Eating Plant-Strong on a Budget

If I had a nickel for every time I was asked, “But, where do you get your protein?” I would have a very full piggy bank. But, after the answer to that question is settled, the next thing I hear is this, “But, really, how do you afford to eat this way, I just don’t have the money to eat like you do?”

Well, the truth is, you can easily afford to eat this way, just put down the hoagie and burger, and you’ll see that being plant-strong is very cost-effective.  The other thing is that eating plant-strong is actually an investment  into your health and well-being, because when you look at the costs of the physical effects from the Standard American Diet (SAD), eating plant-strong is far more cost-effective in the long run. With skyrocketing health care costs, suffice it to say that eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet is the best way I know to contain my own health care costs.  The wellness effect  from eating healthy is great and how you feel cannot be duplicated by taking a prescription medication.

If you are a member of a big box store, you know, the kind of store where you need a flat-bed cart to wheel your groceries through the store?  There is a panacea of goodness erupting in these stores.  It used to be that you could only buy processed foods, but you can now find beautiful, organic produce, which is the cornerstone to any plant-strong meal.  It’s easy to get sidelined at these huge stores by so much food, but if you go to any store, a grocery list in hand is your best defense.

Recently, I was approached by someone who asked how I could afford to eat plant-strong.  They  said that they “eat cheap foods.”  And I thought to myself, “If I can make a full dinner with rice, beans and kale and spend under five-dollars for a meal, surely, you jest.” When people change their mindset of what “expensive” means to them, I think it might be easier to dispel the myth.  Going to a fast-food drive-thru is what’s expensive.  You are not eating real food.  And, I also think, based on my convo, that people perceive that they need to eat “a starch, a green vegetable, and animal protein.”  When it is highly processed, it is laced with fat, salt, sugar and preservatives.  It isn’t even real.  Your taste buds are greatly altered.  Anyway, I could go on.  Ready-made dinners in plastic dishes aren’t what your mother intended for you to eat.

How to make it easy? Gradual kindness to yourself is a great way to start. Plus, these five tips might find themselves into your next conversation with someone who questions your healthy lifestyle.

  1. Plan your weekly menu, then, extract what you need to buy and create a list. Buy what you need by making a list.  The list really helps to keep you on track.  Set a weekly budget, too.
  2. Avoid impulse purchases. Ignore the cute displays, if an item isn’t on your list, do not put it in your cart.
  3. Buy in bulk. Items like brown rice, whole oats, and dry beans are a mainstay. When you get home, label the foods and place them in air-tight jars.
  4. If you purchase fresh greens, as soon as you get them home, wash them, strip them, and store them in labeled containers in the fridge. This way, when you “don’t feel like cooking,” half of the work is already done for you, because you have stripped kale,  diced onion, celery, etc.  Besides, it will avoid the “science experiment” in the back of the fridge.
  5. Make enough food for dinner so that you can have leftovers for lunch! Not eating out for lunch or hitting the salad bar daily is a huge savings.

Sometimes, I have to get serious with people.  And, in a discussion (usually with a close friend), it takes itself to this point.  It is a matter of priority and what you value in your life.  If it is your health and well-being, then being plant-strong is where it is at.  If buying useless items or “things” is what you perceive as important, well, then, maybe you can easily convince yourself that the convenience of SAD food is more suited for you.

But, the reality is that following a plant-strong diet can be very cost effective.  Maybe the initial layout of getting your pantry in order will be costly, but once set, you are golden.  I can spend $50 a week for groceries for my husband and me.  And we do it based on planning and priority.

And do not think for one moment that I didn’t come from a skeptical place in believing that eating a plant-based diet wasn’t cost-effective.  Before I became plant-strong, I was a drive-thru champion, weighing 297 pounds, eating all sorts of crazy food and always starting a diet on Monday.  By Wednesday or Thursday, the diet was over.  And, I remember, vividly thinking that a plant-based diet was too expensive for my budget.  And, then, came along Engine 2 with its beacon to a healthy way to eat and live.

There are many benefits of being plant-strong.  And in the kitchen, there is one more aspect.  Kitchen clean-up is a breeze and time effective. No grease, anywhere, and you are in and out of the kitchen in moments.