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

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Welcome to the Plant-Based on a Budget Challenge! First off, thank you for considering participating in this challenge. Whether you’re here because you’d like to save money, become healthier, try a plant-based diet, or all of the above, I welcome you. I’m Toni Okamoto, the founder of Plant-Based on a Budget, and I’m glad to be on this plant-based journey with you. If you’d like to read more about me and how this site started, make sure to check out the About page.

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 where you live, go for it. If you don’t have plant-based bouillon, change it up with vegetable broth while still using my recipe measurements. This is a guide to help you become familiar with eating plant-based on a budget. Play with it. I tried to stay under $20 for my entire week’s worth of groceries, but you may end up spending closer to $30 or $35 depending on where you shop.

When looking for a preferred grocery store, consider:

  • Do they have bulk staples?
  • Do they have bulk spices?
  • Can you buy single produce ingredients (like carrots and onions)?
  • Do they have their own line of cheaper products (aka “store brand” or “private label”)?

When planning your trip to the grocery store, consider:

  • Bringing measuring cups and spoons to buy exactly what you need.
  • Making your own beans from scratch instead of buying a can. It’s much cheaper if you have the time. One 15-ounce can have 1 ½ cups of cooked beans.
  • Downloading the store app, if they have one. Check for digital coupons.

When you’re meal prepping, consider:

  • If it’s price per unit and not per pound, try looking for the biggest bunches of kale and lettuce to get more bang for your buck.
  • Cutting all your vegetables at the same time on your day off and storing them in the refrigerator for easy access while cooking your meals throughout the week.
  • Making all the meals on your day off.

Some good resources for eating a plant-based diet: I created a support group on Facebook to share tips and low-cost plant-based recipes. You can also check out the Plant-Based on a Budget cookbook, and The Plant-Powered People Podcast. If you’re looking for a plant-based practitioner near you, check out this website. The New York Times bestseller called How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger is a fantastic resource to learn about plant-based nutrition. He also has a great website called Nutrition Facts, which has a ton of free resources. If you’re interested in stopping your consumption of dairy, The Dairy Detox can help you out with an entire online detox guide for only $10! I recommend checking out World of Vegan for fun articles and videos, and I also created a list of some of my cookbooks, as well as my favorites from other authors.

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Grocery Shopping List:

Produce
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 4 bananas
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 small lemon
  • 1 apple (for snacking)
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 1 orange (for snacking)
  • 2 small tomatoes (cheapest variety)
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 large head of lettuce (cheapest variety)
  • 1 bunch of celery
Bulk
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 pound of pearl barley
  • 3 cups of old-fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup of raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of curry
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
Other
  • 1 pound package of pasta
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of cannellini beans (or whichever are cheapest)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of garbanzo beans
  • 1 (26.5-ounce) can of pasta sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (½-gallon) container of plant-based milk
  • 1 package of vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 1 (12-ounce) package of frozen broccoli cuts
  • 1 box of cereal (cheapest option)

Total Cost: $19.94

If you have extra money and want to splurge on making your meals a little more complex, here are my recommendations:

Optional Additions

  • Extra-firm tofu (to add to the Barley Soup)
  • Frozen or fresh berries (to add to overnight oats or cereal)
  • More fruit for snacking
  • Your favorite salad dressing for the salad
  • More bananas (for slicing in the cereal)
  • Hot sauce, garnish
  • Black pepper, garnish

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Weekly Menu:

Day One
Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Barley Veggie Soup

Day Two
Breakfast: Overnight Oats
Lunch: Leftover Salad
Dinner: Simple Pasta

Day Three
Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
Lunch: Leftover Soup
Dinner: Curried Chickpeas

Day Four
Breakfast: Overnight Oats
Lunch: Leftover Pasta
Dinner: Leftover Curried Chickpeas

Day Five
Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
Lunch: Leftover Soup
Dinner: Leftover Curried Chickpeas

Day Six
Breakfast: Overnight Oats
Lunch: Leftover Soup
Dinner: Leftover Pasta

Day Seven
Breakfast: Green Smoothie
Lunch: Leftover Soup
Dinner: Leftover Pasta

Day One Meals

Breakfast: Cereal and Milk

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Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 cups of cereal
  • 1 ½ cups of soymilk

