The answer? It can be as expensive or as affordable as you want it to be. Pretty much like anything else in life. You can choose the cheap car or you can choose a more luxurious car. The same goes for food, drink, holidays, clothes, homewares, you name it. Choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle is no different. It can cost a pretty penny or you can choose to do it on a budget.
One question I’m asked a lot as I am now 100% plant based (or vegan as it’s more widely and easily understood), is whether it is expensive. My answer is yes and no. No it’s not expensive if you stick to eating a diet stuffed full of fresh fruits and vegetables, but mostly veggies, that are in season. But yes it is expensive if you start buying processed vegan food and junk food such as vegan cheeses and vegan mayonnaises, raw chocolate bars, meat alternatives and so on.
If you keep it simple then being vegan can be done on a budget. Keep it simple by keeping it as plant based as possible with no processed foods and then costs will stay down. In fact, that’s probably a load cheaper than eating meat or cheese as they can be really expensive. When I was vegetarian I loved cheese and it had to be the proper mature stuff. It cost a small fortune! Even milk is quite costly and yes, plant based milks are expensive, but you can easily make your own oat milk very cheaply.
It’s funny really, as I was veggie for several years before cutting out all animal products completely and no one ever questions if vegetarianism is more expensive than eating a meat based diet, but as soon as you mention following a vegan diet then a lot of people will ask if it’s expensive to eat that way. In fact, many people think eating anything healthy is an expensive and I often hear people comment how ‘healthy’ food should be cheaper. I’m not sure where they are shopping as the last time I went to the supermarket I managed to buy a banana for 12p, yet a chocolate bar was closer to £1. Many commonplace fruits and vegetables are very cheap indeed.
Tips to save money and eat healthy
Like anything, being healthy or being vegan can be expensive, or it can be cheap and affordable - the same as most things in life. It depends where you choose to shop and what level of products you choose to buy – savers, shop’s own brand, branded, luxurious, independent or organic.
Here are some of the ways eating healthily or following a plant-based diet can be more affordable:
Keep it simple and eat a lot of fruit and vegetables
Check out your supermarkets fruit and veg aisles and you’ll see a lot of prices well under £1 for large bags of goodness. I often see comments on articles about healthy eating such as the introduction of the sugar tax, where people say something along the lines of ‘if you want us to quit sugar and eat healthier then make healthy food cheap’. I really believe it already is cheap and I’m not sure where they are shopping!
Over Christmas my local Tesco had big bags of vegetables on offer for 29p each! 2.5kg of potatoes for 29p! Even today they sell a 1kg bag of carrots for 59p! I can see around 9 large carrots in the bag and so that’s a lot of great healthy carrot stick snacks for adults of kids, plus plenty left over as a side of steamed veg for a couple of meals or more. Eating affordable healthy snacks by creating your own from fruit and vegetables is totally possible.
If you go organic, choose a subscription box
Yes, organic food is at a premium and I totally think that is wrong. We buy organic in our household as I believe it’s an investment in our health, the planet and wildlife. It is more expensive and I think this is wrong.
Organic food needs to become the norm and accessible to everyone.
One way to get better value on organic fruit and veg and to ensure you get a good variety is to order a fruit and vegetable box each week. The boxes should provide you with local fresh produce that works out cheaper in a box than buying the items individually, plus companies such as Abel and Cole regularly have special offers and new customer offers.
Base your meals around vegetables
If you base your cooking and main meals around the vegetables and some wholegrains then you can make meals more affordable as you’ll not be adding costly meat or cheese. Of course there are meat alternatives, but we rarely use these and just stick to vegetables, wholegrains, herbs, spices, beans and lentils when cooking. This makes things a lot more affordable and probably even cheaper than a meat diet.
If you start buying processed ‘healthy’ foods such as pre-packaged meals, dried fruit bars, meat alternatives and so on then the cost of eating healthy can start to add up.
Instead, keep it simple and stuff your diet full of as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible to keep costs down. Plus, if you fill yourself up on as much fruit, salad and veg as possible, you’ll leave less room for the bad food and stop reaching for the expensive snacks as you’re already full on the good stuff.
Use supermarket coupon apps to save on healthy food
I’ve just recently got into the supermarket coupon apps, also known as cashback apps, that give money back on certain items in the supermarkets. They have loads of offers every day, on around ten or so items per major supermarket, where you can save money or even get 100% of the cost of the item back.
There are regularly fresh fruit and vegetable savings to be made with these apps. They even regularly have some vegan food included so you can try some of the branded prepared food with a discount. The plant based milks have been on them too.
I’ve signed up to GreenJinn, CheckoutSmart and Shopmium for virtual coupons via their smart phone apps. You buy the product, upload the receipt and then get the cash back after.
Another tip is to always remember to check for cashback if you do your grocery shopping online. Sign up and always check for cashback at Top Cashback and Quidco for cashback. Or try your luck at Boom25 for a 1 in 25 chance of winning your entire spend back.
Leading a healthy (and plant-based) lifestyle can be as expensive or as affordable as you need it to be!
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