Plant Based on a Budget Challenge – 1 Person – Week 1

By : | 118 Comments | On : November 8, 2013 | Category : Blog, Meal Plans

Welcome to the Plant Based on a Budget Challenge! First off, thank you very much for considering this challenge. We’re hoping to show that a plant based diet can be done without breaking the bank and we really hope it works out for you. There’s no specific day to start just seven days of eating plant based foods at $25 per person, per week.

I realize that I live in California where the produce is bountiful and relatively inexpensive, but I tried to be considerate of that by creating fairly flexible meals. If spinach is cheaper than kale, go for it. If you don’t have plant based bouillon, go for broth based on my recipe  measurements. This is a guide to help you become familiar with eating plant based on a budget. Play with it.

Second, food is very important and personal to me, and I have poured hours upon hours into this project, so please be nice. So often I see people on the internet being criticized for attempting to create additional FREE resources and it always blows my mind. I have been glad to have this project consume me, but to be honest, opening up my kitchen to you does make me feel vulnerable. If anyone feels as though my meal plans are terrible, or you’re unhappy with my use of oil or sugar, please feel empowered to submit your own plant based meals plans with a $25, per person budget and I’d be happy to promote it for you. The more examples of budget plant based eating, the better.

A little about myself: My name is Toni Okamoto and I’m the founder of Plant Based on a Budget.  Having grown up in a low-income household, I’m fully aware of how food money can become a low-priority on the list of expenses. Fresh food accessibility and lack of food/ nutrition education in low-income communities are huge issues, and although I can’t tackle them on my own, I’m hoping to at least show that you don’t have to compromise your health to save money.

I originally became vegetarian for health reasons. In high school, I was a runner and in attempts to make me a healthier person (I was getting sick after running all the time) my coach suggested not eating red meat … which shortly became vegetarian. However, as a teenager who moved out immediately after high school, I was eating nothing  but food from the Taco Bell across the street from my apartment, Top Ramen and PB&J sandwiches. I was completely poor and  unhealthy. It wasn’t until I joined a veg club in college and started “Womanly Wednesdays” that I became vegan for ethical reasons and began experimenting with budget-friendly food.

Some good resources for eating a plant based diet: Yummy Plants Health Tips – for those who like tips on being healthy , My Fitness Pal  – for those who are looking for nutritional information, Matt Ruscigno RD – True Love Health – a vegan registered dietitian, No Meat Athlete – for you athletic types.

A couple tips: I work a lot. Between my day job and this blog, I easily put in over 70 hours a week of work. So, to save time, I cut all my veggies at the same time on my day off and stored them in the refrigerator for easy access. I work over an hour away from my house and the last thing I want to do when I get home is prep veggies. I cooked my beans on that day, too.

Find the cheapest grocery store near you. I went to a Winco and they have incredibly low-prices and an impressive bulk bin selection. If you are shopping at Whole Foods, you probably won’t be able to follow this meal plan within the budget.

Also, while meal planning, I tried to follow the article that Sticman of Dead Prez wrote for our site, “7 Ways to Eat Good on a Hood Budget“. I made a plan, I didn’t buy packaged foods, I always had leftovers, I made two soups, and I only drank water.

Grocery Shopping List:

kale – .88
1/2 lb cheapest pasta – .39
4 bananas – .97
cilantro – .68
garlic – .48
2 carrots – .18
lemon – .38 *
fuji apple – .49*
2 yellow onions – .80
orange – .49*
1/2 lb pinto beans – .45
tomato – .30*
5 lb bag russet potatoes – 1.48*
small cucumber – .58*
18ct corn tortillas – 1.38*
lettuce – 1.78
1/2 brown rice – .33
celery – .88
mexican pasta shapes – .33*
15 oz tomato sauce – . 33
soy milk – 1.28*
2 packs 6 ct bouillon cubes – 2.00
frozen broccoli cuts – .98
1 lb pearl barley – .53
1 lb oats – .62
1/2 garbanzo beans – .54
1 lb cheapest granola – 1.92 (you can choose cereal if that’s cheaper)
1/2 cup cheapest dried fruit (for me, dried cranberries) – .33*
1/4 cup cheapest seeds (for me, unsalted sunflower seeds)- .10*

Total cost: $21.88

*If you’re over your $25 budget, please feel free to omit these items. I’ll explain variations in my recipes

If you omit everything with an asterisk, my total would have been: $14.74

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Day One:

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Breakfast: 1 1/2 cups of Pumpkin Flax Granola in 1 cup of soy milk*. The bulk bins I shopped contained a wide variety of granola, but I chose this one because I don’t eat honey and it was one of the only options without it. Also, I’ve been feeling pretty festive lately — so much pumpkin spice!  According to Winco’s nutritional facts, this serving of granola contains: 12G of protein, 32%  daily value of dietary fiber, 4% calcium and 16% iron. If you’re deciding to omit the non-dairy milk to cut your costs down, granola is tasty to eat on its own.

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Lunch: I’m not usually much of a ‘salad as a meal’ type of gal, but this was pretty tasty. It’s 2/3 of your head of lettuce. I used Romaine, but you can use whatever is cheapest or tastiest to you. I added a chopped cucumber, 1 cup chickpeas,1/8 cup seeds* and 1/4 cup dried cranberries*. I made an easy dressing from the first listing on a Google search for “lemon balsamic” (save half of your lemon* though), you can definitely skip it or make a plain balsamic with oil and balsamic vinegar.

