How to Save Money as a Cold-Climate Vegan

fresh vegetables

I’m always surprised when people tell me that it costs more money to be vegan than to be a meat-eater. Most plant-based people (including us) eat some of the cheapest items on the market on a regular basis: beans, rice, and vegetables. Living in a cold climate makes it a bit difficult to grow a lot of your own food so most of us have to rely on grocery stores and imported produce for much of the year.

Since going vegan, my husband and I have trimmed up to $20 per week off of our grocery bill ($80 per month is nothing to scoff at!).

Here’s my top 5 tips for saving money as a vegan in a cold climate:

  • Cook beans from scratch. A 1.8 kg bag of dried chickpeas where I live is currently $5.78. A single can (548 ml) is between $1.08 and $1.38 depending on the brand. This is about 1 1/2 cups of beans. The 1.8 kg bag will yield approximately 15 x 1 1/2 cup servings once cooked. This is $0.39 cents per serving and a huge saving over the convenience of the canned beans.

  • Eat in season whenever possible. This is hard when it feels like winter lasts forever. Regardless of your location, in-season produce is always cheaper. We eat a ton of squash in the fall and wait until May-ish for rhubarb. Avocados and oranges will never grow here, so we know these items are always going to be more expensive than apples or potatoes, for example.

  • Buy in bulk. If you eat the same things regularly (beans, rice, lentils, etc.) that won’t go bad, buying larger packages will almost always save you money. Check the cost per gram or ml on the price sticker – many grocery stores show this information – to be sure this is true before stocking up! You can also take your own jars to stores like Bulk Barn and many other places to avoid plastic packaging.

  • Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. This is the secret to avoiding wasted food and wasted money. Check out the flyers for your local store to see what is on sale – and in season – before shopping. If it’s cheaper to buy a huge box of mushrooms than a small one, have 2-3 meals involving mushrooms that week to ensure they all get used up. If you live close to more than one store you can do a price comparison on the ingredients you use most to ensure you’re getting the best price.

  • Don’t buy items that are specifically labelled or marketed as “vegan”. Being vegan gets expensive as soon as you start relying on pre-packaged convenience foods. This is true for any “diet” or lifestyle, but plant-based meat replacements and snacks are often far more costly than their carnivorous counterparts. Since most of what we eat – vegetables – are always vegan-friendly, sticking to whole foods will help keep more money in your wallet.

cooked pumpkin squash

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