Plant Based Money Saving Tips + Cheap, Easy, and Delicious Split Pea Soup (plant based, oil free)

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It’s an uncertain time here on planet Earth and that means, for a lot of us, it is crucial that we find ways to save our hard earned dollars. So many folks are unemployed, underemployed, furloughed, or just struggling to make ends meet.

For almost a decade, my wife and I lived on the strictest of budgets. It was hard and sometimes downright depressing, but we had certain financial goals (like paying off student loans!) that we wanted to achieve and that’s really hard to do when you live paycheck to paycheck.

I’ll never forget the week that we received an unexpected and large car repair expense that had to be paid immediately. It wiped out our small savings and our food budget for that week. We were flat broke and weren’t sure what to do.

I’ve never told anyone this before, but I went to our local food pantry and received a box of canned goods, a big bag of rice, a little produce, and some paper towels and toilet paper.

It was so unbelievably hard to swallow my pride and accept help. In fact, when I got back to the car I was sobbing. I worked hard, paid the bills on time, lived on a strict budget, and I still couldn’t make it work.

That was one of my lowest financial moments, but it was also an eye-opening experience. I had been so fortunate in my life, up until to that point, to be on the giving end of helping people. It was a whole new feeling to be on the receiving end! I was truly humbled.

Even today, every time I drive past that food pantry or drop off a donation of canned goods, I am so aware of the scary, anxious, worry that so many people are facing right now. The financial burdens that we all carry can be so heavy and stressful that it impacts our day-to-day functioning.

Thankfully, I was able to get back on my feet and recover from the financial burden of my car repair, but I know that for many people it is a constant struggle to figure out how to pay their bills, provide food and medicine, and other important items for their families.

I believe the biggest and best thing that ever happened to our budget was subscribing to the CFDG Plant Fueled Meal Plans. Once we had a fully stocked pantry, we watched our grocery bill plummet and it was awesome!

Keep reading, because Team Dirty is here with our biggest plant based money saving tips!

Plant Based Money Saving Tips From Team Dirty

Erica (accountant)

1. When you can, stock up on things when they are on sale.

2. Ask for lower rates on credit cards, insurance, cable, phone, etc… If you threaten to leave, companies will usually have an offer for you.

3. When you have the urge to spend on something unnecessary, go for a walk instead.

Tamie (meal plan / recipe wizard)

1. Buy what’s in season and on sale. Many meal plan produce items can be swapped out if needed to incorporate the most affordable ingredients.

2. Shop the clearance bins and discount stores. I’ve bought canned beans for 39 cents, nutritional yeast for next to nothing, even Bob’s Red Mill grains for $2. And stock up when you catch a bargain! Also, Aldi is a life saver! Organic produce, greens, non-dairy milk, spices, dried and canned beans, nuts, teabags, seed bread and whole grain corn tortillas, and more — super cheap and I’ve never had an issue with the quality. No Aldi? Buy the store brands rather than name brands. Kroger organic canned beans are less than $1 per can while Eden and others are $2-3 per can. We lived for years on a tight budget, feeding a family of 5 for under $80 a week, all meals included.

3. Stock up on the well-known cheapest ingredients — dried beans, oats, grains, frozen vegetables, rice, potatoes, canned tomato products, pasta. Example: a box of whole grain pasta, a can of tomato sauce, some Italian seasonings, and a bag of frozen peas can feed a family of 4 for about $4. (Here in the midwest, anyway! Pasta $1.79 per 1# box, $1 can of tomato sauce, $1 bag of frozen peas plus a few spices. Done.)

Maggie (photographer / recipe tester)

1. Shop the bulk bin section! If your closest grocery store doesn’t offer a wide variety of bulk items, take a field trip to a few other stores to see what is available. Bulk bins are great because you can buy as much or as little of something as you like.