Daily value nutritional info for the 1 cup of chickpeas: 21% Calcium, 55%, Vitamin B6, 13% Vitamin C, 78% Protein, 50% Potassium.

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Dinner: A very filling Barley and Celery Soup. (about 4-6 servings)

Ingredients: 2 tbs oil, 2 cloves garlic – minced, 1/3 one of your onions – diced, 1/2 of the celery stalks in your bunch – chopped, 1 carrot – chopped, 12 cups water, 4 bullion cubes, 1 lb barley, 1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli, handful cilantro – chopped, red chili flakes to taster (optional)

Directions: In a large pot, saute garlic and onions for a minute and then add celery and carrots. Add the rest of the ingredients and boil on medium-high until barley is fully cooked.

If you try to eat gluten-free, you can easily replace the barley with brown rice, just modify the recipe.

Daily value nutritional facts about 1 cup of Barley (there are lots of cups in this recipe): 30% B6, 6% Calcium,  36% Iron, 46% Protein.

Day Two:

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Breakfast: 1 1/2 cups oats, 1/4 dried cranberries*, 1 cup soy milk*, brown sugar to taste. If you’re not using non-dairy milk, I suggest buying the quick oats and using water. I brought a glass tupperware with all the ingredients to work and threw it in the microwave for two minutes. It was very, very filling.

Daily nutritional value of 1 cup Oats: 41% Iron,  28G Protein

Lunch: Leftover Barley and Celery Soup

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Dinner: Cheapest Veggie Pasta Ever. (should be about 3 large servings)

Ingredients: 1/2 lb pasta – cooked, 1 tbs oil, 3 garlic gloves – minced, 1/3 yellow onion, 1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli, 2/3 of the can of 15 oz tomato sauce (save the rest), any Italian-tasting dried spices you have on hand. I chose:  1 tbs oregano, 1/2 tbs parsley,  1/2 tbs basil.

Also, I didn’t have basil on hand so I bought a little in the bulk section and it cost me .7 cents.

Directions: Saute onions and garlic in oil, add broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add sauce, spices and pasta and mix thoroughly.

Daily nutritional value for 1 cup frozen broccoli: 90% Calcium, 10% Vitamin A

Day Three:

Breakfast: 1 1/2 Pumpkin Flax Granola w/ 1 cup soy milk.

Daily value nutritional facts for 1 cup soy milk (the kind I used): 35% Vitamin D, 30% Calcium, 20% Vitamin A, 7G Protein.

Lunch: Leftover pasta.

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Dinner: Curry Chickpeas over brown rice. Follow the link for the recipe. I omitted the tomatoes and added a little red chili flakes.

Daily nutritional value for 1 cup kale: 134% Vitamin C, 133% Vitamin A, 5% Protein

Day Four: 

Breakfast: 1 1/2 cups oats, 1 cup non-dairy milk, cinnamon and brown sugar to taste, 1/8 cup seeds.

Daily value nutritional facts for 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds: 58% protein, 95% B6, 41% Iron

Lunch: Leftover soup #1.

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Dinner: Veggie Pasta Soup. As you can see, I didn’t leave much room for the pasta to expand, so the leftovers weren’t as soup-y as I wanted it to be. I’m changing the recipe so it doesn’t happen to you, too.

Ingredients: 1 tbs oil, 2 cloves garlic – minced, 1/3 of your yellow onion – diced, 1 1/2 cup frozen broccoli, 1 carrot – chopped, the celery you have left – chopped, the rest of your chickpeas, 1 cup pinto beans, 1/2 bag mexican pasta shapes* (i put a link on the grocery list and it is just as tasty if you decide not to include it), 10 cups water, 4 bullion,  handful cilantro – chopped, 1/2 tbs cumin

Directions:  Saute onion and garlic, add carrot, frozen broccoli, celery and cook for 2-3 minutes on med-low temp. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook about 15 minutes.

Day Five:

IMG_0892Breakfast: Banana Kale Smoothie. Click the link and follow the recipe. If you’re not buying non-dairy milk, I have used water or any other juice that you have on hand and it tastes just fine.

Daily value nutritional facts for 1 banana: 12% Potassium, 17% Vitamin C, 20% B6

Lunch: Leftover soup #2.

Dinner: Leftover rice and curry chickpeas.

Day Six:

Breakfast: 1 1/2 cups oatmeal and soy milk, 1/2 of a diced apple, with a little brown sugar and cinnamon.

Lunch: Leftover soup #2.

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Dinner: Potato Tacos with Mexican Rice and Perfectly Spiced Bean Dip.

So, I had two friends over and I fed them in my meal plan. To cut down costs, you can easily skip this meal and eat leftover soup. Also, if you want to make the meal and are skipping the potatoes, just use the rice and beans as filling.

For the tacos (feeding three people): I boiled five peeled and chopped russet potatoes. Once they were boiled and soft, I drained and placed them back in the pot, and mashed them seasoned salt, to taste. For just yourself, I’d say do two potatoes. I used the corn tortillas (I fried mine, but you definitely don’t have to) and we each had three tacos. I garnished the tacos with a diced tomato, the rest of the lettuce and an avocado that I had from last week (it was the only time I used something not on the list).

