When I talk to people who are thinking about going vegetarian, I hear this same question over and over: “Isn’t it more expensive?”
My answer is that it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. A lot of the same rules to eating any diet without spending a fortune also apply to eating vegetarian diet on a budget. Avoiding convenience foods, shopping in season and planning meals are a few that come to mind.
Now the Environmental Working Group has a great new guide to help vegetarians on a budget eat well for less. It’s free to everyone and chock-full of great tips and ideas. If the EWG sounds familiar, it may be because I’ve cited several of their studies on vegetarian living. They’re a terrific resource and well-worth a look.
The “Good Food on a Tight Budget” guide includes a number of really great features:
They evaluated 1200 foods and chose the 100 most nutritious foods for you to add to your weekly shopping and meal plans. The list is searchable online by fruits, veggies, grains, proteins,dairy, fats and staples.
The guide also has a number of really delicious-sounding recipes for every type of meal, all organized for easy reference.
There are some really good tools available, too, such as a price tracking form, blank shopping lists and meal plans forms for you to use to help you save both time and money.
There’s also a nice tip sheet for eating vegetarian on a budget, as well as a chat feature that lets you share ideas with other frugal vegetarians.
I think that this is a great resource for anyone who wants to eat a healthy diet on a tight budget and I trust the Environmental Working Group’s methods, research and motivation. Please do check it out.
I have a few tips myself for helping you to eat a healthy, yet interesting vegetarian diet on a tight budget:
Make at least one night a week soup night. Start with a good stock or some canned veggie broth and toss in all the veggies and grains that you have leftover from the week, as well as any fresh, uncooked veggies that really need to be used up soon. Toss those in some olive oil and seasoning and roast them before adding them to the pot. Roasting really brings out the flavor.
Buy seasonal produce rather than out of season stuff that’s been shipped from wherever and has a price to reflect that.
Buy frozen veggies and fruits before you buy out of season, for those things you must have. Frozen produce is almost as healthy as fresh. In some cases, it’s healthier.
Don’t get lulled into fancy grocery stores. Many of them sell the same quality of organics and vegan foods as the regular supermarkets, but at a higher price.