There's often the perception that being vegetarian is expensive, but that's not necessarily the case. Deborah Madison, the author of Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone and Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison's Kitchen, says in general, "vegetables aren't that expensive compared to meat." Here are tips from Madison on a few ways vegetarians can save:
- Learn to cook and eat grains and legumes of all kinds. "Grains and legumes are very economical and are often organic. You can even buy them in bulk bins, which is always a good way to save money. There are some new books out now on grains that will teach you about their flavors and how to cook them — invest in one! "I suggest Ancient Grains For Modern Meals by Maria Speck."
- Know which vegetables give you the best value. It's important to also know which veggies you can use entirely. "Carrots, winter squash, fennel, cabbage — these are very efficient vegetables in that you can use every part of them. Fennel can be expensive, but if you slice it on an inexpensive mandoline, you can get a lot of salad material from one small bulb."
- Find out what the edible parts are. "For example, well-peeled broccoli stems are delicate and delicious, and broccoli with the stems costs less than the crowns alone. If beets come with their leaves, use them! They are related to spinach and chard and are just as good. Chop off the stems, discard any that aren't up to snuff, and cook the rest. Chard stems are also quite edible and actually favored over the greens in other countries. You've got two vegetables in one if you use them. Fennel stalks can be used in a soup or soup stock, the greens a garnish."
- Learn to make a good soup. "Soups are filling, nutritious, and usually inexpensive to make. They also get better as they sit. And they're a great way to incorporate beans and peas and vegetables to yield high-protein, high-fiber meals."
- Buy in-season foods."Peaches from Chile in winter are going to be costly and not very good. Wait until they come into season where you live. That goes for all fruit, and vegetables, too, so don't waste money on cottony tasteless tomatoes. To learn what's seasonal, go to the farmers market and shop there."
- Get a good vegetarian cookbook. "If you don't know much about cooking plant foods, get yourself a good vegetarian cookbook that will help you learn what possibilities there are. How to cook beans quickly. How to use a pressure cooker. What to do with your broccoli stems or chard stems. How to make good soups. Use tofu. Those of us who write cookbooks want to help people cook!"