As I write this blog, we’re in the middle of our 7th week of being completely plant based. We haven’t had a single animal product in 45 days and we’ve learned a lot in a short period of time. There are so many things we want to tell you about but today we want to focus on how to shop vegan.
There are a few comments that come up over and over. You know what they say about opinions right? But one comment we always find really interesting is…
“It’s too expensive to go Vegan”
Ma, The Meatloaf! EPISODE 2
Our trip to SunSpun Natural Foods & Fine Gifts
This week we took a trip to our local health food store and sat down with Kathie, owner of SunSpun. She’s a super interesting lady and a really valuable resource in our community. She told us all about why her and her husband are vegetarian, how and why they eat and live this way and what her advice is for anyone wanting to make some changes stop their diet.
HOW TO SHOP VEGAN
Without Breaking The Bank
1. Shop Local
This might sound counterintuitive but sourcing our your local health food store is the first place to start. Not only will they carry the specialty ingredients (like nut butters, coconut products, organic spices, etc) but they often don’t mark them up like the big box stores do.
We were surprised to learn that at SunSpun (our local health food store) you can buy any nut, grain, spice or seed in any quantity at any time. If they don’t have it, they’ll order it in for you. So rather than buying a big bag of something like dates, you can buy what you need when you need it.
You also get the added bonus of being able to speak to the experts face to face when you utilize your local health food stores.
2. Buy in Bulk
Eating plant based means relying heavily on beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. These items are easily stored for long periods of time which makes buying in bulk an effective way to save money. The same is true for certain types of produce. Shopping the produce section of Costco can save you loads of money! Buying 12 zucchinis and freezing them for later is always less expensive than buying one or two at the grocery store.
3. Fruit & Vegetable Markets
Here in Nova Scotia we have a place called Gateway Meat Market. I know, that sounds really odd since this article is all about shopping vegan! Now, full disclosure – if you’re a strict vegan for ethical reasons you should skip this section because obviously, it’s a meat market..they sell meat.
But, if you’re like us and eating this way purely for the health benefits than a market like Gateway is an amazing option. I have never…I repeat NEVER, seen better prices on produce anywhere in my life. We’re talking 79 cents for 10lbs of carrots. Yes, you read that correctly!
4. Cook Your Own Lentils & Legumes
This crosses over with buying in bulk but it warrants it’s own section because buying your beans and legumes in bulk then soaking and cooking them yourself is a huge money saver. Additionally, buying canned foods (unless you’re buying organic which is costly) means you’re also consuming all the additives they’re soaking in. Yuck.
5. Meal Prep Services & Meal Replacements
This will also seem counterintuitive but hear me out. Many people spend a lot of money on fast food lunches and breakfasts. Consider this, if you eat out for lunch everyday (which lots of people do), using a meal prep service can not only save you money but can also ensure you’re getting a perfectly balanced and nutritious midday meal.
Likewise, if you’re accustomed to driving through your local coffee shop and grabbing a bagel or sandwich in the morning, having a smoothie for breakfast serves as a great meal option and also costs less than your usual on-to-go breakfast. We’ve been experimenting with different vegan protein powders and this week we’re testing out Shakeology (from Rebecca at Kolstee Wellness) which neither of us have ever tried before.
We’ll be doing a full review of all 5 of the different proteins we’re trying at the conclusion of the series so watch for that! It’ll also come with some of our favourite smoothie recipes.
OUR SHOPPING BLUEPRINT
This is our step by step blueprint of how our week went. Lot’s of you have been asking us to layout our plan so here it is!
On Saturday’s we head to SunSpun first to pick up the specialty items we need. Then we make the trip to Halifax (about an hour from where we live). We’ve learned the cost of fuel to get us to the city is outweighed by the savings we enjoy while we’re there.
In Halifax we stop at Gateway first, always. We get nearly all of our produce there before heading to Costco where we pick up what we couldn’t get at Gateway. We’ve found Costco to have great deals on nuts, seeds, organic beans (we buy canned when they’re a great price and Organic only) and other household items that we use daily.
