At the start of the month someone raised the point that they were worried about the extra cost of going veggie, as many meat-free products seem so much more expensive. This is a common concern and one I’m often asked about by people who are thinking of going veggie or vegan. But there’s no reason why it should be more expensive, especially when you consider that meat is one of the most expensive things in most people’s shopping basket.
My biggest single piece of advice for anyone who is going veggie on a limited income is this: cook from scratch. It’s the pre-packaged ready-meals and meat-substitutes that really rack up the pounds, whereas fresh vegetables usually work out much cheaper. And even if you’re not Jamie Oliver in the kitchen, it’s possible to throw together some delicious budget meals pretty easily. For example, anyone can make soup by boiling up a selection of chopped veg and some lentils with a stock cube and then whizzing in a blender. And a simple stir-fry can be made and on the table in 20 minutes.
Another good tip is to buy dried meat-substitutes, rather than fresh or frozen. You can often find dried soya mince (sometimes called ‘textured vegetable protein’ of TVP) at healthfood shops. Certain supermarkets and healthfood shops also sell packets of dry meat-free sausage mix, as well as veggie burger mix, falafel mix and mince that just need to be made up with water. These usually work out much cheaper than the ready-made ones, plus you can mix in your own blend of herbs and spices to really liven them up. Of course, beans and lentils are also a great cheap source of protein and can even be made into cheap burgers.
There’s a range of websites offering easy, ultra-cheap veggie recipes, but one of my favourites is Frugal Living in the UK. Animal Aid also produces a booklet of cheap meat-free recipes, which you can download here.