Cheap Vegan Grocery List
Since the Cheap Vegan Pantry article has been so popular, I am (by request) following up with a Cheap Vegan Grocery List. Here I’ll explain the different strategies I use and items I buy to stay healthy on a budget.
When you go to the grocery store, have in mind what percentage of what types of food you plan to buy. This should mirror your ideal plate of food. My goal is to eat mostly whole foods (foods that have not been processed), as many organic foods as I can afford to splurge on, and as little sugar and processed foods as possible. Besides obvious sugar like corn syrup, sugars also include white bread/pasta, anything made with white flour.
Once you have mentally prepared yourself for grocery shopping, you start from the bottom up. I shop at a few different sources to get what I need for the best bargain. Luckily, all of these places are walking distance to my house. But do what works best for you! If you’d rather only go to only one place, that might be more valuable than the $10-20 bucks you save a week going to multiple stores.
Start Literally Dirt-cheap
To start, check your garden. Whether you’re just planting some herbs or you have a whole veggie garden, there’s nothing better than home-grown food. As Ron Finley says, “Planting your own food is like printing your own money …plus you get strawberries.”
If you happen to get to a farmers market, check out their $1 rack. Often times they’ll have good deals of food they have too much of.
Figuratively Dirt Cheap
Next I go to the 99cent and up store—and I know what you’re thinking, we just went from the garden to the dollar store, but I’m broke people! …plus they’re really not all that bad. Especially here in Los Angeles! People tend to get sketched out by the dollar store but you just have to use common sense. If something looks a little suspect, don’t buy it. A lot of the food is even the same brand as what you’d get at a grocery store, just overstock.
At the 99c store I buy:
- Romaine Lettuce
- Any pre-cut, easy to prepare veggies that look good (ex. Shredded purple cabbage, carrots, etc.)
- Tortilla Chips
- Canned beans (at my location they have a variety of organic beans for a buck!)
- Corn Tortillas
- Canned Tomato Sauce/Diced tomatoes
- Random canned goods I might need
- Soy Milk
- Brown Rice
If I needed anything else I couldn’t find at the dollar store my next stop is usually my local…
The Mexican Super Market!
In LA I go to JON’s in Chicago I went to Devon Market, but most cities have their own Mexican supermarkets where you can get produce for a little cheaper.
Here I buy:
- Bell Peppers
- Any other produce I have a recipe in mind for
- Frozen Veggies
- Almond Milk
- Baking Items
- Whole grain pastas
Lastly, if I’m feeling a little fancy, having a craving, or just can’t find it at those two places, I go to…
The Bougie spots: Trader Joes and Whole Foods
Where I get…
- Low sugarGranola (a lot of times granola has just as much sugar as cereal like frosted flakes or cocoa pebbles)
Dr. Praegers veggie burgers (where their motto is making the ingredients recognizable)
- Trader Joe’s Tomatillo and Roasted Yellow Chilli Salsa (because it’s BOMB)
- Nutritional Yeast
- Natural Peanut Butter
- Natural Almond Butter
- Ezikiel Bread
…any little things that I can afford to splurge on
Always look for bargains. If there is a discount rack, start there, then move to the sections you would usually go to and keep looking for deals. If you’re afraid you can’t eat the 2 for 1 case of fruit, remember freezing. You can always save it for a smoothie or banana whip later! Same goes for canned goods and non-perishable foods. Sometimes buying in bulk can save you some cash in the long run.
I thought vegan food was expensive…
A big misconception about being vegan, and why many think it’s so expensive to eat a plant-based diet, is because of the processed foods that are catered to vegan consumers. Foods like Tofurky, Boca Burgers, Amy’s frozen dinners, daiya, and other pre-made vegan “meats” and “cheeses” are simply more expensive than produce AND worse than that, they’re not as healthy! It’s easy to be a healthy cheap vegan, but start throwing in processed foods and sugars and you start to dive into expensive territory. So make the healthier and less expensive choice and eat your whole fruits and veggies!