How to live well and save money as a student (or normal human being)

My apologies for not posting in a little while, but I have just spent the past four days visiting family and so didn’t have a chance to write anything. Today I thought I’d move away from telling people the extensive reasons why they shouldn’t eat meat and dairy and instead focus on just how cheap a vegan diet can be.

I say ‘can be’ for a reason; a vegan diet is not expensive so long as you don’t get caught up in the over-priced, snob-inducing unnecessaries such as  fancy oils, cacao nibs, and Goji berries, all of which aren’t even that good for you. Of course, if your wallet can afford you some leeway then feel free, but I’m here, as a student, to show you how cheap this can be.

In my opinion more people, whether in higher education or not, should eat like (healthy) students. The cheapest foods are often lowest in fat, sodium, and processed sugar. So the way I can best represent this is by showing you tonight’s shopping trip:

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All this came to about £30 (from Asda), and given what little food I already had in the cupboards (plus my haul of bananas, of which I like to keep a constant flow) this will be enough to mean I won’t have to go buying lunch from the university canteen or shop.

Now I’ll admit that this isn’t my normal  weekly shop – having been away for four days I was completely out of fresh supplies other than bananas and a handful of dates, so this will last me a couple of weeks at least, save for the small replenishment trips in-between. Most of the things you see here are dirt cheap, quite literally; the bananas were reduced in price, as were the persimmons and rice noodles (back left); onions weigh in at 75p a kilo and it’s a similar story with the spinach, romaine lettuce and courgettes, too. The cheapest rice you can buy from Asda is 40p a kilo (although I went for the slightly more expensive but nonetheless cheap basmati variety this time around) and the rice milk was on offer at £1 a litre. Given the vast amount of savings made on this shop, whether it’s because of buying on-offer or reduced price items, or simply by excluding meat and dairy (two of the most expensive ingredients out there) buying a few more expensive foods like medjoul dates isn’t an issue.

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Simplicity is key: this side dish (I had a baked sweet potato + more rice as well) of romaine lettuce boats and spiced rice probably cost less than 40p.

It’s all about shopping smart; you will notice that a lot of those foods don the hallowed yellow stickers, which, if you’re living in Britain, will know that means reduced prices! I presume that supermarkets across the world do this – whereby foods have reached their “use by” dates and are heftily slashed in price. Well, ignore those use-by dates, they are just the supermarkets covering themselves from today’s nanny-state, picky, malnourished people who throw out swathes of perfectly good “out-of-date” food and will sue at the drop of the banana peel.

Take those bananas, for example, they were going for 35p a kilo, and some of them aren’t even that ripe! And yet they were destined for the skip. I saved as many as I could (about two kilos worth), and if I hadn’t of needed to worry about carrying home everything else you see on that table I would have picked up the entire crate. Bananas aren’t meant to be eaten yellow –  and especially not green – with their peak ripeness occurring once brown sports start to appear on the skin, or, even better, when the whole skin turns brown. This means that they have a higher sugar and digestive enzyme content, resulting in peak digestion speeds and better, faster energy – you could eat 15 of those bananas and still have a flat stomach afterwards!

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Reduced fruits are always going to be riper and cheaper! What’s not to love?

It’s a similar story with those persimmons – reduced by 50% and yet they will mostly go untouched because Mr. Asda says they are “out of date”. Load them up and feel happy you’ve come away with a ridiculously good deal. I took 9 packets and still felt I should have got more! There is no shame in living in abundance, and eating high amounts of raw fruits and vegetables will make you feel so good that you’ll look at western junk food and wonder why the hell you ever put that stuff inside your body, plus you’ll be saving boat-loads of cash – Huzzah!

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