With the Mexican rice, I followed the recipe but  I used 1/3 of my onion, my left over tomato sauce, and added a handful of cilantro before I let it steam. And with the Bean Dip, I only used 1/3 of an onion.

Daily value nutritional facts for 1 cup pinto beans: 16g Protein, 20% iron

Day Seven:

Breakfast: 1 1/2 cups of Pumpkin Flax Granola (no non-dairy milk) and an  orange

Lunch: Leftover Mexican food.

Dinner: Leftover soup #1.

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As I mentioned, this is a guide. Please experiment with your food based on your personal food preferences and dietary needs. Also, I am not a doctor or dietitian or nutritionist, this is just what I eat. I suggest supplementing with plant-based multi-vitamin and doing further research on your personal nutrition.

The next menu will be posted one week from today, Friday November 15th. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via the “Contact Us” section.

 

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Comments (118)

  1. posted by Jayme Burch on November 8, 2013

    I’m so excited. Are you shopping at wince for you produce. Luckly I have a garden that is still producing so I have lots of kale and broccoli is yet to come in. I have beets too. This will help keep on budget..
    Thank you for all the time and effort you put into this challenge. Let the fun begin..

      Reply
    • posted by Toni on November 8, 2013

      I did! Thanks! I’m excited to hear how it goes for you.

        Reply
      • posted by Dez on July 10, 2014

        Hi Toni,much love and thanks to you for this! you have truly helped my family. I even decided to donate something for this amazing gift. Will that donation go to you? or just the blog in general? I guess either way it’s good because w/o this blog I wouldn’t have gotten any information but still you are the reason I decided to donate in the first place,thanks!

          Reply
  2. posted by Renee Press on November 8, 2013

    Toni,

    This is fantastic! Great job with all of the recipes. Really 🙂 I will be sure to share it, and thanks for including my Perfectly Spiced Bean Dip recipe! Hope it brings many people much affordable plant based joy! You rock-so happy to know you..

    <3 Renee

      Reply
  3. posted by Angelique on November 8, 2013

    Toni – this is great!! For the Cheapest Veggie Pasta ever recipe, can you please clarify how much tomato sauce you used? Is it the whole 15 oz can that was in the grocery list?

      Reply
    • posted by Toni on November 8, 2013

      Thank you! I’m so glad you asked that. I fixed it – it’s 2/3 of the 15oz can. The rest will be used for the Mexican Rice.

        Reply
  4. posted by MJ on November 8, 2013

    Thank you so much. Everything looks great and practical!! Looking forward to next weeks menus…

      Reply
  5. posted by Lisa on November 8, 2013

    I love this Blog, please keep up the hard work, as a “Newbie” Vegan/Veg, i have been having a tough time keeping my costs down, Sometimes you just need to see someone else do it for it to make sense.

    Thanks again, keep up the good work 🙂

      Reply
  6. posted by Joy on November 8, 2013

    The meals look absolutely delicious! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      Reply
  7. posted by Anitra on November 8, 2013

    Thank you so much for doing this. I have been playing around with doing more plant based meals and was at a total lost how to start. This is just what I needed. YOU ROCK!!!!

      Reply
  8. posted by Jessica I. on November 8, 2013

    I love how you alternated the leftovers! A big problem for me is getting bored with the same leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner over several days but you switch it up nicely in this meal plan. Thanks for sharing; I can’t wait to try it!

      Reply
  9. posted by Veronica on November 8, 2013

    This is fantastic! I love the blog and the recipes are so accessible and delicious, but this meal plan takes it to a whole new level. Good work! And thank you!

      Reply
  10. posted by Helen on November 8, 2013

    Looks amazing, thank you!!!!

      Reply
  11. posted by Toni on November 8, 2013

    As a college student who is struggling with being healthy and cheap, this is fantastic! My roommate is also vegetarian, so this is perfect. From one Toni to the next, thanks so much! Definitely going to try this.

      Reply
  12. posted by Deana Dupree on November 8, 2013

    Thanks so much for this! I am super excited about trying it. I just have one question. The first recipe is for pumpkin flax granola, yet no pumpkin, flax seeds nor granola is included on the list. I was hoping to see how much we should spend on that also. Did I miss it? I hope I don’t sound too anal. I just want to do this right as I became a vegan a couple of months ago and while I am loving every single minute of it, I am spending a lot more money than I should. Thanks!

      Reply
    • posted by Deana Dupree on November 8, 2013

      I do see where I missed the granola. Sorry!

        Reply
  13. posted by Debbie on November 8, 2013

    I just wanted to let you know that I LOVE what your doing. This is really helping me get on track for starting a plant based diet. The meal plans are greatly appreciated and tasty. You and your blog are terrific….keep up the great job!

      Reply
  14. posted by Jane on November 8, 2013

    My sister and I are so excited to start these as not only will these be plant based and save us money but will save us time and when you prep ahead, you may also lose weight in the process 😉

    Thank you so much!

      Reply
  15. posted by nicki on November 8, 2013

    Where can we share pictures?

      Reply
    • posted by Toni on November 8, 2013

      You can tag us on Instagram at #plantbasedonabudget. You can add them on our Facebook page. If you’re writing about it on your blog you can send me the link and I can promote it.

        Reply
  16. posted by Jem on November 8, 2013

    Oh wow! Thank you so much for sharing. This is fabulous. It’s so exciting to find a veg friendly meal plan that is very budget conscious. Keep up the fabulous work x

      Reply
  17. posted by Sandra on November 8, 2013

    Great post. Will share this with my readers and on facebook!

