Vegan on a Budget Part 2: Grains, Starches, Legumes & Protein

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

By Allegra Pearl

This week is a continuation of debunking the myth that veganism is a lifestyle solely attainable for affluent people. Last week fruits, veggies and dairy alternatives were discussed while this week will focus on grains, starches, legumes and protein!

Grains, starches and legumes are all essential ingredients for an affordable vegan diet. These items are not only healthy and filling, but luckily come with affordable price tags! On top of that, they can also be stored in reusable Tupperware or bags for months in the pantry/freezer. We recommend buying these ingredients in bulk from places like Bulk Barn because it's the best bang for your buck and allows you to skip out on plastic waste by bringing your own jars. Whole grains such as quinoa, oats, buckwheat and millet also are excellent recommendations that are affordable, filling and healthy. The most affordable whole grain is brown rice with a 900g being sold for as low as $4.99, which is at least 12 servings. Couscous is higher in fiber compared to brown rice and it is also extremely affordable at $1.99 for a 340g bag.

Lentils, beans, soybeans, nuts, chickpeas and potatoes are other key vegan staples that are jam packed with nutritious ingredients! For example, legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans are all very high in fiber and protein. They also are very inexpensive with a 750g bag of lentils or chickpeas selling for $2.49 making them excellent choices. Beans are also extremely affordable and vary in types from black bean, to kidney, to lima, to red kidney, etc. Another key ingredient for a cheap vegan grocery list is potatoes. They are affordable ($2.49/lb) and can be used in a variety of delicious recipes! Sweet potatoes are higher in fiber than regular potatoes with a negligible price difference. Sweet potatoes also have about a 2 week shelf life which gives you plenty of time to incorporate them into a yummy meal.

We mentioned in our last blog post how a common misconception of the vegan diet is that cutting out animal based products leads to protein deficiency.But this isn't the case as tons of plants and plant-based foods contain all the protein you need! Your protein doesn’t necessarily need to come from expensive meat alternatives either because it can be found in inexpensive products like tofu (approx $2.49). Tofu is an excellent choice because it's a common ingredient in many recipes and is jam packed with 18g of protein per cup! Other affordable protein packed vegan foods include: lentils (9g per ½ cup), chickpeas (7g per ½ cup), bok choy (1.1g per 1 cup), black beans (10g per cup), pinto beans (15.41g per cup), edamame (18.46 grams per cup), whole grain bread (6g per slice), oats (11g per cup), broccoli (4g per cup).

It’s also important to remember that the recommended dose of protein is only 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. To figure out how much protein you need you can multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.36. Once you calculate how much protein your body actually needs, it'll become clear you can get more than enough protein and nutrients through plants in an affordable way!

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