It seems like we’ve got a lot of people searching the interwebs for tips on being vegan on a budget. Isn’t that a little messed up when you think about it? For years, meat’s been seen as a status symbol intended for those who can afford it, delegating beans and rice to “poor people,” and yet the growing abundance of packaged vegan convenience food has made it way too easy to top the grocery bill of just about any omnivore.
With that in mind, I felt a little guilty with the latest round of vegan cooking videos we’ve got going on the just-relaunched Eazy Vegan Cooking Show. Our first video is all about how to use a pressure cooker, which can run you around $100 for a good one, and next week I’ll be using close to a thousand dollars in equipment (which is mostly optional, and we got our dehydrator for free, but still!)
By way of explanation, I thought it’d be good to talk a little bit about food budgets and how sometimes “spending to save” can make a lot of sense.
First of all, if you actually use your kitchen instead of eating takeout or relying heavily on “assemble and reheat” convenience foods (I’m looking at you with a mix of love and regret, Tofurky,) you’re going to save a significant amount of money. From there, it’s a matter of working to lower your average cost per meal.
I love using beans to fill out a meal. OK, mostly I just love to eat hummous straight out of a bowl, yes, with a spoon, don’t you judge me, but the point is, beans are an incredibly healthful addition to any meal and they make it hard to add much else in the way of bulk.
Canned beans are the most convenient way to cook with beans, but the dry beans are significantly cheaper, and as a bonus they store easily and weigh less than cans, which can make them better choices for both you and the environment. The only challenge is that they’re a pain to cook, in my opinion, without a pressure cooker.
I spent some time looking up prices for canned versus dry beans, but it seemed to vary by location a fair bit, so do your own math. My main point today is that if you’re willing to commit to regular additions of beans in your diet, it doesn’t take very long (under a year, easily) for the savings to add up to the price of a pressure cooker. (and yes, they do a lot more than cook beans…)
Of course, you have to be careful with this kind of logic! I often find myself rationalizing far too many “money savers” at a time, which can result in racking up a lot of up-front costs for many items that I won’t end up using (just ask Angela!) – as with everything else I talk about, be sure to make one change in your routine at a time so you can easily figure out what’s working for you and what’s not without being too disruptive to everything else that’s going on with your life.
If I was more opportunistic, I’d salt this post with affiliate links to various pressure cookers available online, but honestly they’re the kind of thing that you can often find used on Craigslist or Kijiji – I think they’re like the home exercise equipment of cooking gear or something.
So over to you – what’s the one kitchen upgrade you’ve bought that’s saved you the most money? And going the other way, what’s the one you thought would be “the one” but turned out to be a waste? Let me know in the comments!