      Reply
  18. posted by rachel on November 8, 2013

    This is so awesome I commend you for taking the time to do this step by step process. I use this site so much! I love this and I think you are doing an awesome job! Thank you Thank you Thank you!!

      Reply
  19. posted by Lynn on November 8, 2013

    What State do you live in? Love the prices, I live in Maine and they are much higher, nice
    menu I’m going to try it.
    Thanks!

      Reply
  20. posted by toki on November 8, 2013

    You did a great job on the menu. Unfortunately we have no discount food places near us and all of the food will cost at least twice as much. Fuji apples are $1.99 a lb. onions the same. (not organic… organic are $2.99) Bananas are 84 cents a lb. Canned beans usually run 99 each. Bulk granola at my store is $4.39 a lb. Boxes of granola are $4.79. for 14 oz Kale is $2.99 a bunch. I guess I will try and see what I can do on my own to come up with a cheaper menu for my neck of the woods. There will probably be NO fresh veggies on it though.

      Reply
    • posted by Amy on November 12, 2013

      I feel your pain, since there are no discount grocery stores where I live, in Fargo, ND, and fresh produce gets quite spendy here in the winter months. I just try to buy what is in season and/or on sale, and then buy frozen stuff too (it’s usually cheaper and just as good, especially when you steam frozen veggies). Since we all live in different parts of the world, we all have different growing seasons. Also, growing an herb garden indoors year-round helps save money too.

      And here is a great article that talks about saving your vegetable scraps to make your own vegetable stock: http://www.thekitchn.com/tip-save-vegetable-scraps-for-67995. Since you use up the parts of the veggies that normally go in the trash or compost, this stock is much cheaper than buying bullion/stock.

        Reply
  21. posted by Meg on November 8, 2013

    Hi Toni!
    What do you do full time if you don’t mind me asking? I’m a teacher – hard keeping up with a blog when you work full time, huh? I do my best – I LOVE your website! 🙂 Thank you for hosting this!!
    Meg

      Reply
    • posted by Toni on November 8, 2013

      Hi Meg! I work at a sanctuary for farmed animals called, Animal Place: http://animalplace.org/

      I give farm tours, table events, social media, partnerships and anything else that’s needed of me. It’s extremely hard to keep up a blog, but lucky for me I have a bunch of wonderful people to help create tasty recipes.

      And thank you. 🙂

        Reply
  22. posted by Jana on November 8, 2013

    Thank you Toni for all of your hard work this looks wonderful! I love Winco and I LOVE the bulk section. I found out that I save over 0.50/lb by purchasing their bulk beans.

      Reply
  23. posted by Gina S. on November 8, 2013

    I am very excited about doing this. I am going to make my fiancé do this with me. This is brilliant. I have a hard time planning meals and then creating a grocery list and going to the store. I love this so very much.

      Reply
  24. posted by Krismas on November 8, 2013

    I’m so excited. I’m starting tomorrow morning. I have never been a breakfast person so this will definitely help me. I’m keeping a journal so I am looking forward to this journey! Thank you so much for doing this!

      Reply
  25. posted by Sue K on November 8, 2013

    Thank you so much for this! The closest I have to a “discount” grocery store is Walmart, so I may go a little over budget, but I would still be spending less than I have been. I love how you work leftover ingredients into another day’s meal -no waste! One of my biggest problems has been using up produce especially before it spoils. Thanks again!

      Reply
  26. posted by Bailey on November 8, 2013

    Thank you for all the work you put into this!!

      Reply
  27. posted by Maggie on November 8, 2013

    Yay! Awesome blog with great tips, recipes, and thoughts about eating plant based on a budget. Thanks!

      Reply
  28. posted by Nati on November 8, 2013

    Love this plan!!! I’m gonna try it out

      Reply
  29. posted by Brenda on November 9, 2013

    I am doing the budget and recipes this week. I hope I can substitute spinach for kale – just not a fan of kale.

      Reply
  30. posted by Laurie Bilyeu RD on November 9, 2013

    Toni, well done! I hope in your busy lives, or someones else’s, these menus can get formatted in an easy to print version. I want to pass them to my patients! Maybe I’ll do it! and send them back to you. Also, it would be interesting to plug your foods into nutritional software to see the nutrients values. Looks excellent, but it’s always fun to prove it!

      Reply
  31. posted by Jackie on November 9, 2013

    Thank you so much for your hardwork! I am looking forward to this!
    What flavor bullion cubes did you use?

      Reply
    • posted by Toni on November 9, 2013

      Whichever brand your local store has that are completely plant-based. 🙂 We hope you like the meals, let us know your progress!

        Reply
  32. posted by Kelly on November 10, 2013

    The list says 1/2 garbanzo – is that 1/2 Lbs?

      Reply
  33. posted by Robert Sparkman on November 10, 2013

    Thanks for the info. Are you meeting all of your protein needs with your diet? I am very interested as I am a recent bariatric operation patient and animal sources of protein turn me off now.

      Reply
    • posted by nancy horyza on November 16, 2013

      Robert, if you are unsure abt protein- try tofu. Try nutritional yeast. Amazing stats! Pricey by the pound, but you don’t use alot.
      You can easily add tofu or nutri yeast to Toni’s recipes. Nutri yeast may taste nutty or other good flavor.