2. The farmer’s market might just become your best friend. I am lucky to live in an area where we have a pretty abundant market year round, but even if you only have seasonal offerings, they can be quite a bit less expensive (and a whole lot fresher!) than similar products at grocery stores.

3. Substitute freely. If it’s difficult to find affordable ingredients, feel free to substitute! We offer a helpful substitution guide and you can always ask in the private Facebook group if you need specific suggestions. Whether things are not readily available or are too expensive, know that the recipes in the meal plans are very forgiving and almost everything can be substituted.

Kellie (meal plan tester and quality control)

1. Budget! Tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.

2. When I have a smaller grocery budget, I shop at the cheaper grocery stores (Winco and / or Walmart) instead of the nicer one that I prefer to shop at (Harmon’s).

3. It doesn’t get much cheaper than rice and beans! My grocery bill has dramatically reduced since going plant-based. Eating healthy does not automatically mean you have to spend more, but it does mean you’ll be spending more time in your kitchen instead of spending money on convenience foods.

Molly (Co-founder)

1. If your budget doesn’t allow for buying all organic produce, buy organic items that are on the Dirty Dozen list because these are the items that will be the most heavily sprayed with pesticides. Buy the rest conventional, they will usually be cheaper.

2. Reuse your glass jars from things like peanut butter and tahini as well as your produce and bulk bin bags so you don’t have to buy storage containers, plastic bags or plastic wrap. A win for your pocketbook and the big mama of us all.

3. Shift your mindset around money from “I don’t have enough” to “more is on its way!”. It might sound woo wooo but a simple mindset shift from lack (fear based) to abundance (love based) will start the cosmic wheels turning in your favor.

4. Make time for batch cooking so you don’t have to spend money on takeout or packaged food. Trust me, you have time!

5. Sometimes discount stores like Ross and TJ Maxx have great deals on spices and seeds. Definitely worth checking out.

Lyndsey (meal plan ambassador and contributing writer)

1. Know which grocery stores have the lowest price for specific ingredients. For example, I know that my local grocer (Ingles) has coconut aminos for two dollars less than the more expensive Whole Foods.

2. Coupons! It may seem old-fashioned, but grocery stores still do coupons and now you can even get them sent to your phone. Watch for sales on your pantry staples and then stock up when they are on sale. I do this all the time for dried beans, oats, and flours.

3. Following the meal plans has saved us a ton of money on groceries because we are no longer eating out and we’re not throwing away unused ingredients at the end of the week. It is rare that we have leftovers but if we do, we stick them in the freezer for another time.

Sandrina (Facebook moderator)

1. Grow your own herbs! Herbs are very forgiving and grow well either in the ground or in a pot. Just a little bit of water and some light, and you’ll have fresh herbs for your meals without spending three to five dollars on a little measly packet.

2. Always freeze leftover soups, dressings, grains and sauces that you are done eating. Even if it’s just a little, they will come in handy later.

Laura (Facebook moderator and cyber security guard)

1. There’s no shame in utilizing food stamps and/or your local food bank when needed. Few people in my area eat like I do, so there’s always an abundance of veggies and plant based food.

2. Sunflower seeds work really well in place of cashews for many of our sauces and dressings. Sunflower seeds are much cheaper than cashews.

3. During my last pregnancy, I got hooked on the convenience of buying pre-made vegan ranch dressing. It wasn’t even very good, but it was ready. And it was PRICEY! Cooking your own food is always less expensive than buying packaged food.

Jen (meal plan / recipe wizard)

1. Stick to your grocery list and never shop when you’re hungry or thirsty. You will only buy unnecessary food and drinks.

2. Save veggie scraps in a baggie or container and store it in the freezer until it’s full enough to make homemade veggie broth. Big savings and the freshness can’t compare to packaged stock / broth.

3. Look for a produce mark down area in your grocery store. Produce that’s past its prime or blemished sometimes gets marked down instead of tossed out. Bruised or wilty fruits and greens can be sliced and frozen to use in smoothies or soups. If you don’t see a produce markdown area, ask the produce person, they might have stuff in the back that they can offer you for a great deal.

