Hi Gray and welcome!
I am a vegan living with an omni/mostly vegetarian also and I am the bread winner too. It can be a challenge but is totally doable even on a budget. Here are some cheap and healthy vegan staples:
dried or canned beans (kidney, chickpea, black beans, white beans, navy, red, adzuki, fava, lentils and split peas, limas etc)
sweet potatoes and potatoes of all varieties...red skinned, russet, golden.
brown rice, millet, oats, bulgur wheat, couscous are all cheaper whole grains and most are found in the bulk section. Buy bulk when you can to save money on packaging!
some seeds are cheaper than others, such as flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds, especially the ones with shell on. Raw seeds without shell are more expensive but a little goes a long way. They are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Tofu is not too expensive.
Fruits and vegetables that tend to be cheaper: green beans, celery, carrots, bananas, lettuces and leafy greens like collards, chard, beet leaves etc, beets, broccoli, brusel sprouts, cucumbers, apples.
If you buy fruits and vegetables in season and from farmers markets they tend to be cheaper and higher quality.
Whole wheat and all purpose flour as well as yeast for making your own bread
Vegan sweeteners (molasses, maple syrup, agave, turbinado sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar etc) tend to be more expensive but I like to keep a little blackstrap molasses around for bread making and for adding to hot cereal as it is high in calcium, iron, and a whole host of other nutrients.
peanut butter (also great if you need to put on or maintain weight, just buy peanut butter with nothing but peanuts in it, and stay away from the hydrogenated oil stuff)
avocados (also great as a base for desserts like chocolate frosting which is simply blended avocado, cocoa powder, and maple syrup or for chocolate pudding which is simply blended avocado, banana, cocoa powder, and a little water to thin).
Stuff like canned pumpkin, tomato sauce and paste, rice or balsamic vinegars, dijon mustard, and soy sauce or tamari is also great to have around to add to homemade vegan dishes. I use tomato paste and canned pumpkin as binders in making homemade vegan veggie burgers/patties or baking etc. I also use it to make chili and other soups.
Some types of meals to consider when on a budget:
soups...you can almost never go wrong with homemade soup, and they are extremely versatile. Some of my favorites:
split pea soup (split peas, carrot, onion, lemon juice, ground black pepper, pinch of salt, vegetable stock or water. Simmer it all until soft and then blend to a creamy consistency). My omnivore husband LOVES this! I have a slice of homemade bread with it. I also love carrot/white bean curry soup, chickpea sweet potato soup, wild rice mushroom soup, cream of broccoli soup (use potatoes or ground nuts to make a "cream" sauce), lentil/sour kraut/potato/tomato soup.
Baked potatoes are a great base for adding stuff like beans, homemade gravies and sauces, steamed broccoli and other veggies. My husband adds his own thing to his. I also do this with tacos. I make my own cornflour tortillas and then make a taco "meat" by cooking bulgur wheat and adding tomato paste, taco seasonings, red lentils and mixing well. I add veggies to mine and he adds cheese to his.
Beans on homemade toast is a great breakfast, or peanut butter/banana sandwiches. Oatmeal with raisins or banana and seeds or peanut butter is another. Or scrambled chickpeas, potatoes, and veggies. Scrambled tofu is great too.
I use blended tofu to make homemade mayonnaise (with vinegar, dijon, coconut milk, spices), or mixed with sweet potato and marjoram to make a pasta sauce or "cheese" sauce to go over macaroni. Even something as simple as canned tomato sauce, red lentils, and cut up fresh mushrooms, zucchini, and green peppers simmered until soft is a great pasta/spaghetti sauce!
Leafy greens with big leaves like collards or chard are great as wraps to add stuff like hummus, pinto refried beans, white bean dip etc in.
No need to buy expensive processed stuff. If you like milk though, soymilk is usually the cheapest on the market of the plant milks and works very well in baking due to it's high protein content. I make my own flaxseed milk (just flaxseed, water, and my own stevia herbs I grow) but it does require a high speed blender. Homemade rice milk and oat milk do not require a high speed blender.
Hope this helps!
In the end, only kindness matters. - Jewel
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