Plant Based on a Budget Challenge – Family of 4 – Week 1

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Welcome to the Plant Based on a Budget Family of 4 Challenge. I had a lot of fun putting this together.  It was also fun going shopping and really paying attention to prices and making sure we could keep the bill under $100.  I was really worried when we got to the check out, but we did it!  The meals have been great and easy to put together.  We did all of our shopping at Winco, which is a discount grocery store.  And anything we could buy in bulk, we did.

A bit about me.  In my home, it is myself, my wife, and our 4-year-old son.  We always have left overs, so I knew I could make a plan for a family of 4.  If you have older children or are large eaters, you may have to adjust the serving sizes.

I also separated the kids and adult lunches for weekdays.  Usually, kids do not have access to microwaves at school, so I tried to plan for that.

I am not a doctor, or nutritionist, but we as a family try to eat as healthy as possible.  There are a lot of oil free meals in here and most things could be changed to a gluten free version if needed.  Although that may raise your cost a bit.

I hope you will enjoy the plan, and please let me know if you have any questions.


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!

Grocery List:

Loaf of whole wheat bread
Bread Crumbs
Package of 10 or 12 Tortillas
42oz Canister of Oatmeal
4 Bread Rolls (Bought in bulk section)
1 pound of Lentils
1/2 pound of Raisins
1 pound of Granola
1/4 pound of unsalted peanuts
1 – 8oz Package of Macaroni
1 – 16oz Package of Garden Rotini
3 Bags of Frozen California Blend Vegetables (Carrots, Broccoli, and Cauliflower)
2 Bags of Frozen Stir Fry Vegetables
Small Bag of Frozen Corn
Bag of Frozen Carrot, Pea, and Green Bean Mix
Head of Kale
1 1/4 Pound of Tomatoes
Head of Celery
2 Heads of Romaine
Yellow Onion
1 Bunch of Cilantro
1/2 Pound of Mushrooms
2 Carrots
5 Sweet Potatoes
4 Cucumbers
3 Avocados
2 Limes
2 Red Bell Peppers
3 inch Piece of Ginger Root
1 Zucchini
2 Heads of Garlic
8 Red Apples
1 Package of Extra Firm Tofu
Peanut Butter
BBQ Sauce
Tofurky Italian Style Lunch Meat
4 -15oz Garbonzo Beans
Can of Sloppy Joe Sauce
3 – 15oz Cans of Black Beans
Jar of Pasta Sauce
28oz Can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
8oz Can of Coconut Milk
2 15oz Cans of Diced Tomatoes
Jar of Tahini
Jar of Salsa
Box of Crackers
8oz of Rice Noodles
Soy Milk
1 Package of Vegetable Bouillon Cubes

Total Cost: $85.00 or 21.25 per person

Day 1: 


Oatmeal with Dried Fruit – We cooked some oatmeal and threw in some raisins.  


Kids – Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with Celery Sticks

Adults – Steamed Veggies and Peanuts with Spicy Peanut Butter Sauce.

Preparation – Steam a frozen bag of stir fry veggies.  Take 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a teaspoon of rice vinegar and a teaspoon of sriracha and mix them together.  Toss the steamed veggies in the stir fry sauce and add in peanuts.  Split the veggies between two people.


Black Bean & Corn Lettuce Wraps with Cumber, Tomato & Avocado Salad

Ingredients for Wraps:

  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 1 Cup of Frozen Corn
  • 1/2 Cup of Salsa
  • 1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder
  • 8 Romaine Leaves

Preparation of Lettuce Wraps:

  • Rinse and drain two cans of black beans.
  • Add beans to a pot and place in frozen corn.
  • Mix in Cup of Salsa,  Garlic Powder,  Cumin, and  Onion Powder.
  • Cook until beans and corn are warmed.
  • Rinse and dry  Romaine leaves.
  • Place Beans inside Romaine leaves, top with more salsa and wrap up.

Ingredients for Cucumber, Tomato & Avocado Salad

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Tomato
  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 Lime

Preparation of Cucumber, Tomato & Avocado Salad

  • Chop tomato, cucumber, and avocado.  
  • Place in a bowl and toss with the juice of a lime.

Day 2:


Granola & Chopped Apple – We just cut up a few apples and tossed them in a bowl with some granola.  Adjust serving sizes to the person eating it.


Kids – Hummus & Veggie Plate  – Sliced Cucumbers, Crackers, and Celery.

