How to be a Vegetarian on a Budget – 10 Ways to Save

The cost of living is not what it used to be and it is necessary at times to become more frugal with our day to day expenses.  We try to find ways to save especially in what we purchase most frequently – groceries. But suppose you are one of those persons whose diet consist mainly of plant-based foods.  Do you know how to be a vegetarian on a budget?

From time to time I hear people say “I would love to become a vegetarian, but it is too expensive”. Have you ever had that experience?

I usually respond by telling them that if they were going to substitute  meat with the processed meat alternatives found in the supermarkets then it truly might be pretty expensive.

The fact though, is that being a vegetarian does not have to be more expensive. It just depends on what you purchase and when.

Let us take a look at these ten tips on how to be a vegetarian on a budget.

Buy dry beans and peas.


Dry beans
Dry Beans By QuimGil
These power-packed, protein filled, nutritious peas and beans come in a wide variety. We think of black beans, pinto beans, lentils, split peas, chick peas, kidney beans…… and the list goes on.  These legumes feature as substitute for meat in numerous vegetarian dishes.

Dry peas and beans are quite inexpensive and have a very long shelf life.  Store them  in airtight containers and they will serve you for many, many months……even years.


Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Fruits and vegetables at market
Fruits and vegetables by Santeri Viinamäki

A defining characteristic of a vegetarian is that fruits and vegetables are staples and tends to be consumed in greater amounts than non-vegetarian.

Generally speaking, vegetarians eat more fruits and vegetables than non-vegetarians.  We always have those items in our trolleys when we go to the supermarket………….. or the market. There are times however when packing those lovely plant foods becomes a challenge. When the fruits or vegetables go out of season, the price goes sky high.

What do you do then?

You should try to buy the fruits and vegetables that are currently in season and if you happen to have excess, freeze some for later use.

Which brings me to frozen fruits and vegetables.

If there are no fruits or vegetables in season, don’t buy the fresh but very expensive produce that has to be shipped thousands of miles to get to you. Just pick up a large bag of frozen fruits and another large bag of frozen vegetables from your supermarket freezer.

They are picked fresh and flash frozen so the nutrients are preserved. They can be stored for a long time and will cost you considerably less.

Buy from the Bulk Bin

BulkBarn By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

Imagine the decrease in cost when you don’t have to pay for fancy packaging and labeling.

Enter……the Bulk Bin.

Bulk bin foods are usually cheaper than the packaged version.

Everyone knows that buying in bulk is cheaper. Buying a 20 ounce container of an item will cost less than buying two 10 ounce containers of the same item. The problem with some bulk buying though is that you are forced to buy a large quantity of the item…..sometimes more than you need.  If you wish to go ahead and save in this manner choose foods with a long shelf live so you won’t end up throwing away expired or spoiled food.

The good thing with buying from a bulk bin is that you can take just the amount you need.  If you want to try out a new food item and you are not sure if you will like it, you don’t need to purchase a large quantity and maybe have to throw it away because you will never use it again. Buy just the amount you need.

The bulk bin is a vegetarian’s delight.  There is so much you can find in these bins that you can use in the preparation of your meals: a wide variety of peas and bean, several varieties of rice, oats and many other grains, pasta, nuts, spices and seasonings, dried fruits such as raisins and cranberries, snack foods such as banana chips, dried pineapple, papaya, mango……… could spend a mighty long time at the bulk bin stocking up….and for a fraction of the cost of the packaged brands.


Save on Beverages

Sodas By Marlith
Those cans of soda and other processed and packaged fruit drinks can add up to a lot….and they can certainly disappear out of the refrigerator quickly especially if you have children.  How can we save on beverage?  Substitute, substitute, substitute.

I won’t tell you “Hey, just drink water”.  I certainly would not like that option for myself and your children won’t either.

I’ll tell you what I like though… Squeeze half a lime in a glass of water. Add sugar. Stir.  Enjoy delicious, thirst quenching lemonade. That doesn’t cost much at all.

