Plant Based on a Budget Challenge – 2 People – Week 2

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I’m going to get real for a second: there was a point during the first week that I felt extremely overwhelmed and asked Toni if I could opt out of the challenge. Too much work, adding too much stress. And then I thought about how privileged I am to have this meal planning be a chore for me, or something that I can choose not to do. I thought about the families, singles, and couples who do not have the luxury to go outside of their budget, and that was really humbling to me and hopefully to the canned-food hating critics as well. So anyway, with at least my privilege now in check, welcome to the second week on the Plant Based on a Budget meal plan for two!


One of the things that I would like to address from the comments is the varying prices of food. I am fully aware that unless you are shopping at the same grocery store that I am, it is unlikely that our prices are going to be the exact or possibly even in the same ball park.

Here is  some advice I have:

1. Scout out all of the grocery stores in your area for the best prices: Obvious, right? But really. The chart below shows the main ingredients for my recipe for Barley Mushroom Kale Pilaf  from just three of the many groceries that are in my area.


WinCo Foods

Trader Joes


Kale .98 per bunch 1.99 for bag chopped 1.99 per bunch
8 oz white mushroom 1.98 per package 1.69 per package 2.69 per package
Barley .66 per pound 1.79 for 8.8 oz 3.19 per pound


$3.62 $5.47 $7.87

There are some stores that I still have not even stepped foot into: Lucky, Food Maxx, Grocery Outlet, etc.  Who knows if how much more money I could save if I took the time to do a little more scouting. In addition, don’t limit yourself to shopping at just one store. As you can see from the chart, I would have saved 30 cents if I had bought my mushrooms at Trader Joes versus WinCo. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but when you need to stay within a budget it adds up fast!

2. Identify ingredients that can make repeat appearances: Figure out what ingredients are inexpensive that you can use for multiple meals. I tried to be better about this week: Lentils, peas, barley, rice, beans. Buying in bulk is always best.

3.Bring a calculator: Who cares if you are the crazy person with a list and a calculator hogging an isle? Making yourself aware of how much the items you think you need are adding to your bill, is really important.

4.Don’t rush yourself: If you’re serious about saving, you need to allot yourself time to make changes while at the store if your bill is becoming too much. You should always shop alone so there are fewer distractions and try to go to the grocery store at a slower time. At least for me, when the grocery store is crazy busy I have a “just get me out of here” mindset.

If you’re looking for additional resources to help you with a plant-based diet: Check out this support group on Facebook where you can 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!


Shopping List:

1 package Lasagna: 2.08
1 bunch of 7 bananas: 1.60
2 bunch kale: 1.96
2.5 cups barley (priced by pound): .66
1 bag celery: 1.48
1 bag frozen spinach: 1.69
1 cup green split peas (priced by pound): .39
1 cup yellow split peas (priced by pound): .30
1 cup corn meal (priced by pound): .30
1 1b flax meal (priced by pound): 1.74 * You only actually need 2 tblsp
1 cup red lentils (priced by pound): .51
1 cups green/brown lentils (priced by pound):.42
(1) 2 lb bag carrots: .98
(2) 8 oz pkg mushrooms: 3.96
2 head garlic: .96
3 pkgs of bouillon: 3.00
1 spaghetti squash (priced by pound): 3.54
2 marinara jars: 2.56
4 red bell peppers: 3.92
1 bunch green onions: .48
5 lb bag russet potato: 1.48
4 cups long grain brown rice (priced by pound): .75
1 almond milk (unsweetened or original) : 1.99
1 tbsp tomato paste (the price is for a whole can): .42
1 sm lemon juice: 1.00
1 can black beans: .89
2 lb of oats: 2.42
1 lb pumpkin granola: 2.25
4 yellow onion (priced by pound): 1.45
1 butternut squash: 1.56



Friday, November 8, 2013

Breakfast: Oatmeal with sliced banana

Lunch: Red lentil curry over brown rice

Dinner: Split pea soup

Breakfast: Surprise! We had 1 cup of oatmeal divided with sliced banana. I did some research though, and oats are crazy good for you. In just 1 cup of oats there is 10 grams of protein, people! Vegans and protein? No problem.

photo 2(10)


 Lunch: This recipe is really filling and so, so delicious. I made all 4 cups of brown rice to use over the next few days.  And because I love boasting about vegan nutrition, lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, and potassium.


Red Lentil Curry over brown rice

2-3 tbsp oil
.5 tbsp dry ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 green onions chopped (save some for garnish
1 tablespoon curry powder
4 carrots, chopped
1 russet potato, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
2 bouillon cubes
2 cups brown rice (I cooked 4 cups of rice for leftover lunch tomorrow, and for another meal during the week)
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the curry powder. Add the carrots, potato, lentils, water, bouillon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle green onions and pour over brown rice.

