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Frugal month challenge

StrangeOtter

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It's notoriously easy to be frugal on vegan lifestyle. At least when carnists claim that vegan food is too expensive, I get all smug explaining them that potatoes, rice, beans and the seasonal veggies are the cheapest you can find from the grocery store.
But who at the end of the day lives that frugaly unless having financial issues? I go easily over my mothly budget unless I count every penny.
I have been practicing frugal lifestyle for about my whole life, but lately have been back sliding. I'm going to make a frugal month challenge starting off next month. The lowest I think for me to live off and still treat myself from time to time is 100 euros.

Intention is to prove that living with less is feasible even if you are financially in a fortunate situation and that frugality doesn't have to come up as something you are willing to do only when it's the only option left.

I would love to hear frugal grocery tips and tricks from you.
What would be the lowest you could live off?
Would you like to begin this challenge also?
 

Limuray

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Hello, StrangeOtter!
I would like to say that living in the place I live being a vegan is more expensive. Yes, rice, beans and peas are cheap. But if I want to have some variety, I have to spend quite a lot. For example, the most expensive foods I could think of right now are nuts, milk substitutes, quinoa and even salad (in summer I grow my own). Sweet potatoes are amazingly expensive in every season. Bananas and pineapples are always expensive. Also in supermarkets vegan food isle is very small (combined with gluten free food), haven't seen any meat substitutes yet except for three types of soy patties.
Now I have no money struggles, but I grew up in poverty so I am a frugal since childhood. In college years I lived off 90 euros per month.
The best way to save up some money for me is eating oatmeal for breakfast instead of bread. And make a whole pot of bean/chickpea stew that lasts for at least 4 days.
The lowest I could live off right now is also 100 euros.
 

StrangeOtter

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Hello, StrangeOtter!
I would like to say that living in the place I live being a vegan is more expensive. Yes, rice, beans and peas are cheap. But if I want to have some variety, I have to spend quite a lot. For example, the most expensive foods I could think of right now are nuts, milk substitutes, quinoa and even salad (in summer I grow my own). Sweet potatoes are amazingly expensive in every season. Bananas and pineapples are always expensive. Also in supermarkets vegan food isle is very small (combined with gluten free food), haven't seen any meat substitutes yet except for three types of soy patties.
Now I have no money struggles, but I grew up in poverty so I am a frugal since childhood. In college years I lived off 90 euros per month.
The best way to save up some money for me is eating oatmeal for breakfast instead of bread. And make a whole pot of bean/chickpea stew that lasts for at least 4 days.
The lowest I could live off right now is also 100 euros.
Thank you for the reply!
I have to admit that you are right about how vegan food also can be expensive, depending on what you buy. I didn't take that into consideration. Here where I live the situation is the same as yours. If I want to live with 100 euros/month I have to limit the amount of fruit, oatdrink and tofu that I buy. Which, to be honest, sucks. Badly.
Frugal living is striving to have more minimalistic approach to sustenance. Perhaps this (more extreme way) is only the way I want to percieve it as. But there is different way, for different people.

We didn't have to live in poverty, all thanks to my father who worked hard and pinched every penny so that we could have a home and enough food. I reckon that living experience probably made me become frugal from very young age. Even as an adult I still always feel guilty if I buy something expensive from the grocery store haha!

Thank you for the frugal tip. Beans and chickpeas are fortunately cheap, nutritious and delicious all in the same packet. Are you going to try out (extreme) frugal month? Or do you think it wouldn't be worth it? Are you going to stay frugal in your own comfort level?
 
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hopeful

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This is a very cool thread!

As a suggestion, have you tried making oat milk? I haven't, but I've seen it made on YouTube and it looks pretty easy, yet cheaper than store-bought.

I am lucky that bananas and potatoes are really inexpensive where I live, especially bananas. Other produce can be quite expensive though. I try to buy cheaper things when I can (like a bigger tub of oatmeal is cheaper per serving than a smaller tub, at least the brand I buy, so I go for the bigger one). I don't like to spend a lot on groceries, but I also really like fresh foods. It can be a hard balance. You are getting me thinking about trying something like this though.
 

Limuray

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Even as an adult I still always feel guilty if I buy something expensive from the grocery store
Same!
I would love to also begin this challenge - have to think of few cheap main recipes.
Also tip for cheaper lifestyle - I always take homemade launch to work. Dining out is just for special occasions.
 
