Blog,  Vegetarianism

How to Save Money on Groceries as a Vegetarian in College

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Being a vegetarian can get expensive. Surprisingly, despite not eating meat, prices can easily add up. Being in college where everything is expensive the last thing you want is to spend most of it on food that will probably end up going bad in your fridge.

After going grocery shopping with some friends, I realized that somehow I don’t spend much on groceries each week. While I can attribute most of my savings to not eating meat, I’ve figured out that it is also due to the use of the seven tips I mention below. With these tips you’ll save money on groceries and be able to have money left over to spend on the other costs that college demands.

Buy in Bulk

Buying ingredients such as rice, beans and lentils in bulk can easily save you money. Although it will be an investment upfront, it’ll be worth it. Considering that most vegetarian meals have some sort of legume or rice as their main component, buying in bulk will save you some money. For example  a 1-pound bag of brown rice goes for around .79 cents to a dollar at grocery stores. Though if you buy a 25-pound bag for about 14 dollars, you’ll only be paying less than .60 cents a pound.

Buy in Season

Buying your produce in season will allow you to eat healthy while saving money at the same time. Oftentimes when something is in season it’ll be cheaper than usual. You might also be able to get more for less, since there is an abundance.

Buying in season also means better tasting produce, since seasonal produce is often local. Here is a list of what’s currently in season, so you can know what produce to buy now.

Stick to Plants

Speaking of plants, they should definitely make up most of your diet. Although you are a vegetarian and you can eat dairy products, they can be quite expensive. Items such as yogurt and cheese can easily add up. Not to mention that they are only good for a short amount of time. This is why I recommend, that you stick to plants.

Now, you may be thinking that produce can be just as expensive as dairy and won’t last much longer, and you are right. For this reason you should buy plants such as; potatoes, rice, legumes and nuts, which are filling and last longer. Take sweet potatoes for example, they are tasty, cheap, filling and even nutritious. In fact an easy meal I make all the time involves roasted sweet potatoes, brown rice, black beans, kale and half an avocado which makes an easy Buddha bowl.

Avoid Fake Meats

While having veggie burgers and fake chicken nuggets make vegetarianism easier, it will make it expensive.  Buying these fake meats proves to be not only expensive but also somewhat unhealthy. While fake meats do not contain meat, they are processed. Eating too many processed foods means consuming more sodium, sugar and other not so healthy ingredients.

While you’ll probably miss them, it definitely won’t hurt to save fake meats for special occasions. Though if you can’t live without them you could make your own fake meats with vegetables and a food processor. Here is a recipe I’ve used for veggie burgers.

Leave Expensive Grocery Stores for Specialty Items

Although shopping at grocery stores like Whole Foods and Earth Fare can lead to a great experience, they are expensive. I suggest solely using these grocery stores for specialty items that you can’t get anywhere else such as an exotic type of produce or specific brand of vegan yogurt. Going to stores such as Trader Joes or Aldi are much cheaper and will provide you with most of what you need to get through the week.

Count While Shopping

This is probably the most important tip out all of those mentioned. Whether it is keeping a mental number of how much everything costs or putting prices into your calculator app, keeping track of how much everything is vital to spending less.

Keeping track of the prices of each item in your cart, will allow you to put anything that is unnecessary and or too expensive back. I’ve also found that putting in prices directly into the calculator app on my phone, keeps me focused on what I really need.

Make a List

Making a list ahead of your grocery trip will prevent you from buying unnecessary items. I know that when I don’t make a grocery list, I end up going way over my budget.

Having a list, whether it’s on your phone or a piece of paper, will make grocery shopping sort of like a scavenger hunt. With your mind focused on this task, you’ll be less likely to browse aisles looking at things you don’t need.

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