Plant Based on a Budget Challenge – 1 Person – Week 3

By : | 17 Comments 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, change it up with 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.

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 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 access and lack of 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 an attempt to make me a healthier person (I was getting sick after running all the time), my coach suggested not eating red meat, which shortly after resulted in me becoming a vegetarian. As a poor teenager who moved out immediately after high school, I was eating nothing but fast food, Top Ramen, and PB&J sandwiches. I was completely an unhealthy vegetarian. It wasn’t until I joined a veg club in college and started a weekly meetup up called “Womanly Wednesdays,” that I became vegan for ethical reasons and began experimenting with healthy, budget-friendly food.

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. 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, Nutrition Facts, that 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.

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.

When you’re shopping, it may be more efficient to write the exact measurements of what you need. I did estimates, but if you wanted to be precise (to avoid unused ingredients), I recommend bringing a measuring cup. That way you can buy two cups of lentils instead of 1/2 lb. And bring a calculator and any coupons that you might have (check the store’s website before you go)!

Another thing you can do is ask for older, discounted produce. Often times, the grocer will give you a deal if the bananas are spotty. And at my store, every bag that you bring (to bag your groceries), you save $.6. I used three bags, saved .18 cents, which paid for my can of tomato paste.

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. I also recommend the Ibotta app for extra savings with instant rebates. I use it at Target, Sprouts, Walmart, Groupon, etc. If you sign up using my referral code, you’ll get $10 back: dlamydh

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 List:

Garlic – .48
Dried Cranberries – .54*
2 Carrots – .22
Cheapest Non-Dairy Milk – 1.28
5 Dried Apricots – .17*
12 ct Corn Tortillas – 1.27*
Lemon – .33
Pack of 6ct Bullion Cubes – .91
15 oz can Apple Sauce – .95*
Kale – .98
1/2 lb Green Lentils –  .46
1/4lb Cheapest Cereal – .34
1/4 lb Old Fashioned Oats – .16
8 oz can Tomato Sauce – .28
1 Cup Brown Rice – .27
2 Yellow Onions – .95
1/2 lb Cheapest Granola – .81*
Green Bell Pepper – .68
Orange –  .41*
51b Bag of Russet Potatoes – 1.18
Small jar of Peanut Butter – 2.05
Tofu – 1.48*
Mexican Fideo Pasta – .33
2 Zucchini – .89
1lb yam – .48
Bunch of Spinach – 1.68
Bunch of 7 Bananas – 1.64
1/2 Cup dried Panko Breadcrumbs – .25
1/4 cup cheapest seeds (I bought unsalted sunflower) – .15

Total: $21.52

*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: $15.74

Day One:


Breakfast: Oatmeal w/ soy milk and dried diced apricots.

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


Lunch: Spinach Salad with dried cranberries, seeds and chopped orange. I made a simple balsamic vinaigrette.


Dinner: I made this Zucchini and Potato Casserole with a few alterations: I only used 2 zucchini and added an additional 3 potatoes. Instead of shallots, I used 1/3 of a yellow onion and 1/2 of a green bell pepper. If you’re gluten-free, omit the bread crumbs and you’ll be good. This should be about 5 servings.


Dessert: This is totally optional. Like I said last week, I LOVE dessert. Since I had some leftover peanut butter when planning my meals, I thought, “why not make peanut butter cookies?” These are not healthy … and if someone dares tell me that I’m not vegan again because I use Earth Balance, I will be sassy to you. That’s my disclaimer. With that said, if you don’t like it, don’t make it. Simple.

And if you think that Peanut Butter Cookies sound totally yummy, here’s what you need: 1 3/4 C flour, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 C apple sauce, 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup vegan butter, 3 tsp non-dairy milk, 1 tbs vanilla

Directions: I got the inspiration for this recipe from my absolute favorite cookbook The Joy of Vegan Baking. If you haven’t read it, go to your local library and check it out RIGHT NOW! And if you can afford to buy it, do it. I’ve made about 60% of her recipes and they’re all amazing.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In my version of this recipe, I do what I call, “lazy baking.” Throw all ingredients in a bowl, mix, drop by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Eat.

