Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Moderators: brighteyes82

Vegan in College on a Budget

Quote  |  Reply
Suggestions could be helpful for anyone with a tight budget actually..

I am vegetarian, used to be vegan.. I gave in because I love cheese and got frustrated with milk and eggs being in pretty much every bread product. And cheese pizza. Cheese is my downfall. Also I would look online and hear people talking about sprouted grains and complex cooking methods.. I just dont have the time or money for it.

My personal favorite thing to eat for breakfast is cereal with almond milk and some sort of fruit (banannas are cheap). But I havent had it in a long time.

We do have a specialty foods store, but it is expensive. If i could afford it, I would go there.. all organic, mostly vegetarian/vegan store. I've been there a few times for nutritional yeast and almonds.
Edited Nov 20 2006 04:13 by Erik
Reason: Post description
26 Replies (last)
Quote  |  Reply
Organic is expensive. Things are almost double in price. For example: Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk: $2.19, organic sweetened condensed milk: $5.29. Or eggs, half dozen organic for the same price as one dozen cage free eggs.

Stick to organic food staples, like brown rice. Other than that, everything else not organic is totally fine.

A guide to being vegiterrian.. too for the little Kosher (K or U) symbol on packages of food. If theres a D next to it, then theres also dairy in the package. Everything that isn't kosher has somehow been in contact with animal products. (Well, most things, the Kashi Black bean mango frozen dinner is vegiterrian but not kosher.)

Buy things with coupons, things on sale, and store brand items. Definatly buy things in season too, or if your craving those out of season blueberrys, look in the freezer isle.
Quote  |  Reply
Yes organic is VERY expensive, but for moral/health reasons I wish we had a farmers market around here.

I've been dipping into a big bag of brown rice for a while. I made a dinner tonight with rice and canned vegtables with hoisin sauce and spices. The canned vegtables were TERRIBLE and not worth it for the sodium content (though it wasnt bad).

Good advice on the Kosher labels. I am a label fiend and can spend hours in a grocery store figuring out what I can/should eat.

I also miss my specialty herbal teas. I bought a good amount as a treat and went through the rest of it last week.
I'm in exactly the same boat. I'm in college and dedicated to veganism, but have to use so much of my income of food that its really discouraging. Personally, its worth it to me.

Some of the ways I've found to get good foods in, but not go too overbudget is to buy lots of veggies cause they can be used in a variety of ways and last for the whole week used in several meals. I usually try to prepare some kind of soup (just buy veggie broth and put whatever you want in it) or a skillet-cooked mixture of veggies. I add salt, pepper, onion, and garlic. Also, if you buy like one of each kind of veggie you want, you won't be wasting anything. You can also try buying bags of mixed frozen veggies cause its super fast to cook up and eat. And they last!

Another thing I do is buy canned beans to add protein to these meals. Other things I buy: soy burgers (morningstar), soy milk (8th continent), occasionally almonds or cashews, luna bars, bananas, and crackers. The main thing to do is buy in season if you can! If you can find a local farm around your area, you will be supporting local ag and also may be buying organic at cheaper prices. And remember, you don't have to buy everything organic, usually you can go regular if it has a thick skin you won't be eating (like oranges, bananas, etc). If it has a thin skin, then you should (if you can) buy the organic version. Good luck!

I would suggest checking to see if there are any local farmers markets near campus, because you could probably get some good organic/local produce for pretty cheap. And for Christmas i'm asking for tons of spices, extracts, and baking supplies so I won't have to buy them on my own later on. :)
Quote  |  Reply
all very good advice.

If there is a farmers market I cant get to it. I live on campus.. no car. I shop at the local Kroger.  How long do fresh vegtables last generally?

Im not a huge fan of beans.. which Im working on. Meat subsitutes are pretty expensive. I prepare tofu when I can.
Quote  |  Reply
My hubby and I are on a food budget, we're at $100 US a month, which includes about $5 a week to stock up on non-perishables.  My best advice is buy fresh produce, especially the cheap ones like potatoes, cabbage, and cheap apples.  Then kick up the flavor with things like limes, garlic, and fresh ginger. 

Try to get whole grains into your diet instead of refined: they'll fill you up faster and you won't have to eat as much.  I make our bread each week, and each loaf costs under 80 cents (including baking electricity).  Also, brown rice, cracked wheat, and cornmeal are great and relativily cheap.

Beans can be a hassle when you first start.  Canned ones are convenient, but they cost more than dried.  Where I live I can get a can of beans for about 60 cents, or a pound of dried ones for the same price.  One can of beans has almost 2 cups in it, a pound of beans will make 7 cups on average.  So at the beginning of each week I cook a pound of beans and that's what we use instead of canned.  You can also freeze cooked beans.
lazurii makes a good point. 
If there is a farmers market I cant get to it. I live on campus.. no car.