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StrangeOtter

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This is a very cool thread!

As a suggestion, have you tried making oat milk? I haven't, but I've seen it made on YouTube and it looks pretty easy, yet cheaper than store-bought.

I am lucky that bananas and potatoes are really inexpensive where I live, especially bananas. Other produce can be quite expensive though. I try to buy cheaper things when I can (like a bigger tub of oatmeal is cheaper per serving than a smaller tub, at least the brand I buy, so I go for the bigger one). I don't like to spend a lot on groceries, but I also really like fresh foods. It can be a hard balance. You are getting me thinking about trying something like this though.
Thank you! I was afraid that this idea would be too cringeworthy. Awesome to be wrong haha.
Thanks for the suggestion. I have had that in mind for a long time actually, I just haven't purchased a blender yet, but maybe I will stop overthinking and just buy one this month. Even if blenders are pricy they pay themselves back in no time, considering you can make oat drink, hummus, tofu "cheese", garlic mince and smoothies. DIY is always cheaper and much more fun.
It's great that bananas and potatoes are cheap in your area but too bad that fresh produce isn't, taking into account that those are the healthiest. How about frozen veggies, are those cheaper than fresh options?

Cool if the thread got you motivated into trying this. Have you tried frugal month challenges before?

One tip from me I could add... cause why not: When I moved into my own home and started budgeting it was chaotic at first. What made budgeting simple was to make a list of necessities so that decisions would happen in a more concious level of "need" instead of "want". How I did it, and this may sound OCD, was to save all receipts, analyzing those I noticed patterns of what I generally buy, then to transition into more frugal lifestyle I eliminated everything that wasn't vital for my health.
 
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StrangeOtter

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I would love to also begin this challenge - have to think of few cheap main recipes.
Also tip for cheaper lifestyle - I always take homemade launch to work. Dining out is just for special occasions.

Awesome! Would you like to share some of your recipes? I mean, if that isn't too much trouble.
And thank you for the tip!
 

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I'm on a pretty tight budget because of certain habits and circumstances.

What I do to save money for food:

I make all my own nut and seed milks
I make (nearly) all my own sauces
Some of the food I eat is bulk bought - for instance, I have a 20kg bag of sproutable barley I picked up for $15 AUD
I grow some of the vegetables I eat
I make some pretty easy no frills food. For instance tonight for dinner I had a shake that was brown rice that had soaked over night, pulverized into a flour, lightly heated with some dates then blended with some frozen strawberries and cocoa powder and water. It was delicious and hit the spot.
 
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Emma JC

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For those of us in Canada, I discovered today that, Loblaws/Presidents Choice has a WholeSale Club and many items like beans and frozen fruits etc are less expensive (some by half - canned beans) than the regular size in the stores.
https://www.wholesaleclub.ca

We eat the Yellow Label breakfast beans regularly as they are oil free so I will be checking out the store soon.

Emma JC
 
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hopeful

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It's great that bananas and potatoes are cheap in your area but too bad that fresh produce isn't, taking into account that those are the healthiest. How about frozen veggies, are those cheaper than fresh options?

Cool if the thread got you motivated into trying this. Have you tried frugal month challenges before?
.

Frozen veggies are definitely much less expensive where I live, especially in the winter.

I haven't specifically tried frugal month challenge before, but it will be good to try! (Normally, I do try to conserve money because I don't have very much of it, but making it a challenge seems more fun!)
 
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Forest Nymph

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I have lived very minimalist as a vegan at some points. I think peanut butter with hot water, limes, hot sauce and soy sauce on noodles is amazing. Lentils with rosemary is good, beans with onions, rice with ginger and cilantro can be paired with beans or my peanut butter sauce. Frozen vegetables do good in abscence of fresh, and canned fruit or tomato sauce gives vitamin C.

Potatoes are dynamic topped with various veggies and condiments and should be eaten with the peel.

My only hesitation is towards TVP. It's worth it to splurge on real tofu or wheat gluten instead. I find it gross unless prepared correctly in processed foods. I lived off of TVP and beans once for two weeks and still hold a grudge against TVP.

Oatmeal is also your friend and sometimes the Dollar Store has soy milk etc.

