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10 Tips For Saving Money On A Plant-based Diet

Diabetes prevention. Hypertension control. Heart health. Weight loss. Fiber intake. There are many reasons why adopting a plant-based diet is good for your health[1], so why not make a good thing better? Better, in this case, means more affordable.

Save money and eat healthier (and cross off a few 2013 New Year’s resolutions) with tips from the experts. Below is advice on following a plant-based diet on a budget from Julieanna Hever, a plant-based dietitian and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition;” Dreena Burton, author of five plant-based cookbooks, including “Let Them Eat Vegan;” and Cindy Silver, a registered dietitian who has worked in the retail food industry for 17 years, largely for Lowes Foods.

Save money at the store:

Buy in bulk. Remember that, typically, more packaging means more expense. So while those little single servings of oatmeal are cute and convenient, do the math, and you’ll see there’s more bang (well, oats) for your buck if you go for the 18-ounce canister. (Check out this Eat + Run blog post[2] to learn about making your own flavored, single-serving oatmeal packs and other convenience foods at home.) Head to the bulk food aisle for products with long shelf lives, such as beans, lentils and granola, and keep some bulk in your wallet[3].

Ask for a discount. If you’re regularly buying a specific product in bulk, ask the store manager for a discount on that item, especially if it’s a specialty ingredient like tahini. The manager may very well grace you with, say, a 10 percent discount on that product going forward. Even if she doesn’t, you might as well ask, right? Asking for a discount is also fair game at the farmers market[4] if you become a regular.

Stick to whole food sources. The more people needed to manufacture, package, distribute, transport and market your food, the more it will cost. (It’s doubtful any of those people worked for free.) Avoid processed foods[5], and try loading up on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and seeds. Oh, and whole foods happen to be the more nutritious choice, too.

Be mindful of food labels. Organic! Vegan! Gluten-free! These buzzwords can look promising when they’re plastered on a package of flavored kale chips. But take a look at the ingredient list, and you may find it’s nearly as long and unreadable as that of the sugar cereal in the next aisle. Always be a food detective and check ingredient lists, even for a product with front-of-package labeling that screams how “natural” it is. You know what food ingredients don’t need guesswork? A bundle of kale from the produce aisle. Make your own kale chips at home, and you’ll know exactly what’s in them.

Shop at wholesale warehouses[6]. If it’s an option, head to stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club for foods with longer shelf lives, such as canned foods and seasonings.

Then head to a farmers market. Get some fresh air, support local vendors and potentially save. Often, the produce at these markets was picked the day before, which means they’ll last longer in your kitchen and help reduce wasted food (and money). Pro tip: Head to the market toward the end of the day, and you may snag discounts as vendors pack up their remaining goods.

Continue saving money at home:

Plan, plan, plan. Before going to the store, take inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer. Know which foods you already have, which foods you need and which foods are quickly going south. This inventory will ensure you’re only spending money on foods you actually need and not doubling up on items you already have, which will then run the risk of going bad. Make a detailed shopping list of those foods as you plan your week’s worth of meals.

Use fresh foods first. Loaded up on fresh peaches, plums, Swiss chard, squash, apples and zucchini at the store? Excellent! But beware that fresh foods – especially delicate produce like leafy greens[7] – will be the first to spoil. So plan your meals accordingly: Prepare meals with fresh produce the first few days after shopping, and as they’re used up, start turning to your canned and frozen foods.

Stock your pantry. Save money by keeping your cupboards full of canned plant-based foods like tomatoes and dried foods, such as those oats and lentils you bought in bulk[8]. Not only are these options typically more affordable, but they have longer shelf lives than fresh foods. So when you run out of fresh produce or don’t want to spend time cooking, you can look to the pantry, instead of ordering an expensive veggie pizza.

Cook in big batches. Kudos if you’ve largely avoided those pricey convenience foods, but for busy after-work scrambles and eating-over-the-keyboard lunches, you could probably still use some convenience. Try making foods in bulk when you have time so you can enjoy them when you’re swamped. For example, make a double batch of Cindy Silver’s lentil soup[9], and you can enjoy it Sunday, and then reheat Monday and change up the sides for a super-fast dinner. Make your own individual breakfast bars with all that granola you bought in bulk, and pack one for lunch each day of the week to save money at the vending machine. Make Dreena Burton’s hummus[10], and store it in a few airtight containers, so you have a quick and easy snack or appetizer ready to serve.

