18 Must-Have Store Cupboard Essentials

These are the things you should have on hand at all times so that you can whip up a meal without much thought or problems. If you make sure you have these items, you’ll always be able to create a healthy vegetarian meal in minutes.

1. Rice – A variety of rice is nice but if you can’t afford it, a huge bag of medium grain white rice from your local Asian store will do. This type of rice can be used for all types of recipes and is easy to cook. You can cook it in a rice cooker or you can boil it for ten minutes, drain, and rest ten minutes for perfect rice every single time.

2. Oats – This is one of your best breakfasts and can also be added to other ingredients to bulk out dishes and give them texture. For example, adding 1/2 cup steel-cut oats to your chili recipe will give it more body and texture and keep your family guessing.

3. Dry Beans – These are very inexpensive and can be used to make beans for any dish, but can also be used to make sprouts if you want added nutrition in all your meals. Dried beans aren’t really that hard to cook and store, so don’t be afraid to use them.

4. Potatoes – You can keep all variety of potatoes in a cool, dark place such as a potato keeper or a brown paper bag for a long time. Just make sure to pick through and get the bad ones out. You can use potatoes in all sorts of dishes and even make quick snacks with them.

5. Carrots – Root veggies like carrots also last a long time when stored properly. You can get a huge bag of organic carrots at Costco for next to nothing and add some carrot to every meal you make. Try adding shredded carrot on top of those black bean tacos for some added texture and flavor.

6. Frozen Fruit – This lasts longer and it was likely frozen within minutes of picking it, so it’s fresher than what you can buy at the store sometimes. You can make a variety of recipes using frozen fruit. Save fresh fruit for fruit salad and eating as-is or as a topping for recipes made with the frozen varieties.

7. Frozen Veggies – It’s the same story with frozen veggies. Of course, when you just want some green beans, fresh tastes a lot better, but there really isn’t much difference in most of the other types of veggies and they can easily be used in casseroles, soups, stir-fries and more and no one will be the wiser.

8. Seasonings – One thing that can add up is spices, herbs, and other seasonings. For sure you need salt. But consider buying dried seasoning that has combined flavors. For example, 21 Seasoning Salute Blend from Trader Joe’s can replace a variety of dried seasonings and save you money.

9. Citrus – It’s okay to buy lemon juice from concentrate to use in your cooking to save money, since it can be stored longer. But, if you’re going to eat oranges for snacks you might as well use the oranges as flavor enhancers too.

10. Eggs – You can get eggs very inexpensively when you consider what’s in them. Try Aldi for inexpensive eggs or your local backyard chicken farmer for the best eggs that will last for a while.

11. Cheese – Choose versatile cheese that can be used for different types of recipes in blocks, not pre-shredded. It can last a long time if you wrap it up tightly to keep the air from it. A tiny sprinkle of extra-sharp cheddar on your eggs can make all the difference.

12. Nuts – When you have nuts around, you can easily whip up nut milk. Nuts can be expensive but if you know where to shop or pick your own, you can get them less expensively. Buy in bulk and store in your freezer to make them last longer.

13. Flour – A great ingredient to have to make bread, biscuits, rolls, and more. Plus, it can be used as a thickening agent for soups or as a crust for some fried eggplant. Stored in a cool, dry place it will last for months and months, and it’s cheap to start with.

14. Yeast – Having this around is going to help you make a variety of bread, desserts, and more. Keep it in the freezer if you don’t use it much, and you don’t need to worry about it going bad.

15. Canned Tomatoes – This can make the difference between a delicious fast cooked meal and a boring one. Canned tomatoes can help you make chili, spaghetti, casseroles, soups, goulash, and more.

16. Pasta – Having a variety of pasta to choose from makes dinner a snap if you also have some frozen veggies, canned tomatoes, spices and a bit of cheese. Plus, pasta is great as a leftover, thus saving you time and money.

