Slow Down and See What’s New
If you are just switching to a vegetarian diet, you are probably thinking about simply removing meats from the foods that you already eat. There is a different way: allocate some time to wander around a natural foods store or a farmer’s market to see what’s new and available. Chances are, you’ll be surprised with how many interesting things you’ll be able to find.
Experiment with New Foods
When trying new foods, you are virtually guaranteed to find something that you will love, but also something that you will hate. Don’t be afraid of that. It’s a part of a natural process. Buy new foods in small quantities and experiment with them.
Ask Store Employees for Help
Store employees usually have a pretty good idea of which foods sell well, have some fun ideas to try, and where the hard to find products are located. Especially if you’re shopping at a store that tends to cater to those who eat specific diets like vegan and vegetarian.
If you want to buy a specific product that you have just read about, but don’t see it on the shelves, don’t be afraid to talk to the employees or ask for the manager. The product may be in a different section than you read about online. Even if your store doesn’t carry it, the manager may suggest where you can find it nearby or sometimes they may even help you order it in.
Keep your costs under control
Living a vegetarian lifestyle can be very inexpensive because fruits, vegetables, soy and other vegetarian products are usually not as expensive as meats. You can lose the economic benefits if you buy everything at expensive organic stores, which is why you should employ a number of strategies to keep your costs under control.
1. Keep the basic building blocks on hand
As you spend some time as a vegetarian, you will discover that you use the same building blocks over and over again. These blocks will likely include pastas, beans, rice, and cereals. When you see these items go on sale, stock up.
2. Freeze Fruits and Veggies
You will also be eating lots of vegetables and berries on a regular basis. This can be tricky and expensive to do when they are not in season. So if you see a sale on fruits or veggies, stock up on those as well, then you can freeze them yourself to use later. Plus, if you do freeze them yourself, they’ll be better quality than the ones you buy already frozen.
3. Buy in Bulk When Possible
Once you do identify the building blocks of your vegetarian diet, find an economical way to replace them quickly. Buying in bulk is the most cost-effective ways to shop and many of the warehouse stores such as BJs and Costco carry a variety of organic foods such as fresh salads and frozen berries.
4. Try private labels and store brands
Many stores, including Costco, Whole Foods, and BJs, take a great pride in their private labels. Oftentimes food is great quality, sometimes the exact quality, or other name brands and the price is less compared to big national brands. Typical high-quality store brand foods include cereals, soymilk, various sauces, peanut butter, and fresh greens.
5. Scale back on specialty items
Specialty items such as frozen entrees with faces on famous chefs on them and gourmet condiments can be very expensive. These specialty items are also usually not worth it. Sure, they are often convenient, however, they’re also usually rather simple recipes that you could easily make and freeze yourself. By passing on these items, not only will you save money, but you will also buy foods that come without excessive packaging.
6. Get the best value for you
While a standard bag of carrots is definitely going to be less expensive than a bag of pre-washed pre-cut carrots, you may not touch it forever because of all the work that you’ll have to do to clean and cut the carrots. On the other hand, you are probably more likely to eat the pre-washed carrots faster. Know what works for you, know the value of your time and buy the foods that offer the best value, not necessarily in terms of just the lowest price.
7. Buy foods to cook at home
Americans typically spend around 40% of their food budgets on eating out. This means that you can save a lot of money by cooking at home. The key is to have basics ready in your pantry so that you can quickly mix and match the ingredients to create a meals you enjoy.