No car, great! But there are other ways to get around. Is there public transportation, or a school-sponsored shuttle? Can you walk? Does the university have a student union you could work with to organise a weekly market trip? If you really want to get to a market, you will find a way to do it.

Join (or start) a group for vegetarian students on campus. Then you'll have friends who will want to trade recipes, go to markets, share bulk foods, and even eat with.

Food, like most aspects of life, has three attributes: cheap, fast or good (pick any two). You must decide how to balance those factors. You can buy expensive convenience foods that are good for you, or cheap ones that are bad for you. Or you can buy cheap, healthy foods you need to spend time preparing. It's up to you.

Quote  |  Reply
great suggestions.

I dont know many other vegetarians, but I do have friends who enjoy good food. Perhaps I can get them together more often to get food. I will look into clubs on campus and see what i can find.

I made a bag of beans at the beggining of the week.. I thought my roomates were gonna kill me for the space took up in the fridge. Im trying to eat them more.. but I cant handle them everyday. Maybe I will stick with canned and just have them occasionally. Im trying to make them grow on me, but I think having more beans than I know what to do with looming over me every time i opened the fridge isnt the way to go.
Oh, I know that budget well. Rice and beans, even organic, are cheap. Cook up a big pot on the weekend and it will last days and days. Than just add a fresh veggie each night to go with it. Brocoli can just be rinsed and streamed, you don't even need to cut it. Also, whole wheat tortillas can be kept frozen and make a good wrap for cream cheese, peanut butter and tons of stuff. Making a casorole like lasagna or mac and cheese is quick and you can freeze it in individual servings. It will last more than 6 months in a good freezer and you'd get about 8 servings for one day's cooking. Breakfast can get really expensive with almond milk and store bought cereals. Do you like oatmeal or cream of wheat? The rolled oats and other non instant breakfast grains only take about 5 minutes to cook. If you just love the cold cereal and are not vegan, you could alternate with cow's milk since it's so much cheaper. Hope this helps.
Good suggestions on finding farmers markets.  Also, I don't know if you have this where you are (they're here in PA) but we have "Produce Junctions."  They're different from a normal place to buy fruits and veggies because everything is pre-packaged and weighed in bags (so you can't decide you want 1 lb of bananas if they're packaged in 3 lb bags) and sometimes the people behind the counter and you can only pay cash, but you can get those 3 lbs of bananas for 1.00 and even more "exotic" veggies (I like banana peppers and shitake and portobello mushrooms) are WAY cheaper than in a grocery store and they selection is great.  Most of the stuff is locally grown and in-season.  Some of them you can also get eggs and fresh cut flowers for really cheap too.  It would be a good thing to do with friends since you have to buy in quantities.

Canned beans are also a good way to get your protein and mad cheap.  Also rice and pasta.  Even the cheapie pasta-sauce that comes in the can really isn't all THAT bad, especially if you can spring for some spices (expensive but last forever) to doctor it up a bit.  Store-brand frozen veggies are also cheap.  I'm vegan on a budget too and we do a lot of stir frys with a mix of frozen and fresh veggies.  We eat a lot of rice and bean dishes too.  Soymilk and cereal get mad expensive, so I treat myself to that once in a while, but usually I have regular oatmeal with some banana and a tsp of brown sugar in the morning.  Way cheaper and it'll keep you full for a lot longer.

Also, I've found that "natural" foods actually cost MORE outside of health food stores.  I guess they figure it's some sort of privelege that Acme or Giant or Superfresh or whatever carries that at all.  People ask "how can you afford to shop at Whole Foods?"  And frankly, I buy their "generic" store brand (it's called 365 and some of it's organic) and actually SAVE money.

It's actually cheaper that you drink real milk because the government does price-fixing so that milk can never be outlandishly expensive.  If you're ever feeling like you want soy though, there's no easy answer because soymilk is always ridiculously priced.  Try different store brands, just read ingredients (some of the more unscrupulous companies *cough8thcontinentcough* put creepy chemicals in theirs and most of them aren't even vegan which pretty much defeats the purpose) and give them a whirl.  The ones in the shelf-stable boxes keep longer.  Frankly I though the 365 soymilk (Whole Foods store brand) was AWFUL, but the Giant store brand soymilk was yummy, vegan, and I could pronounce all the ingredients.  Go figure.

Also, if anyone is sick of paying out the nose for vegan cheese that might not be that good anyway (I STILL cannot get Follow Your Heart Brand to melt...perhaps I'm missing a nuclear explosion element in my oven??) try going to  You can get mac 'n' chreese, or packets of "chreese" in different flavors.  Packs of 5 including shipping run me about 10 bucks.  Not incredibly cheap, but still better than paying 6 bucks for Follow Your Heart at Whole Foods just so it can go bad 2 days after you open the block.  Chreese in the packets is non-perishable and you can make it as liquid-y or completely solid as you want (so yes, it can be melt-y!) depending on how much water/soymilk you add.  I had some grilled chreese last week and I'm making lasagne with that stuff tonight.  You can also buy in bulk and they have nutritional yeast on the site too.

