Monday, January 7, 2013

Vegan on a Budget

Cheddar, bread, mula, dead presidents, green there are many names for the thing that billions of people are trying to save or get more of. Within, our current economy coupons, deals, and multiple jobs are the name of the game to stay afloat. People are striving harder to make their money stretch.

With this said, many complain that eating healthy is too expensive yet like many other health advocates our theory is this: we’d rather spend a couple hundred on healthy food for prevention as opposed to thousands on cures and treatments. After rent my biggest expense is food and although, I am all for spending money on healthy, quality food I refuse to go broke over it. Today, I will share a few of my Top 5 money saving tricks as a vegan on a budget.

1. Create a budget. Devise a monthly budget outlining all your expenses. Next, decide how much you’d like to spend on food (not including eating out). Knowing exactly how much you want to spend gives you a guideline to stay within while shopping and meal planning. Without a budget you could spend way more than you’d like and may still find yourself running back to the grocery store.

2. Create a meal plan using your new budget create a meal plan outlining what you’ll eat for every meal of the day Monday-Sunday. Your meal plan will tell you what items to put on your grocery list down to every seed, this will allow you to save time, money, and stress. With a well stocked fridge your less likely to eat out and you wont have to worry about shelling out extra money and gas to grocery shop daily .

3. Create a grocery list that includes every single item needed for the week. Indicate where you purchase your items and the approximate price for each also include the exact amount of what you need, for example If you eat bananas for snack include 7 bananas. Having a a grocery list will ensure you are eating the items you want at the price you want.

4.  Make large portions. I love to use my crock pot to make a weeks worth of beans and I make about 3-4 days worth of brown rice or quinoa. These two items serve as my staple meals. For lunch I wrap the beans into a raw collard or tortilla with greens and veggies for a light vegan wrap. While for dinner I combine the rice and beans with avocado, raw kale, and tahini sauce. Large portions save time and they ensure that you’ll always have something to eat even in a rush. Now the time you once used to cook can be used to exercise, relax, chat on the phone, or clean.

5. Look for deals. Everywhere I turn there are coupons, deals, and savings books all ready to assist in saving money. I clip coupons for items I use, I keep them in a file that stays in my purse at all times. I even use the Chinook book ($20 but, I got for free, talk about deals) which caters to a health conscious audience offering over $500 in savings for various venues from restaurants, to spas, to grocery stores. 

I get my biggest savings from the farmers market where produce is sometimes half the price of health food stores and it’s more sustainable and keeps your dollars local. I visit in the last 30-45 minutes when vendors are anxious to pack up, and more willing to bargain. With this strategy you could easily leave with a weeks worth of produce for under $30. I also take a genuine interest in the farmers especially being that they supply the food I put into my body. Making friends with farmers is important because you have created a deeper connection with the food you eat and they will be more apt to offer you future deals.

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