Do you want to be healthier? Do you want to save money? Then eat whole food plant-based (WFPB)! You’ve heard that if something is too good to be true then it probably is. Well, I’ve found the exception: eating WFPB- it’s all true! It prevents and reverses the top 15 causes of death, helps you lose weight, and saves you money!
Why isn’t everyone eating this way then? My best guesses: ignorance (they don’t know any better), stuck in their ways, don’t want to give up the convenience and taste of the SAD (standard American diet), and misconceptions. Don’t let the misconception that eating healthy is expensive stop you from eating WFPB. It’s not expensive, in fact, it’ll save you money.
The key to saving money while eating WFPB is to cook at home. Don’t worry, we’re not going to be slaving away for hours, cooking gourmet meals. Unless that’s what you’re into, then more power to you! We’re going to be focusing on simple and easy!
Setup Your Kitchen
You don’t need super expensive kitchen equipment. My pots are from HomeGoods (and my college days) and my blender is from a thrift store. I have upgraded some of my kitchen tools, but I managed fine with what I had before.
The kitchen tools I would consider owning are:
10-12 in nonstick skillet plus lid if possible (I found one at a thrift store)
1 oz pot with lid (look for one with a heavy bottom)
3-5 oz pot with lid (same)
My 2 favorite kitchen tools that are optional:
Instant pot (it’s the only way I’ve been able to successfully cook brown rice)
I definitely recommend scouting out your local thrift stores and dollar stores before you drop a lot of money on high-end kitchen tools. The upgraded tools that I felt made the most difference were my nonstick skillet, knives and vegetable peeler. Plus, pyrex is the only way to go for liquid measuring cups.
You’ll also want a set of tupperware. I recommend glass for health and durability reasons. The Pyrex Snapware line is my favorite. I picked up a couple sets when they were on sale at Costco and they’ve been great. They’re leak-proof, easy to clean and because they’re glass, you don’t have to worry about them staining or picking up funky smells.
Okay, now that you’ve got your kitchen setup, let’s get on with the cooking!
Basic grocery saving tips
Buy in bulk
Food is generally cheaper when you buy it in larger quantities. Costco and Sam’s Club are the usual go-to places to bulk buy. Azure Standard is an online co-op where you can also buy things in bulk.
Bulk sections are becoming more common in grocery stores too. I was converted when I realized I could buy spices for a fraction of the cost a bottle on the spice aisle would cost. It’s also a cheap way to try out new foods, without buying a whole lot of it. Hit up your grocery store’s case lots sales.
Shop the seasons
PLEASE don’t be buying $5 asparagus. The produce that is on sale is the produce that’s in season. So not only will it be cheaper, it’ll taste better!
Buy local, join a CSA or Bountiful Baskets co-op
If you’re okay with a little unpredictability in your life, look for a local CSA (community supported agriculture) or try Bountiful Baskets, if it’s available in your area. Both will provide you with weekly baskets of produce, the kind and amount are unknown until you pick it up!
Use cheap substitutions
If a recipe is calling for an ingredient that’s expensive or that you know you’ll never use again, google substitutions!
Frozen vegetables are sometimes better than fresh produce because they’re frozen at peak ripeness, while your fresh produce was picked and then transported. Costco has 4 lb bags of organic, frozen mixed berries for $10, that’s hard to beat!
Look past recipes and just throw together food that sounds good together
I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who could just whip up yummy food without a recipe and I feel like eating WFPB has helped me develop that skill. I rarely follow recipes, instead, I’m usually scouting Pinterest and Instagram for flavor combination ideas.
Today I tried baked sweet potato with seasoned black beans, topped with avocado because I kept seeing that flavor combination. It was delicious and I didn’t follow a recipe.
Just look around your pantry, fridge, and freezer and see what foods can go together.
While we eat lots of fresh produce, I try to keep a lot of dried, frozen and canned foods on hand because they last longer and make cooking from home easier. These are my pantry staples:
Frozen mixed vegetables*
Frozen Stir Fry vegetables*
Frozen corn (bought in bulk locally)
Frozen mixed berries*
Canned green beans*
Canned black beans*
Canned diced tomatoes*
Canned stewed tomatoes*
Unsweetened dried mango*
Hummus cups* (contain oil, I haven’t found a homemade recipe I like yet)
*bought at Costco
Meal plan and food prep
One of my biggest money savers is meal planning and food prep. It also helps me be successful in my efforts to eat healthily. A typical day of food looks like this for me:
Breakfast- Oatmeal (when it’s cold outside), or a smoothie (when it’s warm outside)
Morning snack- fruit and nuts
Lunch- Leftovers or a meal I prepped for the week
Afternoon snack- hummus and vegetables
Dinner- a meal I prepped
Dessert- fruit or something with chocolate
Knowing my basic food schedule helps me see what food I need for the week and how many meals I need to plan for. I cannot recommend enough planning and prepping your food!
In the mornings my breakfast is all ready to go and I can just grab my food for the day out of the fridge and be on my way. There’s no rush, no hemming and hawing about what to eat, and I’m not tempted to grab junk or spend money on prepackaged meals.
If you’re looking for food inspiration, these are some of my favorite resources:
How not to die cookbook– Dr. Greger’s cookbook
Dr. Fuhrman– He promotes WFPB, though he calls his diet nutritarian. He’s more commercial than Dr. Greger but has lots of good recipes
Hello Nutritarian– a blog that follows Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian diet
Lighter.world– a meal planning site that you can customize to be WFPB
Feasting on Fruit– Vegan dessert blog, not all her recipes are WFPB, but a lot are
Dr. McDougall– Another WFPB doctor who’s more commercial than Dr. Greger
Feasting at Home– Cooking blog, she has lots of vegan or vegan-adaptable recipes, again, they’re not all WFPB
The Feed Feed Vegan– Follow them on Instagram for food inspiration. Their focus is on vegan, not WFPB, but they’re good for sparking ideas. They recently started a weekly meal plan for free. If you sign up, every week they’ll send you a week’s worth of recipes. Again, they’re not all WFPB, but they’re good for ideas.
I hope your journey transitioning to WFPB seems a little less daunting now! By cooking from home, shopping smart and meal planning, eating WFPB will be a breeze! It is possible to eat the healthiest diet on the planet and save money. It’s the best of both worlds. What more could you ask for?