Dinner:  While researching dry, healthy ingredients I learned a wealth of information. Did you know that in just 1 cup of peas there are 48 grams of protein and has 200% of your daily fiber? Mind blown.


48 Grams of Protein Pea Soup

1.5 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped carrot
2 cups chopped celery
2 gloves minced garlic
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup green split peas
8 cups water
3 cubes bouillon
pepper to taste

  1. In a large pot  medium heat, heat olive oil. Cook onion, carrot, celery and garlic until onion is translucent. Stir in yellow and green split peas, water, and bouillon. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes to 1 hour, stirring once or twice. I have a hand immersion blender, which I used to blend a little bit of the soup, but not all.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Breakfast: Pancakes

Lunch: Leftover soup and/or curry

Dinner: Barley Mushroom Kale Pilaf

Breakfast: Since it’s Saturday and I have a bit more time than usual, I made these delicious and super easy pancakes sans banana-with items I would  think one would already have in their kitchen.


Lunch: See above

Dinner:  This dish is seriously rich, buttery tasting, comfort food. Enjoy!


Barley Mushroom Kale Pilaf

1 package fresh sliced mushrooms
2.5 tbsp olive oil
2 cups pearl barley
6 cups water
3 bouillon cubes
4 tbsp chopped scallions (optional)
1 tsp  dried rosemary
1 bunch chopped kale (you could get away with using less)

  1. Heat olive oil in saucepan; add mushrooms and sautee until limp. Add barley, green onion, kale and rosemary. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 1 hour or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. I took the lid off and turned off the heat the last five minutes because I still had some liquid. It tasted so much more wonderful after it had cooled slightly.

 Sunday, November 10, 2013

Breakfast: Granola with almond milk and sliced banana divided

Lunch: Leftover pilaf

Dinner: Brown rice with kale, black beans and butternut squash

Breakfast: See above

Lunch: See above

Dinner: I used the leftover rice from Friday for this dish, which cut the time in half!


1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups brown rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
.5 tsp salt
.5 tsp cumin
1 bunch kale, chopped
(1) 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1. Heat 1.5 tblsp oil to a pot over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
2. Add butternut squash, and cumin and saute for 5 minutes.
3.Add chopped kale, garlic powder, and salt and mix to incorporate. Add 1/4 cup water, reduce heat to low, and cover for 7-10 minutes.
4. Turn off heat, add black beans and incorporate.Put over brown rice and season to taste.
November 11, 2013
Breakfast:  Oatmeal with brown sugar and a banana dividedLunch: Leftover rice, squash, blackbeans and kale
Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Roasted Red Pepper Soup and Skillet Cornbread

Breakfast: See above

Lunch: See above

Dinner: So this soup is kind of tedious. But it’s my favorite soup of all time. Of all time. I made this cornbread to accompany the soup.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

4 large red peppers, halved and seeded
1.5 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups water
2-3 bouillon cubes


Put oven to broiler on high

1. Halve and seed red peppers. Place face down on backing sheet, and rub or brush peppers with olive oil. Place tray under broiler and set timer for 25 minutes, periodically checking on them.

photo 1(10)

2. With about 10 minutes left on timer, heat 1 tblsp of oil on medium heat. Add onions and garlic for about 4 minutes. Add carrot and potato and saute, stirring occasionally for additional 5 minutes or so.  Add water and bouillon cubes, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low.

3. By this point, the red peppers should be a mostly black and bubbly, like the photo below. To make your life a little easier, take broiled peppers and carefully place them in a brow paper bag. Close bag by rolling the top down. This technique helps the peppers to “sweat” their skin, making it a lot easier to peel off, and handle.

photo 2(11)

4. After about 5 minutes, take out red peppers and with your hands, peel off the skin as best as you can. Like this:

photo 3(12)

5. Place red peppers in pot with other vegetables, and cover again. Simmering for another 10 minutes or so. Turn off heat, and blend!

Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Breakfast: I had oatmeal and half a banana, and David had dry granola and the other half of a banana

Lunch: Leftover soup and corn bread

Dinner: Potato Lasanga

Breakfast: See above

Lunch: See above

Dinner: This is a dish that is routinely made at family functions by my step-dad. The mashed potatoes are a great, and inexpensive way to replace the ricotta cheese without having to use tofu.*

photo 3(13)

A disclaimer for this recipe: I had enough noodles, and potatoes to make a second tray, but not enough spinach. To avoid being wasteful, I would suggest using two bags of frozen spinach instead of one. Though prices vary, a bag of frozen spinach at my grocery store is 1.69 which still would have brought me under budget.