17. Honey – You want to be healthy, and honey is a good choice. It is pricey but if you save it to use for your most treasured pleasures it will make up for it. Put it in tea, your bread, and even your fruit salad to make it extra delicious and healthy.

18. Maple Syrup – If you don’t like honey, your next best is maple syrup. This used as a sweetener is healthier than white sugar and gives it added flavor. Plus, who wouldn’t want to whip up some French toast with homemade sourdough bread, with some thawed frozen strawberries on top.

In truth, anything that you tend to use often that doesn’t go bad fast should be bought in bulk to save time, money, and packaging. If you can make your own from scratch, it’s going to be even better but by combining scratch with store-bought you can have the best of both worlds and keep your cupboard stocked.

Are Farmers’ Markets Worth It?

With the push to shop local to save fuel, eat healthier, and save money, many people turn to their local farmers’ market. But, is it worth it? Let’s look at a few myths and get to the truth about shopping at farmers’ markets.

Myth #1: Farmers’ Markets Are Too Expensive

The truth is, studies show that farmers’ markets are about the same price as grocery stores when you’re talking about conventionally-grown produce. But, when you get into organic, farmers’ markets win all the time and are less expensive. Plus, you can count on the produce at the market being fresher, which means it will last longer once you get it home.

Myth #2: Only Rich People Can Shop at Farmers’ Markets

Most farmers’ markets today still let you use SNAP benefits if you need them. So, you won’t miss out on anything if you choose to shop at a farmers’ market instead of the grocery. If your farmers’ market isn’t set up for that yet, you can contact your local representatives to try to get this passed. Some markets even match your benefits up to a limited amount between $5 and $10 so your benefits will go even further.

Myth #3: Everything at a Farmers’ Market Is Organic

This is not true. But one thing that is true is that some food is organic even if it’s not sold as organic. It costs a lot of money to be able to state that your produce is organic, so some farmers don’t get the organic certification necessary to do this. Yet their food is organic. Ask the farmers yourself and get to know them and their practices before you buy.

The truth is, most conventional practices aren’t as bad as you may think, and some organic practices aren’t as good as you think. Knowing where your food is coming from is helpful.

Myth #4: Farmers’ Markets Are Seasonal

This is true. But each area has its own seasons and some areas that are warmer have farmers’ markets all year long. You’ll have to find out what’s available in your area. Some areas even have greenhouse growth and inside stores for their farmers’ markets. You just have to find out what’s available.

The thing to remember about seasonal produce is that it’s going to be fresher, cause less damage to the environment due to it not having to be shipped across the country, and it helps provide jobs locally. It’s good all the way around.

Myth #5: You Can Shop with a List

While making a list is helpful for saving money and meal planning, if you’re going to use farmers’ markets for part of your grocery shopping you need to make your list after you find out what’s at the market. What you do is set a budget for produce, then buy what they have at the market. Take that home and put it away and then make a list for the rest of the ingredients so that you can use the seasonal produce that you have bought.

Myth #6: Funny-Looking Produce Is Bad

Nothing could be further from the truth. When you go to a farmers’ market, you may notice that some of the produce isn’t the prettiest. They are what is known as seconds. This is great because that’s how you’ll save money. The flavor will be amazing in that funnily-shaped tomato, so it won’t matter at all.

If you want to shop at farmers’ markets and make it worth it, go in understanding that you’re helping support your local economy, you’re getting the freshest food possible, and by eating seasonally you’re going to be healthier than ever.

Eight Shopping Tips to Save You Money

Eating a vegetarian diet automatically saves money. Meat is very expensive, as are the health problems associated with a high-protein meat-rich diet. So, if you look at it that way, regardless of how you shop you’ll save money both short- and long-term by eating a vegetarian diet.

1. Be Flexible – Lists are great. But, the best way to plan your meals is by planning based on what is on sale. When you shop for produce each week, you’re going to save more money than if you buy things that will go bad fast based off a list. Get what’s on sale, and then plan your meals for the week around that.

