First and fore most, I love grocery shopping, although it always takes me an hour plus even just for a minimal shopping list! Being vegan I always check labels, and I also compare not only prices but ingredients, sodium, calories, fat content the works! Just because an item is vegan doesn't always mean it doesn't have those hidden ingredients; the additives often found in processed food. I would prefer to spend a dollar more on an organic veggie burger that's made out of vegetables, wheat and spices over a soy protein, sugars, additives and minimal vegetables! But this is where the cost of groceries comes in. I am in no means saying being vegan is cheap or expensive, it simply depends on the items you purchase and sales you choose to indulge in. Me I love sales, 50% off bread because it expires in 2 days, or brown banana's that can be cut up and frozen for smoothies or even 3 heads of broccoli for $5, why not! The broccoli may last me up to two weeks but it's a hearty vegetable that will last that long. If things are 50% off and can be frozen and consumed at a later date, why not buy it! Also when I buy produce I will look it over and make sure I'm getting the best one I can find, why buy something with brown spots or mold already growing on your produce when for the same amount you can get something that will last you! I will always make sure I buy the biggest amount for the same price, if a head of cauliflower is $2.50 I'll get the biggest one I can find.
Today I when grocery shopping and spent $90 dollars for about half a cart full of items! Not the best shop I have done, although some items where things I wouldn't normally be purchasing. Things such as ginger-ale and fruit popsicles for my sick mom. Most of my cart was fruit and vegetables, things like; 2 containers of blueberries, 2 large bunches of broccoli, 3lb bag of carrots, romaine hearts, and baby cucumbers. I also was able to find two 50% off breads, hummus, veggie burgers, vegan mayo, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese, popsicles, ginger-ale (as mentioned), vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, and multi-grain pretzels (my indulgence). It doesn't seem like much when I list the items purchased, which got me to thinking... half of the items purchased I could make myself for a fraction of the cost! Tree hugging, hippy, veg head speaking! When looking for all fruit popsicle I realized that the second ingredient on said popsicle was sugar, first being blueberries! They were on sale for $4.99 for 6, but I spent $5.00 on two pints of blueberries, so I thought I could use the blueberries and coconut water to make my own fruit popsicles, if only I had popsicle containers to do so! If they weren't required this evening, I would have purchased a popsicle container or two at the dollar store and made my own, which I will start doing anyways!
Again when I put 3 cans of diced tomatoes in my cart I thought, why not make and can my own diced tomatoes, and even spaghetti sauce (which I've already decided to do anyways). Tomatoes, and spaghetti sauce are a staple around here, just like canned beans and legumes are! I not only have canned beans and legumes I also have bags and bags of dried beans and legumes just waiting to be made up for things such as hummus and soups! I was quite reluctant to buy a $4.50 hummus, but at the end of the shopping trip I caved because I wanted hummus! It was too much of a convenience for me to pick it up then it would have been to soak the beans and cook them to then process them into my own hummus! But I want to get away from the convenience piece of things, convenience foods are not always good for you foods! A ingredient list on store bought hummus can be 10 ingredients long, the ingredient list on my homemade hummus is 5 ingredients long, most of those ingredients being spices! If I had the ability to make vegan cheese and vegan mayo I probably would want to do that too, because frankly I'm getting fed up with the rising prices of vegan food choices! Although being vegan will never be as expensive as a meat eaters grocery bill would be, I can spend $5.29 on a package of vegan cheese, where your lucky to get the same amount of dairy cheese for $6.00, same with veggie ground round, $4.50 is good compared to $6-8 dollars for ground beef! Not only is it less expensive it is also cruelty, hormone and chemical free, so in the end vegan-ism wins over in my books!
I have decided to stay away from the processed vegan food because it's more of a junk food item! Yes vegans have junk food items, most "meat" alternatives in my books are junk food! I will happily be making my own burgers this summer, as well as my own ground "beef." Not only is it better for me, it's cost effective and tastes much better when you make it yourself! I made a vegan lasagna with lentils and almond cheese, and it was by far the best lasagna I've had in a long time! I will also start canning my own pickles, store bought pickles have ground up beetles in them to make them the bright green colour! I will also make my own blanched and canned seasonal vegetables, and fruit, because you can never have enough vegetables and fruit on hand. And out of season fruit and vegetables are expensive, so why not can some peaches for the winter, or blanch and can some carrots for soups and stir fry's when you can get them in large quantities at the Farmers Market over the summer! Or even blanch and freeze kale or spinach for green smoothies and soups! I will also can tomatoes, and make my own spaghetti sauce. Along with canning I would like to get into the habit of making my own hummus, breads (using healthier flours), burgers and "meat" alternative items. I want to get into a more healthy, budget friendly, clean way of eating, to better my self but to also set myself up for the future! I know once I move away from home the convenience foods will be easier to reach for, but I don't want to fall into that trap, so I want to train myself to take time each week to pre-make staple items that can be frozen, canned or kept in the refrigerator for later use! I may even get as ambitious as to start making my own nut butters, I am in love with natural peanut butter, but have you seen the cost of it, ouch! I enjoy making my own juice and will start making my own vegan ice cream, so why not progress into a cleaner, healthier, cheaper life style and make more things from scratch, I know my body would thank me, and so would my wallet!
Jumping on the cleaner life style band wagon will not be an easy one, and I often will fall from my path, but I know if I can get into this routine I will be better off for it later! I will post recipes (my own, I don't plan on following many recipes in this journey), and pictures to show my progress!
Cheers to a healthy life style, my carrot orange juice is waiting for me!