Plant Based on a Budget Challenge – 1 Person – Week 4

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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.

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:

Bunch of 7 Bananas – 1.74
Frozen Spinach – .98 (if fresh is cheaper, get that)
2 lb bag of carrots – .98
1 lb yam – .26
Firm Tofu – 1.48
1/2 lb lentils – .50
Jar of Marinara – 1.58
1/2 lb Cheapest Granola – .81*
Pack of 6ct Bullion Cubes – .91
Cheapest Non-Dairy Milk – 1.28
4 yellow onions – 1.50
Celery – .88
1 lb Split Peas – .98
Kale – .98
1/2 lb Cheapest Cereal – .64
Garlic – .48
1 lb cheapest pasta – .98
lemon – .28
Persimmon – .48
1/2 lb Israeli Couscous – .98
Red Onion – .45
Cucumber – .38

Total: $19.29

Day One:

Breakfast: I made Persimmon Bread to last the entire week. The first week I struggled with not having any sweet foods, so I added this bread for a yummy sweet treat. There are seven slices and you can either have it for breakfast or dessert. Get crazy with it!

And if you don’t want to get crazy, that’s fine too. You can easily skip this — there’s plenty of cereal and smoothie. And if Persimmons are too expensive in your area, you can just do a Banana Bread.


Lunch: I made this simple but delicious  Israeli Couscous Salad – but skipped the olives because they were too pricey. If you happen to have the olives on hand, make sure to throw them in because it makes it all the more tasty!


Dinner: I couldn’t resist making Grace’s Tofu Ricotta from her Week 1 meal plan for two. I made the entire recipe and ate this any time I was hungry, but you can also half this recipe and make a different kind of pasta dish with the ingredients that you’d have left over.

More info on tofu nutrition

Day Two:


Breakfast: By now, you can probably tell that this Banana Kale Smoothie is my favorite smoothie ever. I want to drink it every day … and I kinda do. Sometimes if I have them already, I’ll add flax meal, soy protein or maca powder.

Nutritional info on Kale


Lunch:  Leftover Tofu Ricotta and Baked Pasta.

Dinner: David’s Split Pea Soup and it was deeeeelicious! I didn’t have some of the spices, so I skipped them. I also used only half of the celery and didn’t use the fresh parsley.

Nutritional info for Split Peas

Day Three:


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 Soup

Dinner: Leftover pasta

Day Four:

Breakfast: Pumpkin Flax Granola and Soy Milk

Lunch: Leftover Split Pea Soup

Yams were only $.25 a lb!! That’s crazy.

So I made:


Dinner: Kale, Lentils and Yam. I used this recipe which I also used in my week 3 meal plan 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.

Nutritional Info for Lentils

Day Five:

Breakfast: More cereal!!

Lunch: Leftover Kale and Lentils.

Dinner: Leftover Pasta

Day Six:

Breakfast: Another Banana Kale Smoothie  — feel free to spice your up with apples, oranges, etc.

Lunch: Leftover Soup

Dinner: Leftover Pasta

Day Seven:


Breakfast: Pumpkin Flax Granola and Soy Milk

Lunch: You probably hate it by now, but leftover pasta.

Dinner: Leftover Soup

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

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Comments (10)

  1. posted by Kaitlyn A K on April 8, 2014

    I just started week 1 after reading through all these recipes. Excited!!!

  2. posted by Jess on April 11, 2014

    Thank you for all the tips! I definitely need to start shopping smarter.

  3. posted by Marian Gleason on April 22, 2014

    These menu plans are a LIFE SAVER for me! Thank you SO MUCH for fulfilling this challenge and making my life so much simpler. <3

  4. posted by Stephan on June 7, 2014

    I agree with Marian. You helped me spend less money and eat better. I follow these meal plans for myself until I get the hang of it and it comes naturally so I don’t have to do all this. I’m going shopping today and I’m going to try to eat every meal in this plan.

  5. posted by Sophie Tramel on October 19, 2014

    Before I started this plan, I swore I would never drink a kale smoothie. Guess what I now live them, even recommended to a friend:)

  6. posted by Robin on November 30, 2014

    I understand that the recipes provided are budget friendly..but I do encourage whole grains whenever possible. White pasta, flour, bread etc is bleached, enriched and highly processed and has very little nutritional value. Always try to buy whole grain as much as your budget will allow.

  7. posted by Elena on September 1, 2015

    Thank you so very much Toni! I just completed all 4 weeks of your challenge. It helped me lose some weight and be healthier, and gave me some awesome cooking ideas. I’ve never ever used peanut butter or tofu in cooking, and now I love it! 🙂 you’re awesome

  8. posted by Sophie Tramel on November 3, 2015

    Now is the time for persimmons here in Nor Cal, many coworkers have trees. I made the Persimmon Bread for them, a big hit! I gilded the lily with 1/4 cup each of chopped walnuts and raisins, and drizzled on icing of powered sugar, vanilla, splash of soy milk. It’s a big hit, thanks!l

  9. posted by Melissa B. on June 10, 2017

    Thanks for this, and for all the time and work you put into this page!

  10. posted by Katie Dillman on July 21, 2017

    Wow, saw you on What the Health. One of the most important segments in my opinion – b/c after we all threw out our food, everyone’s kind of looking at each other like..”so…….about dinner”. Potato tacos will do just fine! Great of you to share for free. Thank you!