You don’t have to spend a lot of money to go vegetarian. In fact, in the long run, going veggie may actually save you money on your grocery bill. Whether you’re a lifelong vegetarian or have just decided to stop eating meat, these tips will help you keep your vegetarian diet fun, varied, and healthy without hurting your wallet.
Skip the organic section of the produce aisle
You don’t need to opt for organic fruits and veggies over regular ones. If organic just isn’t in the budget, consider that even eating non-organic fruits and veggies is better for you than avoiding produce altogether. Even if you are able to buy organic produce, choose wisely. Fruits and veggies with a thick, protective skin — like bananas and avocados — are safe even if they aren’t organic. Only stop in the organic section for thin-skinned produce, like grapes and leafy greens.
Visit your local farmer’s market
For fresh, in-season, local produce, visit your farmer’s market. Much of what you find there will be organic, but be sure to ask the seller if it matters to you and you aren’t sure. Buying produce at the farmer’s market is a great way to support local farmers. You may also find that in-season produce is surprisingly affordable (and often much more flavorful than what you’ll find at the supermarket).
Buy long-lasting pantry items in bulk
If you have the storage space for them, consider buying your pantry staples — like rice, dried beans, pasta, and canned goods — in bulk. Look for bulk bins at your local supermarket, or see whether your city has an Asian or Indian grocery store, which often sell rice and other basics in large quantities at a discount. Another option is to buy your staples in bulk online, which comes with the additional benefit of having them delivered to your door.
Prep rice, beans, and other staples ahead of time
Cooking your own dried beans is much cheaper than buying them canned, and you can even do it in a slow cooker. When you cook beans, make extra and freeze them in 1.5-cup portions (which is about the same as a regular can of beans). Likewise, rice freezes well, so make extra and keep it on hand in the freezer for times when you need a quick meal or side dish.