*Though another idea would be to make my tofu ricotta from last week’s challenge

Potato Lasagna

1 box egg and dairy-free lasagna noodles
1 jar marinara
Left over bag of 5lb russet potatoes (I had about 8 or 9, though your amount will vary), peeled and cubed
1 large bag of frozen spinach
1 pkg mushrooms, sliced and/or roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic


Preheat over to 400 degrees.

1. Boil noodles according to instructions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.

2. Put cubed potatoes in empty pot and add enough water to just cover potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover reduce heat. Keep covered for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft enough to smash with a fork. Remove from heat, drain water and return potatoes to pot.

Here comes the part where you make mashed potatoes. It’s hard for me to tell you exact measurements because I cant be sure how many potatoes from the 5lb bag you have. The items I use for mashed potatoes are vegan margarine, almond milk (unsweetened or original), salt, garlic powder, and pepper. I usually just taste as I go along, slowly adding a bit of each and mixing (and of course mashing). After you’re done, set aside.

3. In a pan,  heat 1 tbl sp oil over medium heat. Add garlic and mushroom, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes. Add entire bag of frozen spinach, 1/4 cup water. Reduce heat to medium low and cover, checking on it periodically to see if spinach has defrosted usually between 5-7 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

4. Lightly sauce the bottom of a 12×7 pan, just enough so it’s covered and the noodles will not stick. Then, add a layer of noodles, a layer of potatoes, a layer of spinach mixture, another layer of noodles, sauce, repeat.

Bake for 35 minutes, uncovered. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Breakfast: Oatmeal with maple syrup and banana divided

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Lentil Barley Soup

Though this looks a lot like the lentil soup from last week, it’s definitely different. I actually think I favor this soup more! It’s got the added barley which is somewhat of a super grain, and a really nice flavor from the thyme and lemon.


Lentil Barley Soup

1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
2-3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 cups water
3 bouillon cubes
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice


1.    Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sautee 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and celery; sautee 3 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

2.    Mix in 6 cups water, bouillon cubes, lentils, barley, tomato paste, thyme, curry powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes or until lentils and barley are tender, but not mushy.

3.    Add lemon juice, stir and serve!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Breakfast: Oatmeal with brown sugar and 1 banana divided

Lunch: Leftover soup

Dinner: Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Marinara

For dinner I made Margaret’s recipe for Roasted Spaghetti Squash (have you read Margaret’s story by the way?—inspiring!) I stupidly forgot to take a picture though!

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Comments (34)

  1. posted by Gloria Kersh on November 15, 2013

    I am inspired by your devotion to completing this project. I live in a small town and have a car and a job so I have two local stores, plus a few Dollar type Stores, I work in a large city with large stores everywhere. I am one of those people that would rather shop at one store and spend a few extra bucks than drive from store to store to save. However, I do shop the sale ad at the big store in the big city once during the week and I shop the sale ad of my local small store once on the weekend.

    Thank you for taking the time to open our eyes to those that are less fortunate than most of us and that most abide by a strict budget. And for sharing some pretty kick ass sounding recipes!

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 16, 2013

      Thank you for your kind words Gloria! I used to be like that too, just shopping at one store but I could not believe how much money I could save just visiting one or two others. If you try any of the recipes, please let me know how you like them! <3

  2. posted by Jane on November 15, 2013

    Super stoked to continue to follow the’s reminding me to do as much possible to stay on it. Thanks again as this was a great kick start to clean eating!!!

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 16, 2013

      That’s awesome! Spending less money, eating better, and more compassionately!

  3. posted by Bridget Morningstar on November 15, 2013

    Grace, I thank you so much for your effort. I have been wanting to try a plant based diet but haven’t figured out how to do it for my family of five. I am lucky because my husband would gladly go for a plant based diet with me, but my kids are not ready yet. Having these recipes that work for two allow me to make it more economically feasible, and less complicated than many recipes I see posted online. I am really happy to have found this challenge. Thanks again!

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 16, 2013

      This made my morning when I read it. Thank you! I’,m so happy for you that even though you are in the minority that you are working towards a plant-based diet, that’s really commendable. Coming from a kid who was raised vegetarian, if you need any pointers for kid-approved meals please let me know! <3

      • posted by Bridget Morningstar on November 16, 2013

        Grace, I would love some tips on what to feed my kids. I have set my initial goal of making the transition for my husband and myself and let the kids try what we make (so there isn’t so much waste if the kids don’t like something). My problem is finding alternatives to meat for them. My kids are suspicious of tofu, and are not really excited about beans on their own (okay in a meat chili). On a positive note, my kids do like steel cut oatmeal, and yeast buckwheat pancakes. They will eat broccoli, and other vegetables if they are cooked in soups. I usually cut up celery, carrots to have on hand to dip in peanut butter. My kids all like rice and pasta. Tomato sauce is a favorite and frozen mixed vegetables are good too. A few times we have served baked potatoes, but to go with them, the kids expect lots of dairy products. We live in Northern Maine where so many people believe you need to meat for protein or else you haven’t really eaten a meal so there isn’t a lot of support around here. I would really like to get a better sense of what it is my kids need from a meal to have balanced nutrition, and for them to feel satisfied on a plant based diet. Thanks again for your hard work on this project!

        • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 17, 2013

          I’d be happy to send you some tips/recipes to the email you provided in the next few days if that sounds good to you!

          • posted by Bridget Morningstar on November 17, 2013

            That sounds great! Thank you!

  4. posted by Lori on November 15, 2013

    I love the idea of using mashed potatoes in place of ricotta for your lasagna. I don’t use a lot of tofu and I LOVE potatoes.

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 16, 2013

      Thanks Lori! You won’t be impacting the flavor in the slightest either!

  5. posted by Sharyn on November 15, 2013

    What was the corn meal used for?

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 16, 2013

      The cornmeal was used for the cornbread I made to accompany the Roasted Red Pepper Soup.

      • posted by Hannah on December 15, 2013

        What about the flax seeds??

  6. posted by Marsha on November 16, 2013

    Thanks for your hard work to put this together! I love most of these foods, but what I really love is how easy it is to cook nutritious meals. I am single, so I love cooking a big batch of something and eating leftovers, which often are more flavorful anyway.

  7. posted by Dean on November 16, 2013

    I am confused. In last week’s posting oatmeal had 16 gr. of protein. This week 1 cup of oatmeal has 26 gr. of protein. Majority of websites list 1 cup of oatmeal at 6 gr. of protein.

    • posted by Jeanette on November 17, 2013

      Was wondering the same thing. The whole grain oats I have say 1/2 cup (dry) is 5g. I’m sure there are varieties with a little more, but 26 seemed high to me…

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 17, 2013

      You are SO right! Honestly, I googled “nutritional value of oats” and:took the information that came up on the right corner which indeed says 26 grams for 1 cup. However, when I got up off my lazy butt and looked at the oats I bought it says that there are 10g in 1 cup. So who knows. Either way-vegans and protein, still no problem.

  8. posted by Tashina on November 16, 2013

    Your recipes look so yummy! I think I need to try a couple of them.

    Great point about shopping at different places! I go to three grocery stores to try and get the things my household needs for as cheap as possible. Sometimes I get frustrated because it takes extra time, but it does allow me to trim down costs where possible and I know that’s worth it in the long run.

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 17, 2013

      Thanks Tash! I totally agree. <3

  9. posted by Karen on November 16, 2013

    Love the grocery guide

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 17, 2013

      Thanks! I hope it helps you out in some way!

  10. posted by Melanie McPherson on November 16, 2013

    Your dog is totally adorable!!!

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 17, 2013

      Isn’t she though?! The dog kills me. With cuteness that is.

  11. posted by Amanda Gould on November 17, 2013

    In the Barley Mushroom Kale Pilaf, your intructions don’t include when to add the water and bouillon, I’m assuming to add them into the step that includes the barley. Is that correct?

    • posted by Grace Kuhn on November 19, 2013

      Yes! I am so sorry! It has since been changed <3

  12. posted by Lori on March 7, 2015

    So glad I found this site, I just bought all of my groceries and ready to start cooking. Thanks for the information.

  13. posted by Aaron on August 31, 2015

    You should add curry powder to the shopping list.

  14. posted by Ceirra on August 14, 2016

    Thanks so much to you and everyone else who put in the effort for these meal plans. My boyfriend and I have to stick to a strict budget and these are perfect. I am not nearly creative enough to have come up with all of this stuff on my own and stick to such a cheap budget. You guys are life savers.

  15. posted by Abby on June 25, 2017

    Hi there!
    Thank you for your website! It’s great! We are just transitioning to vegan following my 2 year old that refuses any animals products other than cheese and milk. when I realized that I was bored of eating the same I saw it was because we are eating 90% vegan and just are not looking for the right recipes… I was afraid of the cost of eating vegan but you are def an inspiration! We are in Glasgow, I’ll let you know how we get on with prices!

  16. posted by Roger Nehring on August 11, 2017

    Your nutritional value for peas are for peas in their dried state. When cooked, they absorb fluid and one cup has substantially lower nutrient value. Still excellent, but not nearly so impressive.
    16 g of protein and 16 g of fiber.

  17. posted by Andrea Carroll on September 29, 2017

    What if I don’t have a broiler on my oven? We have a commercial restaurant oven/range/griddle unit and so I don’t get broiler or convection on mine. Suggestions?