College Vegan on a Budget: Produce Overload

A series of posts on my grocery budgeting adventures and misadventures through the aisles of Whole Foods and Sprouts.

Some of my previous budgeting posts don’t focus a lot on the produce I buy, but that’s not to say that I never buy it–I love veggies and (especially) fruit. I just usually happen to buy it and then stash most of it away in the fridge right away, or I buy it during the middle of the week sometimes and don’t bother snapping a pic because that’s all I bought. But this week, it’s all about the produce I happened to pick up on my usual weekend haul!

That's a lot of produce (and other stuff)!

That’s a lot of produce (and other stuff)!

*=organic

Sprouts

Produce I Bought: bananas* (7 for just $1.50!), unsweetened applesauce*, dried pineapple*, canned pumpkin puree*, Medjool dates

Other Stuff I Bought: almond flour, chia seeds (so much cheaper buying only what I need in the bulk section), raw cashews. Kevita coconut probiotic drink*, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, Vega protein bar

What I Spent (on Produce): $19.06

Verdict: Dried fruit (especially the kinds I get–with nothing added) can be pricey, but it never goes to waste! The bananas were a super deal, especially for organic. 

Whole Foods

Produce I Bought: frozen blueberries, dried white Turkish figs, baby spinach*, green kale*, watermelon chunks (I blame Amanda 😉 ), Hannah yams*, mango, baby carrots*

Other Stuff I Bought: guacamole, Vega choc-a-lot protein powder, canned artichoke hearts and green olives, kelp noodles, Hail Merry raw chocolate tart (what? it was on sale!), Justin’s vanilla AB squeeze packets, Gone Raw maple mesquite walnuts, lemon mints*, Thunderbird Energetica mint cacao bar*, roasted in-shell pistachios

What I Spent (on Produce): $24.58

Verdict: I spent a little under half of my total on produce, which is great, considering produce can be expensive, especially in winter. Best of all, I stuck to my list–yes, even the raw chocolate dessert was on my list!

What do you spend on produce? What’s some of the fruits and veggies always on your grocery list?

College Vegan on a Budget: Lots O’ Newness

A series of posts highlighting my progress in budgeting my plant-based, clean-eating grocery trips.

Happy Sunday, guys! I know the East Coast is getting hit hard by Nemo, but we’re also (semi) buried in snow here in CO–so if you’re anywhere that’s gotten snow this weekend, hope you’re staying warm and safe.

So you all know how obsessed I am with trying new products, right? Yeah, it’s kind of a problem. Well, not really because I’m adding more foods into my rotation and figuring out what I really love, but it can be a problem for my budget. This week, I spent a little over $100 which I’m trying not to do (my goal is $80 or under) but I actually didn’t do too much damage at Whole Foods, which is good. However, I did buy a bunch of new-to-me items, all of which I’m loving so far. Not all of them will be regulars on my lists but they’re all winners for sure.

Sprouts

The haul.

The haul.

*=organic

What I Got: kabocha squash (0nly 88 cents/pound!), jalapenos, jewel yams*, avocados, Madhava raw honey*, shredded coconut*, Good Bean cinnamon roasted chickpeas, Vega One chocolate protein powder packet, dried apples*, Medjool dates, Larabars, Vega vibrancy bars, raw cashews

What I Spent: $49.88

Verdict: New-to-Me Items–raw honey, Vega bars (berry flavor). Usually I can spend $30 or less at Sprouts, but the dates and honey really put me over my usual amount. Not that I’m complaining though–the honey is really good and dates are a staple in my life, and cheaper here than anywhere else. The produce was where I definitely saved a lot though.

Whole Foods

New finds...

