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Veganism on a budget

Isobel Lawrance 20th Feb 2023 5 Comments

Reading Time: 8 minutes

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With veganism becoming a way of life for more and more people, vegan alternatives and plant-based foods are appearing on the supermarket shelves more regularly. With well-known companies such as Starbucks scrapping their extra fee for plant-based milk alternatives in their stores, other companies are following suit.

Vegetarian favourite Quorn has started selling completely vegan meat alternatives, and supermarket M&S has launched their Plant Kitchen range. Just this year, discount giant Aldi launched its largest ever vegan range in time for Veganuary, with prices starting from just 55 pence.

But with an increase in popularity for veganism, comes increased costs. Sadly, many brands will aim to capitalise from dietary requirements and choices they deem ‘trendy’. With vegan alternatives still being less readily available than non-vegan options, large corporations try to monopolise the market, charging extortionate amounts for basics.

This is where we come in. It’s World Vegan Month this month. No matter what your reasons are for going vegan, you shouldn’t have to pay more on your weekly shop. Here’s how to ace veganism on a budget.


Disclaimer: We have mentioned Asda throughout this article; however please note this is for price guideline purposes only and is not the only supermarket option. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.


Vegan cupboard fillers

One of the best ways to save money as a vegan is to stock up on items which aren’t necessarily targeted to vegans. Items such as fake meat alternatives and pre-made vegan meals will have their prices amped up.

However, if you take your time to research and plan your food choices and meals, you can cook plenty of delicious and nutritious meals that don’t break the bank. It’s far easier than you may think!

Fruit and Vegetables

Of course, seasonal fruit and vegetables are top of the list. Buy from the ‘wonky’ ranges if you can, to save extra pennies. Wonky ranges consist of fruit and veg that doesn’t necessarily look lovely, but still has the same great taste and nutritional value of ‘normal’ looking fruit and veg. Morrison’s and Tesco both have wonky ranges, and Lidl have a brilliant ‘Too Good to Waste’ box, which is 5kg of produce for just £1.50.

Both fresh and frozen veg are great for vegan meals. It is often the case that fresh produce costs less per kg than frozen items, so it may be worth buying fresh food and freezing it yourself. For example, a 1kg bag of fresh carrots from Asda is 49p, whereas just 400g of carrots in a tin is 50p, and a 1kg frozen bag of carrots  is £1.10. So, it may be worth considering taking the time to chop up and freeze your veg yourself.

It may also be worth considering tinned fruit and vegetables to avoid food waste, particularly if you don’t have much freezer space and don’t think you will eat produce quickly enough. Although some tinned items, particularly vegetables, can have a very slightly altered taste, when added to a broth, stew, curry or casserole, they are delicious and can add loads to a dish.

Tinned peas, carrots, sweetcorn and mushrooms are all cheap. Not only can they add flavour and extra nutrition to your meals, but they keep you fuller for longer. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Marrowfat Peas, 300g – 35p
  • Sliced Carrots, 400g – 50p
  • Sweetcorn in Water, 326g – 65p

Both fresh and tinned potatoes are great for bulking out a dish, adding carbohydrates that keep you fuller for longer. Plus, who doesn’t love potatoes, particularly in a stew or curry. Sweet potatoes, squash and swede are also delicious additions to your vegan meals.

Pulses, beans and lentils

You can buy tinned and dried pulses, beans and lentils in all supermarkets, and they are very affordable. As well as being cheap, they are filling and delicious, and provide high protein and fibre in your diet.

As with fruit and vegetables, some beans are worth buying fresh or frozen over tinned versions, to get more for your money. It’s a good idea to have a shop around and see what works best for you.

Here are some of the beans and pulses that are great for a vegan diet:

  • Red Kidney Beans, 400g – 33p
  • Chickpeas in Water, 400g – 41p
  • Cannellini Beans in water, 400g – 60p
  • Dried Red Lentils, 500g – £1.15

If you’re a baked bean lover, you will be pleased to hear most baked beans are vegan. However, always double check as some brands may add preservatives that are not vegan friendly.

