College Vegan on a Budget: Looking Ahead

A healthy food-loving girl’s adventures in the world of grocery budgeting.

If you’ve been sticking with me since I started the CVB series then you’ve seen how I’ve had my ups and downs with budgeting. I think I’ve learned a lot since August though, and I want to keep what I’ve learned in mind every time I go grocery shopping, even if it’s on my parents’ dime. Which it will be verrrrry soon, aka in like 4 days!

But CVB will not be back until school starts up again in the fall, so if you still want to read about budgeting, just check out my previous posts on the topics. And just a note, this produce will all be finished this week, but some of the non-perishable or frozen items will be returning home with me when I move back.

Whole Foods produce purchases this week.

Whole Foods produce purchases this week.

*=organic

Whole Foods 

What I Got: watermelon half, baby spinach*, limes, avocados x3*, red mango*, strawberries*, Medjool dates, raw strawberry cheesecakes x2 (on sale and a treat for post finals!), Truvia, bulk whole almonds, Hail Merry vanilla maple almonds, Gone Raw sprouted Thai lemon curry cashews (I’m seriously obsessed, I buy these every week), gluten free frozen pizza dough, Incan berries* (not sure if I like these yet), raw mint chocolate squares, raw southwestern kale chips (also on sale and my fave), Vega One bar, Kit’s Organic chocolate coconut bar*

What I Spent: $67.57 (pretty typical lately)

Verdict: As usual, I spent about 1/3 of my total bill on produce (it came out to about $22 this time, totally worth it for organic  or good quality produce), and I also bought some ‘fun’ things that will probably only last through Wednesday when I move back home. Some things I’m planning on bringing back with me because I don’t think I can get them at the Whole Foods stores in my hometown.

The rest of the purchases.

The rest of the purchases.

When you’ve moved or traveled, do you try to eat everything before or do you bring leftover stuff with you? How much do you spend on produce?

 

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College Vegan on a Budget: 2 Weeks & Counting

One clean-eating college girl’s goal to save as much money as possible at Whole Foods and beyond.

Well folks, there’s just over two weeks left until I’m officially done with my junior year of college (it’s also just under 3 months til I’m 21, but who’s counting 😉 ). It actually feels so weird to be saying that–I feel like I was just in 5th grade. It’s crazy to think that a year (or less) from now, I could be at my first big-girl job. Wow.

Like I mentioned in my last CVB post, this little series will be taking a hiatus over the summer as I transition back into life at home with my family. Obviously I’m looking forward to that, and also to be taking a break from budgeting! I’ve learned a lot, but I’m ready to have my parent’s financial support again for a few months. Considering that I may be living completely on my own in a year, it’ll be nice to rely on my parents for a little while to save up money for that!

I went to both Sprouts and Whole Foods this weekend, but I’ll only be listing and photographing my Whole Foods buys here, as I feel like I’ve come a long way with my budgeting skills there. Not too long ago, I was spending at least $80 there per week, sometimes upwards of $100. Yikes. Lately, I’ve been reigning in my impulse purchases, and it’s helped me stay below $60 almost every week there. I even spent under $40 there the other week…and who says it’s called Whole Paycheck? You really can shop there on a budget (maybe not a super-tight one), you just have to watch what you’re buying. I even buy more expensive things there sometimes, and still come in below $60.

Whole Foods produce

Whole Foods produce

*=organic

Whole Foods

What I Got: baby spinach*, lemons x2, romaine lettuce*, Ataulfo mangos x3, strawberries*, watermelon, bulk section almond flour, bulk section coconut flakes, bulk section raw cashew pieces, grind-your-own raw cashew butter, coconut aminos*, Thai curry cashew mix*, Vega One bar, Vega vanilla chai protein powder sample pack, Theo dark chocolate orange bar*, Tessemae’s paleo BBQ sauce (on sale, and the only BBQ sauce I know sweetened only with dates), Skinny Crisps cinnamon (like grain free graham crackers!)

What I Spent: $58.48

Verdict: I bought a LOT of produce this week (most of it organic) and it still didn’t eat up my budget! As I’ve said before, produce is typically about 1/3 of my budget per store and trying to stick with the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 guidelines can help me save money and decide what really needs to be bought organic when I have the choice. Buying from the bulk section in only the amount I need saves me a lot (for instance, I bought 1/3 a pound of almond flour for only $1.88!) and looking for deals helps when I make impulse buys. I like the Tessemae line of dressings, and when I saw their new BBQ flavor was on sale for about half the usual price, I had to try it, especially because I’ve been looking for a clean BBQ sauce. Some things, like the coconut aminos, cost a lot upfront (at least more than traditional soy sauce or even tamari/Bragg’s) but the quality ingredients and taste are worth it to me, and it lasts me a few months too. Basically, I try to make tradeoffs and figure out what the ‘real’ cost of an item is (good ingredients, how long it’ll last, etc.)

Other Whole Foods buys.

Other Whole Foods buys.

Are better ingredients/nutritional benefits worth it to you over low cost? How much does the organic label matter to you?

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)?