References

  1. ^ plant-based diet is good for your health (health.usnews.com)
  2. ^ Eat + Run blog post (health.usnews.com)
  3. ^ keep some bulk in your wallet (money.usnews.com)
  4. ^ farmers market (health.usnews.com)
  5. ^ Avoid processed foods (health.usnews.com)
  6. ^ wholesale warehouses (health.usnews.com)
  7. ^ leafy greens (health.usnews.com)
  8. ^ bought in bulk (money.usnews.com)
  9. ^ Cindy Silver’s lentil soup (marketbasketnutrition.com)
  10. ^ Dreena Burton’s hummus (plantpoweredkitchen.com)

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Comments

  1. Reply

    How Can I Get Healthy? -Health Tips? This year, I made it a point to become healthy. I have lost some weight and got rid of some acne.

    I really want to be healthy, and make sure that I look healthy.

    Can you give me some all over health tips?
    Im a teen girl by the way.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 24, 2013
      Reply

      Hey,

      The best advice I can give you is exercise daily and eat well. Eat at least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables a day. Try to cut out as much sugar and snacks as you can manage. Drink plenty of water. Exercise for about 30 minutes a day, remember this does not have to be running a million miles and lifting 10 ton weights. Walking is an excellent form of exercise and is great because you can walk briskly around shops whilst looking at really cute outfits!

      I hope this helps!

      View Comment
  2. Reply

    What Are Your Best Tips To Live A Healthy Life? Health tips in any area would be great. Especially what foods to eat, fitness tips, avoiding colds or being sick, and being happier.

    Sorry it’s so broad, but I just wanted some really good tips or secrets, or anything. Thanks!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 24, 2013
      Reply

      One has to be happy, not worry about everything little thing that goes wrong, think of others who have life a lot worse or the ones who are gone who whould like to swich with you, but most importantly, you must cleanse your body of toxins and take suppliments.

      View Comment
  3. Reply

    What Are Some Basic Tips To Give To Kids About Staying Healthy? I’m trying to teach my 6 year old nephew how to stay healthy. I need tips from eating right, to being active and maintaining hygiene. Any health tips you expect a 6 yr old kid to understand.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 24, 2013
      Reply

      You should tell them to eat lots of smaller meals and to eat slowly so that their bodies are more able to recognize when they are full. Also its important to drink lots of water and fruit juice rather than soda. Try and encourage him to stay away from junk food and eat fruit or something healthy when he wants a snack. Also teach him to be active, that playing sports and running around is good for you as well as fun. Also teach him the basics of hygiene like showering daily and brushing his teeth 3 times a day. Try and make it all fun for him though, as kids respond more to things that they find enjoyable.

      View Comment
  4. Reply

    Anyone Have Some Good Tips For A College Student Who Wants To Lose About 35 Pounds? Basically Im pretty lethargic due to the studying….I do a fair bit of walking and I dont eat fast food more than a coupla times a month, but I seem to keep gaining weight. Basically I need some health tips or some way of beginning to get rid of the buddha belly.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 24, 2013
      Reply

      As a fellow student, I understand your struggle. My butt feels constantly glued to a seat and I don’t have the time or attention for planning healthy meals. It’s tough but I manage to control my weight and even lose weight every now and then with some pretty easy tactics. Since you want to lose it, you’ll have to get serious. I would highly recommend cardio workouts. Depending on your fitness level and personal tastes you could try at home workouts like Tae Bo or you can hit the gym (in which case walking or jogging on the tredmill mixed with weights would be effective). Basically, make yourself workout even when you feel tired from studying or a long day. Next thing you know, you’ll look forward to the stress relief. Remember to watch what you eat and consider counting calories…you may be surprised how much you eat daily! Get sleep. Lack of sleep stresses the bod out and you may compensate with food. And you definitely will have less energy for workouts. GOOD LUCK!

      View Comment
  5. Reply

    I’m Trying To Loose Weight, What Are Some Health Tips? I’m making a modeling portfolio, and I know I need to be slimmer. What are some health tips, such as eating veggies, and colors to dress in the make you look slimmer? What is skinny for height 5’8″? I am Indian (India) & German and I have blue eyes.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 24, 2013
      Reply

      Unfortunately there are no easy ways to permanently lose weight and most people who lose weight regain it all.

      A vegetarian or vegan diet for the rest of your life might perhaps be a good option as very few vegetarians or vegans are overweight.

      If you want a life changing permanent weight loss you need to follow a maintenance diet for the rest of your life after you reach your target weight with one of the many diets you can choose from.

      You can see further details in a web search for “how to lose weight and keep it off”.

      View Comment

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