Karen (Office Manager)

1. Buy loose tea and a tea ball instead of pre-made tea bags – you’ll save money and packaging waste.

2. Pick up a set of 1.5 cup square or rectangle freezer-safe containers with lids (if you already have round ones, use those but if you are buying a new set, I recommend angles because they use space more efficiently). Cook a batch of dried beans, portion them out and freeze them in the containers. A 1.5 cup container is the equivalent of one can of beans – so it’s easy to grab one from the freezer, thaw it and use it in recipes and meals. Dried beans are super cheap to buy and easy to make.

3. Sweet oat breakfasts aren’t enough to keep me full for very long, so I end up spending money on vegan cookies at the coffee shop a block from my house. My best way to combat this, and it truly starts my day off on the right foot, is to buy bulk oats – currently I have a 7 lb (112 oz) bag of quick-cooking steel cut oats (this means they are squashed a little more so they cook faster) that I picked up from Costco. They cook the same as steel cut oats in the IP. I typically cook 1 cup dry oats to 3 cups water in the IP for 10 minutes with no seasonings. That gives me 4 portions of oats. An entire bag will make 56 portions of oatmeal and it costs $9 for the bag.

For breakfast, I heat up one portion with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water, add 1/2 cup (sometimes more) of beans, 2 – 3 tablespoons of salsa (I like Green Mountain Gringo), a pinch of salt, 1/4 – 1/2 of an avocado (use the side without the pit first and save the side with the pit in a container in the fridge and use it the next morning), ample cilantro, and a squeeze of lime if I have it on hand. Sometimes I add frozen corn too. A 16 oz jar of that salsa will last 11-13 breakfasts. Avocado is pricey but you really only need 1/4 per person so if you have two people eating this breakfast in your house, one avocado rocks 4 servings. The cilantro lasts all week long and the beans are cheapo.

Here are some other money saving tips that we cooked up for you.

  • Drink tea or water with cucumbers or lemon instead of drinking alcohol. This helps your wallet and your liver!
  • Be mindful of wants vs. needs. Do you really need the thing you’re about to buy or do you want it? If you want it, write it on your “to buy later” list.
  • Every time you have the urge to buy a fancy coffee, stash that money in an envelope and don’t count it for a year. After a year, use the money in the envelope to pay off credit cards.
  • Find a clothing swap near you or start one if there isn’t one that is active.
  • Participate in your local Buy Nothing group.
  • Look into cloth diapers for your little one. There is a learning curve but you will save money and help the environment.
  • Shop at thrift stores and yard sales instead of buying things that are new.
  • Spend more time in nature. It’s free and it will invigorate your soul.
  • Put every $5 bill that comes your way into an envelope and stash it away for a year. After a year, use the money to pay off credit cards or other debts.
  • Get a library card and check out books instead of buying them.
  • Check out your local community calendar and find free events.
  • Host a potluck for friends instead of going out to dinner.
  • Buy your own nail polish and do manis and pedis at home.

Do you have any money saving tips to share? Or do you plan on trying any if these tips? Talk to us in the comments below!

Today’s soup costs under $5 to make the entire batch and it serves 4 people with leftovers.

Split Pea Soup

Makes 6 cups
Author: Molly Patrick of Clean Food Dirty Girl

Ingredients

Instant Pot Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried green split peas, rinsed (200 g)
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup / 160 g)
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (65 g)
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot (65 g)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (60 g)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)
  • 4 cups water (945 ml)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (5 g)

Stove Top Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried green split peas, rinsed (200 g)
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup / 160 g)
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (65 g)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot (65 g)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (60 g)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (5 g)