2. Buy Frozen – Depending on what you’re making, frozen produce is often a better buy. Today, most frozen produce is picked and frozen on the spot within minutes, so the frozen choices are often fresher. Of course, it does depend on what you’re making since the texture will be slightly different. So, choose fresh when the texture is important and frozen when it’s not. Plus, you can stock up on frozen when it’s on sale.

3. Buy Locally in Season – When you shop locally and in season, at farmers’ markets and even local shops that buy local, you can save a lot of money. Try a pick-it-yourself farm, farm shares, and even local Asian stores. These places often have good deals. The trick is to recognize a good deal when you see it by keeping pricing information handy.

4. Buy on Sale – Of course, this is an important factor in saving money. When you buy certain things on sale, though, you may need to process it right away because it may not be good to eat for as long. Say you buy some bananas that are very ripe; it’s important to know what you’re doing with them before you buy them so you don’t waste them.

5. Buy in Bulk – When you can buy in bulk, you’ll save on certain things such as dry goods that last a long time – including rice, flour, sugar and so forth. Also, buy canned or frozen items when on sale. The trick to buying in bulk is to only do it when you have a plan for the items you’re buying to use in the time frame they’ll last.

6. Avoid Prepackaged Food – Many people start a vegetarian diet and spent a lot of wasted time and money trying to replace meat. You don’t need to do that. Don’t buy the pre-made fake meat replacements. They’re not good for you. Regular tofu is fine, but you don’t even need that. Packaged fake meat is full of fats, sodium, and overly processed stuff that you don’t need at all. Just skip it.

7. Use Coupons – If you can get a coupon or savings off anything you normally buy, you’re saving money. But, don’t use coupons just to try prepackaged things or things you don’t normally buy, because that’s just a waste. Coupons only work to save money if you buy something you would buy anyway.

8. Don’t Buy All Organic – There is a lot of hype surrounding organic and the so-called “dirty dozen” in terms of produce. But the truth is, we have a very safe food supply. Buy what you can afford, wash all your produce, and only buy organic when it fits the budget and it’s one of the dirty dozen.

Link – https://draxe.com/dirty-dozen/

Shopping on a budget and saving money when shopping is something that you have full control over. Once you learn how to do it, you’ll be able to save a lot more money than you think. If you’re not sure about how much money is normal to spend on groceries, you can get an idea from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Link – https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood/reports

Five Quick and Easy Vegetarian Recipes on a Budget

When you think about cooking meals for your family, it’s important to know what’s in them before you go shopping because you really need a list. Having said that, nothing has to be as hard or difficult as we usually make it. There are shortcuts that will save time and money, and still enable you to produce a healthy meal for yourself and your family. In fact, these aren’t really even recipes when you think about it; it’s just common sense creating healthy vegetarian meals quickly and cheaply.

1. Stir-Fry

Making stir-fry is super-easy. All you need is any mixture of veggies, soy sauce, honey, ginger and some cornstarch or even flour if you don’t have it.

Cook veggies in oil in a large, hot plan in the order of cooking time length, adding a new veggie every couple of minutes. Mix 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 cup water and 1 teaspoon of thickening agent. When veggies are almost done, put the mixture into the pan, cook until thick, and serve over rice. You can also add cold leftover rice straight to the pan to make a great veggie stir-fry rice dish.

2. Soup

Put any veggies such as white potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, and even cabbage (any that you like) into 6 cups of veggie broth. Boil until veggies are cooked through. Thicken broth with flour or remove some of the potatoes from the pan and blend before adding back in.

To make the soup hardier, add black beans and a can of chopped tomato to the mix. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic or 21 Seasoning Salute Blend. Another trick to make a hearty broth is to use V8 juice (or something like it) for half the broth.