New finds…

*=organic

What I Got: Purely Elizabeth pumpkin fig granola, bombay spice kale chips*, Kit’s Organic chocolate coconut bar*, Justin’s vanilla AB squeeze packs, Kaya sprouted pumpkin seeds*, So Delicious mint chip almond milk ice cream, 365 brand crunchy PB, raw coconut aminos*, canned green olives, dried white Turkish figs, crystallized ginger, nutritional yeast, raw mesquite maple walnuts, Theo vanilla nib dark chocolate barorange cinnamon Mexican-style dark chocolate, baby spinach*

What I Spent: $61. 27

Verdict: New-t0-Me Items–granola (love that it’s only sweetened with coconut sugar and made with ancient GF grains), kale chips (mmm, but expensive), Kit’s bar (haven’t tried yet), crystallized ginger (hopefully good for when I have stomach issues), raw walnuts (also good), dark chocolate bars (when is chocolate ever bad, and the ingredients are Ashley-approved). See, I didn’t do too badly at Whole Paycheck, and that’s even with a few higher-end purchases. The kale chips won’t be a regular purchase, as I can make them easily at home, but I was feeling lazy and really wanted an easy snack.

What’s something new that you’ve tried lately? Do you prefer kale chips from home or from the store?

College Vegan on a Budget: Back to Budgeting

A series of posts on my adventures in balancing a college-sized grocery budget with my obsession with Whole Foods. 

So if you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t done a CVB post in awhile because of Christmas break. While at home, my parents were amazing and bought most of my groceries for me so I haven’t had to work on my budgeting skills in over a month. But school has officially started up again and it’s time for more grocery posts!

I won’t show you my huge Whole Foods haul (because I already put everything away) but I also hit up Sprouts on Sunday for a few items I couldn’t find at WF and I got a lot for (relatively) little.

Sprouts

sprouts haul

*=organic

What I Got: The Good Bean roasted chickpea snacks (so glad I finally found these), Pure chocolate brownie bars*, dried mango slices, Amazing Grass green superfood packets (for those busy days when I can’t get my greens in), Alvarado Street essential flax 50 calorie bread, Vega Vibrancy bar, soft tofu, Bob’s Red Mill ground flax meal (love the huge package), bulk almonds and salted in-shell pistachios, Frontera hot sauce (the cleanest hot sauce brand–no added sugar!)

What I Spent: $33.01

Verdict: I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again–Sprouts is really amazing for my budget. They offer some things I’ve never seen at Whole Foods, and often for a lot less. The store in my city is a lot farther away than WF but it’s worth it to make trips there weekly to save some money. 

Do you have a Sprouts or other cheaper health food store near you? Do you ever use green superfood packets?

College Vegan on a Budget: “Nuttzo” for New Finds

A series of posts on my adventures in buying vegan health foods as a college student.

I know I said last time that I wasn’t going to be buying anything else before the end of the semester. Welllllll…that was before I ran out of nut butter and had to go without it for about a week. And I came back to no fruit other than some pomegranate seeds and frozen banana slices. Not acceptable. So I had to make a quick trip today which worked out perfectly because I had one final around noon and I headed to Whole Foods right after that. Let me just say that shopping at WF on a weekday afternoon is a lot better than going on a Saturday afternoon. Other than a shrieking baby, my trip was pretty pleasant and quick. But most importantly, I left with everything I needed…and more.

Just a few WF staples to tide me over for a couple days.

Just a few WF staples to tide me over for a couple days.

What I Got: Mother’s plain salted rice cakes, Nuttzo mixed nut/seed butter (new to me!), Hail Merry raw maple vanilla almonds (always a winner), brown figs (I can only get these at the WF near me at school, needed my fix before break!), small superfoods kale salad, Heavenly Organics dark chocolate ginger honey patties (can’t believe these only have three ingredients!), Theo dark chocolate orange bar

What I Spent: $28.32 (mostly because of that Nuttzo…)

Verdict: I don’t really want to talk about how much I spent on the Nuttzo but it really is hard to find cheap nut butter that doesn’t have added oil or sugar (but does have a little sea salt, because it brings out the nut flavor) but everything else was pretty cheap. And the chocolate bar, rice cakes and nut butter will last a while so I’m not too worried.

Do you like mixed nut/seed butters? Do you make special trips to the store if you’re running out of something you love?

College Vegan on a Budget: Doubling Up

One in a series of posts about how I stay on a budget while getting my fill of healthy, vegan foods from higher-end stores.