        Reply
  34. posted by Merav on November 10, 2013

    Why only one piece of fruit a day? I usually eat 3-5. It’s healthy. It’s also fast to grab a piece when I’m hungry. No cooking involved.
    I’m curious how much this diet would cost me were I live. Tomorrow is market day. The veggies are cheaper than at the grocery store.

      Reply
  35. posted by Sara Correa on November 10, 2013

    Toni- At the point in my life where I need to make some dietary changes, not just for weight reasons but mental clarity. Excited to try and out a few of your recipes!

      Reply
  36. posted by Janice on November 11, 2013

    Thank you for a great week of recipes. I would like to use another inexpensive alternative to soya milk Any suggestions?

      Reply
    • posted by Amy on November 12, 2013

      You could try making your own: http://lifehacker.com/5856810/make-your-own-soy-milk. I’ve never done it, but I have a friend with a soymilk maker, and she says that it’s worth the investment. I have made almond milk though, which is easy to do. You can actually make plant milk from any nut/seed that you want.

        Reply
      • posted by Janice on November 14, 2013

        Thanks Amy will make nut milk.

          Reply
  37. posted by Penny on November 11, 2013

    I can’t find kale for under $1.99 a bunch. Now I’m growing my own in lots on my back porch 🙂 this is awesome!

      Reply
  38. posted by Amy on November 12, 2013

    Thank you so much for doing this! You have shared many great recipes and meal plans with the world, and it’s nice to be reminded that you can be vegan on a budget. I was able to make breakfast meals for .88/each, using 1/2 cup of granola, 1/2 cup of soymilk and 1 banana. It helped to buy both the granola and soymilk on sale (since there are no discount grocery stores where I live).
    Taking inventory of what you already have in your pantry helps a lot too, especially when you plan meals and shopping around what you already have. I made the vegetable barley soup for supper this evening, and I’m excited to try it!

      Reply
  39. posted by Taylor on November 13, 2013

    So, I live right outside DC and definitely don’t have access to your fabulous grocery store. If I had truly priceshopped at multiple stores, I could have got better prices – as it is, I went to Wegman’s. Some of my items I had to get organic, because that’s all they had (and what I prefer), and a few I had on hand already. I came out at $37! I just have a couple of suggestions for the next weeks (because I -LOVE- this idea)
    -Since you’re linking to recipes, can you put on your main list any produce or canned items needed? (like the pepper needed in the bean dip or the fire roasted tomatoes in the curried chickpeas)
    -can you be more specific about the amounts of veg needed? For example, you say ‘celery’, but don’t specify a bunch. I realize they come in a bunch, but I had a couple of stalks left in my fridge and thought that would work – totally didn’t. 🙂
    Thank you for doing this!!!

      Reply
  40. posted by Rebecca on November 13, 2013

    I was inspired enough by your blog to try a kale smoothie this morning and was surprised how much I liked it. I am not sure I’ll be able to stick with the $25/week plan but look forward to incorporating more of your recipes into my daily life. Thank you Toni!

      Reply
  41. posted by Kmel Williams on November 14, 2013

    Everything sounds amazing! Count me in!

      Reply
  42. posted by Emma on November 14, 2013

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I think it’s awesome that you have made this available for free. We always try to tell people that eating healthy & plant-based doesn’t have to be expensive, and this is proof 🙂

      Reply
  43. posted by Lindsay on November 15, 2013

    I have never been so excited to find a website! This is perfect and I look forward to trying everything on here! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to produce such an awesome guide that shows how cheap & easy vegan eating can actually be! I’ve been vegetarian for almost 4 years, but I feel like with this I could actually take the jump to vegan and it would feel “do-able”. I look forward to following the challenge and starting it soon myself. 🙂

      Reply
  44. posted by nancy horyza on November 16, 2013

    From twin cities minnesota usa- i am so impressed that you cook enough for left overs. Why not- cook once & no cook meals later.tt
    Also cooking enough potatoes to use later- great!
    when i became veg 33 yrs ago, i called it ” peasant food. ” the cheapest- beans, peas & lentils. Rice & potatoes. There weren’t all the grains avail today. You don’t have to be poor to live like a peasant, just smart! !
    KUDOS to your project- so detailed, well thought out! THANKS TONI!

      Reply
  45. posted by Adrianne on November 17, 2013

    Hi – question/suggestion – can you drop the shopping list (pg 1) & recipes (pg 2/3) into a pdf so I can save to my phone for quick retrieval? (Esp since I’m starting week 1 on week 2 you’ve gotta scroll far too find the info. Super excited to try this – everything looks fab & compared to other vegan weekly recipes I’ve tried this is realistic for a working person! No 2x wkly shopping no soaking (raw)/chopping forever -and it’s FREE! YEEYEEE! 🙂