Pasta and noodles

Everyone loves pasta, whether it’s covered in a rich tomato sauce or layered in a lasagne. However, most pasta is made with egg, so is not vegan. Your best bet is to go to the free-from aisle in your supermarket. Asda Free From Fusilli is both gluten free and vegan. A 500g pack is £1.00. Wholegrain pasta and spaghetti also tends to be vegan, so it’s worth a look.

Noodles can also be made with egg, so stick to wholewheat and rice noodles where you can. The brand Blue Dragon has just released a range of plant-based noodles, including beetroot, black charcoal and spinach noodles. However, these will set you back £1.50 for just 2 nests of noodles. Stick to wholewheat noodles and you can get 6 nests for £1.00. Remember to avoid that vegan marketing!

Remember, rice, cous cous and quinoa can be brilliant alternatives to pasta and noodles. If you can find what you are looking for, these food cupboard staples are vegan and will keep you full and happy. Plus, they are nutritious and add fibre into your diet.

However, to save money you should avoid boil in the bag and microwave rice, as they can be more costly per kg.


Dairy alternatives

One of the things people say they miss most when they follow a vegan diet is cheese. Cheese, glorious cheese! Luckily, there are many plant-based alternatives available nowadays. Some of them even melt like the real thing!

You don’t have to miss out when following a vegan diet. You can get the same delicious taste as dairy cheeses. Many supermarkets do their own brand of vegan cheeses now. Asda have grated mozzarella and mature cheddar cheese alternatives – £2.20 per 200g and a spreadable cream cheese which is also plant-based, £2.25 for 170g.

What do you like to have for breakfast? Cereal and milk, perhaps? Or a nice slice of toast with a spread of butter? Either way, you are going to need to find a milk and butter alternative.

Whether it’s oat, almond, coconut, soya or hazelnut, there are plenty of dairy milk alternatives. Soya and almond milk are often the most affordable alternative; however, oat has proven to be a firm favourite. In fact, oat milk sales overtook almond milk sales in the UK in 2021.

If you are a newbie and have only ever consumed cow’s milk, it may be overwhelming. But don’t fear! To begin with, it may well be about trial and error. Remember, even if you are trying to save money, you shouldn’t have to compromise on taste. Buy the milk alternative you enjoy most, even if it costs a few more pennies. There’s no point buying a milk you aren’t keen on if it’s going to go unused.

Vitalite is a dairy-free spread, which is £2.00 for 500g, a steal in comparison to Flora’s tub at £3.60.

As with many items, own brand versions are often more affordable than their branded counterparts. However, keep an eye out for deals and price slashes.


Meat alternatives

veganuary meat alternatives

As mentioned previously, it is best to avoid meat alternatives if you want to be as frugal as possible. However, as we have also mentioned, veganism doesn’t mean you have to miss out on foods you enjoy.

If you like the taste of meat and have become vegan for animal welfare or dietary reasons, you can still enjoy the vegan alternatives of your old favourites.

There are more vegan alternatives than ever. Plant based mince, chicken style pieces, meatless meatballs, fishless fingers and plant-based burgers line the shelves at most supermarkets. Asda even has plant-based bacon rashers, meatless steak and gravy pies and chicken-less kievs.


Vegan snacking

Snacks which are marketed specifically for vegans tend to have their price boosted up. Companies want you to think their vegan snack is the only option available. “The only way you’ll enjoy vegan deliciousness is if you buy us!”, they shout from the shelves.

But don’t listen to the marketing. You may be surprised at how many popular brands of snack are vegan without you even knowing!

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Oreos – Yes, that creamy layer sandwiched between two biscuits is vegan!
  • Skips and Walkers Prawn Cocktail crisps – Prawn cocktail crisps actually have nothing to do with prawns!
  • Bourbon creams – You favourite choccy biscuit? Vegan!
  • Jammie Dodgers – A good one to dip in your tea!
  • Peanut Butter – Yes, most nut butters are vegan!
  • Turkish Delight – We were surprised too, but it’s mostly always vegan!