I have yet to find cheap vegan bread.  Even at Whole Foods the only kind without honey is the ORGANIC Vermont Breads, which also happen to be the most expensive on the shelf.  Yay.  And I refuse to eat white bread even though it's vegan.  The thought of high fructose corn syrup being in my BREAD just skeeves me out.  Suggestions?

Happy eating!
my local food co-op is my saving grace when it comes to groceries.  i'm also a college student, vegan, and on a budget. i spend about $65-100 a month on groceries, sometimes even less.

the co-op is by far the cheapest place to buy veg*n-friendly and organic fare.  much cheaper than the regular supermarkets.  i get 10% off shelf prices due to my free low-income membership, and i recieve an additional 25% off for volunteering 3 hours a week there. 

if it's worth it to you to eat organic, i would suggest shopping at a co-op and/or farmer's market.  there you will find much cheaper produce than regular supermarkets.

try to make everything from scratch as best you can.  this saves a lot of money since packaged food costs more.

buy in bulk.  i'm only cooking for myself, so the bulk bin helps me tons of money each week.  brown rice and dried beans and legumes are incredibly cheap, as are oats and other healthy foods.  you can even purchase spices in bulk, which saves me incredibly amounts of money. i only buy what i need for certain recipes and i don't have to pay a ton for spices i won't regularly use. 

also, buy things on sale and in season.  my co-op has weekly produce sales and monthly specials, and also puts out coupon booklets every once in a while.  i try to utilize sales and clearance items and i try to buy produce when it's in season for its cheapest price.  i once paid $4 for a head of out-of-season organic cauliflower and i never will again.

hope this helps a bit :)
veganlove, 8th continent isn't vegan :x

to cut down on grocery costs, buy in BULK when possible, it's much much cheaper. also bags of dry beans are wicked cheap.
*looks at veganlady's post*

Thanks, I've posted to a few vegans in here about the ick of 8th Continent (they get their vitamin D from animal sources) not being vegan and I felt like no one was listening.  Personally, I think even if it WAS vegan, the gross-ness of the "artificial flavors" and preservatives would make me not buy it anyway.  I bought it once before I knew about the non-vegan thing and read the label after I got home and pretty much didn't want it after that (I've since learned to read my labels IN the store!).  I even tried a little bit of it and thought it tasted chemcial-y.  Frankly, Silk just tastes better, uses non-GMO soybeans, is made from all natural ingredients, and you can buy it in any grocery store.
ahh! 8th continent's vitamin D is from animal products? how did you guys find that out? ive been thinking i was vegan...boooo for 8th continent!
i read it in a livejournal community. i've never had it though, i stick with westsoy ff or edensoy.
Oh, & dumpster diving if you're down with that sort of thing. I'm definitely going to try it out sometime.
Quote  |  Reply
For soy milk, I just found a recipe for making milk from soy flour.  I haven't tried it yet because we just bought a ton of soy milk that was on sale.......8th Continent.  Curses!  It was $1.00 for a half gallon, I couldn't refuse.  I didn't know it's crap, but now I do.  So this is the recipe I'm going to try:

3 cups of water
1 cup of soy flour

Whisk the soy flour into the water, making sure there are no lumps.  Simmer for 20 mins and then strain the mixture, retaining the "milk".  They said you could even use a nylon stocking to strain, but a reall fine cheese cloth would work too.  I have a towel I'm going to use that has a really loose weave, but the edges are bound so I can wash it.

This will give you plain, unflavored soy milk, which is great for baking.  Sweeten and flavor for drinking.  I don't know how much this makes (at least three cups, and hopefully a full quart) but I can buy soy flour for 25 cents a cup.

Of course, it's not fortified, but you could always take a supplement if you're that scared.
Quote  |  Reply
Okay, here are the ingredients for my Original Light 8th Continents Soymilk:

Soymilk (water, soy protein, soybean oil, calcium phosphate), sugar, potassium citrate, sodium plyphosphate, dipotassium phosphate, soy lecithin, salt, carrageenan, xanthan gum, natural and artificial flavor, sucralose (WTF?), riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin D2, vitamin B12

So at least the vitamin D2 is plant derived, but there are a lot of scary substances in there, like SUCRALOSE! *shudder*

Go to this website to learn more about sucralose: tloss/splenda.asp

Edit:  I've read all my other jugs, and only the Light have sucralose.  The regulars and fat-frees do not have it.
Tip on finding fresh fruits and vegetables cheap. Look for your closest Indian grocery store. They are bunch of them near where i live and the prices are dirt cheap. They are half of what you pay at grocery stores. Plus you get all the legumes, pulses, rice, grains cheap too. They also have wonderful spices which will make your food taste delicous. 
26 Replies (last)