by Mike Barclay
How much do we spend every time we go grocery shopping? And how often are we going? The Silicon Valley Blogger offers her two cents on how you can cut back on those food spending habits.
- Use them at a store that offers buy one, get one free offers (and find coupons for…
Mmm…. lean pockets and Pabst. What else would have made this the perfect shopping trip? What can you make from these ingredients? Was your last trip to the grocery store really any better? Discuss with Melinda herself…
- Eat the cheap foods: Beans and rice, peanut butter and jelly, potatoes, corn, etc. Look at the diets of people who didn’t have access to cheap meat. Try to eat like those people by basing your diet on simple plant foods.
- Make your own food: Convenience foods are usually more expensive than whole foods. So don’t pay other people to make your food for you. Pass the frozen meals and get the whole foods.
- Share: Have potlucks with other vegans where you can pool your food and resources for better, bigger meals.
- Spread out the flavor: Instead of using the most expensive ingredients as the center of the meal, use the most expensive stuff in smaller quantities, added at the last minute on top of a dish, serving mainly as flavor.
- Stop buying substitutes: You don’t need meat substitutes or vegan cheese. If you like them and can afford them, by all means get them. But you don’t need them. So if money is tight, opt for lentils and rice instead of frozen fake chicken.
- Plan your meals: Plan your meals so that shopping trips don’t involve unnecessary, expensive items or foods that will go to waste. Make large batches of soups, chilies and other foods and freeze half for later.
- Shop at farmer’s markets: Farmer’s markets are often cheaper than Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or other large groceries. And farmer’s markets are often organic, but at a lower cost than at the grocery store.
- Look for sales: Often groceries will put produce on sale if they have an excess quantity or if it’s ripe and will over-ripe tomorrow. You can snag these items in large quantities, prep them at home, and toss them in the freezer for use later.
- Buy in bulk: Shop at places like Costco where you can get bulk produce and some other non-animal foods. And if you don’t have storage for bulk items or if you can’t afford the price, go in on it with a friend or neighbor.
- Get the generic stuff: Nuff said.
- Bag it yourself: Many groceries have a dry foods section with grains and beans. If you bag and label the food yourself, you’ll usually save some money at the register.
- Shop in season: Try to buy the foods that are in season where you live. They will often be less expensive than the imported foods.
- Use coupons: Most of the time coupons are only for specific brand names, but sometimes you’ll find produce coupons. So just keep an eye out for them and use them when you see them.
- Shop online: You can buy some vegan foods online. Depends on the product, but sometimes you can find items online at about half the cost of what the stores charge.
- Opt for the alternatives: You don’t have to buy always fresh, organic produce if it’s too expensive or not available. Nonorganic produce, canned, frozen, and dried vegan foods are still a better choice than animal products.
- Use vegan cookbooks designed for cheap living: This book, Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook, is designed for the frugal vegan. There are other vegan guides, too, like Alternative Vegan, that focuses on easy to find vegan foods.
- Take their advice and veganize it: You can often adapt advice about frugal living geared for omnivores to fit your vegan lifestyle because most of it is about saving money, not about consuming animal products. The advice, “don’t go to the grocery store hungry” applies to all of us.
- Grow your own food: Even if you only have room for a small container garden, you can still grow some herbs and cut back on that expense. If you have more room, you can grow some fruits and vegetables. And if you don’t have room, but you’re feeling adventurous, you can start a guerrilla garden.
- Keep your produce fresh longer so nothing goes to waste: You can also use specialty “green bags,” paper bags, the crisper in your fridge, or you can freeze the produce to make it last longer.
- Reuse bags or use cloth bags: Many grocery stores give a discount of 5 cents per bag. It might only save 25-50 cents per shopping trip, but that adds up. It’s good for the environment and it’s good for your pocketbook.
- Don’t buy junk food: Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Avoid the chips, cookies, crackers, soda, soy ice cream, etc. You don’t need it and it usually costs more than it’s nutritional worth.
- Save left-overs: Keep the leftovers from dining out or from large home-cooked meals. Freeze them and save for later.
(via Vegan Soapbox)
Good advice for non-vegans as well.