Following a vegetarian lifestyle has proven to be beneficial to many people’s health. Eating well on a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. There are substitutes for just about every type of food, or in many cases, you can make your own vegetarian ingredients and meals. There are also some fantastic vegetarian restaurants that are relatively inexpensive so you can treat yourself now and then and let someone else do the cooking.
Meat vs. Vegetarian
Replacing meat doesn’t have to empty your pockets. Meat, including chicken, beef, and pork can cost upwards of a dollar per pound. Usually, vegetarian ingredients including tofu are much less expensive than purchasing packaged meat. Beans are a staple in many vegetarian meals and diets and are inexpensive as well. Many of the exotic and specialty vegetarian items are the items that can raise your bill, and quickly.
Make What You Can
While you can’t necessarily make beans (but you could grow them!), there are other items that need only a few ingredients that you could try. Tofu and tempeh can be easily made in your kitchen, as well as other vegetarian staples. Purchasing beans or grains in dry form and then cooking them instead of buying cans is also much less expensive. Try making your own almond butter, drinks, side dishes, and main courses. There are recipes and tips on the internet for just about anything vegetarian.
Use the Basics
Every meal does not have to be an exotic or superstar experience. Know the inexpensive, basic meals that you can add to your regimen to keep it cost effective. Beans, greens, and grains cost less because they are common.
These items have tons of nutrients and vitamins and are easy to cook, plus, you can purchase them in bulk. These basics can be dressed with sauces, salsa, seasonings and other similar toppings for an excellent taste and meal.
You can even try making your coffee, which can also be an expensive commodity.
Incorporate Specialties Occasionally
Once you know what basics are inexpensive but still healthy, you can occasionally add specialty items. This helps keep costs down. Your budget will suffer if every meal is made to be a specialty creation because items such as tamari, vegetarian cheese, and even some veggie burgers can often be more expensive.
If a recipe calls for additional specialty toppings or oil, see if a cheaper substitute can be used, or one that you may already have in your pantry. Wine is a great exception to this rule, and you can treat yourself with a savory glass to spruce up your meal.
Expand Your Horizons
Specialty vegetarian grocery stores can have ridiculous prices. Expand your grocery horizons by visiting other stores and looking through their produce aisle. Many carry organic products and will have greens and beans you can purchase, as well as other basic staple items for a vegetarian diet. Ask around, visit some stores nearby, or do some internet research to find better vegetarian bargains near you.
You can eat healthy on a budget. Making your vegetarian food, sticking to basic, inexpensive vegetarian staples such as beans, or checking out other stores provide excellent options to keep you healthy, full, and within budget.
Sarah writes for Simmer and Zest. She loves exploring the possibilities of preparing foods, even to the most basic features of every ingredient. Learn more about food on her blog!