College Vegan on a Budget: The Big 1-0-0

This is part 2 in an ongoing series about shopping on a college girl budget, trying to keep my expensive vegan tastes in check. 

Okay, as you might be able to tell from the title, I spent $100 on groceries over the weekend. Well, $100.59 to be exact, but who’s counting? Oh right, my wallet is. To be fair, though, I had a few items on my list that were ‘necessaries’ but sadly, on the pricier side. But, I’m willing to pay the price for healthy foods.

Take maple syrup, for instance. I ran out of it over a week ago, so I had to stock up soon. At Sprouts, I saw some lower calorie, sugar free maple syrup. Curious, I checked out the label. It was made from xylitol, caramel coloring, maple flavoring and a few other ingredients. So, not as bad as normal fake sugar-free syrups, but no where near real maple syrup. By real, of course, I mean 100% maple syrup, either grade A or grade B. The good stuff. This xylitol syrup was $4, a relative steal for a maple replacement. But I decided against it, because lately I’ve been trying to go for the real thing, and not worry as much about the calorie count. As long as it’s natural, it’s good. So at Whole Foods, I grimaced a little paying $7.99 for a bottle of grade A maple, but it’ll be worth it for the rich taste and natural sugar source. And a little goes a long way, so it’ll last me (hopefully) 3 weeks.

This week, I’ll be splitting up my purchases not just by store, but by splurge vs. staple. The staples are things that I kinda needed, or that will last me for awhile and are therefore worth their price. The splurges might be inexpensive, but I tried to keep them to a minimum this week and I think I was fairly successful.

All this, for just under $20. This is why I love Sprouts!

I consider Sprouts to be like TJs for Colorado. Okay, so I’ve never been to a TJs (and I’m incredibly jealous of all of you who have regular access to one) but Sprouts is probably a similar concept. They have their in-house brand along with similar products to what Whole Foods has, but generally a lot cheaper. Their produce and bulk sections are a real steal. I got strawberries for $2.50, a plantain for 99 cents and some organic coconut sugar for under $5. Good deal, considering those things can go for much more in other stores.

Splurges: Larabars (I do need ’em for busy days, but they’re a bit pricey), vegan Greek yogurt, Nature’s Path maple cereal (I already had some cereal at my apartment, but I wanted to try this kind)

Staples: strawberries, dried mango, plantain (time for homemade plantain chips!), coconut sugar (perfect for baking)

What It Cost Me: $19.95. 

Verdict: Definitely a money-saver. The cereal was kind of expensive, but I think I’ll enjoy it and it’ll last a while since I mix cereals.

Whole Foods

My bulk and produce stuff. This time the figs were cheap!

I actually did okay at Whole Foods, despite spending $80. Trust me, it could have been more. Luckily, they were having a sale on all bulk items (score!) and a lot of their produce was cheap. I got kale for $1.99, figs for $3 (unlike the $6 they were last time) and 3 sweet potatoes for under $3. However, where I got in trouble was buying protein powder. I’m not someone who’s content with generic, cheap soy-based protein powder. I like my protein powder to be more natural, and plant-based. I had a $5 off coupon for some raw protein powder, so I decided to suck it up and buy some. It ended up only costing me $20 with the coupon, which is a steal for a high-quality protein powder!

Some of this week’s more fun stuff!

Splurges: maple flavoring (I was going to go for vanilla extract, but that was over $1 more), maple syrup (a necessity, but also very expensive), grawnola (totally have been wanting to try this for awhile), bulk maple almonds, organic ketchup (I could have gone for the cheaper store brand, but this one had less sugar), canned coconut milk (I want to try making my own coconut whipped cream), Theo mint chocolate bar (can’t live without chocolate, and this will last me a week and a half), Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze packs (they were only 80 cents each this week!), Garden of Life RAW protein powder (expensive but worth it)

My staples, for baking, cooking and just eating!

Staples: u/s vanilla almond milk (I bought the cheapest brand, which happened to be Almond Breeze this week), pumpkin seeds in bulk (they literally cost me 67 cents!), organic canned pumpkin (I scored the last can!), semisweet chocolate chips, Earth Balance coconut spread (I wanted to get extra virgin coconut oil, but they were out and I had a coupon), bulk olives, black figs (so much cheaper this time), kale (duh!), garnet yams

What it Cost Me: $80.64 (ouch!)

Verdict: I will be watching my spending more closely next time, but I also won’t have as many big purchases, like the maple syrup and protein powder. Everything else was under $5 each. 

I know that I can’t and won’t be spending this much every week, but sometimes it’s just worth it to get a few really good, healthy, high quality items. Luckily, a lot of the stuff I bought today will last awhile, so they won’t be weekly purchases.

What are your weekly shopping staples? Are you willing to pay more for certain things (like good chocolate, protein powder, etc.)?

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18 thoughts on “College Vegan on a Budget: The Big 1-0-0

  1. You got some great stuff for $100! You’re so lucky to have a whole foods so close, even though my wallet is just fine with me being over 5 hours from one haha
    Some of my weekly staples– chicken, bananas, carrots, eggs, and okra! 🙂

  2. I definitely agree that sometimes it’s worth it to splurge on the good stuff, and that doesn’t just apply to food. I tend to do -alright- at the grocery store since I stopped buying a lot of the crazy/fancy powders and supplements, but when I run out of some of my lost-lasting necessities, then my bill definitely goes up. Other than that, I buy things like fresh fruit/veggies, chicken, Greek yogurt, milk, bread, wraps, and cheese on a pretty regular basis.

  3. FitnJess says:

    My staples are milk, chicken breast, fresh veggies, apples bananas and wraps! I usually always buy these weekly and they are great because they can be used in different ways. Oh yes and pb is a staple but I do not buy a new container each week or I would totally go over my budjet!!:)

  4. I just bought that protein powder too! I definitely don’t regret paying up a little for such high quality and clean protein powder, and with the same coupon that I had, it really is a steal:) The figs look so good! I love making fig butter with them:)

  5. You got great stuff for what you had to pay! I feel like i’m going to love shopping for myself but I’m going to freak out about having to pay for it.

  6. How fast 100$ are spend! I can completely rely to what you are talking about. In times where I was more aware of the calorie content of food than of it’s nutrition value grocery shopping was a lot cheaper. I just stocked up on a few cheap, low cal items and since I was not eating enough anyway the groceries lasted me longer. Now that I really take care how I feed my body it became definitely more expensive – but worth it.

  7. sarah says:

    I loved that you shared all this, I’m so nosy at what others buy at the grocery store!
    My only thoughts are- I make my own ketchup for super cheap & generally healthier( I sweeten it with stevia & blend veggies in it – its SO good). And I buy whatever dried fruits and nuts are on sale to make my own lara bars.

    Starting out buying all your own food can be daunting, right? Thinking about budgeting & stuff is so smart:).
    Xxx

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