      Reply
  46. posted by Amanda on November 18, 2013

    Two weeks ago my family doctor suggested I watch “Fork Overs Knives”. I have a lot of health and inflammation problems and pain. I watched it and my eyes opened so much. And within that week unbeknownst to me my boyfriend decided he wants to eat no more meat. He was worried I wouldn’t like doing that. I have had problems figuring out menu planning being on fixed-income and foodstamps. I luckily have two Wincos near me. I had been shopping there but spending $170 right on the dot barely making through a month and virtually no produce. I do not drive and the grocery stores are not in walking distance with no availability to public transport in my area. My health really started failing. I tried to ask my doctor for a nutritionist and medicaid does not allow it because I am (luckily) not diabetic (yet). Then I found your page by almost miracle 3 days ago. I am going to show the boyfriend tonight and see what he thinks. We will be moving in together and these meal plans you’ve taken time to do will help me and him tremendously. He has been cancer free for three years now and with my doctor recommending more fresh food into my diet and our low budget between us two, this will do wonders!!! I can’t thank you enough. This will truly be life a saver for me. I am at 350lbs because of the “type” of food I have learned to eat, not by how much. My doctor tells me continuously I need to eat more food. Also someone mentioned nutritional yeast in a comment. My mother bought some and I tried it with some on a spoon. I plan on taking some extra money and buying some. It is so delicious! 🙂

      Reply
    • posted by Marie Roxanne on February 19, 2014

      How are you now Amanda? How did the meal plans work out?

        Reply
  47. posted by Stephan on March 4, 2014

    Wow a woman who eats healthy on a budget who also appreciates Dead Prez, I think I am in love! I love w hat you do here and it’s good to educate people. I’m not vegan or vegetarian (yet), but I am an infrequent meat eater. However, I haven’t found these prices in Chicago even at only Food Co-op in Chicago which is thankfully near me. Also, now that Aldi has a a growing organic section and a decent produce variety, I think I can mix and match and get close, though I still may spend more than $25. This is by no means a criticism of you, I think your meal plans are wonderful, However, i do have a question. I don’t think I can file Kale or Spinach for .88. How much Kale do you get for that price out there? I’m also going to look around your site more, but any tips you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

      Reply
  48. posted by Jennifer Allison Thomas on March 20, 2014

    My budget is exactly 25$/week for myself so finding this was exciting! I will say, though, that I wish I had a Winco here in Pennsylvania because a lot of food prices for what you have listed are easily almost twice as much here, even at the cheapest grocer. Still, I manage to make it work and reading this challenge blog will definitely help me! Thanks!

      Reply
  49. posted by vernica f on March 29, 2014

    I’m so amazed! you see websites all over that claim to be vegan on a budget meal plans and you still end up spending over 100 dollars a week. I’m a full time law student with a 4 year old, so FINALLY something that can actually fit into my budget. THANK YOU!

      Reply
  50. posted by Erin on March 30, 2014

    Thanks for your hard work here. I’m excited to try this this week! I went grocery shopping this afternoon. I’ve been talking about and trying to start eating a plant-based diet but my husband is very resistant to my switch because he thinks eating healthy is expensive. I’m hoping I can prove him wrong and improve my health at the same time.

      Reply
  51. posted by Julie on April 5, 2014

    Thanks for this inspiring idea. I do not have a store with a cheap bulk section like Winco near me, so keeping this to $25 would be difficult. With the stores near me, it works better for me to stock up on staples like dried beans, rice, etc., which keeps my costs down over the long haul.

      Reply
  52. posted by Kaitlyn on April 27, 2014

    Thanks so much! This is a fantastic resource. I am gonna use it for my body image vlog. Will cite you with a smile and some happy words 🙂 woo

      Reply
  53. posted by Janis Fornell Hess on May 4, 2014

    Wonderful work! I just saw your interview on Good Day Sacramento. So happy to have found this valuable resource. The extra good news is I already have most of the shopping list items on hand in my pantry. 🙂

      Reply
  54. posted by Andrea on May 27, 2014

    Hi there! These recipes all look great – I’m an opera singer who travels a lot, and it’s so difficult to find affordable meal options that don’t require eating out every single day, so I’m super thankful that I came across your blog! I just have one question, and anyone can help me out here: do you cook the beans for ALL of the dishes ahead of time, or just for certain things? It doesn’t seem clear to me that you would cook the beans ahead of time for the soups, but I have yet to cook with dried beans (not ones out of a can), so maybe I’m just out of my depth.

      Reply
  55. posted by Magdalis GV on May 29, 2014

    It’s curious how things can change. I was coming out of a week long juice fast and was looking for ways to reintroduce myself to normal (omnivore) food. I’m a grad student so my budget often gets tight. I decided to try this purely out of convenience but I find myself liking this and as hard to believe- for myself, family and friends- I have actually stayed strong for the better part of three weeks.(Or at least mostly Vegan, it took me awhile to figure out that honey in my granola was not vegan.) So, I thank you for writing this blog and giving me the push to become a Vegan
    In the words of a former omni now Vegan: this is really not as hard as people cut it out to be.

      Reply
  56. posted by Amanda Smith on May 29, 2014

    Hi. I’m wondering what’s the garbanzo beans for? I don’t see it anywhere in the recipes.

      Reply
    • posted by Jennifer on August 4, 2014

      Garbanzo beans are also called chickpeas, which were used in the day 1 salad for lunch 🙂

        Reply
  57. posted by Michelle on August 25, 2014

    Random google searches bring awesome things some times. I am a lapsed tofu-hating vegetarian and have had a time of it trying to get back on the unlazy track of making healthy meals. I love that you have a single persons menu. Your meals are unboring, easy and they are cheap. I think this will be a great way to help. Thanks for doing all of the work!!!