3. Wraps

If you have any type of leftovers, this is a great time to quickly make wraps. Use large flour shells, add whatever you want inside, wrap up, then heat in a hot non-stick pan to get the outside a little toasty, no oil needed. You can even do this with leftover salad, black beans, and salsa without heating the wrap for a great meal on a hot day. You really can put anything in a wrap – whether it’s a flour tortilla or another type of wrap. Don’t forget the hot sauce.

4. Casseroles

One great thing about most veggies is you can make them taste delicious by using the spices of the country you want to taste the flavors of.

For example, let’s say you want to make a Mexican-themed casserole. Start with a 9 x 13 pan. Grease with corn oil using a paper towel (way cheaper than buying oil in a can with lots of air). Pour 1/2 cup enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle 2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice over sauce, add 1 cup of black beans, 1/2 cup corn, 1/2 cup salsa, and 1 small can green chilis. Sprinkle some Tajin Classic Seasoning over all. Pour in four cups of veggie broth, cover pan and bake for one 45 minutes to one hour in a 350 degrees F oven until rice is done. Top with slices of avocado if you have it.

Link – https://www.target.com/p/tajin-classic-seasoning-5-oz/-/A-14767442

5. Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

It’s common in the south to eat black-eyed peas and greens with cornbread on New Year’s Day, but there is no reason to wait. Plus, it’s seriously simple to make. You can make it in two pots on the stove or in a crockpot that you start in the morning.

For the beans, just rinse and pick through the beans to ensure they’re stone free, then cook in veggie broth by covering them with the broth and cooking until the beans are soft – about 15 to 20 minutes. Do the same thing for the greens. If you want more spice, just add 21 Seasoning Salute the last five minutes of cooking time.

The thing to remember about cooking vegetarian on a budget is that you want to use fewer ingredients when possible. Buying tons of spices can cost a lot of money, so using pre-mixed spices and seasonings can help save time and money. Using broth, homemade or not, can also save a lot of time and money when it comes to seasoning.

Making the Most of Leftovers

Using leftovers is important for any household food budget. Most households throw away far too much good food. But, you don’t have to. If you plan in advance to use the leftovers you create, you won’t waste food and can likely double how long your food lasts.

* Plan Ahead – Using leftovers in the most budget-friendly way means that you should know what you’re cooking, when you’re cooking it, how to store it best, and what you will do with the leftovers and when. So, if you’re making pizza tonight, you might want to save some of the sauce and cooked veggies to add to your vegetable soup tomorrow.

* Transform Them – Some things make great leftovers just as they are. But the truth is, if you transform your leftovers based on your plan, you can make meals that do not seem like leftovers at all. For example, if you make rice tonight for dinner, it’s best eaten like it is because it’s fresh, fluffy, and delicious. Tomorrow it will be hard and will not have the same texture. But the new texture is perfect for stir-fry. Throw your leftover rice in a pan with a bunch of veggies, a squirt of sesame oil and it’ll seem as if this is a brand-new meal.

* Know Your Ingredients – The foods that you want to be leftovers are foods that improve their flavor and texture over time. This is true of soups, stews and it’s also true of spicy dishes which get spicier with time. If you know your ingredients, you can know exactly how to reuse them when you cook with them.

* Label Your Leftovers – When you store your leftovers, the best way to ensure that you’re going to use them is to use your plan and then label them. For example, if you’re saving rice for stir-fry, put on the label, “rice for stir-fry”. Include the date so that you know when you need to use something by.

* Know the Best Storage Methods – Each type of leftover has a best storage method. For example, when it comes to beans and grains you should freeze them. This works great for beans since it’s less expensive to make beans yourself than buy them in a can. But, if stored incorrectly they can become mushy. Drain them and rinse them before storing. Then you can simply take them out of the freezer and toss into your recipes.

* Make Soup – Leftovers are almost always good in soup. Leftover broccoli can easily become a delightful creamed soup. Just throw the broccoli in a high-speed blender with almond milk, vegan butter, and use leftover cooked onions to give it even more flavor. Add salt and pepper to taste, make some bread or rolls, and enjoy a fast meal. If you don’t have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix, you can blend it in a regular blender then heat over the stove.

