Two of the biggest myths about plant-based eating is that it’s 1) not affordable and 2) not accessible. But shopping for vegan staples doesn’t limit you to pricey organic grocery stores or specialty markets. In fact, plenty of them are already in your pantry.
Whether you’re a plant-based pro, just starting your journey, or looking to add more plant-based foods into your diet in order to better the planet, here are some of the healthiest and most versatile options to try.
You’ll also get an idea of how much they’ll cost per serving, based on some of the most popular brands. (Pro tip: Buy these vegan staples in bulk and the price will be even lower.)
7 Affordable Vegan Staples
Price per serving: 27 cents
This nutritious staple has a pretty familiar family tree: beans, lentils, and peas are all members. Regardless of which legume you prefer, they all provide an excellent source of protein, fiber, and iron. Legumes are also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
2. Nutritional Yeast
Price per serving: 21 cents
Everything you need to know about nutritional yeast is in the name. Packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals, nutritional yeast is a great way to add a cheesy flavor into dishes—no actual cheese needed. It’s also super simple to use; just sprinkle a little on top of veggies or tofu, or mix it into sauces. (We love it in vegan mac and cheese!)
3. Whole Grains
Price per serving: 16 cents
Who doesn’t love carbs? Fortunately, complex carbs from whole grains love us, too. Whole grains are high in fiber, making us feel satisfied longer and thus leading to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. The Dietary Guidelines for America even recommends half the grains we eat should come from whole grains.
Price per serving: 49 cents
Cauliflower is known for its versatility. This nondescript vegetable can transform into pizza crust, buffalo bites, rice, and so much more. But did you know it’s also ranked as one of the top ten vegetables by the Aggregate Nutrition Density Index? It’s high in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, but low in calories. In other words, this veggie packs a punch.
5. Flaxseeds or Chia Seeds
Price per serving: 36 cents
Seeds in general are a common staple in any plant-based diet. Flaxseeds and chia seeds take it to the next level. Both are high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fibers, minerals, and other nutrients.
What does that mean? According to the American Heart Association, they help protect heart health, lower blood sugar and blood pressure, and have been shown to fend off certain cancers.
Price per serving: 17 cents
Potatoes are so underrated. Not only are they delicious, but people forget they can be super healthy, too. (You know when they’re not fried in oil.) Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants that may help prevent chronic diseases, and plain potatoes are a good source of vitamins C and B6, minerals, and fiber.
Skip the oil and instead cut them up and toss them in the air fryer. Or, pop the potato in the oven and bake it, then pile on your favorite toppings. Also, leave the skin on: “They can provide additional fiber, which is a great benefit because it can help you feel satisfied longer,” said Angie Murad, a Mayo Clinic dietitian.
7. Canned Vegetables
Price per serving: 27 cents
While fresh vegetables may be more attractive, canned vegetables last longer in the pantry and provide the same health benefits, all at a lower price. A study from Michigan State University found canned vegetables provide the same nutrients as fresh or frozen vegetables, and some canned vegetables are even more nutritious.
If you’re struggling to eat a fridge full of veggies before things start turning brown, look to the grocery shelves for these affordable vegan staples.
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