      Reply
    • posted by Martha Schimpf on September 1, 2014

      Michelle. Ditto almost everything you said. I go in spurts where meat just grosses me out, plus for me it is just unethical; I would like to make vegetarianism a lifestyle. (I actually like tofu but some diet gurus these days are saying soy is no bueno.)

      At first I thought this one week was all there is; but from some of the other comments, I’m guessing/hoping I’m wrong. Will poke around a bit more. Very excited to find this site.

        Reply
  58. posted by Marla on October 17, 2014

    Thank you Toni for all the work this takes for you to do AND for sharing it with us! I really appreciate the guidelines!

      Reply
  59. posted by Sasha on October 19, 2014

    I’m making the first soup now! It smells delicious! I had quite a few things on the shopping list already but even so with everything I bought it was $27.61. Still a lot cheaper than what I would normally spend though! Excited to try all the meals this week!

      Reply
    • posted by Toni on October 23, 2014

      Please let us know how it turns out! 🙂

        Reply
  60. posted by Jamie on February 12, 2015

    I can’t wait to try this! It looks good. I will adapt it to fit my husband and me (at least for dinners). I’m excited to check out your other meal plans.

      Reply
  61. posted by Andrew on February 12, 2015

    that salad on day one was huge haha pretty sure i did it right. thanks for the good work i was stoked to find this

      Reply
  62. posted by Tara Thralls on February 28, 2015

    I became vegetarian in 1967 (I will be 70 in a few months). I have tried many different diets over the years – from raw foods, to fruitarian, to vegetarian macrobiotic (I actually co-published a Vegetarian Cookbook with a vegetarian macrobiotic section in 1969, entitled “Victory Through Vegetables”), but mostly I have just been a plain vegetarian. I am a “salad as my whole meal” kind of gal, who also loves fruit, and gains weight eating grains. Plus, I try to “cook fresh” every day. I was surprised at how many meals were just eating yesterday’s leftovers, rather than fresh food at every meal. I realize that part of the concept is to feed yourself cheaply, however, leftovers are just that – left over. They are not “living” or fresh any more. This diet would not work for me! All those grains would leave me feeling sluggish. The ideal “vegan” diet I was picturing would have much more FRESH VEGETABLES & FRUIT! Grains just aren’t what I think of as the primary ingredient in a vegan diet. Please don’t hate on me! I applaud the work and research you put in to this, it’s just that I picture “vegan” as having much more to do with the “veg”! But good luck to everyone who would benefit from this! It definitely surpasses a standard meat diet!

      Reply
    • posted by scenicoverthere on August 12, 2015

      I think the point of the article was to stay within a limited budget for both time and money. I think most health conscious people would prefer freshly prepared produce rich meals but when you’re poor, you’re poor and you eat what you can afford and have time to prepare. I actually stopped being vegan because one of my jobs lets me take home food at the end of my shift and the vegan options are limited/not very nutritious and I just can’t afford to pass on a free meal because it doesn’t align with my values. Honestly I was impressed with how much produce was incorporated into the meal plan while still meeting the budget. I’ve seen other vegan budget meal plans that are horrendous with a complete lack of any produce whatsoever.

        Reply
  63. posted by Francesca on March 10, 2015

    Thank you!!!! I am vegan and my boyfriend is transitioning vegan. We are both students on a budget and we have been living off of fried rice for soooo long (I’ve saved a lot of money through eating a plant-based diet, but I just have lost inspiration since I don’t have many fancy tools!). Thanks for the inexpensive and tasty inspiration!!!

      Reply
  64. posted by Courtney on March 16, 2015

    So super helpful, thank you! Everything was wonderful! Thank you!!

      Reply
    • posted by Toni on March 16, 2015

      Glad you enjoyed the food, Courtney! Thanks for the note.

        Reply
  65. posted by Shannon Bradley on May 2, 2015

    I have only just stopped eating meat so I am following all four meal plans for one person. They’re being a big help in teaching me about my proteins and planning veg meals for myself. I’m printing and saving the recipes that are my favorites. Thanks for everything you put into this!

      Reply
  66. posted by beth on July 21, 2015

    About how many calories a day are you eating? Your meal plans are great, but aren’t you hungry? (A quick glance made me total up only around 600 calories per day.) It’s easy to eat cheap when you don’t eat very much!!

      Reply
    • posted by Kelly on December 30, 2015

      Hi Beth, how’ve you done your workings? Cereal or oats & milk alone tends to come out around 400-600kcal a meal. If I’m to guess, I think the other meals look around this also, with a good balance of veggies or fruit in there too and nothing processed. Sugar only when added to taste. It’s certainly not an indulgent menu, but it suffices as a healthy one as far as I can tell. With each recipe covering at least 3 portions, I think it’s safe to say you can eat your fill if you’re wanting more calories.

        Reply
  67. posted by Lindy on July 26, 2015

    Bless you for taking the time to write this out! I just found out that I have quite a few health issues that I had no idea I had. I will heal myself with good foods, easier and cheaper with these great starter recipes.
    Thank you.

      Reply
  68. posted by lewis on August 4, 2015

    Really great article! I plan on consuming a little bit more per day, but it is a great starting point for me, as I’m just learning how to eat a balanced veggie based diet. Thank you, this is much appreciated! Keep up the good work!