College Vegan on a Budget: New Finds

A series of posts on one college girl’s trials and errors in budgeting her grocery money and still eating well.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last CVB post! Don’t worry, I’ve definitely still been buying groceries since then, I just haven’t had too many exciting purchases. Until this week, that is.

As I mentioned in my WIAW post this week, I’ve been enjoying a lot of new-to-me products this week. Other than the ones I already mentioned, I just got my latest iHerb order in the mail and other than my usual peanut flour and Alter Eco dark chocolate bar, I also gave in and finally bought the blogger favorite–coconut butter. I’ve heard so many raves about it that I had to give it a try, even at $11 a jar (yes, I bought the Artisana kind). And…I love it! I know a year ago, it would have been a waste of money since I both disliked and feared coconut anything, but now that I’m pretty much obsessed with all things coconut (oil! flour! milk! shredded! bars!) I hoped I would like it. Coconut butter is amazing as a nut butter substitute, especially stuffed in dates. I can’t wait to try it out in recipes!

My new finds from Sprouts and Whole Foods.

My new finds from Sprouts and Whole Foods.

You know me, always on the lookout for new, clean, vegan bars that I can try out as snacks and quick meals. I first spotted the new Larabar ALT variety on their website towards the beginning of the year, but I never saw them in stores until I shopped at a new Sprouts last Sunday. My college town has two Sprouts stores (kinda crazy considering my hometown of half a million only has one, but my tiny college town of only 150,000 has two) but I’d only been to one of them before. I was disappointed in that location’s selection of bars so I decided to check out the other Sprouts. This one is closer to me, bigger and seems to have a much better selection of everything…they even had the strawberry Zevia I’ve been looking all over for! Anyways, they also happened to carry all 4 flavors of the ALT bar so I snatched up all but the cinnamon apple crisp (I’m not a huge fan of apple-flavored things). So far, I love the pumpkin flavor and I really like that they offer 10 grams of pea protein.

As for my other new buys, I picked up the carrot cake Larabar, an organic raw foods bar, my second flavor of Vega One bars (I love these because they’re just the right amount of sweet and chocolate and have 15 grams of protein + greens in a 250 calorie bar, which is perfect for a quick lunch!), grape Zevia, Pure Via (I’ve heard some negative things about my favorite Truvia so I wanted to try a cleaner brand), Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour in bulk (only $3.99 per pound which is much cheaper than buying prepackaged), a champagne mango (better than regular mangoes!), tricolored carrots and baked apple chips (I know you love these, Amanda!)

I like trying new things because then I can find things I love, and figure out what things I don’t like so I don’t end up wasting more money on them in the future. That’s why I like when I can find single-serve things (like the bars and Zevia) that aren’t so expensive, so if I hate them, I didn’t waste that much money. Luckily this time around, I’ve really liked everything I’ve tried so far!

Do you buy new things at the store a lot, or stick with old favorites? Do you like trying different varieties/colors of produce? 

College Vegan on a Budget: A New Low

One college vegan’s mission to save money while still maintaining her clean eating standards.

I’ve really been needing to reign in my spending habits lately. Between a $40 iHerb purchase last week (mostly necessary, but some were impulse buys to get the free shipping), picking up a few personal care items at Target the other day that set me back $30 (including some heavier free weights–woohoo, I’m progressing!) and going out to eat a few times with friends (not a bad things, since I need to get more comfortable with this), the last thing I needed was a giant grocery bill this weekend. And luckily, I was smart with my spending and walked away spending just over $80 for the week. This has become my new weekly goal, so let’s see if I can hit it more often than not!

Sprouts buys under $30.

Sprouts buys under $30.

*=organic

Sprouts

What I Got: dried apple rings, Medjool dates, hazelnuts (for vegan healthy Nutella–stay tuned!), Kevita strawberry acai coconut probiotic drink*, raw cacao powder* (this brand was much cheaper than my fave Navitas Naturals), poppy seeds, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, Wholly Guacamole avocado verde salsa (one of the best salsas I’ve ever had!)

What I Spent: $26.86

Verdict: Again, Sprouts can be a big money saver. The salsa was literally $1–and it’s the best $1 I’ve ever spent! They have the cheapest nothing-added dried fruit and nut selection and their produce is dirt cheap, but is just as good as anywhere else. 

Whole Foods haul under $55.

Whole Foods haul under $55.

Whole Foods

What I Got: Kale Krunch cheezy chipotle kale chips*, 365 brand light coconut milk x2*, cashew butter, liquid smoke (for eggplant “bacon”), WFM brand almond oil, Hail Merry vanilla maple almonds, Hail Merry raw chocolate macaroons and chocolate tart, raspberry balsamic vinegar, Thai curry cashew mix, raw cashew pieces (on sale!), raw vegan brownie, pineapple chunks (also on sale), eggplant*

What I Spent: $53.47

Verdict: One of my cheapest Whole Foods trips for weekly staples ever! I even bought a few splurge-y items (ahem, raw desserts!) but still stayed under $60 and got a lot of things that will last awhile and stuff I needed for recipes I want to try out. 

What’s the best salsa you’ve ever had? What new recipes have you been trying out? 

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?