How to eat healthy for cheap! | Veganuary

My weekly shop is really cheap - I'm a vegan and a student, so I've learnt how to make big, nutritious meals on a budget! There's a 24 hour little Waitrose near me but as that's so expensive and doesn't have that much in it, so I walk 35 mins to a big Tesco (I could get the bus, but walking is free and I take a big backpack and some re-usable bags).

The main staple things that I buy:
  • Veg - I buy it loose (mostly for environmental reasons) rather than in packaging, but if I do get packet veg like cherry tomatoes or mushrooms, I just go for Tesco's own brand rather than anything fancy, because it's all the same. All the veg I buy is cheap, and is usually carrots, onions, courgette, broccoli, spinach, cherry tomatoes and pepper.  
  • Fruit - The fruit I eat the most are definitely bananas, and you can get a nice big bunch for cheap, especially when it's measured by weight rather than by individual banana. I once bought a 1kg bag of ripe bananas for under a £1, which was amazing, but usually I just have to buy the greenish bananas in advance and wait for them to ripen. I'm a big raspberries fan so when they're on offer I'll buy the frozen bags of raspberries for my oats in the morning (think it's something like 3 bags for £5) and that lasts me ages! I'll often treat myself to some strawberries, too, 
  • Potatoes - Technically a vegetable but I thought I'd put it in its own category because they're a staple of a lot of my meals, and don't cost a lot at all. They're just heavy to walk with! 
  • Bread - I always check the discounted bread first and usually I can find something there, but bread is usually cheap anyway.  
  • Pasta/rice/gnocchi - I buy Tesco's own brand of these things and unless you're buying fancy lentil pasta or something it's not expensive. 
  • Soup - Often there are deals on cans of soup so I stock up when that's the case, my favourite being Heinz lentil soup which I add chopped up veg to and a bit of bread and that's lunch sorted.
  • Beans - Tinned beans are cheap and cheerful! 
  • Extra odd bits that last a while/I don't buy weekly - chopped tomatoes to make sauces, olives if I need some but they usually last me weeks because I take a while to get through them (Tesco's own brand is £1 a pot), pumpkin seeds if I've run out but they last me over a month, and the same with herbs and spices which last me a really long time. I also buy tofu now and then or falafel if I want a treat as it's more on the pricey side of around £2 but lasts a few meals. 

I don't really buy many vegan alternatives for things, like frozen meat substitutes, but if I do I'll get it while it's on offer or Tesco's own veggie brand. Free From things are generally more expensive, and it's very, very rare I'll buy anything from that section. I only have a milk substitute very rarely too as I use water in my morning oats and as I walk quite far with my heavy bag back home so I usually bypass getting a litre of almond milk to carry, haha.

If I want a treat, there's obviously lots of cheap 'junk' food out there like bourbon biscuits (my fave) or cheap crisps. Hummus is something that's often discounted at the end of the day too!

If you're vegan or plant-based you obviously don't have to eat like this, but it's very possible to eat plant-based for cheap. And, the meals can be tasty, too. You definitely don't need to bypass taste if you're trying to make cheap meals :-)

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Check out my instagram for more examples of the things I eat, or come and say hi on twitter!

What do I eat as a vegan? | Veganuary

Today is the 1st of January 2018 - Happy New Year! - and the first day of Veganuary. To support new vegans and people trying Veganuary, I thought I'd write some posts this month on tips and tricks, things to eat, and advice and support on making the transition. In the past I've written about how to read ingredients labels to see if something is vegan, and in this post I thought I'd talk about the kinds of easy meals I eat on a day-to-day basis.

My favourite thing to eat for breakfast is oats! Rolled oats can be made with a plant-based milk such as almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, soya milk or any other type of alternative (I've never tried chocolate soya milk but that's on my to-do list), or just with water, and topped with any of your favourite things. I like quick meals and less washing up so I make mine in the microwave, but it can be nicer made on the stovetop. My favourite toppings are bananas, berries, pumpkin seeds and peanut butter. It's all about discovering your favourite combos! A good tip is that frozen fruit is cheaper, so I buy lots of frozen raspberries rather than fresh raspberries and it's a nice cold contrast to the warm oats.

If I'm feeling adventurous, I might have a vegan fry up!

My favourite meat alternatives are Fry's Family (which those sausages are) or Linda McCartney, but Tesco has started doing a really good frozen range, too, and is cheaper than Fry's Family. I didn't have any on the toast in the photo above, but you can get lots of different dairy-free butter/margarine spreads which I think taste nice.

I also used to have the classic combo of peanut butter & banana on toast alllll the time, but I've just realised I've not had it in ages! One of my faves.

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On rare occasions I also like cereal with almond milk, but I find I eat cereal as an evening snack more than I do for breakfast, haha.

Now for some main meals! I really love tagliatelle and all sorts of pasta, which was always my fave before going vegan and I eat just as much now. I always cut up a lot of veg and chuck it with the pasta and usually a tomato-based sauce or pesto.  I sometimes have gnocchi instead of pasta, too. For the sauce I get a tin of chopped tomatoes and add herbs to it or garlic powder and keep it that simple (you can do a lot with herbs and spices). Or a supermarket-bought tomato sauce if I'm feeling lazy! Lots of tomato-based ones are vegan. I usually have mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, courgette, carrot, olives, broccoli, red kidney beans etc. or whatever I have in the fridge or cupboard to add some nutrients and flavour.

As well as adding beans, I like to add tofu (cut up into cubes, seasoned and roasted, usually the Tofoo brand for its ease), or falafel (Cauldron brand is so good) for extra deliciousness.

I like to add hummus to everything, including pasta, so try it if you haven't before! Now and then I'll eat a salad because it's quick and easy and I fancy it, but I wouldn't call it a staple of my diet. I really like it in summer though when it's hot outside.

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I also eat a lot of soup in winter which is super cheap as it's just potato, beans and veg, and a lot of potato-based things like potato wedges with veg (and hummus to dip). If I'm treating myself or can find a discounted avocado I might have avo on toast with cherry tomatoes on top, which is so, so good.

I think it's a bit of a British thing, but I'm always up for a good roast which can also be veganised:

Lots of gravy brands are vegan, including the original Bisto, but always check ingredients labels just in case. Also be wary of frozen roast potatoes which sometimes include beef dripping so aren't veggie-friendly, or may be cooked in butter.

Since going vegan I've tried so many new foods, new recipes, and started to enjoy food so much more. Pop on over to my instagram if you want more food ideas and let me know if there's any vegan meals you especially enjoy or want to try and veganise this Veganuary!