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How to Eat Plant-Based on a Budget

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hands holding grocery receipt with vegetable in background

Eating plant-based on a budget

One thing I hear on a regular basis is, “Eating healthy is too expensive!” Unfortunately, eating a whole food plant-based diet is seen by many as a luxury they can’t afford, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Keep reading as we demonstrate how to eat plant-based on a budget.

Rice and beans aren’t expensive

As I heard Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine say last year, “It doesn’t get any cheaper than rice and beans!”

With discount grocery stores like Aldi and Trader Joe’s, options are easier and more affordable than ever. And, with the potential health benefits, you may even cut down on medical care costs and medications as well.

veggie bowl with rice and tahini sauce and chopsticks

It’s no secret that I love food! I blog about food, teach about food, study about food, talk about food, and eat food all day long. Did I mention that I shop for food?–A LOT of food–for nutrition and cooking classes that I teach at medical facilities for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The funny thing is that food shopping is not my favorite thing to do, but I have become quite good at it from lots of practice. Let me share with you 18 healthy, plant-based, budget-friendly meals you can feed your family and feel good about. I have even included links to all the recipes and a grocery shopping list.

Chickpea Avocado Salad sandwich stacked on cutting board

So, how DO you feed a family of 5 a whole food plant-based diet for less than $130 a week? Let’s get started with some deliciously healthy recipes for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. There is even a Grocery Shopping List for 18 Meals included!

collage of vegan breakfasts

Breakfast Options:


plant based lunch photo collage

Lunch Options:


plant based dinner photo collage

Dinner Options:


Grocery list and stores to shop on a budget

The next time you wonder if you can afford to eat a whole food plant-based diet meal plan, the answer is, “Yes, you can!” Not only will your budget likely allow it, but your health will thank you too!

This  Grocery Shopping List 18 Meals will guide you to the inexpensive ingredients needed for the recipes above.  Total costs for all the ingredients was $129.22, and the shopping list includes price and the store each item was purchased.

Budget tips for saving money

  • Go to the grocery store with a list and stick to it.
  • Shop at discount stores like Aldi, Lidel, Walmart, or dent and scratch stores.
  • Don’t feel like you have to buy name brands. Check out the labels on some of the no-name brands that are much less expensive. You may be surprised that they are affordable and similar to the more expensive brands.
  • Stick with whole foods like rice, beans, vegetables, fruits.
  • Buy dry beans and cook them yourself for a fraction of the cost of canned beans.
  • Don’t by processed vegan junk.
  • Stay away from most frozen vegan premade meals.
  • Cook in larger batches and freeze for quick meals.
  • Buy in bulk when appropriate.

Is buying organic necessary?

Some would argue that eating all organic is necessary and expensive. It is important to choose your battles. Personally, I cannot afford to buy all organic foods. Dr. Tom Campbell helps put it into perspective in this 1-minute video.

The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 List will also help with making choices about where to concentrate budget when it comes to organic produce.

More ideas for eating whole food plant-based on a budget

NOTE: If you do not have a large family but still want to enjoy these money-saving recipes, here are a couple of options. Did you know you can adjust the serving sizes of any of my recipes? Simply go to the ‘Servings’ listed in the recipe card right above the ingredients list. Hover over the number of servings, and a sliding bar will appear. Slide to the number of servings you would like, and the ingredients will automatically adjust the amounts.

Or, you can make a full-recipe and freeze leftovers for meals later.

Serving sizes will need to be adjusted to your family’s size and appetite, and additional side dishes will need to be added to some recipes. The supplemental costs should be minimal.  

I am also assuming that you have a few of the spices already on-hand. These recipes and lists are only a guide to show that plant-based nutrition can be affordable. No, I can not come to your home and prepare them for your family..you’ve got this!

Plant-Based Vegan Starter Kits $27

Vegan Plant Based Starter Kit
Click photo to see Plant-Based Started Kits available.
collage of meal delivery service photos
photo collage for pinterest of grocery list and budget

Tahini sauce in small glass jar being spooned out with white spoon
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