* Make a Wrap – Another great thing to do with almost any type of leftovers is to combine them into a wrap. Get a flour tortilla (or another type of prepared wrap, even lettuce leaves) and add leftover veggies, rice, beans, some salsa, and even throw some leftover salad in it and you’ve got an easy meal – all from leftovers.

* Create a Casserole – These are one-pan dishes that just need a bit of creativity. Mixing any type of starch, veggies, and cheese, with a crunchy topping on top made of breadcrumbs will almost always be good.

If you want to do better with leftovers, think of them during your meal planning. Think about what you’re cooking, and plan for using the leftovers in the meal the following evening. If you plan it right, you can cook once, then just prepare the following day – saving time, electricity, and your sanity.

Sources of Tasty and Inexpensive Vegetarian Recipes

One way to stick to a budget on a vegetarian diet is to have a lot of recipes available to try. Cooking from scratch is almost always going to be cheaper than buying prepared food, not to mention way healthier. Let’s look at some different ways you can find tasty and inexpensive vegetarian recipes to try with your family.


There are so many websites that can help you cook healthy, budget-friendly vegetarian recipes but these are just three of them. There are so many more. You can even find groups on Facebook that are devoted to sharing budget-friendly vegetarian recipes.

* Budget Bytes – This website has delicious recipes for all types of diets designed for small budgets. You can see the vegetarian meals here. They even give you the price per serving so it’s all broken down for you.

Link – https://www.budgetbytes.com/category/recipes/vegetarian/

* Plant-Based on a Budget – This site is devoted to helping you prepare plant-based meals (meaning vegan) on a budget. You can see many recipes, buy their book, and more. They break it all down for you so that you can save money, eat better, and live healthier.

Link – http://plantbasedonabudget.com/

* Nutrition.gov – This site is packed with information about eating healthy on a budget and includes the vegetarian diet in their plans. You can get meal plans, recipes, and more from this site, all devoted to saving money and eating vegetarian. You can start with this free produce recipe list.

Link – https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/Fruits_and_Vegetables_Recipes.pdf


If you like being able to find a recipe while you’re shopping, these apps will help you a lot. You can look up any type of recipe that you want with these easy-to-use apps.

* The Vegetarian Society – They have a great app for getting recipes that are vegetarian, including budget-friendly choices. You can download the app on Google Play, Amazon Apps, and in the Apple App Store.

Link – https://www.vegsoc.org/recipeapp

* One Green Planet – They have an app that has many different types of vegan recipes. You can always add dairy to the recipes to make them vegetarian. They even have gluten-free recipes. In fact, they have over 10K recipes, so you are sure to be able to find some that fit your needs and your budget.

Link – https://www.onegreenplanet.org/foodmonster/

* Purely Vegan Recipes – You can get these recipes from the App Store and have instant access to many budget-friendly vegetarian recipes to help you cook healthy on a budget for your family. They also have great images of the recipes on Pinterest that you can look at to see what you might want to cook for dinner tonight.

Link – https://purelyveganrecipes.wordpress.com/


If you’re old school, cookbooks are the way to go. In fact, there are still many cookbooks for all types of food that you can use to stick to a budget. You can find them at the library, at used book stores, via Kindle Unlimited, and used via the Amazon Store.

* Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Throughout the Year. – This cookbook has easy-to-make recipes using normal ingredients and nothing processed (expensive) or tricky. This is a highly recommended cookbook and a best seller.

Link – https://amzn.to/2NDkCeg

* The $5 a Meal College Vegetarian Cookbook: Good, Cheap Vegetarian Recipes for When You Need to Eat (Everything Books) – Even if you’re not a college student, this is a great cookbook to have on hand for simple meals that don’t cost a lot.