      Reply
  69. posted by Sis on August 15, 2015

    I am on a very tight budget AND sick of how we’ve been eating so I began searching for “healthy cheap vegan”. Today I took the shopping list to the store and got everything (x4) for $66.06. I did already have some of the things and my tally includes toilet paper and one or two other things. I am amazed! The list is 2 years old and prices have jumped but this is comfortably under half what I usually spend! We had the first soup tonight for dinner and even my Littles liked it. Who knew they’d prefer the frozen broccoli to the fresh I usually buy! This is amazing and gives me hope. Thank you!

      Reply
  70. posted by scenicoverthere on August 17, 2015

    I just took on a second job, a car payment and moved out of my parents’ house so both time and money are scarce now. I was super excited to find this because you clearly understand how to budget time and money and I like that I can just follow this for a few weeks and not have to put in much more effort than a single prep day. I was disappointed that I went way over the $25 budget (~$35) despite having many ingredients on hand. I don’t have access to produce nearly as inexpensive as yours or cheap bulk bins where I can get exact measures. But after I started cooking it looks like I will have more food than I can possibly eat in a week and I’ve already sent some home with my bf so it may even out a bit after all. It’s certainly less than I was spending on a weekly basis ($50-100) and it’s miles ahead of some of the ramen and starvation budget vegan meal plans I’ve seen on the internet. This is probably the only viable budget vegan meal plan I’ve seen.

      Reply
    • posted by Mary on December 6, 2015

      I spent around ~$38, but that’s still a lot less than what I’d normally pay. I was disappointed as well, but I went to my local Meijers. None of the other lists I’ve found work out this nicely.

        Reply
  71. posted by sophieloaf5 on November 14, 2015

    This is awesome! Thanks for the hard work you put into this. I’ll be revisiting your blog many times, I’m sure. 🙂

      Reply
  72. posted by Mary on December 6, 2015

    Thank you so much for posting this! I was looking for affordable meal plans and they shopping list is so long and I just can’t afford all those ingredients. You have no idea how much I appreciate this. Thank you!

      Reply
  73. posted by shmeashmea on January 11, 2016

    I cannot believe how low your prices are. Here in Canada this same list would probably be about $60. I am gobsmacked.

      Reply
  74. posted by Julia on January 21, 2016

    I really like the whole idea and the plan, but your nutritional values are a bit off. For example: one cup of frozen broccoli (chopped) only gives you 6% of daily recommended calcium – not 90.

      Reply
  75. posted by ivyowl67 on March 2, 2016

    Thanks for making this blog. It is desperately needed. I am older, very low income and have just started to go vegan. I have to cook to make it so I am learning to make my own cheeses hot dogs etc, because I want to eat what I am used to eating. I am so mad for the animals because I don’t see any reason why Jack in the Box can’t make a vegan burger, or why Papa Johns can’t make a vegan pizza. If I can, why can’t they? And why is everything so expensive pre-made? I know people just can’t make the change over if they can’t have things they are used to but it’s so expensive –for no reason. And do they sell soy ice cream anywhere? No. You have to make it. The products they DO have is so good the switch over is easy. But you have to be rich to do that. The whole system needs a make over.

    For those of us lucky enough to be near a Winco, this blog is especially great. Winco is great because if you just need a tablespoon of something you can go there and get a tablespoon of something literally. In fact I thought about it, and decided not to move to Albuquerque just because produce is so expensive there, and there is no Winco. Seed sprouting is great everywhere though, And indoor hyro gardening. But that is a skill in itself–one I haven’t mastered yet. Though some helpful YouTube videos show you how to do that really cheaply too( google “lettuce Loft”)

      Reply
  76. posted by Phoebe on April 10, 2016

    No way I could get all that here for $25! All that would cost so much money here in New Zealand I am amazed at how low your prices are! I’m afraid going vegan will be a little more costly for me :(.

      Reply
  77. posted by Mindi (@MindiFriedland) on April 27, 2016

    I’m SO glad I found this post! Thank you so much for the effort in putting this together. It’s very helpful for somebody like me who’s interested in plant-based eating.

      Reply
  78. posted by Lilly on June 28, 2016

    Were you able to get enough protein in all of these meals? I’m very interested in doing this but I’m also looking to make sure I eat a lot of protein.

      Reply
  79. posted by Emma on July 13, 2016

    Thank you so much! I’m a vegan biomedical science student and being a bit older and having a disability I need to have my own home so things are very, very tight financially. Your recipes and cost saving ideas are life-saving!

      Reply
  80. posted by Camille on August 8, 2016

    Wow, excellent! I can only imagine how cheap it becomes to eat vegan once we start growing our own spinach, lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, cucumbers and radishes in our back garden, or even just in pots on the window sill or balcony. My friend told me how she washed her neighbors 3 dogs in exchange for a huge bag of pecan nuts from his tree 🙂 Bartering is awesome. Not everyone has the space or the skills to grow every different thing, but luckily we don’t have to.

      Reply
  81. posted by Mischalla on August 18, 2016

    Thank you!! The meals are simple and I appreciate that! Really complex recipes that say beginner upset me! Definitely swiping a couple of these! Thanks!

      Reply
  82. posted by elma Valtierra on September 2, 2016

    gracias fácil práctico sencillo esta fenomenal

      Reply
  83. posted by elizabeth on September 3, 2016

    This was great. One minor correction, I had to use 1/2 lb of barley for that amount of water. I think if I used the entire 1 lb it would not be soupy.

      Reply

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