“Vegan.” Depending upon your taste buds, the word may make you smile or provoke a painful cringe. Though I personally tend to fall into the happy vegan camp, I sincerely believe that even the most dedicated carnivore can peacefully coexist there with me. You see, to me, “vegan” doesn’t necessarily translate to “obsessively healthy” — it’s synonymous with “cheap.” You can save money cooking a variety of easy vegan dishes.
Let’s talk sweets first. Vegan desserts are cheap, delicious and indistinguishable from their lacto-ovo cousins. In fact, I have a carni-friend who bit into one of my cookies and sighed, “I really shouldn’t criticize vegans. I mean, clearly they know their sweets.” Vegan cookbook writer Isa Chandra Moskowitz exemplifies sweets knowledge, and she provides plenty of toothsome recipes on her website, the Post Punk Kitchen. Moskowitz’s raspberry jam swirl crumbcake recipe makes for a delicious and cheap breakfast because it exclusively calls for kitchen staples like flour, sugar and jam. Her dairy-free banana bread also requires ingredients found in any pantry and is a great way to use up overripe bananas. Remember, though, that just because a recipe is vegan does not automatically mean it’s healthier for you than its non-vegan counterpart. Some, if not most, vegan desserts rival the original version in both flavor and sugar/fat.
The fact that you’re cooking vegan doesn’t mean you need to abandon your favorite conventional cookbooks. It’s usually easy to convert any recipe into a cheaper meat/dairy-free version. In a previous blog, I converted regular recipes into vegan recipes. Recipes like curry chicken-cauliflower salad can be made cheaper by substituting tofu for chicken. Frankly, meat is expensive – especially organic meat! Cut costs by eating organic tofu instead! Additionally, there are a plethora of natural, cheaper and less perishable vegan egg substitutes. These include: apple sauce, bananas, tofu, ground flaxseeds + water, baking powder + oil + water and even vinegar!
One of the best deals on the market — especially for vegans — is the bulk section at your local grocery store. It’s easy to save money on groceries and eat well if you buy strategically. A big bag of rice or beans can cost pennies per serving but taste amazing with the right spices. You can also purchase nutritional yeast flakes in bulk, which can add a cheesy flavor to a variety of foods from hot popcorn (which you can also buy in bulk!) to soups. All of these food have a major advantage over meat in that they take a while to spoil and can be stored in a cool, dry place — no freezing or refrigeration necessary!
Granted, one can still be fiscally responsible with an omnivorous diet, especially with access to ample land/resources to raise animals. However, for those of us that live in suburban areas, cooking vegan (or mostly vegan) is a great way to save money.
Photo by Olga Lyubkin, Fotolia