & fat)

savory rice crackers (to go with hummus)

Yeast (for baking bread)

Dark Chocolate (from Trader Joe’s)

My Sunday cooking:

This week, I’m baking 2 loaves of bread, I made a tub of lentil pate (very simple recipe, reminiscent I suppose of chopped liver. Ok so maybe it doesn’t sound tasty, but wouldn’t you rather eat lentils than liver?!), used some of the bread dough to make little sourkraut-stuffed rolls (yummm). For breakfast I made some tofu scramble w/toast that was quite good. I don’t eat soy everyday (I’m sensitive to it), so I try to only have it a few times a week and instead eat a lot of beans & lentils for protein; and supplement with a rice protein shake once in a while.

Last week I made a giant quinoa salad that lasted all week! the week before that I made a delicious gluten-free ‘hippie’ meatloaf out of mushrooms, quinoa, and black beans. that lasted me all week also.

Hope this has been informative! I welcome comments or questions!


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Lisi said,

    good for you! I’m in the process of turning my diet upside down because of some health issues, and I’ve gone almost entirely vegan (I can eat cold-water fish, but it’s expensive, so I rarely do). It’s definitely an adjustment, but I’ve found so many things I like that I would have never picked up before.

    oh, and who sells avocados for 50 cents?!?! the cheapest I’ve found them around here is $1.50 at the store and $1 at the farmer’s market.

    • 2

      alethafaye said,

      Good for you Lisi! I think the first step is in become more aware. that’s really the biggest step. Everything comes from that. We can go through our lives unconsciously, but God has given us the gift of being self-aware. We have to be wise enough to know when to turn our lives in hirm’s hand in turn …

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