Link – https://amzn.to/2CHtYoq

* The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table – You can’t go wrong with this cookbook. Southern food is very flavorful and if you’re new to eating vegetarian, it’s a great choice due to the high flavors packed in these easy-to-make budget-friendly recipes.

Link – https://amzn.to/2OnqugY

The best thing to do is to keep it simple. Look for recipes with fewer ingredients that can be sourced locally and from almost any store. They’ll cost less, taste better, and make cooking and preparing food for your family a lot less trouble.

Ten Easy Vegetables to Grow

If you want to grow veggies that are not only simple to grow but have multiple uses, this list will let you know where to get started. Everything other than the corn can easily be grown in any size backyard garden -whether you choose to grow a vertical garden, traditional rows, or raised beds.

1. Lettuce – It takes between 45 and 55 days for most types of lettuce to be ready to eat, which means (depending on where you live) that if you choose right and graduate when you plant, you may be able to harvest up to three times in one year. Lettuce grows best if it’s sown directly into the ground about 1/2 inch deep. You can start seedlings indoors to get a fast start, though.

2. Tomatoes – You can grow tomatoes in a pot if you want to. Choose from hearty beefcake tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (or both). Tomatoes need the warmth of late spring and early summer to grow well. They need up to eight hours of direct sun each day, so pick a sunny place. You can plant the seeds directly or you can start seedlings a little early if you want to baby them a bit.

3. Cucumbers – You can grow cucumbers vertically to save space and they do wonderfully. Just set up supports that are about six feet tall, plant three or four seeds about an inch deep and 12 inches apart in each row when the ground is about 60 degrees F, and maintain even soil moisture. Once they sprout you can train them to go up the trellis. You may need to get cloth strips to help maturing cucumbers continue to grow.

4. Carrots – Taking up to 80 days to mature, these easy-to-grow crops should be sown about three weeks prior to the last expected frost of the season. You can then plant a new crop every two weeks – the last being a couple weeks prior to the first frost of the season. That way you’ll have carrots well into fall. Weed often and keep the soil moist.

5. Turnips – Like most root vegetables, these almost grow themselves. If you use the right soil and keep it moist enough, you can grow turnips easily. They need full sun for the most part but some people do find luck with even partial shade. In fact, you can get more turnip greens if you grow in partial shade, making it a great two-for-one plant.

6. Radishes – Another lovely two-for-one plant, you can harvest the greens and the radish for use in all your cooking. They can be mature in as little as three weeks, so it’s a great plant to start with if you want to learn. They also have a different flavor raw versus cooked, so you can use them in so many ways.

7. Green Beans – Depending on the type you grow, you may need a trellis so that the vine can climb up. Some varieties get really tall – over 12 feet. They can grow all summer long, and you can sow them every two weeks from two weeks prior to the last frost to two weeks before the first frost.

8. Zucchini – You know that zucchini can be used in so many types of dishes, from savory to sweet. That makes it a very versatile and useable plant that can be enjoyed in salads, cooked, and added to other recipes. They are super-easy to grow and can be grown much like cucumbers, vertically or planted traditionally.

9. Corn – Yes, corn is really a grain, but you can grow it in your backyard garden if you plan right. First, consider using dwarf varieties since the stalk is shorter. Start when your soil reaches 60 degrees F, and sow seeds in eight inches of soil where they’ll get full sun. Corn only needs about an inch of water a week, so be sure not to overwater.

10. Onions – Everyone loves onions and you can do far more with onions than you may think. They belong in almost every type of savory dish that you make and give flavor to everything. Onions are planted about four weeks before the last frost of the year. That way they’ll be enjoying the full sun during the time that they need it.

The best thing to do is pick one or two of the above and just get started. You can learn almost everything you need to know about planting and growing and harvesting your vegetables right on the seed packet, as well as in Facebook groups online consisting of gardening enthusiasts.