Day Two:

Breakfast: Cornflakes with soy milk and a sliced banana.

Lunch: Leftover casserole.


Dinner: Vegetable Soup. I’m providing a base for this soup, but I would like you to clear your fridge of produce that is on its way out. Also, depending on what you have in your pantry already, you can add: barley, or rice, or pasta, or lentils, or beans.

Ingredients: 3 bullion cubes, 8 cups of water, 1/3 of a yellow onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 sliced carrot, 3 celery stalks chopped, 3 peeled and chopped russet potatoes.

Directions: Saute onions and garlic on medium heat until onions are translucent. Add carrots and celery, cook for another 2 minutes. Add any other ingredients you decide to use, along with the bullion, water, and potatoes. Cook on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft. This should be about 3 servings. Although, I ate 1 1/2 bowls each time, so it was about two servings for me.

Day Three:


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.

Lunch: Leftover soup.


Dinner: Kale, Lentils, and Yam. I used this recipe and made these modifications: I used one full carrot, 2 cups of water with bullion cube, 1/3 of an onion, 2 cloves garlic, no bay leaf, pepper or rosemary, I used half of my bunch of kale and half of my sweet potato. Makes two servings.

Day Four:

Breakfast 2 cups cornflakes w/ 1 cup soy milk and banana.

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

Lunch: Leftover casserole.


Dinner: I made Sweet Potato Tacos and Mexican Fideo. For the Sweet Potato Tacos, I made these modifications: I used the rest of my yam, 1/3 of an onion and corn tortillas because they were cheaper. If you’re not buying to tortillas to keep your costs down, you can easily use it as a filling in a Southwestern-Style Salad — throw the filling in there with whatever veggies you have hanging around .. and BOOM!

With the Mexican Fideo, I omitted the tomato to cut down costs and used 1/3 of an onion. If you’re gluten-free, make the Mexican Rice instead. This meal makes 2-3 servings.

Day Five:  


Breakfast: Oatmeal w/ soy milk, seeds and dried cranberries.

Lunch : Leftover casserole.

Dinner: Leftover Kale and Lentils.

Day Six: 

Breakfast: Kale and Banana Smoothie using the rest of the kale.

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

Lunch: Leftover sweet potato tacos and fideo.


Dinner: Tofu & Spinach with Peanut Sauce with one cup of steamed brown rice. As you can see, my photo has broccoli. I accidentally left my spinach at work so I had to improvise with what I had on hand. You can use any veggie you’d like, but you already have spinach. 😉 Makes two servings.

Daily nutritional value of 1/2 cup Peanut Butter: 64G Protein

Day Seven:


Breakfast:  Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie.

Ingredients: 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup non-dairy milk, 1/2 cup peanut butter.

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 Tofu and Peanut Sauce

Dinner: Leftover Casserole.

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.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via the “Contact Us” section.

For new and improved meal plans, check out

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 6.07.53 PM

Share This Post!

Comments (17)

  1. posted by shelley on November 24, 2013

    Thanks for the great ideas! I made the pb cookies today. I subbed canola oil for the butter and omitted the milk, and they still turned out great! Good to know if you find yourself a couple ingredients short, like I did.

  2. posted by Rachael on November 26, 2013

    Hi there. Just wanted to say a big thank you for this blog & the love and effort you are putting in to it. It’s wonderful for young people who are not experienced in food prep and who want to follow a healthful meatless diet. When I was 20 I could really have done with this as I ended up with anaemia and very unhealthy, being a veggie for 7 years. And I therefore changed my eating to include meat. Against my ethical mind. Your blog is just great!

  3. posted by Nancy Sawyer on December 1, 2013

    Hi, these recipes are great! I kind of fell off the wagon during week two but i am back for week three…I am still using my ingredients and some recipes from week one and trying the chili from week two. I find if I dont make my food a head of time I either don’t eat or eat junk! I Told my daughter about your site! Thank you!

  4. posted by Malai on December 1, 2013

    Thanks for all that you guys do! When will week 4 be up?