As it is the week before Thanksgiving break (hollllllla!) I was in a bit of a pickle. I was running out of some things I need weekly (almond butter, kale, nuts, olives, almond milk) but I didn’t want to make a big stock-up trip and end up wasting money on things I won’t be able to use up in a week or be able to keep around until after break. I knew I couldn’t really live on what was left in my fridge unless I wanted to be totally restrictive and veggie-less for the week so I made the trip to Whole Foods…twice! Yeah, crazy, I know, but one of those times I went with my mom when she came up with the rest of my family for the weekend and the other time was a semi-emergency trip.

All this stuff should last me through this Thursday, and some of it I should be able to take home with me over Thanksgiving or just leave here without risking food poisoning. And I didn’t spend too much, which is a total win!

*=organic

New find, just in time for the holidays! And it’s fair trade!

Whole Foods (trip 1)

What I Got: dark chocolate covered raisins* (a fear food of mine I wanted to challenge–they had pretty clean ingredients so I went for it), Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze pack (ran out of AB, needed a quick fix for a couple of days), Garden of Life RAW vanilla chai protein powder (OMG, so good, look for a review of it soon), Theo peppermint dark chocolate bar (splurge, but it’s worth it for good chocolate)

What It Cost Me: $32.15 (I had a $5 off coupon for the protein powder, score!)

Verdict: I could have maybe skipped the chocolate and the raisins, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could go outside my comfort zone and buy a couple items I’ve been wanting for awhile but haven’t been brave enough to try. The protein powder was a total leap of faith (I’ve had the brand before, but a different flavor) but it was worth the money–great taste, good nutritional profile, awesome ingredients. 

My bigger Whole Foods haul, with plenty of produce and staples.

Whole Foods (trip 2)

What I Got: Pacific Naturals vanilla unsweetened almond milk*, Rising Moon garlic merlot pasta sauce (my favorite brand for sauce)*, Made in Nature dried pineapple and apple* (on sale!), Truvia, Farmer’s Market boxed pumpkin*, Maranatha maple almond butter (new favorite AB), maple covered almonds, Nada Moo! mint chocolate coconut milk ice cream, Celestial Seasonings vanilla red rooibos tea, green kale* (also on sale), 2 small bananas, green figs*, bulk olives

What It Cost Me: $47.23 (not bad!)

Verdict: I am so happy I stayed just under $80 for this week’s groceries (this is a new goal of mine for every week) and I got a lot of good stuff I was out of so this was a much-needed trip. Even better, we went at night so the store was not crowded at all!

Like I said above, I want to try to stick to a budget of $80 a week on groceries (I think I can do it!) and this week showed that I can do it, even buying more expensive items like the protein powder and vegan ice cream. I know there are certain things I don’t want to give up, because the higher price is worth the health benefits and taste, but I also know there are ways I can keep whittling down my budget to consistently stay around the $80 mark each week.

If you use protein powder, do you buy it online or from a store? What are some things you can’t live without every week?

College Vegan on a Budget: Under $50

A series about shopping for vegan groceries on a college budget, without compromising my values or health standards.

Another budget post? Yep, I’m just having a lot of fun doing these things and most importantly, I’m definitely improving on my budgeting skills. At least when it comes to grocery shopping. I needed another pair of jeans, so I hit up my city’s (lame) mall and ended up spending over $60 on a pair of burgundy jeggings at Hollister and a set of headbands at American Eagle. I didn’t need the headbands but they were so calling my name 😉 So obviously I’m still not great at saying ‘no’ when clothes shopping but what can you do when you’re a fashionista? Plus I justified it by saying I haven’t shopped for clothes in almost 3 months, so I was in desperate need (and still am) of some new pieces to freshen up my closet.

