Say it loud and say it proud – vegans get hungry too! It’s not as if we subsist on salad alone, that we are all on some endemic low-calorie meal plan with no need for something filling, fulfilling and phenomenally satisfying in every way. We like big meals, sneaky snacks and all that good stuff just like everybody else.
Likewise, not all vegans are of fabulous financial standing. Some of us are of lowly plots, humble means, mere web writers in a world of stock market wolves and wealthy corporate types. Thus, not only is there an insatiable hunger within us, but there is also the need to conquer it cheaply.
So, what does a hungry, low-budget vegan eat? What can he or she do to live along the cruelty-free path, yet not feel tortured by empty stomach syndrome?
Well, it all starts at the supermarket.
1. Buy in Bulk
The thing about buying in bulk — in large quantities — is that it seems more expensive because the initial cash we are doling out amounts to more. However, when we take the time to break the price down, per unit or by the pound, we discover there can be massive savings.
2. Carb Up the Healthy Way
Even healthy carbs — brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes, etc. — typically come at reasonable rates, or super cheap, and they fill up a hungry tummy the right way. Don’t shy away from the good stuff because of the carbohydrate reputation has been tarnished by fad diets. In fact, some of us still dig pasta and homemade bread.
3. The “Almost Out of Date” Table
Nearly every supermarket has one, and the prices are often exceedingly awesome for food that is still perfectly delicious. The idea is to eat what’s on offer rather than shopping for something specific (and possibly overpriced). This way, eating can be an adventure.
4. Get Generic
Forget about name brands and go generic. For the most part, the goal is to avoid processed foods, but when we do buy them, it’s imperative not to be suckered by cartoons on the labels or such shenanigans. Look for the healthiest, cheapest option by studying the nutritional/ingredients label, not the packaging.
They take time, but why not multi-task while watching television or chatting with friends. In the end, coupons — for things we are going to buy anyway, not just everything — are like free money. The danger here is being suckered into more expensive name-brand products and stuff you don’t need. Coupon wisely.
6. Do It Yourself
When possible, do things yourself. Usually, DIY milk and nut butter is cheaper than store-bought, DIY snacks are cheaper and healthier than products and the same goes for meals, really just about everything worth eating. Buy whole food rather than products, and use that to make what you want.
7. Grow Stuff
Sure, it’s the new hip thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s without merit or savings. The more food growing at home, the less it’s necessary to buy said food. That seems simple. While growing does take a little effort, cost or space (even just inside), it’s fairly easy and definitely worth doing on many, many levels.
8. Use Bulk Bins
Not to be confused with buying in bulk, bulk bins are where packaging is foregone and food like grains, beans, coffee, flour and nuts are treated more like vegetables in the produce section, packaged in non-descript baggies by the shopper and weighed for pricing. Just double check that it is a better deal.
9. Stay Dry
In general, dried goods, namely legumes, beans, rice, etc., are much cheaper than canned versions, much the same as a bag of rice is cheaper than a microwavable package. Plus, dried items last longer and usually have less packaging, which equates to lower cost for shoppers and less waste for the earth.
10. For the Brave: Dumpster Diving
This takes some gumption, guts and grit, but for those of us who have it, dumpster diving is disturbingly fruitful. Essentially, it’s checking around back to see what the store has thrown out, due to expiration dates or whatever, then making an educated and safe choice about what’s really edible. Honestly, sane and healthy people do this all the time.
And, there it is! Buying in bulk means there is plenty to eat, and legumes and grains means stomachs will be full. If veggies and fruits are either from the bargain table or growing on the windowsill, then there is plenty of that to go around, too. No need to be hungry. No need to be broke. Not with these tips!