A veg diet can be a money saver as well as a life saver for you and animals. Recent increases in the costs of many grocery items, particularly milk and other animal products, have been attributed to the high cost of fuel and other resources.

Many plant-based staples, however, are still relatively inexpensive—including beans, pasta, rice, tofu, and potatoes—making it a good economic idea to eat meals with plant-based foods rather than meat. Plus, going veg reduces your risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and some types of cancer—so it can really help you save on your medical bills!

Tips to Save Money and Time

  • Plan your meals in advance by jotting down dinner ideas a few days ahead, and make lists of things to buy for the week. (Click here to get tasty veg recipes.)
  • Don’t be tempted to eat out every day—pack a lunch.
  • Make enough to have leftovers. Don’t be afraid of the freezer—leftovers are great the next day, but many things (from soup to pasta) can be frozen and kept longer too.
  • Shop in the bulk section, where you can often purchase veg items like pasta, rice, spices, and beans at cheaper prices than the pre-packaged brands, and you can buy as much or as little as you need. Or try bulk pre-packaged foods from warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.
  • Clip coupons. Many makers of mock meats and nondairy products are now owned by larger companies like Kellogg’s, so their coupons are more readily available. Look for coupons online too.

Here are some easy meal ideas that are as cost-effective as they are satisfying.

Breakfast

  • Cereal with soy or rice milk, topped with blueberries, sliced bananas, or raisins
  • Oatmeal with sliced fruit, jelly, maple syrup, or soy milk
  • Toast or a bagel with peanut butter, jam, hummus, or margarine
  • Fresh fruit with soy yogurt
  • Smoothie made with frozen banana chunks or berries and orange juice (add peanut butter or protein powder for an additional boost)

Lunch and Dinner

  • Veggie sandwich made with cucumber, tomato, lettuce, sprouts, and mustard or hummus
  • Bean burrito (just wrap some beans, veggies, rice, and salsa in a tortilla)
  • Canned vegetarian chili or soup
  • Pasta with tomato sauce and frozen veggies (splurge and mix in some meatless meatballs)
  • Baked potato topped with salsa, baked beans, chili, or tofu sour cream
  • Veggie burgers or veggie hot dogs (top with chili or baked beans for variety)
  • Fresh salad (add some zing by tossing in nuts, raisins, chopped “deli slices,” or diced apples)
  • Stir-fry vegetables and tofu and serve with rice, noodles, or another grain (add garlic, oil and water, and soy sauce for extra flavor)
  • Cheeseless or soy-cheese pizza topped with loads of veggies and garlic

Snacks

  • Chips and salsa
  • Pita and hummus
  • Celery, apples, or carrots dipped in peanut butter or tofu cream cheese
  • Raw vegetable plate (carrot sticks, tomato wedges, and celery)
  • Potato wedges (sliced, baked, and topped with spices and salt, margarine, or barbecue sauce)
  • Trail mix (make your own with nuts, raisins, dried fruits, and sunflower seeds)
  • Pretzels

What’s your favorite veg snack?