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Following a Dairy-free Diet on a Budget

Jun 17, 2024

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
By Tiffany Bruno, Director of Education at Switch4Good

 

The prices of groceries have sky-rocketed recently. You might walk out of the store having spent a small fortune, then suddenly two days later you have nothing left to cook for dinner.

So what are you supposed to do when you want to stick to your healthy lifestyle, but feel like it’s getting too expensive? Or maybe you’ve been wanting to switch to a dairy-free lifestyle, but you’re worried it’ll cost more than your usual bill. We have some tips to keep you healthy– both your body and wallet.

Prepare foods at home

Tale as old as time, eating at home is typically cheaper than going out. While we usually hear this when discussing meals, this extends to packaged and prepared foods as well.

For example, oat milk is incredibly easy to make at home with just oats, a blender, and a nut milk bag. If your household goes through a lot of plant-based milk, this can lead to significant savings over time. One of the best parts of making plant-based milks at home is that you can completely customize what goes into it. Almonds, cashews, pistachios, oats… the combinations are endless. And if you prefer it sweeter, you can add maple syrup or dates, or go for a different flavor profile with vanilla extract and cinnamon.

Need some granola for all the milk you’re making? Try our recipe for Maple Cinnamon Oil-free Granola, which is a fraction of the cost of store-bought granola.

Buy in bulk

If you have the storage space available, buying in bulk is another easy way to shave off some dollars from your grocery bill. For example, cashews are the base of a lot of dairy-free cheese sauces. Since cashews and other nuts can be expensive, buying larger quantities will score you a lower price per ounce. (Pro tip: store nuts in the freezer to keep them fresh longer.) Dry foods like rice and pasta, canned foods like beans, and frozen foods like vegetables are also good options for stocking up, and will go well with that cheese sauce.

Bonus: if you have extra staple ingredients ready to be turned into a meal, you are less likely to turn to take out, saving you even more money. Frozen veggies, canned beans, and a grain can be an easy, delicious, and satisfying meal that comes together in a pinch.

Try shopping at a new grocery store

While premium stores like Whole Foods or Erewhon are fun for finding new and innovative products, they aren’t the only options for buying dairy-free and plant-based foods. Fortunately, big box stores are now stocking their shelves with a huge variety of dairy-free options.

Different stores might also have lower prices or better sales. It’s worth it to explore a few options near you and find the one that has your favorite products at the best price. Stores like Target, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart have also been producing milks, cheeses, ice creams, and more under their house labels, which come at a cheaper price point. When compared to the name brand, it’s often impossible to tell the difference.

Go back to basics for meals

When you are following a plant-based diet, many of the staples are naturally low cost. Some examples include beans, grains, frozen or canned vegetables, and frozen fruit for smoothies. In season fruits and vegetables tend to be more affordable as well.

Grain bowls are an easy meal with endless combinations and can be very affordable. Take a look at our GoodBowls for inspiration on unique flavor profiles from around the world. Or create your own from what’s in your fridge and pantry. Use the graphic below to help guide you to ensure your meal is nutritionally balanced.

Get even more tips from one of our award-winning podcast episodes, Quick & Easy Plant-Based Cooking On A Budget With Author Toni Okamoto!

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