Anyways, this post is about groceries, not clothes. I was able to spend under $50 this weekend, and I shopped at two stores! This just goes to show that you can buy healthy, vegan foods at specialty stores and not burn a hole in your wallet. Obviously this was more of a stock-up-on-a-few-extras type of trip but it’s inspired me to try to pare down my regular shopping trips as well. I’m making a plan not to buy more than 1 or 2 special items a week–these things add up and I can’t afford to be buying multiple things over $5 or $6 each trip. So if one week I need more maple syrup, I’ll forgo buying some fancy nut butter or coconut aminos or whatever (I still want to buy those, BTW, but it’s $7 per bottle). I know that most of these more expensive items last longer, which is great, but I still can’t be buying them right and left.

My Sprouts mini-haul of the week.

Sprouts

What I Got: Medjool dates (much cheaper than at WF), plantain, garlic*, Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo bean flour (socca, here I come!), Metromint chocolate mint water, raw cashews, pomegranate, dried apple rings

What It Cost Me: $22.80

Verdict: I just really love Sprouts for their produce deals. The plantain was 99 cents, the pomegranate was $2.50 (and huge!), and the dried fruit is pretty cheap for having no added sugars or oils. There were a few more things I was planning on buying but decided not to to save money. But next time, I am definitely trying Zico pineapple coconut water!

 

Yummy Whole Foods buys.

Whole Foods

What I Got: Kaia sprouted party mix pumpkin seeds*, Chocolove peppermint dark chocolate bar, bulk cacao nibs, bulk almond flour, bulk maple pecans, 365 full fat coconut milk*, Vegan tropical protein powder, bulk olives, vegan chocolate mousse, sweet stuffed squash

What It Cost Me: $25.50

Verdict: The bulk bins save me again! I only have to buy what I need, so I end up saving a ton. Buying almond flour prepackaged costs about $8, but getting a quarter of a pound only cost me $1.20. And cacao nibs are usually very expensive but I got a small amount for just 98 cents! I prefer buying this way because I only make single lady meals, so I want my foods to stay fresh and by buying only what I need, I know it’ll stay fresh when I need it. 

I am super proud of my budgeting skills this week and I know I can make future shopping trips this cheap by watching what I’m spending my money on.

Do you do better at budgeting your grocery shopping or clothes shopping? What’s your policy on ‘splurge’ items?

College Vegan on a Budget: Stocking Up

A look into my adventures of learning how to budget shop for healthy vegan groceries.

After my refrigerator fiasco of last week (BTW: I got a new fridge out of the deal, score!) I had to throw out a bunch of my food. Normally I don’t mind tossing things that I didn’t love or whatever, but now that I’m buying almost all of my own groceries, it kinda hurts to have to waste so much, especially not by choice. I just didn’t want to risk getting sick! However, I was excited to do a big restock of my fridge and freezer. Yeah, I get excited over grocery trips. Lame, maybe, but I don’t care! Anyways, I went on a couple shopping trips this weekend while I was at home and my dad was nice enough to buy a few things for me so I won’t be counting those things in my budget list, but I am pumped to try them. I got my first ever kabocha squash and after hearing so many amazing things about them I am roasting mine ASAP, and I also got a chocolate raspberry Raw Revolution bar that sounds so good.

Pantry staples.

Whole Foods

This is all the stuff I bought for myself to restock my fridge, freezer and pantry. I missed a few things, but I’ll be making a trip back next weekend for some extras. (*=organic)

What I Got: kale*, garnet yams*, black grapes*, black figs*, brussel sprouts, baby carrots*, Jazz apples, bulk nutritional yeast (nooooooch!), raisins*, unsweetened vanilla almond milk*, sprouted tofu*, bulk maple almonds (ob-sessed), garbanzo beans*, virgin unrefined coconut oil*, harissa hummus, pineapple upside down Larabar, frozen sweet potato puffs, kelp noodles, NadaMoo! mint chocolate coconut milk ice cream, dry roasted edamame, pumpkin puree in a box*, Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze packs, olive bar olives, black bean dip, fresh guacamole, hot sauce dressing (ummm, yes please), Truvia

Fridge and freezer stuff.

What It Cost Me: $81.84 (pretty good for having some higher priced items in there)

Verdict: So glad it came in under $100. I had to do a bunch of restocking since my fridge was basically empty, but I got a bunch of things that will last me a while like the nooch, coconut oil, hummus and sweet potato puffs. I only spent over $5 on 3 items, which is a great way to save money. Those more expensive items add up!