If there are any items left on our list after those three stops (which there usually isn’t) we will make a trip to our local grocery store. In all honesty, we’ve spent very little time at the grocery store during this process because we’ve found far better deals at the stops listed above.
If we have time on Saturday we’ll do our shopping and meal prep in one day but if not, Sunday is meal prep day. This one habit has single handedly saved us at least 8 hours a week. We spend 3-4 hours in the kitchen on Sundays with our meal plan in hand prepping our food for the week.
We have a three part system we’ve been using for a while that has been amazing! We don’t prep everything, just enough to make meal time quick and easy and to keep us on track throughout the week. We teach our meal prep system inside the Inspired Life Society – if you’re interested, you should check it out!
Sunday is also the day that Vicki, from Prep for You, delivers our meals for the week. We’ve been using her meal prep service for a couple of weeks now and it’s fantastic for Brent’s work lunches (yep, he still drives to work everyday) and also for those days that I haven’t prepped a lunch.
PROGRESS & RESULTS
We both had three specific goals when we started this process. Lose a little weight (and feel better), resolve sleep issues and clear up our skin. Just in case you missed it, in episode one we chat about what we’ve been struggling with.
I knew this one would be a struggle for me. I’ve always had issues around my weight. I wrote all about my body dysmorphia in a blog post a while back (you can read it here) and I have enough knowledge about nutrition to know that this wouldn’t be a quick road to dramatic weight loss for me. After all, we’re eating a pretty carb heavy diet full of beans, legumes, fruit, and grains. In the past, I’ve always opted for low carb, high protein, high fat methods of losing weight so this made me a little nervous.
In 6 weeks Brent has lost 11lbs and I have lost 8lbs. We’re not counting calories, tracking carbs, restricting ourselves in any way, or tracking macros. We eat when we’re hungry, until we’re not. We still drink wine nearly daily, and we’ve indulged in more than a couple decadent desserts and treats.
Is it rapid weight loss, nope. But we’re OK with that. It’s been a steady decline on the scale and we’re both feeling pretty good about it. Could our results be better? Absolutely, we could cut out snacks (chips, vegan ice cream, PB & Chocolate Cheesecake, Tofu Chocolate Pie and chocolate chip banana bread have all been on the menu), we could cut alcohol (but we’re not going to), and we could restrict our starchy carb intake if we really wanted to see fast results but for now we’re focused on just eating well and finding our groove in the plant based world.
Holy sweet Eff! This was the most exciting part for me. I’ve struggled to sleep as long as I can remember and I don’t mean a little. A LOT. I suffer from horrible nightmares, restless legs, and pure inability to sleep – to the point that on many occasions I just get up in the middle of the night and stay up.
Within 3 days, I started sleeping through the night (for the first time in years) without the aid of any oils, suppleness, or drugs. At first I thought it must be psychosomatic (can you will yourself to sleep?) but it’s been 6 weeks and I’ve been sleeping soundly and through the night ever since. WTF?!?
Brent doesn’t have an issue sleeping but he snores so loudly that he wakes up with a sore throat most mornings (and makes it even more difficult for me to sleep). I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard him snore since we started.
We’re both noticing only small improvements in our skin which is surprising. We honestly thought that would be the first thing to clear up but so far it’s incremental. Stay tuned on this one…
Rather than explain these in detail (because they’re numerous) we’ll just list them out for your reference. Here are some additional things we’ve noticed:
- Indigestion has disappeared (both of us)
- Cravings are gone (that happened really fast as well)
- Swelling in joints has disappeared
- Increased energy
- Decreased pain in joints
- Bloating disappeared
- Improved Digestion
Honestly, we’re pretty stoked at the progress we’ve made so far and we’re excited to see what the next few weeks bring. Now that we’ve found our groove a bit and we feel fairly confident in our ability to make plant based choices out “in the real world” we’re branching out a bit and will be enjoying more restaurant meals over the next few weeks.
We’ve also increased our fitness plans a bit, which we’ll tell you about next week!