Sometimes, I feel like my life revolves around food. I genuinely plan my day around meal-times. Can anyone relate?
In my ideal life, I would get all my fresh produce from local organic farmers, or grow my own, and fill up my pantry entirely with goodies from independent health food shops. Due to financial constraints, this is unfortunately not my reality. Although I dabble and buy some groceries from these more sustainable sources, the vast majority still comes from the dreaded supermarket.
But here's the thing, there are still ways to sneak some eco-friendly choices within your weekly shop, even if you are on a budget. Today, I am going to reveal the tips that have helped me do just this. I've also create a free PDF grocery list to help you get started, so be sure to nab this at the end of the blog.
1. Plant power
There is a common misconception that 'vegan' food is expensive. Its not. You are just in the wrong aisle. Yes, some convivence or frozen food can be more expensive when vegan (which is very frustrating!) but if you pack your diet with whole foods then you will find that this is often the cheapest food in the supermarket. Think fruits and veggies, legumes and grains. Refer to my PDF grocery list (linked below) which is packed with vegan food ideas if you are on a budget. This will not only reduce your environmental footprint, by cutting out some of that meat and dairy, but also save you money. Win win!
2. Shop bulk
Choosing to buy your groceries in larger quantities can often save you money in the long run. This doesn't mean you have to purchase huge burlap sacks of food that is a bit of a squeeze to fit into your pantry. Instead, make a note of the food that you are buying often and which will keep well (e.g. grains and dried legumes) and see if there is an option to size up. This will reduce your packaging waste and may even mean you need to go shopping less often. A simple but effective tip.
3. Keep it simple
Good food doesn't have to be complicated. I find that there is nothing as satisfying as a simple home cooked meal, like a comforting soup or hearty risotto. One way to reduce your grocery outgoings it to stick to meals with fewer ingredients. Don't be afraid to alter recipes so that they are more attainable within your food budget. You can often substitute or omit ingredients, such as choosing a cheaper vegetable (e.g. button mushrooms over chestnut mushrooms) or just have one jar or mixed herbs, rather than having all of them individually. Better this than buying more 'fancy' ingredients just to prepare one meal. This can result in a lot of food waste, so get creative and stock your kitchen with versatile ingredients you know you'll use.
4. Cook from scratch
Cooking from scratch can reduce costs and packaging waste, especially if you are able to buy your fresh produce loose. This doesn't have to be scary! I recommended keeping a few simple recipes to hand and rotate them through the week. I share some simple vegan recipes in my monthly newsletters, so make sure your subscribed to receive these!
I also regularly cook in bulk so I can eat leftovers for meals, rather than cooking every night. Stash some of these in the freezer and replace your frozen ready meals with home cooked meals that are often far tastier anyway!
5. Boss your food prep
If you feel like you are too busy to cook from scratch every night, then food prep is your savoir! I really enjoying my Sundays, where I plan out my meals for the following week and start getting ahead with my cooking. Being intentional about my meals means that I am far less likely to have food waste. I base my meal plan around what needs using up, so nothing ends up sat fermenting in my fridge...
The type of food prep depends on what you eat. Mine can include chopping vegetables (that will keep in the fridge) so that I can just throw them into meals during the week. I also regularly batch cook soup for my lunches , or make some snack bars that I can munch on through the week. Once you have your meal plan, you can identify any meals that are likely to take some time to create and get ahead. For me, this is anything involving a butternut squash as they take me forever to peel/chop!
I am slowly moving into my dream life. Now that we are getting close to moving into our tiny home (which you can read about here), I will be able to afford to spend more on my groceries and am looking forward to ordering regular fruit/veg boxes.
Its important to just do what you can. We are all muddling through and there is no such thing as being 'perfect' when it comes to our diets. My final recommendation is to nurture your relationship with food. Take time to learn about it, experiment, and notice what impacts it is having on yourself and our natural world. Food is our most necessary fuel and powerful medicine. Embrace it, respect it and, most of all, have fun with it! Before long, you may also find that your life is revolving around meals. As it should.
Click below for your free printable budget vegan grocery list!