Plant-based on a Budget

What if we told you that eating vegan can be cheap and delicious?

A huge misconception about going vegan is that it’s an expensive lifestyle. This statement can be true depending on how and what you shop for and generally what you prioritize. If you go for solely or mostly processed vegan alternatives then you just might be straining your wallet. However, investing in more whole foods is better for your wallet and your wellness! Fortunately, we live on a continent where farm-fresh grains and produce are easy to access and very affordable. Here are some of our favorite tips to maintain a vegan lifestyle on a budget of as low (or even lower) as $1 a meal.

Stock up on grains & dried foods

Rice, beans, lentils, spaghetti, oats, flours and so much more are vegan essentials and can be found in nearly all supermarkets, grocery shops, kiosks, and markets. They also happen to be very cheap and versatile.

Buy loads of fruits and vegetables

One of the advantages of living in Africa is that fruits and vegetables are so affordable! In Kenya for example, $2 worth of fresh greens, fruits, and veggies can carry you for 3 to 4 days. As a health tip, try to “eat the rainbow” every day — check if you ate at least one food of every color to get the most nutritional benefit from your meal.

Compare Prices

While shopping, take your time and compare the prices of the items on your shopping list. More often than not, you find that well-known brands are usually more pricey than generic or lesser-known ones. Bring reusable containers for buying oats, legumes, or flours from wholesale shops. This will definitely be cheaper than branded items and will reduce packaging and waste.

Use the Whole Plant

Where possible, use the whole plant and reduce your food waste. For example, you can keep your carrot skins, broccoli stems, and other vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock: Boil the scraps with some herbs and seasoning for a few hours and use the liquid to bring more flavor to your dishes!

Prepare Your Own Meals

It’s definitely much cheaper to prepare your meals at home than it is to eat out. For some wild reason, it’s quite expensive to eat out as a vegan, which we hope to see change sooner than later. Try as much as possible to make your meals at home — there’s tons of inspiration on the internet! Here’s a compilation of 35 African Vegan Recipes.

Make Your Own Alternatives

Vegans can enjoy savory, protein-rich textures and yummy creamy spreads to level up our meals, and these items don’t have to cause harm like meat, milk, and cheese. It’s amazing that vegan alternative products are so plentiful. The store-bought ones are more expensive and they use a lot of packaging; luckily, the internet has many recipes to make your own alternatives easily and affordably. You can stock up on soy products such as soy chunks for protein (marinate these and transform them into a tasty meal) and make your own nut-based mylks and cheezes!

Create a Meal Plan & Budget

It’s super helpful to create a meal plan that you can come back to during the time you usually restock your groceries. This is especially helpful when you’re a new vegan and still getting the hang of the lifestyle and finding your tastes. It helps you plan for and budget around what you’ll actually eat and avoid wastage.

If you follow this little guide, we guarantee you that your vegan lifestyle will not only be amazing and nutritious but also affordable. An added advantage is that you get to explore different styles, tastes and cuisines without having to dig too deep into your pockets. One last tip before we leave is to avoid shopping when you’re hungry! If you do, everything looks tasty and your hunger can really mislead you to buy unnecessary items. Don’t forget to have fun and make this journey your own. Feel free to share with us any of your favorite meals or tips from your vegan journey.

The Vegan Africa Fund is Supporting the plant-based evolution across Africa through scaling vegan ventures