Or try this.  Toss a few pieces of frozen fruit in your blender, add water and blend. Sweeten to taste. Done.  As easy as that.

Get rid of the expense of sodas and over sweetened packaged juices and make your own.

Look out for sales

The tried and true method we have always used when we want to save on an item…….catch a sale.

Be careful when you buy food items on sale however as the expiration date tends to be close. Ensure that you will be able to use up all the food before it expires.

Cook at Home

You were wondering when I would get to this weren’t you?

The fact is that eating out cost about 3 times more than if you prepared your meals at home.

Reserve eating out for that extra special occasion and enjoy the adventure of experimenting on various vegetarian meals in you own kitchen.

Take Lunch to Work

Vegetarian sub
Vegetarian sandwich By Janine from Mililani, Hawaii,
One of the advantages of cooking at home is that you can always have some leftovers to take for lunch the next day.

As with eating out, a lot of money is spent on purchasing lunch.  The expense is even compounded when you take into consideration the fact that the vegetarian cannot just run across to the nearest fast food establishment like their meat eating friends to order a cheap meal .

Pack your little lunch bag with your food, your fruit and you home made drink and enjoy. Delicious, nutritious and inexpensive.


Turn Leftovers into a New Meal

Are you one of those persons whose leftovers always end up in the garbage?  After all who wants to eat the same thing multiple times in one week. Plus it takes time to gather and put up the leftovers……yeah….much easier to just scrape it in the garbage.

Hey people! That’s money down the drain.

You don’t have to be bored by having the same thing over and over. Turn the leftovers into a new meal.

You have leftover rice?  Stop! Don’t throw it away! Make fried rice.

Suppose you had delicious lentil stew for dinner today and you have leftovers, how do you avoid having lentil stew for the rest of the week?

Well tomorrow you can do a lovely vegetable stir fry with broccoli, carrots, cabbage, onions……..whatever vegetables you want to use, and pour some of your leftover stew as a sauce over the stir fry.

The next day you can add cooked pasta and your choice of vegetables to the stew, pour it in a casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs and cheese (if you are lacto-vegetarian). Bake and enjoy your delicious casserole.

Vegetarian Burrito at Mucho Burrito in Vancouver, BC (5665706890)
Vegetarian Burrito By Jennifer from Vancouver, Canada
The next day it can be a part of your burrito.

Add water or vegetable stock to turn it into soup.

You get the picture.  Be creative. Don’t throw out your good leftovers. Save leftovers and  save money.

 Do You Like Popcorn?

Popcorn by fir0002 |

Popcorn is a great snack.  As a matter of fact it is considered the world’s most popular snack.

But did you know that it is a fantastic health food, loaded with nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and it is extremely high in fiber.

Most of us buy the variety that we stick in the microwave for three minutes and we are done.  But did you know that popping your own popcorn on the stove top is extremely quick and easy and it will cost you four times less than the microwave brand?

In addition, the corn you pop on your stove top is much healthier as there are none of the additives that you would find in the microwave version.

Get popping and save some cash.

Don’t Grocery Shop When you are Hungry.

That’s a good way to blow your budget.

Harris Teeter Deli
Deli By Mike8411251995
Have you ever noticed how appealing all the food on the shelves are when you are hungry?  Worse if the supermarket has a deli or a bakery and all the lovely smells are filling the air.  All your resolve to stick to your shopping list goes out the back door and you end up spending more that you intended.

Prevent this from happening by having a snack (if you are hungry) before going shopping.


In Summary

A vegetarian diet does not have to be expensive.  As a matter of fact it can be less expensive than a non-vegetarian diet.

Are you a vegetarian on a budget?  Apply these 10 tips and save.


Do you have any other suggestions as to ways we can save?  We would love to hear from you.  So go ahead and put your suggestions or thoughts in the comment section below.








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