Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Lazy Vegan and the "latte factor"

If you've been to visit my website or have read my blog before, you probably know that I ascribe to something called the "Lazy Vegan" lifestyle. And as far as finances go, I keep my grocery budget, among other things, as small as possible. It's pretty easy to do, and it can even help you get out of debt.

The latte factor

How so? There's something financial experts sometimes call the "latte factor," meaning incremental expenses that nonetheless add up over time and that could be cut pretty painlessly from your budget. Things like that latte from Starbucks on your way to work (take coffee from home instead), eating out (bring your lunch to work), and so on.

But the latte factor applies to more than just small expenses that you don't need and could come out of your budget fairly easily. It's something you can do with your grocery budget, too. And that's where the "Lazy Vegan" element comes in.

Take a look at your grocery budget

Take a look at your grocery budget once. (And if you don't have one, this might help you out even more than someone who already has a budget.)

How much of the food you buy could either be made much more cheaply at home (and isn't right now), or could be cut out altogether? Chances are a lot of it could.

Getting out of debt the Lazy Vegan way

Now, I've got a challenge for you. If you're in debt (or just watching your finances very, very carefully) and you want to get out, there's a way you can probably cut your expenses and then apply that extra to getting out of debt. Unless you've already cut your grocery budget to the bone, I'm going to wager that you don't currently feed yourself or your family for, say, three dollars a day per person, maybe less if the folks in your family happen to be vegan or vegetarian.

Now, take a look at your grocery budget again. How much do you spend for groceries in a month? Take that three dollars a day per person, multiply by the number of people in your family, and then multiply it by 30 (an average number of days in a month). Is the figure you get less than what you currently spend on groceries?

If it is, guess what? You just found a relatively simple way to save some money and maybe conjure up some extra cash for yourself (and to pay off those debts).

It may not happen overnight, but you can teach yourself how to cook from-scratch healthy meals for very little, and you don't have to like to cook either. (I know; a common theme here, but bear with me.)
So the first month you try this, take the Lazy Vegan master shopping list (on the Lazy Vegan website at:, tweak it to remove foods you absolutely hate and add ones you need and like (like meat, different vegetables, etc.), and go shopping. Again, give yourself a budget of three dollars per day per person, times the number of days you're shopping for. So if you're shopping for a week for three people, that's nine dollars a day time seven days, which gives you a budget of $63 for the week. Four people, $12 a day times seven is $84. You get the drift.

So that's your challenge. Now, take a look at the shopping list. You'll notice that just about everything on there is about as basic as it gets, meaning it's not processed, prepared, packaged, etc. (except for things like peanut butter and canned tomatoes, things like that; no mac and cheese, though).

I'll bet you that you can fill up your shopping cart with enough food for everyone in your family and stay pretty close to your new grocery budget. Depending on where you live in the country (like New York), you will probably have to pay more, but in some cases, you might even be able to pay less.

Now what?

Now, you've got lots of ingredients so that you have to cook from scratch, and that's where things like the crockpot and bread machine come in. If you can't afford a crockpot or bread machine and you don't already have these, you might be able to buy one with what you've saved in groceries, or you can borrow them temporarily to give this a try and then get your own once you know this works.

If and when it comes time to invest in a crockpot and bread machine and you don't have them, check thrift stores; they're notorious for having these things very inexpensively. I have two bread machines, I got them for $10 each at Goodwill. I paid $20 for each of my crockpots new. Freecycle is also another good place to get what you need, for nothing. Check their website at for a group near you.

Try it

I'll bet you be surprised at how easy this is once you get the hang of it. (And I'd be interested to hear how you do with this if you decide to give this a go, too.)

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