The Importance of Planning Your Shopping

One thing you really want to do when it comes to saving money and sticking to your budget is to plan your shopping. When you have a plan in place you’re less likely to succumb to last-moment purchases and waste time going back and forth, and you can even be much healthier due to avoiding temptation if you stick to your plan.

* Saves Time – You know that if you don’t make a list you probably forget things, which means more trips to the store. More trips to the store is a waste of time. Plus, your time in the store will go faster if you have a list and know what you’re going to buy before you even get there. You can make great lists that take sales into consideration if you use the weekly ads from your local paper or look online at the local version of the store’s website.

* Saves Money – Everyone does it. You go to the store and all the temptations you them in the face. You want them. You want whatever you see that’s easy to fix and shove in your mouth. But that’s not the best way to save money. Planning shopping based on sales and seasonality of produce is the best way to save money.

* Avoids Waste – When you don’t know what you’re going to do with your purchase, it is easy to forget you even bought it and you therefore waste it. If you know you need 1/2 onion for something specific, you’re going to use it instead of just buying a bunch of onions with no plan. About 1/3 of all food purchased in the first world is thrown out. You can avoid that waste by having a plan.

* Keeps You Healthy – When you plan your shopping trips, you can also plan to eat something before you go so that you’ll stick to your list. The list is so important because it prevents you from buying things that you don’t need.

* Recognizes Your Lifestyle – By lifestyle, the point is that you have a life and a schedule that may or may not allow you to cook a full meal each evening. You can look at your lifestyle and figure out what meals are best to prepare on any given night, and a plan will take that into consideration. So, if you’re going to be busy Wednesday night with an activity, you may want to plan to cook double the food Tuesday evening so that you can still eat on budget and healthily on Wednesday night.

* Reduces Stress – Going into a grocery store without a plan and then just buying a bunch of stuff without any idea what you’re going to do with it will create meal-planning stress every single day. When you have a plan that on Tuesday you’re having your favorite lasagna, and on Thursday you’re having taco salad, it makes life much simpler.

Planning anything in your life helps you succeed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s eating a budget-friendly vegetarian diet or sticking to a healthy way of life. A plan always helps and gives you more of a chance to succeed.

Tips on How to Avoid Waste

Avoiding waste is one of the ways in which you can control your food budget. It’s amazing how much food people throw out. Did you know that more than 1/3 of all food is just thrown away? That’s the food that you buy and spend your hard-earned money on. It’s important to focus on avoiding the food waste if you really want to help your budget.

* Be Realistic – It’s very important to take into consideration your real life, your real cooking ability, and your true personality when you make plans for your meals, shopping, and daily life. Only you know who you really are so don’t be afraid to go with that. If you’re not a cook-from-scratch person, accept it and try to deal with that within your means. If you work 90 hours a week, it’s important to accept that your time is limited and you need to plan for meals that are simple to prepare instead of difficult.

* Mind Your Serving Size – One reason people waste is that they think they must make huge serving sizes. But that’s not true. You’re not a restaurant and you really don’t want to be overstuffed at every single meal. Instead, figure out the right serving sizes and make that much food and no extra.

* Eat Your Leftovers – When you do end up with leftovers, it’s important to consume them. Even if it’s just a 1/4 cup of veggies, they can be added to another dish and even hidden in other dishes. You can make soup and stews using leftovers. Put every veggie in the freezer and save it; when you have enough, throw it into a pot to make soup.

* Store Food Properly – One way to avoid waste is to be sure to store food right. Everything has a specific way to be stored and you need to pay attention to that so that it lasts as long as possible. For example, potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place; not in the fridge. If you’re not sure how to store your produce, look it up online to get the best tips.

* Keep Your Fridge and Pantry Neat – When the place you store your food is unorganized, it can be hard to remember what you have in there. You may forget that you have that spice you needed and buy another thinking it’s gone. You may lose that cheese in the container to the back of the fridge and before you know it, it’s moldy. Keeping everything neat will help you avoid that type of waste.