Instructions

Instant Pot Instructions

  • Place the split peas in a strainer and rinse with water. Place the strainer over a bowl and set aside for now, allowing the excess water drain out.
  • Press the saute button on your Instant Pot (IP) and heat up the inner pot for 2 minutes. Add the potato, onion, carrot and celery and saute for 3 minutes, stirring frequently and adding a splash of water when the veggies start to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the split peas, garlic, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and stir. Cook for about a minute and then add the water and stir one more time.
  • Turn the IP off and lock the lid into place, making sure the nozzle is in the sealing position. Using the Manual (or Pressure Cooking) mode, set the timer for 13 minutes. Use the natural release method when the timer goes off.
  • When all the pressure is out of the pot, carefully remove the lid and allow the Soup to cool for about 15 minutes, occasionally stirring to help it cool faster. After it has cooled, blend the Soup in batches with your blender (or all in one go with a blender stick) until creamy and smooth. Pour the soup back into the inner pot and stir in the parsley. 
  • Let it cool completely before storing in the fridge.

Stove Top Instructions

  • Place the split peas in a strainer and rinse with water. Place the strainer over a bowl and set aside for now, allowing the excess water drain out.
  • Heat a large pot over medium heat for about two minutes. Add the potato, onion, carrot and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and adding a splash of water when the veggies start to stick to the pot.
  • Add the split peas, garlic, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and water and stir. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium-low and place a lid on the pot at an angle. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • After 30 minutes, turn off the heat, take the lid off and allow the soup to cool for about 15 minutes, occasionally stirring to help it cool faster. After it has cooled, blend the Soup in batches with your blender (or all in one go with a blender stick) until creamy and smooth. Our the soup back into the pot and stir in the parsley. 
  • Let it cool completely before storing in the fridge.

Notes

This Soup might seem thin at first – this is normal. It will thicken as it cools.
The Soup in these pictures is topped with Coconut Bacon and  Pumpkin Seeds. 

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with abundance.

Xo
Molly

Subscribe to our SWEARY SATURDAY LOVE LETTERS + FREE RECIPES

Written by ex-boozer, ex-smoker, Co-founder, and CEO, Molly Patrick. They will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.

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20 Comments

  1. Michal Ramos on January 26, 2019 at 9:51 am

    Thanks so much for this blogpost! I, too, have felt that heavy burden of having to swallow my pride and go to the food bank for food when my business tanked and all my money went toward paying my employees instead of myself. I had no money left to feed my family. It was really a sad time for me. Fortunately, I kept working hard, and now have a high-paying job that I love! I am working toward eating better, and even though I feel like I am still an “outsider looking in”, just reading your emails and blogposts each week…not really incorporating anything into my life yet…I just want you to know that you have been a constant source of inspiration for me. You give me the motivation to continue to make small positive changes. 🙂 Thank you!

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on January 26, 2019 at 11:49 am

      Hi Michal! So glad to hear that you are doing well – no money is a scary situation. Hoping that we continue to motivate and encourage you to be your very best. Xoxo

  2. Kate on January 26, 2019 at 10:05 am

    5 stars
    I love all the money-saving suggestions from Team Dirty! I’d like to add to the list after years of struggling with debt and getting out from under it just before the market crashed in 2008, then thriving ever since.

    1. Declutter … your entire house, computer, purse, etc. This is an energy experience; when we clear our energetic space, including physical spaces, we open the door to new things/experiences/abundance coming in. A few years ago when I decluttered our home of 30+ years we experienced a doubling of our income in a totally unexpected, wonderful way! That was in addition to finding money in places that had been hidden by clutter. I even found a savings bond my parents gave me for high school graduation a thousand years ago and it had also appreciated nicely. Decluttering — I used Marie Kondo’s method — works!

    2. Gratitude list. Every day write down 10 things you’re grateful for. Try this before you start your day. Physics teaches us that “what we focus on expands.” As we become more aware of what we’re grateful for, we discover more all around us that creates even more abundance. This works incredibly well as a way of just appreciating abundance in every moment and makes me happier, period.