  5. posted by Amy on December 4, 2013

    Thank you for doing this!! I’m new to eating vegan (Been playing with the idea on and off for a year and a half since I found out I have allergies to eggs, dairy, and beef..No wonder I’ve been so sick my whole life).

    I am wondering if most of these recipes feed 2. It seems like it, but I want to make sure before planning out my week’s meals, as I have 6 I feed on a daily basis and I need to make sure before going shopping.

    I really appreciate you showing how to do this frugally, it helps more than you can imagine.

    Blessings to you and yours 🙂

    P.S. I came up with a Soy-Free Vegan Gingerbread cookie that you may like too:

    My hubby says it’s the best he’s ever had.

  6. posted by Stephan on May 20, 2014

    Why would anyone say you’re not vegan because you use Earth Balance? From what I read, it is completely vegan.

  7. posted by Staci on June 14, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your meal plan. As a social worker who works with individuals who are often on a very restricted budget in which they must feed themselves and/or their families, I love the very nutritious and tasty recipes you provided. I especially liked the preface explaining how you made this work. Myself and others, who also have limited time would do well to heed your advice regarding the day of food prep which could quite possibly be the key to consistency and resisting the urge to hit the dreaded dollar menu.

  8. posted by Mara on November 13, 2014

    I am a semi-vegetarian that has FINALLY put her foot down in hopes of FINALLY disciplining myself to HEALTHFULLY lose weight-while having a very healthy life diet.

    Have you or any of your other followers found that they have lost weight while adhering to your meal plans? I’m sure this is a common question, but I would love your insight!

  9. posted by Kimberly on December 19, 2016

    Oh, this week looks esp delish! I’m gonna try the plan in order, though. Something to look forward to! Maybe I’ll add a cookie or two to week one though *wink*

  10. posted by Lydia on February 5, 2017

    These meal plans have helped me out tremendously. I’ve been vegan for 5 years now, and I’ve always just splurged on novelty foods and eating out, but after taking a pay cut to start my dream career, I’ve had to start budgeting better and only have about $50 leftover per paycheck for food. I’m so glad I found your site and I GREATLY appreciate all the work you put into this.

    I was spending about $75-90 per week on groceries, and then eating out about 4 days out of the week too. It all came out to well over $100 a week, so I had no idea how I was going to survive when I had to quarter my food budget.

    Even when I change positions next year and start making more money, there’s no way I’ll go back to spending what I used to on food. You’ve seriously saved me. Thank you so much.

    • posted by Toni Okamoto on February 18, 2017

      Lydia, thank you so much for this note. I am so glad this helped you. I’m in the process of creating more, better quality meal plans. Hopefully those will give even more inspiration.

  11. posted by Jennifer Dugger on June 26, 2017

    This is my first time on the site and I’m loving everything so far! Just a quick heads up – your link to “The Joy of Vegan Baking” on meal plan 3 for one person links you to a youtube video of “bubble butt” by Major Lazer for some reason – I mean I’m totally into the song, but I also would like to find the book 🙂 Thanks for all you do on this site!!!

    • posted by Toni Okamoto on June 26, 2017

      OMG, Jennifer! Thank you so much for bringing that to my attention. It has been there for years!! I was in class when I read this and laughed out loud.

      Thank you again! I fixed it!

  12. posted by Katie on August 12, 2017

    Hi, first of all I’m so excited to try this meal plan to improve my health. I’m curious if you have a rough estimate of calories per day? I ask because I have always struggled to maintain a healthy weight and find myself needing to eat 2000-2500 calories per day. I don’t know much about plant based eating but worry it won’t provide me with enough calories to maintain my weight. Any thoughts on this?

  13. posted by FlorineX on August 18, 2017

    I see your blog needs some fresh posts. Writing manually takes a lot of
    time, but there is tool for this boring task, search for:
    unlimited content Wrastain’s tools

  14. posted by skye on October 17, 2017

    I am in love!! Thank you so much for putting so much time and energy into this site and the recipes! My Doctor suggested this sight and I am now 3 days into week 2 of being plant based! Thank you, thank you , thank you!