Saving money is of top priority to most people not only in America but around the world. Saving a penny should not prohibit ones life choices and/or healthy method of living. “There is sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” Mohandas K. Gandhi. Hence, sticking to a budget should not compromise a person’s life choices. Following the old proverb, “Money grows on the tree of patience.”, hence here are my top twenty methods of saving money to stick to my principles vegan.
1. Use dried legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, black beans, navy beans and so on. Legumes are wonderful for adding high amounts of fiber, protein, minerals, and vitamins. Just about every store sells dried legumes for a very reasonable amount. To purchase a 6 cup bag of dried chickpeas is around $0.99 USD. In comparison, a can of 1.5 cups of chickpeas goes for around $1.99 USD. Soaking dried chickpeas overnight will reduce the cooking time. Dried chickpeas also offer a reduced amount of sodium compared to the canned option.
2. Purchase in Season. This can not be suggested enough since produce that is sold in season is the most inexpensive produce available in the markets today. Search for locally grown produce at local grocery stores, street markets, farmer markets, and even local farms sell reasonable priced produce.
3. Purchase a variety of seasonal produce. Purchase just a few of each product at a time, it is much cheaper than buying in bulk. Bulk has become a very popular selling point for grocery stores today; however, bulk prices can be higher than purchasing per item if you pay attention to the prices. The majority of the time, it is cheaper to purchase reasonable amounts of produce that your family will actually be able to consume within one week. Plus, purchasing smaller amounts of each produce will allow a variety of items to be ready to eat in the household. I especially like to do this with fresh fruits and vegetables so that there are always fresh snack foods available such as apples, plums, carrots and so on. Look at international grocery stores for more options, you might be amazed at what you can purchase at Indian, Chinese, Japanese and other international stores.
4. Purchase from the bins at grocery stores. Many times bins have lower prices per pound than those found in pre-boxed items. Double check prices before purchasing from the bins or directly off the shelves to assure which location provides the lowest price. Prices can change from time to time, so double check every once and a while to assure you are still getting the best price.
5. Stick to your shopping list. This is one of the simplest methods of saving money for vegans or non-vegans alike. Make out a shopping list and stick to the list. If you find something that you really think your household needs, put it on the list for next week. Marketers are getting more fierce with marketing practices by “tricking” consumers into purchasing something not needed. By waiting one week, you can decide if the item in the store is a “want” or a “need”.
6. Use samples to try products out before actually buying the full product. Organic stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joes will have products for trial before you hand over any money. For instance, many stores that sell quality vegan products will have samples ready to try sitting out and about the store. In addition, some stores such as Whole Foods have spare trial products, usually in the beauty department, to sample at home. In my house, we purchase a good amount of beauty products at Whole Foods since the store has beauty samples to try out. For instance, we have tried out whole tubes of vegan lip balms for free. It saves money by allowing you to try out the products before spending a good amount of money for top-quality products.
7. Purchase quality products at local stores also, not just higher-end health food stores. There are things to purchase from different locations, one does not have to purchase the entire grocery list at one location. Try to find a route where you drive past a few different places without using more fuel. My family stops at three different stores just to purchase different products. We spend no more on gasoline when we drive our normal three store route than if we were just go to one of them. Many local stores have been increasing the health products that were not available just a few years beforehand. It is a good suggestion to purchase the products from other stores to help promote these stores to continue to increase the healthy options available. For instance, Wal-Mart has a good selection of vegan items for a very reasonable price. Just read labels before buying.
8. Grow your own when possible. Even if you live in a tiny apartment, you can still grow herbs or etc… We live in a townhouse that allows us enough room for about seven large herbs, two tomato plants, and a bell pepper plant. Seriously it saves us a lot of money.
9. Freeze as much as possible when produce is in season to eat during the off-season. Not only should you eat things that are in season, but it is best to freeze products to save money while not in season. It not only saves money but also reduces buying the sodium-filled canned/dried/frozen foods available in the markets during off seasons.
10. Research online to keep track of all the cooking ideas others have put out there – tons of blogs have photos and meal suggestions for all types of occasions. Learn how other vegans are using certain items so that you can spread your lower-priced items such as legumes and/or seasonal produce.
11. Make your own broth. Vegetable broth is very easy to make at home, especially when you are vegan. Broth can be slightly pricey if purchased in the store. Save all your unused vegetables (even traditionally non-used parts) in the freezer, take out the entire stored lot, throw it in all in a large pot with some water and simmer for about thirty minutes to make your own broth. Freeze the broth for later usage or simply use it right away. It’s simple, contains almost no sodium and is readily available.
12. Save money on olive oil. Although it is a good idea to have some olive oil around the house for using in recipes, it really is not necessary for sautéing. When sautéing, simple use a few tablespoons of filtered tap water instead of any oil. Olive oil is a good fat however it comes at a high price tag.
13. Make your own snack foods such as cookies, brownies or other favorite goodies. These treats do come at a high price in grocery stores, so it is much cheaper if you make your own from fresh ingredients. In addition, knowing the exact ingredients is priceless.
14. Make your own bread. It is not as expensive or time consuming as you might think. For instance, I make dough from a recipe cookbook called “Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day”, it takes about five-ten minutes to put all the ingredients together in a bowl to rise and does not require any kneading. I leave the dough to rise a few hours on the weekend while doing something else, or whip it together in the morning before work and leave it for the whole day while at work. I make enough dough for about four loaves, bake one loaf, and then store the other three portions of dough in the fridge for the rest of the week. Then I am able to make fresh bread a few times a week; there is nothing like the smell of homemade bread in the kitchen.
15. Search for coupons on favorite product company stores, vegan blogs, and also grocery store websites. Personally I am not a fan of coupon websites but brand websites are a “no-commitment” method to find coupons. Newspapers may have coupons also but the majority of the items are not what one person would purchase.
16. Checkout cookbooks instead of purchasing right away. Test the cookbooks from friends or local libraries out before you make a purchase. There is no sense in purchasing a cookbook that may no be perfect for your needs.
17. Use leftovers from dinner for other meals. Make your meals spread themselves out to lunch the next day to save money. For instance in my household, if there are going to be two of us for dinner, we make a meal for four people. Then we eat the meal either the next day or freeze the other half for the future.
18. Make plenty of side dishes along with a main entrée. Side dishes should include different types of vegetables. Not only do vegetables provide tons of minerals and nutrients, they are also inexpensive to make. Lots of choices will provide a variety to the entrée and also be more filling.
19. Look for sales in the grocery stores. Even though I plan out our meals a week ahead and shop for the entire week (again to save money and reduce waste), I leave one meal empty as my “fun meal”. This meal is our favorite for the week since it basically means we look through the grocery store and look for deals. We pick a few vegetables and/or unique types of produce that we have not tried out before previously. We try new foods and we get a delicious new meal. In addition, this saves tons of money each week.
20. Make at least one leftover meal a week. Usually the last day of the week we have a type of soup or fried rice. Instead of throwing out all those unused vegetables, we throw them all in a big pot and make a soup or a fried rice. Add some legumes or tofu and it is a delicious meal. It cleans out the fridge and makes the grocery list smaller.