Nutritional yeast too.
 

StrangeOtter

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I'm on a pretty tight budget because of certain habits and circumstances.

What I do to save money for food:

I make all my own nut and seed milks
I make (nearly) all my own sauces
Some of the food I eat is bulk bought - for instance, I have a 20kg bag of sproutable barley I picked up for $15 AUD
I grow some of the vegetables I eat
I make some pretty easy no frills food. For instance tonight for dinner I had a shake that was brown rice that had soaked over night, pulverized into a flour, lightly heated with some dates then blended with some frozen strawberries and cocoa powder and water. It was delicious and hit the spot.
I'm sorry to hear that. It can be stress inducing when forced by circumstances.
Thanks for the tips.
 

StrangeOtter

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I have lived very minimalist as a vegan at some points. I think peanut butter with hot water, limes, hot sauce and soy sauce on noodles is amazing. Lentils with rosemary is good, beans with onions, rice with ginger and cilantro can be paired with beans or my peanut butter sauce. Frozen vegetables do good in abscence of fresh, and canned fruit or tomato sauce gives vitamin C.

Potatoes are dynamic topped with various veggies and condiments and should be eaten with the peel.

My only hesitation is towards TVP. It's worth it to splurge on real tofu or wheat gluten instead. I find it gross unless prepared correctly in processed foods. I lived off of TVP and beans once for two weeks and still hold a grudge against TVP.

Oatmeal is also your friend and sometimes the Dollar Store has soy milk etc.

Nutritional yeast too.
Thank you for your contribution. I have to try out those recipes, especially the noodles.
I have had similar experience with TVP, after eating that as an main source of protein for a year it started to smell like the food that is given to the fishes in aquarium. But somehow, by chance, have gotten over my grudge and disgust.
Tofu is by far tastier though, with much less effort.

I note that you have had a lot of practice already with frugality. Do you think you are going to attempt frugal month challenge regardless of your already frugal lifestyle?
 
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I've been really into seitan lately. I guess you might call me a seitan worshiper ;)
It is rather cheap to make, and it tastes great, in my humble opinion. It's a fine addition to any frugal vegan diet, and the nutrition is there, as long as you don't have any gluten issues.

I've been experimenting with seitan jerky in my smoker for the last few weeks. I've also been using tofu for jerky as well. Amazingly, both create a delicious, and inexpensive treat. I used to often find myself craving savoury treats. Seitan and tofu jerky is cheap and delicious, and you can take it anywhere. I've seriously thought about marketing it. The reason being is I've had many non-vegans ask if I would sell them some. So if non-vegans like it that much, I just might be onto something. We shall see...

Back to seitan: For a couple dollars worth of vital wheat gluten, you can make well over a pound of lean healthy plant-based protein. How frugal is that? It freezes well, and tastes incredible. It's so versatile too. You can add seitan to veggie burger mixes to give them a meatier texture. It works incredibly well with jackfruit. The two mix together very well. This combo works really nicely for homemade sausages, burgers, you name it. Jackfruit in the Asian isle of my grocery is around $2 a can.

My only hesitation is towards TVP.
I have only used TVP twice, but in recipes. They were seitan recipes and it gave the meat a bit more texture. I know some people use it for tacos, chili, etc. I don't miss meat in chili or tacos, so I just don't use the stuff. It was good in the seitan though.


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StrangeOtter

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Frozen veggies are definitely much less expensive where I live, especially in the winter.

I haven't specifically tried frugal month challenge before, but it will be good to try! (Normally, I do try to conserve money because I don't have very much of it, but making it a challenge seems more fun!)
Hopefully you have lots of fun with this challenge!
 
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Forest Nymph

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Thank you for your contribution. I have to try out those recipes, especially the noodles.
I have had similar experience with TVP, after eating that as an main source of protein for a year it started to smell like the food that is given to the fishes in aquarium. But somehow, by chance, have gotten over my grudge and disgust.
Tofu is by far tastier though, with much less effort.

I note that you have had a lot of practice already with frugality. Do you think you are going to attempt frugal month challenge regardless of your already frugal lifestyle?
Well I am a college student. I have been living it up this summer for about 6 weeks since I'm working on a campground, so my food and beverage have been tasty! ...however for a few weeks in May I had to seriously budget until I got my first check and I had a similar experience during Winter break last year...now I'll be leaving camp in about a month so I can go back to school so yeah I guess you could say I'll be doing "a frugal challenge" for the rest of the summer til financial aid hits. Gotta pinch pennies to move back into town.