Adults – Hummus and Cucumber Sandwich – Spread some hummus on the bread and top with sliced cucumbers.

Hummus Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of Tahini
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
  • 1 – 15oz Can of Garbanzo Beans
  • 1/3 Cup of Water

Hummus Preparation

  • Toss all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.  


Double Batch of Garlic Ginger Soup. But I only used 8oz of noodles and 1 pepper.  Double everything else though.

Day 3:


Oatmeal and Dried Fruit


Kids- Tofurky and Veggie Sandwich

Adults – Left Over Garlic Ginger Soup and Half a Tofurky and Veggie Sandwich


Coconut Bacon Wraps with Steamed Veggies.  Use one of your frozen California Blend Vegetables for this.

Day 4:


Granola and Chopped Apples


Kids – Crackers, Chopped Tofurky Lunch Meat, and Tomato Slices. Basically, a healthy home made lunchable.

Adults – Kung Pao Steamed Veggies.

Kung Pao Steamed Veggie Preparation

  • Steam a frozen bag of Stir Fry Vegetables
  • Make the sauce from the Veggie Kung Pao recipe.
  • Toss steamed veggies in the kung pao sauce.
  • Split between 2 people.


Veggie Pasta & Salad


  • 1 – 16oz Package of Garden Rotini
  • Jar of Pasta Sauce
  • 1/2 Pound of Mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber


  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Place mushrooms and chopped zucchini in a pan.  Heat until zucchini becomes soft.
  • Add pasta sauce to pan.
  • Toss noodles in pasta sauce.
  • Make a green salad with the lettuce, tomato, and cucumber.

Day 5:


Oatmeal with Raisins


Kids – Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich and Carrot Sticks.

Adults – BBQ Chickpea Wraps


Lentil Sloppy Joes with Sweet Potato Fries

Day 6:




Veggie Sandwiches.  Make veggie sandwiches with left over veggies


African Peanut Soup

Day 7:


Toast with Peanut Butter


Chickpea Salad Sandwiches


Macaroni and No Cheese Bake  I left out the sausage.

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Comments (38)

  1. posted by Candice on November 8, 2013

    Fantastic! Thank you. I am currently only cooking for myself so I am following the one person meal plan. But I am reading and keeping all of yours too so I can get my family on board soon. Thanks for all your hard work putting this together!

  2. posted by Candice on November 8, 2013

    Oh, any possibility for pictures?

  3. posted by Melanie on November 8, 2013

    This is awesome! I can’t wait to incorporate some of this into our plans.

  4. posted by Erica on November 9, 2013

    Starting on Monday! Woot Woot!

  5. posted by Laura M. on November 29, 2013

    Thank you for your hard work on this project. Can’t wait to make some of these yummies.

  6. posted by on April 11, 2014

    Thank you so much for taking the time to do this for others, so kind of you and it’s very helpful!

  7. posted by Tanya on September 27, 2014

    Can’t see black beans on grocery list or some of the ingredients for coconut bacon wraps.

  8. posted by Rebecca on April 30, 2015

    We are on Day 4 of this plan, and are loving it so far! My family all really enjoyed the Garlic-Ginger Soup, and my kids gobbled up the “Lunchable” today…they thought I was kidding when I told them our lunch plans 😉 Everything has been delicious, and I love having the plan to refer to! Thanks for this! Would love to see more of them in the future.

  9. posted by monnalu on September 4, 2015

    Just found this site. Will be trying a lot of the recipes. I do wish you had a print button for at least the shopping list. I am hoping I can get enough protein as I am on peritoneal dialysis and require a lot of protein. If I can’t I will use meat from my local rancher–range cattle, no hormones, no antibiotics, never in a feedlot (which is the best I can to to help decrease the agricultural footprint). I was vegan before kidney failure (they are unrelated) so know how great you can feel. Have to do careful nutritional calculations. Thanks for a great site!!!!

  10. posted by monnalu on September 4, 2015

    Feel like a dork–just found the print button!

  11. posted by Juan Frausto on June 22, 2017

    Hello. I know it might be obvious for veterans, but I am a complete and total noob when it comes to eating vegan. As a matter of fact, I can’t start until July 1st. So am researching and preparing. My question: When making the oatmeal, do you use the coconut milk or soy milk as opposed to cow’s milk? Thank you

    • posted by Toni Okamoto on June 22, 2017

      Hi Juan,

      Thanks for the question! You can use any non-dairy milk you’d like — they all work fine! My preference is Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze. I get the unsweetened version so that I can control the sweetness. There is also a brand at most Targets called Ripple, which is high in protein and very tasty. Make sure to print out coupons! I know there are definitely some online for Ripple. 🙂

      Please don’t hesitate to ask any other questions: toni @ plantbasedonabudget . com

    • posted by Melissa on September 10, 2017

      At our house we use different liquids. You can use whichever you prefer. So, almond, cashew, water. I cook ours in water but my husband and son add milk to theirs after cooked. I don’t. Hope this helps.