Disclaimer: Although these foods are mostly always vegan, always be sure to double check the label as brands may differ.


A Vegan’s top tips


We spoke with Scott, a 30-year-old musician and DJ living in North London. Scott became vegan 3 years ago but was vegetarian for 5 years before that. We asked him his top tips for those who are new to veganism or are considering Veganuary in the new year.

“Try not to stress about falling off the wagon, whether you’re doing Veganuary or are a full-time vegan,” He advises. “At some point you may accidentally eat something with milk powder in it, or as I may or may not have done, gorge on mozzarella dippers after one too many beers.”

He continues, “It’s not a competition to be ‘the most vegan’, so don’t beat yourself up, and just get back on it. Oh, and take oat milk with you to your grandmas to make a cuppa with.”

We asked Scott how he keeps his costs down when it comes to buying vegan food and eating vegan meals.

“Even though I do enjoy a lot of them, many vegan meat replacements can be pretty pricey – one brand sells two burgers for £5!” He laughs. “Don’t get me wrong, they are delicious. But at a fiver for two burgers, I save them for when I’m feeling flush.”

So, what does Scott eat on a regular basis? “Most of the time I try and stick to whole foods like beans and lentils, rather than meat replacements for every meal. I like to make big batches that last me for a few days too. This saves me money and effort.”

He tells us he often makes his own seitan. Seitan is a mixture of flour and water, made by rinsing away the starch in the dough, leaving just the high-protein gluten behind. When cooked, it has a surprisingly similar look and texture to that of meat. Hence, it has become highly popular with vegans and vegetarians alike. “It was dirt cheap to make, but quite labour intensive,” he adds.

In terms of actual meals, Scott’s current go-to is a mouth-watering vegan ‘carbonara’ style dish. “I mix my choice of spaghetti into – and sorry in advance to any Italians out there – a mixture of mushrooms, soya cream, parsley and lemon. Sometimes I add some fake bacon when I’m feeling a bit fancy.”

If you want something to snack on, particularly if you are missing the taste and texture of meat, there’s only one place to go. “Greggs,” Scott insists. “Their vegan sausage rolls are incredible. I probably bleed those sausage rolls at this point!”


Are you a seasoned vegan? If you have any top tips, be sure to leave them in the comments.


Disclaimer: We have mentioned Asda throughout this article; however please note this is for price guideline purposes only and is not the only supermarket option. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.

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Lisette Davidosn
Lisette Davidosn
1 year ago

I hate animals dying for me so I became vegan although hubby is still vegetarian. I did miss cheese at first but not anymore. My go to is home made houmus which is INCREDIBLY EASY to make even without a blender. Mix a tin of chickpeas, drained, with a jar of tahini, then splash in the lemon juice, some garlic granules and salt. I always get a metal fork and mash my chickpeas first which gives a great chunky texture to the finished product. BUT here is the thing, it costs me next to nothing to make, and I make… Read more »

Julie Gartland
Julie Gartland
1 year ago

I don’t like it to called trendy or a diet, I think more of it as a way of life, the nasty comments in papers ect from meat eaters, makes me think that they are trying to justify the cruelty around the world, by killing animals, for a few minutes of flesh in the mouth, it’s not a case of liking the taste of meat, I think personally, that I would rather see animals become extinct, than living a life like this.

1 year ago

very interesting and informative, and Scott explains veganism as a cohesive life style choice, not as a diktat to be followed.

2 years ago

Great tips.

2 years ago

I’m glad to see this article and good to share information about how it should not to be expensive unless eating fancy substitutes, which are far from being the healthiest option. However, veganism is not a diet as is implied here. Veganism is about not exploiting animals and causing the minimal possible harm to them. You cannot for example be a vegan and buy leather. Scott mentioned in the article is not vegan; being flippant about gorging on mozzarella can never be vegan. Consuming milk powder accidentally might happen to a vegan but this would never be done on purpose,… Read more »

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

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