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How to Eat 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.

hands holding grocery receipt with vegetable in background

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 were $129.22, and the shopping list includes the 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’ve got this!

For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!

Vegan Plant Based Starter Kit
Plant-Based Starter Kits $35
plant based meal delivery service collage for mamasezz and eatplantbased terri
photo collage for pinterest of grocery list and budget

Susan Wright

Friday 8th of June 2018

We shop at Meijers and Krogers, I never shop at those stores, Organic is the only thing we buy and we got to get the best out organic, a company that we know,I don't trust Aldi, I heard from someone who said that unless you know that name well some companies can sell it as organic and its not.


Monday 3rd of July 2017

Go on U tube and watch How not to die He explains it all. You will be very surprised. Hope this helps and good luck


Monday 2nd of January 2017

I appreciate that you put this together, I follow your blog. Having said that, this is not really accurate. You are not costing out most of the fruit, veggies and some other pantry items. Without factoring in those items you can't say that the cost of these meals is less than $130. Each item's cost should be factored in as it's very misleading the way it's written.

Tuesday 3rd of January 2017

Pattie, each item used in these recipes is priced-in, other than some spices/seasonings that most of us keep on-hand and possibly a few pieces of fruit as snacks. Everything else is accounted for, as I have the receipts. If a person bargain shops, some of these items can be purchased for even less. The $130 per week is quite accurate.

Sarah | Well and Full

Monday 29th of February 2016

This is a great guide! I always get so frustrated with people who think eating vegan is "so expensive".... when it's actually way cheaper! One of the main staples of my diet is chickpeas - and they cost about 89 cents per can!

Cheryl Wochnik

Thursday 25th of February 2016

I have he same issue as Evan... they found a 60% narrowing in an artery in my brain that they said was not able to operate.. the operation would be far more dangerous than to treat me with taking blood thinners.. and cholestrol medication.. since I've been taking these meds I feel terrible.. I'm covered in bruises and they have taken all my energy from me.. I'm only in my early 50's and they think it's also hereditary... I'm trying to find ways to cure this and reverse what has happened and to hopefully get off of these medications :(

Friday 26th of February 2016

Cheryl, I want to encourage you to not give up hope. Ask your doctor about plant-based nutrition. Hopefully, she/he is familiar with the research and will be supportive. The power of foods for healing the body is an amazing thing, and there are no negative side effects, only positive. I would recommend the same book to you, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Work with your healthcare providers, and if they are not supportive, find a physician that is. Best of luck to you in finding your way back to health!