Produce (minus apples and yams).

Now I’m all restocked and ready to go for another week here at my apartment! I’ll be doing some meal prep throughout the week and will hopefully come back sometime with some recipes for you to try out. Tonight I’m making socca pizza for the first time…with a twist!

How much produce do you buy every week? What’s your favorite dip/dressing?

College Vegan on a Budget: Bulk Bonanza

Part of an ongoing series of my adventures in learning how to grocery shop on a budget, almost exclusively at health food type stores.

I’m back with another budgeting post after a weekend grocery haul and I can proudly say that I spent a lot less than last time. Like, I spent less than half the amount I did last time! This girl is definitely learning how to budget. Or maybe it’s just because I was extremely limited in funds this time around, with just over $50 to spend. Luckily I didn’t have to make any major purchases since my lovely mom was nice enough to buy me some much-needed items last weekend so this was mostly a fill-in type trip for things I am about to run out of or needed for recipes.

This week, I happened to do a lot of bulk buying. This is a great thing for budgets–you can just stock up on what you need, and generally things in bulk cost less ounce for ounce than things that are prepackaged. The bulk bins at Whole Foods and Sprouts have saved me a ton of money on must-try items like coconut flour, flavored nuts and nutritional yeast. Now let’s check out the goods!

Check out all the bulk bin bags!

Sprouts

I just stopped in for a few items I was hoping they’d have for less than Whole Foods, and they delivered. Well, kinda. The unsweetened coconut shreds I bought actually turned out to be a bit cheaper at WF, which kinda made me mad but I’ll know next time!

What I Got: Let’s Do Organic reduced fat unsweetened coconut shreds, So Delicious Greek-style vanilla coconut yogurt (finally they had this flavor!)

What It Cost Me: $4.99 (I paid with a 5 dollar bill, woo for having cash for little purchases)

Verdict: If only every shopping trip could be this cheap!

Whole Foods

I whittled down my original list to just a handful of must-have items and I did really well with sticking with my budget. I actually ended up with just under $10 left, which is awesome. I got 15 items here pretty cheaply, because I bought a bunch of bulk stuff and did some price comparisons for similar items.

What I Got: bulk almond flour, bulk raw macadamia nuts (I only bought about 1/8 of a pound, so they were super cheap), bulk nooch, bulk spelt flour (I was going to buy packaged buckwheat flour but it was $5 and this was just $2 per pound and pretty comparable, nutrition wise), vegan semisweet chocolate chips, Navitas Naturals raw cacao powder (a splurge at $10, but worth it), 2 Justin’s vanilla almond butter squeeze packs, 2 Vega One protein powder samples (running low on protein powder but didn’t have enough money to buy a full container), Hail Merry raw vanilla almonds (super cheap at just $3 for a raw product!), bulk loose spinach, Hannah yams (these look like regular potatoes but they’re apparently sweet potato-like), vegan cookie from bakery area, black figs (on sale for $3.99/pound, I got half a pound!). 

What I Spent: $36.87 (under budget…yay!)

Verdict: I was really smart about my Whole Foods trip this time around. I bought in bulk to save some money, weighed my bulk items to estimate how much they’d cost me and didn’t buy anything not on the list. Yes, there were some things I took note of that I wanted to buy another time–like, ahem, raw macaroons!–but I didn’t feel like I needed to get them since I know they’ll be there when I have more money to spend. 

I am definitely getting better at this budgeting thing. It feels fun to me now, instead of like a chore. I love doing comparison shopping and balancing out my purchases so they don’t end up surprising me at the register. And I’m learning the difference between splurges and staples, which is something that used to get me all the time. Some weeks, there’ll be more room for splurges and other times I’ve gotta stick with the list. And I feel like this week, I struck the perfect balance between getting the basics that I need and getting to try new-to-me items, like the almond flour and yams and almonds.

Do you like to buy things from the bulk section? What tips do you have for budget shopping?