Plant-Based on a budget.

I was talking to my lovely friend Brian yesterday about my blogged recipes. He made the point that many of the recipes require ingredients that people do not always have in their cupboards and which are expensive. He cited two examples – nutritional yeast and tahini.

Brian raised an excellent point, which I had not thought about. On reflection, here are my thoughts on making the most of every £ or $ that you spend on food.

Because you’re Worth It
What’s the cosmetic company’s tag line? Oh yes, “Because I’m worth it” Well you are worth it. You owe yourself and your family the very best. When you think how much you are spending on your diet, keep the question of what would a chronic illness like cancer or heart-disease cost me? You might say, “nothing” the NHS picks up the bill in the UK or a health insurer in the US. But the cost on your family? Your lifestyle? I’d pay untold sums of money to have a few more hours of time with my Dad who died of heart disease at 61. You can’t put a price on your health. Invest in it, for your own sake. Think about how an active and vibrant life would be rather than being a slave to pain, illness and medications. I want to be enjoying my life to the last minute, being a nuisance to those i love for as long as possible. Make yourself as disease-proof as possible.

This is fuel for your body.
Regardless of your budget, think about it. What you put in your body is the fuel of your life. Think about your car – if you put cheaper fuel in it, would it run smoothly? For so many years I put poor fuel in my body and it struggled on, trying to perform well, trying to dodge germs and give me good service.

I used to take 30+ supplements a day to give me better performance. I’ve stopped doing that now. It means that I can use that money for good food instead.

Starches are cheap
The base of my plant-based eating are starches. Rice, Corn, Potatoes, Grains, and Legumes (Beans, Peas, pulses). None of these items are expensive. Fill up on these. A plate of brown rice and beans or mashed potatoes with vegetables and gravy are not expensive.

Organic produce is expensive
You do not have to eat organic fruits and veggies. There are certain items often called “The Dirty Dozen” see link – where organic may be a better choice due to the levels of pesticides. I’m pragmatic. A non organic salad and an apple (if washed before eating) are significantly better for you than a commercially produced chicken breast and low cost ice cream.

Beans, peas, lentils etc are more available than ever. The general rule is that the more convenient the more expensive. You can soak and cook them yourself or open a pack or a tin. You are paying for convenience. I tend to use the tinned ones and pre-cooked as I do not have a lot of time but you can save a lot by pre cooking then yourself.

Fresh fruit and Veg
Where you choose to shop will often determine what you spend. Markets often provide the best value for money. We have a good greengrocer on our high street but I do not always have time to get there. Supermarkets often have deals on seasonal produce. If you are buying asparagus in November, you’ll pay top dollar.

Buying seasonal produce will save you money.

Replacing or reducing the meat, fish and dairy saves you how much?
Some of the most expensive things in your shopping basket are likely to be the meat, fish and dairy items. If you aren’t buying them you can use the cash you save for your plant-based ingredients. If you are reducing your meat, fish and dairy ingredients again you can use the savings to “subsidise” your new fruit and veg “habit”.

Save your money and health by avoiding processed food. Remember that processed foods are invariably going to be poor for your health. Never trust the claims on the front of the pack, look at what’s actually in it or missing. Put it back on the shelf and buy “the real thing” it’s likely to be cheaper anyway. Remember that the food companies want to hook you into buying their “convenience foods” and pack them full of fats, salt and sugar to make them appeal. They may look cheap but in the long run, are they really?

Build your new larder gradually
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Changing your store-cupboard over to a plant-strong larder will take time. That Tahini will last for months, if you are only using it from time to time.

Thanks to Brian for raising this subject. I will be more conscious about this subject and try to blog more budget recipes going forward or mark them as such.

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