Plant Based on a Budget

One common comment I hear from people when discussing switching to a plant-based diet is that it is expensive. This couldn’t be further from the truth unless you are only buying processed plant-based products. Also, while you may be able to eat cheaply on a Standard American Diet (SAD), the long-term health outcomes and costs will surpass those of investing in your health preventatively by eating healthy.

A few ways that we save money eating a plant based diet

One way to stretch your dollars while eating a plant-based diet is to include more potatoes in your meals. Potatoes are one of the most affordable vegetables that are full of starch, which is very filling. I like to add potato chunks to most of our soups, stews, and casseroles while they are cooking to make them more satisfying. Another helpful thing you can do with potatoes is to cook up a large batch of potato wedges and store them in a Tupperware container in the fridge. Then you always have them on hand for a quick snack with your favorite dip or chop them up and add them to a salad.

Another benefit of potatoes is that when cooled in the fridge for a few hours after cooking, the starch turns into resistant starch which digests slowly, has less impact on your blood sugar, and helps feed the good gut bacteria in your lower intestines.

We also cook up a batch of whole sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week. We simply wash them, leave them whole, place them in the Instant Pot, and pressure cook them for 18 minutes. Once cooled, we store them in a Tupperware container in the fridge. We use them mashed up on a plate as a base to be topped with cooked beans, any of our stews or delicious sauces, or even salads.

Another thing you can do to stretch your budget is to cook up a pot of beans at the beginning of your week. Dry beans are so affordable and are a super filling nutrition powerhouse. We soak a pound of dry beans overnight in water with 1/4 tsp baking soda. Drain and rinse well the next day, throw them in the Instant Pot, cover with water at least an inch over the top, and pressure cook for 15-20 minutes depending on the bean. Once cooked, drain off the liquid and store in an airtight container in the fridge. I love eating them plain with a bit of hot sauce, avocado, and broccoli sprouts but they are also great sprinkled on salads or simply mashed and spread on a tortilla to make burritos.

If you want to splurge and experience some of the best beans you will eat in your life then get some Rancho Gordo beans. They are our absolute favorite beans.

Cabbage is also an underrated, affordable vegetable that I love to use in many different ways. It belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, making it a nutrition superstar. One of my favorite ways to use cabbage is by making our delicious Cabbage Soup recipe. It is a great soup to make ahead of time and store in the fridge so that you have a ready-made meal, as well as something you can easily portion out for packed lunches.

I also like to make cabbage salad by slicing it very thin, adding shredded carrot, chopped kale, and parsley, and keeping it in a Tupperware container so that you can use it as a ready-made salad or as a base for adding other toppings along with a tasty salad dressing (we have many recipes on our website). I also like to slice it very small and add it into many of my soups, stews, or casseroles while they are cooking to boost the nutritional value of the meal. This is especially valuable if you have picky eaters. When diced very finely and cooked into soups, stews, or casseroles; you can’t tell that it’s there but you are adding significant nutrition without them knowing =)

Bananas are also a very affordable fruit that is very versatile and filling. We use them in many different ways. My favorite way to eat them is fresh with a slather of peanut butter but also in the form of nice cream like my Chocolate Cherry Nicecream recipe along with many more nice cream recipes for on our website.  On the weekend I  like to bake up a couple loaves of banana bread  with the over-ripe bananas so that we can snack on it all week or use it as our breakfast toast. If you have a wicked sweet tooth, you can press whole ripe bananas flat on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate them until they are like fruit leather. Making them this way intensifies their sweetness which makes them taste like candy. 

Here are a few of our recipes that use potatoes, beans, cabbage and bananas:

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