    3. Fall in love. We’re always happier when we’re in love, and it seems the world is such a happier place when we are. But this is falling in love with our own gorgeous bodies, our own lovely souls. Just minutes a day spent loving on myself, appreciating what I’ve accomplished, and taking time to thank myself has created so many more opportunities out in the world. This too is a way of drawing in abundance of all kinds, including money.

    The most important thing I could contribute to this subject is discovering how an appreciation of everything in my life became the open doorway to receiving so much more. Some call it magic, some say it’s “woo woo” but I say bring it on!

    Love to all the dirties — because I appreciate everything you bring to my table 🙂

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on January 26, 2019 at 11:50 am

      Oh, Kate! Thank you so much for adding all of your money saving tips to ours! They are excellent. Xoxo

  3. Adrienne on January 26, 2019 at 11:36 am

    5 stars
    I make this soup regularly – it’s delicious. I love it with some rye toast on the side. In my past life, every Easter, I would save the bone from our ham to make split pea soup – it was such a treat. I didn’t think a vegan recipe for split pea soup would hold my family’s interest. But, lo and behold, this one is a winner! The smoked paprika is key to adding the smoked ham flavor sans pig. Thanks, Molly and crew!

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on January 26, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      Hi Adrienne! Yes, it’s an insanely good soup. One of my favorites! Wishing you a delicious day! Xoxo

  4. Alicia Lundell on January 26, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Hi! I would like to share another money and earth saving tip: If you happen to buy store bought cereal or crackers the waxy bags make perfect freezer bags. I hand wash them gently with dish soap and drain, once dry they can be used for many things but I use them mostly for freezer bags.

    Thanks and I love what you do!

    • Lyndsey Hafer Williams on January 26, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      Thanks Alicia! That is an excellent money saving tip!! Xoxo

  5. Angela on January 26, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    I just want to add that you can often get free passes to museums at libraries, so having a library card really opens the door to free entertainment!

    • Carole on February 20, 2019 at 10:36 pm

      Our library has a free seed library in the spring and fall. Each month (as seeds are available), patrons can get three packets of seeds (from local farms, too!) with their library card!

  6. Joni Solis on January 26, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for putting together all these wonderful money saving tips. I feel good – I do a LOT of them!

    Here are a few from me…

    1. Grow microgreens. Easy to grow, tender, tasty and organic! I like to clip them right on top of my dish of food. You can also grow some sprouts too.

    2. Eat the weeds! There are some wonderful wild greens that grow in most areas. I pick about ten different kinds from my yard. Healthy and FREE! Just make sure that you learn about what greens are good to eat first!

    3. Keep some boil potatoes in your refrigerator all the time for a fast easy start to a meal when you don’t feel up to cooking and don’t want to spend money eating out. I cut up a couple of potatoes and then add some frozen vegetables and toss it in the microwave. Then top this with some raw sunflower seeds, raw microgreens, and salsa or spices.

  7. Peggy on January 26, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    5 stars
    We made this soup today. Omg. Absolutely delicious!! It tastes like the soup I made with a hambone ‘back in the day’ – but better because there’s no hambone in it! Thanks so much, I’ll make this regularly!

