There is much misconception that following a vegan or vegetarian diet is expensive and only suitable for an elite population however this healthy lifestyle is financially accessible to everyone, even those on a student budget! Here are some tips on how to eat a plant based diet on a student budget:
1. Buy in bulk - If there are offers on at the supermarket even perishable items, buy in bulk and freeze it. Big packets or 'family packs' usually provide much better value for money than smaller containers, check the unit price when shopping so that you can compare items. Buying herbs and spices in bulk is a good idea as will they last for a very long time.
2. Limit waste - Make the most of every last part of the food you buy. For example, vegetable skins that you wouldn't normally consume can be boiled to make a delicious vegetable stock. If you have fresh herbs that are going oft try freezing them in an ice cube tray with water, they make a great addition to a summer drink. Always freeze your leftovers instead of chucking them.
3. Have staple supplies - You may have come across plant-based cookbooks that have fancy recipes with extremely long ingredient lists. Many of those ingredients you might not use again and will just be sitting in the cupboard. It is a good idea to have supply of staple herbs, spices and ingredients that you use on a regular basis, therefore this is no waste and unnecessary spending.
4. Do it yourself - Some vegan items can be quite pricey, for example plant-based milks and vegan cheese. These can be made at home, with regard to plant-based milk it's just a case of having a blender and water, easy peasy!
5. Shop savvy - It's a question of going to different supermarkets and markets to get different food items. For example, Aldi and Lidl have super cheap fruit and vegetables but they don't have a good selection of beans and pulses that you can get cheaply in places like Morrisons. Always get a loyalty card as your points will amount to some free food one day!
6. Be wary of branded products
- As you know branded products can be very costly. For example mock meats such as Quorn can be pricey, consider replacing these branded forms of protein with natural cheap forms such a lentils. Try making these branded products at home as mentioned earlier.
7. Buy in season - Foods that are grown in season not only taste better but are cheaper. Shipping tropical fruits from overseas is bad for the environment and our wallets. Shop for fruit and vegetables grown in season and try to look for produce grown locally as it carries the same financial benefits.
8. Buy frozen - The frozen vs fresh debate will always exist, but nutritionally frozen fruit and vegetables are still great for our bodies and of course cheaper!
9. Grow your own - If you have the luxury of having a garden in your student house then think about growing your own produce, even if you don't have any access to grass but have a patio area grab some grow bags and start growing. The initial cost of seeds and grow bags will definitely be worth it with all the produce you will grow. If you do not have access to a garden, you can grow your own herbs indoors.
10. Meal plan - This might be the most import point. If you plan your meals ahead and make a shopping list it will prevent you from impulsive buying. See Studifuel's recipe section for inspiration. Also, don't forget to eat before you go food shopping, if you are hungry you are more likely to buy items you don't need adding extra cost!