The vegans you follow on Instagram are all eating exotic expensive foods you’ve never even heard of (what on earth are acai berries and why are they so expensive??), but is any of that really necessary for a balanced, plant-based diet? We have great news for you – it isn’t. In fact, you can feed a family of four a vegan diet for $100 a week (that’s under $5 per meal!).
We have come up with a one-week menu and shopping list to help you get started and learn how eating without animal products can be both tasty and inexpensive. But first, here are some tips so you can go on to create your own budget friendly vegan meal plans.
When it comes to cost effective plant-based eating, pulses are your best friend. Pulses include things like beans, peas, and lentils. They are super high in protein, fibre, and vitamins but best of all they are cheap and readily available. You make a huge variety of foods with these little super-seeds – they really are a key part of healthy, cheap, vegan eating.
Certain cuisines lend themselves quite easily to low cost, high flavour vegan meals. Lots of Indian food is already vegan and vegetarian, and Mexican food is another cuisine that is easily veganised and inexpensive. If you ever find yourself in a pinch, a quick google search for vegan curry recipes or Mexican fare would never go astray.
Keep it simple – stir fries, curries, risotto, sandwiches, and wraps are all basic meals that can be easily transformed into new dishes by using different combinations of spices and vegetables.
Buy imperfect vegetables if your local supermarket offers them. Many stores sell discount bags of fruit and vegetables that are irregularly shaped and do not make the cut for display. These can save you heaps of money on higher priced vegetables like avocado and capsicums.
Batch cook or make sure you cook extra at dinner time and take leftovers for lunch the following day. Many meals like curry or risotto can easily be scaled up to leave enough leftovers for the next days lunch. This tip will save you having to spend big on a fancy (and probably unsatisfying) salad from the nearby café at work the next day!
To help you on your way, here is a suggested seven-day meal plan. We have also written up the shopping list for you and tested it to make sure it comes in at $100 for the week. We excluded items like salt, pepper, sugar, flour, and cooking oil assuming most households have these items already.
Where possible, have leftovers, but if you don’t have any then try the following:
Ingredients for both options have been included in the suggested shopping list, you can even mix and match the sandwiches and wraps!
Many of your favourite cereals and mueslis are probably vegan! For example, most of the Kellogg’s range, as well as Weet-Bix, and much of the Carman’s muesli range.
If you want to mix it up, why not try Banana Overnight Oats? Overnight oats save you time in the mornings, and you can experiment with adding different ingredients as you have them on hand!
To see our handy shopping list, click here! While we tried this out at our local grocery store and the total came to under $100 for the week, you might find some price variance in your area. Feel free to make adjustments to suit your budget and aim to buy store brand items!
Rhiannon Cunningham is a Campaigner for Humane Society International and has been with the organisation since 2015. She is admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW as a solicitor and has a Masters in Environmental Law from The Australian National University. Currently, she is in her final year of a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science, with a focus on conservation and sustainability. Her work with HSI is primarily focused on environmental policy, native wildlife protection, and animal welfare laws.
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