I think I might like TVP better in recipies. It's great in some Loma Linda products. But served with soy sauce or ketchup over rice or quinoa gets old real quick. I got it so I'd have variety other than beans but once I ran out of peanut butter I was like oh Lord what have I done lol.

Luckily right now I have some cans of Loma Linda Big Frank's stocked up so my frugal living won't be too bad!
 
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StrangeOtter

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I've been really into seitan lately. I guess you might call me a seitan worshiper ;)
It is rather cheap to make, and it tastes great, in my humble opinion. It's a fine addition to any frugal vegan diet, and the nutrition is there, as long as you don't have any gluten issues.

I've been experimenting with seitan jerky in my smoker for the last few weeks. I've also been using tofu for jerky as well. Amazingly, both create a delicious, and inexpensive treat. I used to often find myself craving savoury treats. Seitan and tofu jerky is cheap and delicious, and you can take it anywhere. I've seriously thought about marketing it. The reason being is I've had many non-vegans ask if I would sell them some. So if non-vegans like it that much, I just might be onto something. We shall see...

Back to seitan: For a couple dollars worth of vital wheat gluten, you can make well over a pound of lean healthy plant-based protein. How frugal is that? It freezes well, and tastes incredible. It's so versatile too. You can add seitan to veggie burger mixes to give them a meatier texture. It works incredibly well with jackfruit. The two mix together very well. This combo works really nicely for homemade sausages, burgers, you name it. Jackfruit in the Asian isle of my grocery is around $2 a can.



I have only used TVP twice, but in recipes. They were seitan recipes and it gave the meat a bit more texture. I know some people use it for tacos, chili, etc. I don't miss meat in chili or tacos, so I just don't use the stuff. It was good in the seitan though.


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Haha. Thanks for the sacrilegiously tasty tip!

Marketing your creation would deffinitely be a splendid idea. Most graceful that non-vegans enjoy it as well.
 

StrangeOtter

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One tip from me:
- When you are on a tight budget going to the grocery store can make you feel awful. Having to face the fact that you can't get much anything you want and at the same time witnessing all the other people shopping in there with their carts full of expensive food, that probably anyways goes to waste because they can't possibly eat it all before it expires. In this case I would go to the store only once or twice a month and concentrate my energy on something else and more creative, like reading a good book like for example The Lord of The Rings, drawing, dancing, meditating, walking around, going to the local library to read magazines, socialising with friends and family... what ever I can imagine doing that is completely free of charge.
 
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@StrangeOtter

I often go to the grocery store with a specific purpose in mind. I never go browsing isles. I always know roughly what I want when I go, so my bill is always within my budget. It's when you see things, and say to yourself "I could use that" or "I like that stuff" and then add it to your cart. Well, I rarely do that. I always plan ahead to shop for specifically what I want. If I am making rice and beans for dinner, and need a few veggies to add to it, I go get exactly what I need for that meal. Having said that, I do live very close to a grocery store.

A couple tips I suggest:

- So as I suggested above, stick to your grocery list.

- I'll often carry a calculator when shopping. That will help you stay within your budget. Most produce sections have scales, so you can weigh your produce and guesstimate the price. I try to see how close I can get the amount of the bill.

- If you eat bread, learning to bake your own breads will definitely save you money too.

- Stick to fruits and veggies that are in season. They not only taste better, they're usually much cheaper.

- If you're not afraid to ask for a deal, you can scout out expiry dates that are just about to expire, and ask the clerk if they can mark the item down. Most often clerks will. These are just suggested best before dates, and usually don't affect the quality of the food, unless completely expired and old. Even a small dent in a tin can is enough to have the clerk reduce the price. Having taken food safe, level one and two, this is not a recommended practice, but still, ninety-nine times out of a hundred there's absolutely nothing wrong with the product inside.

- It's always good to check expiry dates anyways. By ensuring that you have a lengthy expiry date, you ensure your purchase will last long enough for you to consume it all, thus not wasting your hard earned money. So always check dates, regardless!



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