I went overnight vegan one day in my freshman year of high school after binge watching 3 vegan documentaries: Forks Over Knives, 101 Reasons to go Vegan, and Cowspiracy. Even though UGA is in the south, they have great dining halls loaded with healthy choices, but I know everyone is not as lucky. I also was lucky enough to always live in dorms and apartments with kitchens. Over the last four years I have accumulated some tips and tricks to help me successfully save money in college while following a vegan diet. There are so many I could name but here are the the ones I followed the most:
Shop in Bulk
If you are lucky enough to have some extra space in your dorm or apartment, buy the simple things in bulk. I always kept non perishable vegan essentials sealed under my bed. Foods I would recommend doing this for are oats, rice, dry lentils, canned beans, and bars/snacks. Not only does this save money, but it saves extra trips to the grocery store.
Invest in a Small blender
Is there anything you can’t do with a good blender? I received the Nutri Ninja Pro Blender for christmas one year, and my gosh, it’s by far the most useful gift I’ve ever received (#foodnerd?). I was always one of those people who saw other vegans making pancake batter and pasta sauce in blenders and thought “ain’t nobody got time for that.” But after giving it a go, I realized how easy and useful it is. I would highly highly recommend getting those smaller blenders that also serve as a to go cup. Making a smoothie in one of those when you are running late to class is life saving.
Amazon is Your New Bestie
The people at my mailroom must think I’m nuts. I’m picking up packages every few days, mostly consisting of chia seeds, vega bars, and tahini. Going back to the buying in bulk thing, you can do this over amazon, and it is a huge money saver. I especially utilized all the benefits of amazon in my freshman year when I didn’t have a car on campus. Amazon is also useful for the weird things vegans like that might not be easy to find at stores in college towns; for example: chia seeds, nutritional yeast, flax, pea protein.. you get the jist.
Ignore Annoying People
If you have been vegan for some time now, I’m sure you can agree the hardest part about being vegan is by no means the actual eating part.. it’s dealing with all the annoying people who give you a hard time about it. I imagine you won’t run into this problem as much if you attend school somewhere in LA or NYC, where veganism is more common, but for a girl who attended school in the south.. well lets just say I’ve been asked more than once if being vegan means I can still eat chicken (eye roll). My best advice is to A.) not give a damn what people think because you know you are doing the right thing B.) plan ahead if you know you are going to a potluck or dinner and C.) surround yourself with people who understand and are respectful of your decision.
Shop at Trader Joes
If you are so lucky as to have a Trader Joes nearby, by all means say a thank you prayer right now. It was not until my junior year that I realized HOW CHEAP TRADER JOES REALLY IS. I think since it is associated with the “health food” stores people automatically think it is too expensive. I buy about two weeks worth of food for $80. Which means if you were less lazy than me and went every week, it would only be about $40 a week for all your food: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!
Always Carry a Snack in Your Bag or Purse
I especially did this during game days, and let me tell you, it was a lifesaver. This is always a great idea in general if you are going to class or know you’re going to be out for a while. I was always a cliff bar kind of snack gal but you do you.
Many things I’ve listed here applied to me because of the particular dorms and apartments I lived in, but figure out what works for you. Make new creations in the dining hall, add and subtract things from menus to veganize them, and create recipes that fit your living style. I have made many strange (but tasty) dining hall creations so definitely reach out to me if you need some inspo!