* Mind Food Expiration Dates – Everything you buy has an expiration date. Plan the order you fix the food in with that in mind. That way, nothing will spoil before you’re ready to eat it when you put that forward in your meal planning.

* Compost Your Waste – You don’t want to get too tied up in this, but one way to cut down on waste is to compost. Even if you live in an apartment you can compost your waste. There are community gardens that will take your composting waste; just make a few phone calls to find out where.

* Learn Food Storage Techniques – Learning food storage techniques goes beyond how to store a banana or an expiration date. It means canning, freezing, and fermenting. When you learn these techniques, you can avoid even more waste and save even more money.

When you avoid food waste, you also avoid money waste. Start thinking of everything you throw away as money. Track your trash to find out how much money you are tossing away. Why are you tossing it away? How can you change the habit of wasting food?

If you set up your kitchen and your life to focus on avoiding waste, you will be surprised at how low you can get your food bill while still eating plenty of healthy vegetarian food.

Tips on How to Get Your Protein on a Budget

The fact is, getting protein on a vegetarian diet isn’t really that hard. Most people don’t need as much protein as they think they do. The exception to this is if you’re pregnant, nursing, have an injury or an illness of some kind. But if those things aren’t true, you only need about 46 grams on average and most vegetarians usually get double their needs without even trying. Having said that, if for some reason you believe you need more protein you can follow these tips.

* Eat Steal-Cut Oats – Try eating steel-cut oats for breakfast with some almonds sprinkled on top. Steal-cut oats has 6 grams of protein per cup. Two tablespoons of almonds has 4 grams of protein. If you avoid topping it with sugar you could eat two cups for breakfast with two tablespoons of slivered almonds on top and get a whopping 16 grams of protein just with breakfast.

* Eat Snacks – For a snack, eat something like an apple with peanut butter on it. Two tablespoons of peanut butter has 8 grams of protein while an apple has about 1/2 gram. Along with the fiber you will get in an apple, that’s a great energy-producing snack to enjoy. Plus, it tastes delicious.

* Add Edamame – When you add edamame to anything, you add a lot of protein. In fact, one cup of edamame has 17 grams of protein in it. You can eat edamame as a snack, add it to all your dishes, or make a type of edamame hummus to enjoy with celery and really pack the protein punch.

* Beans – Most beans have about 12 to 17 grams of protein per cup. That means you can add them to salads, eat them in soups, and wrap them in a lettuce wrap and get plenty of protein that you need in your diet.

* Tofu – As you see, you don’t need to eat tofu to get in your protein. But, as five ounces of tofu has over 12 grams, you may want to add it to your food when you’re trying to get extra. You can prepare tofu in all sorts of interesting ways that improves the texture and makes it a pleasure to eat.

* Whole Wheat Bread – You may not realize it but even bread, whole wheat bread, has about 7 grams per two slices of bread. Add some peanut butter to it and you’re eating a protein-packed snack that cannot be beaten.

* Lentils – You might think of lentils as beans but they’re a little different. They’re delicious, have a pleasant texture, can be used in all kinds of meals and are packed – literally packed – with protein goodness. At 18 grams per cup, you cannot go wrong with putting lentils in every soup you make, adding to chili and more. Another thing, they cook fast.

* Seitan – No, it’s not the prince of darkness, it’s seitan and it’s delicious. Plus, it’s inexpensive to make at home. You simply use Vital Wheat Gluten to make it. You can find recipes online for it as well as watch YouTube videos teaching you how to make it. Just three ounces has 21 grams of protein, which is amazing. You can make all kinds of dishes with this versatile ingredient.

As you can see, there is no reason to not get enough protein. Even a bagel has about 10 grams of protein. When you truly spend some time adding it up, you’ll see that you can easily get in your protein for every single day that you’re eating vegetarian. And we haven’t even added any dairy products, which are also good sources of protein.