  8. Leigh Ann Long on January 27, 2019 at 9:33 am

    4 stars
    My husband was retired (not voluntarily) at age 50. Both of our sons were grown, but we have the ongoing responsibility of a special needs child, that will go on after we are dead, so our expenses were often difficult to anticipate, given the fragility of her health and the expense of buying our won health insurance. We have always lived below our means (Hubs has saved 10 cents of every dollar he ever earned starting with mowing lawns as a teen) and invested wisely, so we felt we could manage, at least for a while. We left Southern CA, due to COL, paid cash for a smaller home in the midwest and I got a part time job, to earn some extra while still being able to help with our daughter. It was tough, but we were accustomed to tightening our belts. Here are a few things we did and still do, to keep expenses manageable:
    Start a garden even in containers and learn what grows in your area and in season. County extension offices are great free resources for this.
    Use the internet to find inexpensive homemade substitutes; white vinegar has a million household uses from fabric softener to homemade all purpose cleaners, we make our own soap from an old technique, and we love it. I make our laundry detergent using Borax, a bar of our soap and Washing soda.
    Learn to make herbal “medicines” like FireCider and Elderberry syrup and use to ward of oncoming colds! There are so many online free resources for this! Message me on FB, if you’d like to know who I respect for their knowledge.
    I inherited several boxes of ziplock bags from the death of a loved one, helping clear her apt. I wash and reuse them until they are falling apart. Not storing bacteria laden meat, makes that easy and quite safe.
    Make Christmas and birthdays about what they once were; buying those little wish fors, instead of buying them throughout the year then splurging unnecessary or even unwanted things at holidays.
    Make homemade gifts of food and crafts, for holidays. My family looks forward to what my latest is, every year.
    Make your own pet food! Cheaper and you have quality control!
    Barter with friends and neighbors! I check on a friends mother who lives near me in exchange for her helping us with our taxes. Use your skills and resources as currency!
    Get on “Reuse, recycle, upcycle, repurpose” sites and pages. The shared creativity is unbelievable! People love to share their clever solutions!!
    Plan ahead: but firewood in summer, bathing suits in winter! You get the drift!
    Cut the cable! Roku and streaming services as well digital antennas will give you many shows that you didn’t realize you could access!
    Stay positive and creative! You are more clever than you realize!

  9. michelle on January 28, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    5 stars
    I have to admit I was hoping the recipe would have been for Molly’s mom’s vegan blueberry crumble! 😉

  10. Marijke Rottiers on March 12, 2019 at 3:04 am

    Get a menstruation cup: lasts for about 5 years, saves you tons of money AND waste (and other advantages too).
    I’m part of a FreeCircle Food, people who have left overs and are willing to give it away, there is always something you can use.
    I use reusable waterbottles, might seem small, but it saves tons of plastic.
    Whenever I can I go to a zero-waste shop: shampoo, soap,… It is not always cheaper, but it does away with all that plastic in the end.
    Check your cellphone provider for better rates: do you really need the expensive package? We got rid of our landline and our cableconnection, we only have internet now, and suddenly our bill dropped 50-60 euro’s a month! We have basic internet, but we can do everything we need, we can watch some shows on the internet too.
    Take your bike instead of your car for small distances: better for your health, better for your environment and better for your wallet.
    We have a Turkish grocery store, which has cheap koreander, and generally fresh produce is cheaper there, so try and find a local store like this.
    It is amazing with the things you can save on, when you need and are in a financial bad place 🙂

  11. Craig on December 7, 2019 at 9:45 am

    5 stars
    I can’t tell you how in love with this soup I am. I had no parsley so I dumped a couple of mitt-fulls of spinach into the mix when the lid came off of the instant pot. This soup needs nothing else, it has huge flavour.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on December 7, 2019 at 9:54 am

      Hi Craig, Thanks for stopping back to let Molly know you are loving the recipe – parsley, spinach – whatever green you have is a good green to add! ~Karen

  12. Aileen on March 31, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    5 stars
    I made this recipe last night & doubled it ( I’ve been taking meals once a week to a neighbor during all this sheltering at home). It was delicious & I still have leftovers to freeze. This is a keeper recipe. Thank you for all you do to inspire & inform us.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on March 31, 2020 at 6:33 pm

      Hi Aileen, I just thawed a batch of this soup from my freezer and we had it for lunch today – it was just as delicious! Thanks for stopping by with this nice note for Molly! ~Karen

    • Molly Patrick on March 31, 2020 at 7:46 pm

      So glad you liked it!
      xo
      Molly

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