Optional ingredients:

  • A banana
  • Some blueberries

Directions:

  1. In a standard-size bowl, add the cereal.
  2. Pour in 1 cup of soymilk on top of your cereal.

 

Lunch: Simple Fresh Salad

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You’ll be making this twice. You can either double this recipe and do all your prepping in one swoop or if you want your veggies extra crispy, you can make it separately today and tomorrow.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup of chopped cucumber
  • ¾ cup of cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • ¼ of a yellow onion, diced
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Optional additions:

  • A sprinkle of black pepper
  • Your favorite dressing

Directions:

  1. In a salad bowl, add the lettuce, cucumber, garbanzo beans, and any other salad additions you’d like.
  2. Drizzle with salad dressing, if using.

Dinner: Barley Veggie Soup

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil OR ¼ cup of water (more if needed)
  • ½ of a yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups of sliced celery
  • 2 cups of frozen broccoli
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 pound of pearl barley
  • 14 cups of water
  • 6 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • ¼ cup of minced cilantro

Optional additions:

  • Extra-firm tofu, cubed (added in step 3)
  • Sprinkled black pepper
  • Hot sauce

Directions:

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the celery, broccoli, and carrots, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
  3. Add the pearl barley, water, bouillon cubes, and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, cover the pot with a lid (if you have one), and bring it to a simmer for 40 minutes.
  4. Stir in the minced cilantro.

 

Day Two Meals

 

Breakfast: Overnight Oats

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup of soymilk
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ of a banana, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Add the oats, sunflower seeds, milk, and water to a storage container, glass, or mason jar.
  2. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
  3. In the morning, mix and enjoy chilled. (No cooking or heating is necessary—the oats soften overnight.)
  4. Garnish with the sliced banana to sweeten.

Lunch: Simple Fresh Salad (same as day one)

Dinner: Simple Pasta

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of pasta
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil OR ¼ cup of water (more if needed)
  • ½ of a yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups of frozen broccoli
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (26.5-ounce) can of pasta sauce

Directions:

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, boil water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Remove from the heat and drain.
  2. While the pasta cools, begin on the veggies. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil and sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes or until the onion becomes tender and translucent. Add the frozen broccoli and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until the broccoli is heated. Add the can of cannellini beans, cooked noodles, and pasta sauce.

 

Day Three Meals

Breakfast: Cereal and Milk (same as day one)

Lunch: Leftover Soup

Dinner: Curried Chickpeas

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of uncooked brown rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder, divided
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of garbanzo, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil OR ¼ cup of water (more if needed)
  • ½ of a yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • ⅛ cup of water
  • 1 cup of packed kale, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. (230 degrees C.)
  2. Add the rice and water to a medium pot with a lid. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Cover with the lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.
  3. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of the curry, the cinnamon, cumin, and ginger. Toss the garbanzo beans in seasoning.
  4. Place the garbanzo beans on a lined baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes.
  5. While the garbanzo beans are baking, heat the onion, garlic, and oil in a nonstick pan for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes, water, and 1 tablespoon of curry powder. Cover and continue to cook.
  7. Add kale, and garbanzo beans to the curry and tomato mix. Let it simmer for 5 more minutes.
  8. Serve over rice.

 

Day Four Meals

Breakfast: Overnight Oats (same as day two)

Lunch: Leftover Pasta

Dinner: Leftover Curried Chickpeas

 

Day Five Meals

Breakfast: Cereal and Milk

Lunch: Leftover Soup

Dinner: Leftover Curried Chickpeas

 

Day Six Meals

 

Breakfast: Overnight Oats (see day two)

Lunch: Leftover Soup

Dinner: Leftover Pasta

Day Seven Meals

Breakfast: Green Smoothie

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Ingredients:

  • 2 peeled and frozen bananas
  • The remaining kale
  • 1 ½ cups of soymilk

Directions:

  1. In a blender, blend all the ingredients on high until smooth.

Lunch: Leftover Soup

Dinner: Leftover Pasta

If you’ve enjoyed this meal plan, try checking out our premium meal plans at PlantBasedMealPlan.com. And you can tag these recipes on Instagram @plantbasedonabudget to be reposted.

If you want to download the printable PDF, click here.