College Vegan on a Budget: Makin’ Changes

An occasional series on my trials and successes in grocery shopping for myself for the first time while on a college budget.

It’s getting to be that time of year ago–finals week. Okay, technically it’s not for another 4 weeks, but close enough, right? With that being said, these CVB posts will probably be on hiatus soon for the next few months, as I move back home for the summer and hopefully go back to my parents paying for most of my groceries. I’m excited for that, but truth be told, I’ve been having fun and learning a lot doing this budgeting thing and I don’t plan on going crazy with the groceries once my parents are doing the purchasing.

So I’ve been doing a great job at keeping my weekly Whole Foods trips at around $60 or under, but I’ve failed at keeping my whole weekly grocery budget at around $80. I shop at Sprouts on a weekly or every other week basis and keep my costs to around $30 or under, but I get into trouble when I go crazy over their Larabar selection, or when I hit up yet another natural foods store in the same week (as I did last week, going to Natural Grocers and spending $20 on some super-expensive coconut flour bread, dark chocolate and cappuccino Larabars that were on sale) or when I buy food online from iHerb or Amazon (as I did two weeks ago). So for the rest of the semester, I’m going to be limiting those purchases as much as possible, probably only making one more purchase from iHerb to restock my peanut flour. And since I’ll be moving out of my apartment in a month, I need to get rid of some of the pantry staples I have, like beans and flours, so I’ll really be watching my grocery list and eliminating unnecessary purchases.

Sprouts buys.

Sprouts buys.

*=organic

Sprouts

What I Got: ALT  and Uber Larabars, Kit’s bar*, chocolate Kale Krunch* (not planned, but I’d never seen it before and was intrigued), cherry cola Zevia (on sale for only $2.99!), pineapple, Gone Nuts chipotle pistachios, unsweetened applesauce*, avocados x3*, serrano peppers

What I Spent: $32.70

Verdict: The raw nuts and kale chips were the only things not on my list (and the two most expensive by far) but I bought them because I’ve never seen them anywhere else and wanted to try them. I stocked up on the Zevia (a new-to-me flavor) even though I have some others in my pantry because they were a steal at just $3, compared to the usual $5 or $6. The avocados were bought organic because they were the same price as conventional and buying organic whenever possible is always best.

Whole Foods purchases.

Whole Foods purchases.

Whole Foods

What I Got: Gone Raw Thai curry cashews (it’s a problem, I’m obsessed), raw cashew butter (this stuff is AMAZING, and only getting a little bit from the bulk aisle saved me tons of money), bulk unsweetened coconut shreds, bulk white Turkish figs*, Medjool dates*, Veggie-Gos fruit and veggie strips*, canned green olives, Tom’s kids toothpaste (I had a coupon, and have been looking for a more natural toothpaste), cherry chocolate Vega One bar, plain Skinny Crisps (for an upcoming recipe), eggplant*, watermelon (yes!), 1 lb. strawberries (finally we’re getting into berry season), Ataulfo mangos X2 (tastiest mangos ever!), baby spinach*, fair trade vanilla extract (on sale and one of the only clean extracts I could find), Hail Merry raw chocolate tart (another thing I need to stop buying, I love it too much!), bulk fair trade 65% dark chocolate chips*

What I Spent: 60.76

Verdict: I have gotten SO much better at spending less at Whole Foods while still getting a lot. Produce is usually about 1/3 of my total purchase, which is really decent, especially for such great quality and sometimes organic produce. I still got a few fun purchases, but I’ve been better about not buying all my favorite splurges all the time. 

What fruit are you most excited to eat this summer? What’s the best grocery store deal you’ve encountered lately (for me, it’s either the Zevia, or the Larabars I found for under $1 each)?

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10 thoughts on “College Vegan on a Budget: Makin’ Changes

  1. I think the CVB posts you do are really neat! Grocery budgeting can be hard (especially with all the tempting and exciting new foods out there), but I definitely think it’s a useful skill to have.

    Just yesterday, I was thinking about how excited I am for peaches to come in season! There is nothing better than a sweet, juicy peach! And I still have yet to find those ALT bars, but I picked up a few of those Uber bars (I had a coupon) and am excited to try them!

    • The Uber bars are great, you’re gonna love them! My absolute favorite of those is the banana bread, it’s got the perfect balance between sweet and salty and I love that the Uber kinds have more crunch to them.

  2. It’s too bad that healthy vegan food has to be so expensive, while processed junk food is super cheap. There is something inherently wrong with that! I would love to buy tons of specialty vegan products, but I simply don’t have enough money to purchase them. Therefore, I usually end up making a lot of homemade stuff: granola bars, veggie burgers, soups and stews, and even sometimes crackers. Have you ever tried making homemade Larabars with dates and nuts? That would definitely be cheaper than buying Larabars, though they probably won’t taste exactly the same. I am definitely looking forward to eating watermelon in the summer; it is one of my favorite fruit to eat when it is 90 degrees and humid outside. I also love pineapple, cherries, and nectarines.

    • Homemade is definitely the way to go to save money! Making my own kale chips is almost as easy as buying from the store, and so much cheaper and fun. I’ve never tried making my own Larabars, but I might have to look into that considering how much I spend on them!

  3. You’re doing such a good job with your budgeting! I’m impressed. Sticking to my food budget and not making impulse buys throughout the week is my goal right now. We’ll see how it goes!
    I’m super jealous that you’re getting ready to move home for the summer- I wish I could do that! Enjoy every minute of it. (:
    And I can’t WAIT for watermelon, pineapple and berries! I picked up strawberries at Trader Joe’s today and was sooo excited when I bit into one and it was actually sweet and delicious!

  4. P says:

    I’m already sinking my teeth into mangoes and strawberries, but I can’t wait for blackberries, raspberries, watermelon, and cantaloupe!! 😀

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