Turning yourself into a vegan or vegetarian can be tough if you don’t know what you need or how to cook it. If you buy everything from Whole Foods, then it’s going to cost you. However, your local grocery store and farmers’ markets can yield better bargains. Even ordering online with companies like Peapod, you will find lots of varieties and very fresh produce.
Many people, who make an honest attempt to go vegetarian, turn away from the lifestyle simply because they found the conversion too overwhelming and expensive – which seems odd as animal products are so much more money. The switchover, however, can save you tons of money if you keep thinking fresh and homemade. Here’s how I stocked my cupboards, fridge and freezer when I made the switch (and never looked back):
Bulk foods: since I have ample room in my cupboards, I buy in bulk; you may find it easier to buy pre-packaged varieties. I always have the following in my cupboard: brown rice, couscous, whole-grain and vegetable pastas, dried beans and peas and egg replacer (if you’re going vegan). Variety is the key; try different colors, sizes and textures.
Spices: vegetarian dishes can be bland at times, unless you spice them up. I always have a variety of spice mixtures from garlic salt to pepper mixtures in my cupboard. Fresh herbs from your garden, and lots of flavorful spices can really satisfy your palate beyond belief! Definitely use sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Cereal, Nuts: cereal is vegetarian, there’s no two ways about it. You don’t have to munch on granola to be a veggie. Simply stock your cupboard with healthy choices; whether that means Kashi, trail mix, oatmeals, or Shredded Wheat. Choose raw nuts, fresh when possible, especially almonds. Don’t forget almond butter (raw is best).
Canned goods: tomato sauce and paste, veggie broth, chicken-free chicken broth, refried beans, diced Jalapenos and vegetables. Go for sugarless and little to no salt where you can. Canned goods are easy to find and you don’t have to follow my list! Buy canned foods that you love, just be sure to check the ingredients if you’re buying soups, beans or chilies; many add animal products to their recipes.
Soy: because I don’t consume dairy, I always have a carton of soy or almond milk in the fridge to pour over my cereal or add to recipes, coffee or tea. I also have vegan sour cream, cheese and salad dressings. Try Vegenaise and substitute it wherever you used mayo before; it’s a great consistency and the flavor is good.
Tofu: I love tofu and use it frequently so I always have a package in my fridge. Unless you have a love affair, like I do, with the little white brick, you won’t need to keep it on hand. You can use it in everything from omelettes to salads, in then stir-fry or make a really tasty egg sandwich or scramble (just crumble it and fry with onions and mushrooms and spices, or mix it up with mustard, Vegenaise and sea salt and pepper).
Fruit and veggies: I’m a lazy cooker so the majority of my meals are either ones that I can toss in the microwave or those that I can grab on the run. I always have apples, pomegranates, oranges and salad greens in the crisper. Even if you do cook, fresh fruits and vegetables can be added to your dishes so it’s a good idea to keep your favorites stocked. And of course you can always toss a few fruits and veggies into your juicer for a quick pick-me-up that will keep you full for hours!
One word: meatless. From veggie burgers to crumbles to soy chicken nuggets, I love having a few of these on hand when I crave meat or poultry. Just remember, the veggie “fast food” can add on pounds if used too often – and of course they are processed, and too much of them isn’t healthy either. Better to fill the freezer with lots of veggie choices, rice mixtures, and live breads like Ezekiel, which can be thawed as needed.
Tofutti: again, if you will still consume dairy products, this won’t apply to you. However, if, like me, you’ve given up dairy, Tofutti is a must! The company makes great soy based ice cream and ice cream novelties; perfect for hot summer days.
Fruit: in the summer, I buy fruit in season, because it’s cheaper, and put it in freezer bags to store for those winter season strawberry cravings. Fruit is quite easily stored in the freezer, especially berries. If you have a farmer’s market or local grower, you can often get fruits and vegetables at an incredible discount. Buy in bulk and freeze what you won’t immediately use. They also make a great morning shake or snack, just add to soy milk, toss in a little Vegan protein and you’re full for hours.
Vegetarians are as different as omnivores; every person has different tastes. Read through this list and see what strikes your fancy. Keeping your kitchen stocked with the essentials will make it easier to stick to your new lifestyle.
About the Author
Writer Angie Trace is a long time Vegan, and she also stays on the lookout for ways to make better money choices like this Finance Choices comparison website which offers detailed credit card comparisons, and also credit cards for people with bad credit who’ve experienced an unfortunate hit to their credit scores during today’s tough times.