  12. posted by ana carranza on June 23, 2017

    Hey, I recently stumbled upon your project and was wondering where would be the best place to buy the ingredients for a plant-based diet and how to make sure the foods are actually vegan.

  13. posted by Rebecca on June 28, 2017

    Okay what store did you get all that for $85?!?! That would cost me well over 100 at my store!

    • posted by John Frausto on July 4, 2017

      He stated that they did all their shopping at WinCo. We did too. so far I’m really enjoying te tasty meals. We are on Day 2. Our 7 yr old is not so much a fan, which makes it difficult. But I find workarounds that are suitable.

  14. posted by Stacey Joiner on July 7, 2017

    This meal plan sounds great for weeks during the school year. I have my 13 and 10 yr old at home for the summer. There is NO way I could only feed them 3 times a day. They are constantly snacking. Will you be looking into maybe adding snacks to your meal plean?

  15. posted by Stephanie Ruffino on July 7, 2017

    I just went to Winco, and spent about $100 for all these ingredients. Very excited to start eating clean!

  16. posted by Diondré Fahim Johnson on July 9, 2017

    Lots of nuts. 4 of us are allergic to nuts. =(

  17. posted by Oscar on July 10, 2017

    I live on the west coast and there in no WinCo in Southern California. What would be the equivalent shopping market for families on a budget? I know whole foods is good but pricey. Sprouts? Farmer Markets?

    • posted by ManBea on July 21, 2017

      WinCo Foods
      Address: 3400 E South St, Lakewood, CA 90805
      Hours: Open today · Open 24 hours
      Phone: (562) 529-5658

      Closest one from Manhattan Beach, CA

    • posted by Melissa on July 22, 2017

      Hi… we don’t have WinCo where I live either. I would recommend Aldi. We also just got a new grocery store called Lidl that would be a good option, if you have one of those.

    • posted by Jay on August 1, 2017

      I live in SoCal and there’s a WinCo. here although I’m not too familiar with the store. There’s a lot of Aldis popping up here in SoCal and they have excellent prices. You might have a Food4Less near you. I personally think Trader Joe’s has decent prices. Also Sprouts actually has great deals on produce and some bulk items; it’s all their other stuff that is pricey. Hispanic and Asian markets are also known for cheaper produce, bulk beans and rice. Hope that helps.

    • posted by Ken on October 30, 2017

      That’s not true. I live in Southern California and we go to WinCo every week.

  18. posted by FJM on August 15, 2017

    Ok as great as this list is, it does not include everything you need for these meals. I just went shopping and when I went to look at the recipes for the week, come to find out a TON of items were not listed. You may want to fix the list to include everything so that people can do shopping in one fell swoop.

    • posted by Jessica Dunbar on August 20, 2017

      I did the same thing 🙁 I thought this was a starter type list not a if you have already started and have some of the ingredients list.

    • posted by Ashley on October 2, 2017

      Yes, I also noticed the same thing. There is a large list of items needed that are not included in the shopping list. Even shopping at a discount grocery store (we will use Aldi), I do not see how this will be under $100 :/

  19. posted by Becca on August 15, 2017

    Can’t wait to start this plan tomorrow, going shoping today 🙂 what is an alternative to tofu for these recipes? Hubby is not big on tofu. Thank you.

  20. posted by Noturbuddy on August 19, 2017

    Would be nice if these type of site would also include family size of greater than four. I’m a mother of four teens which means there is a total of five and sometime even more when their friends come over. Thanks for meal plans, it helps a lot with just one trip to the store. 🙂

  21. posted by Jessica Dunbar on August 20, 2017

    There a quite a few things in the meal plans that were not on the grocery list. I printed the grocery list and headed to the store only to come home to start planning the meals and realizing I didn’t actually have all the ingredients. Do you think that we can leave ingredients out that were not on the list but are in the recipes and still achieve a similar taste?

  22. posted by Jason N on August 22, 2017

    This is great, but please be careful when choosing products that may contain added sugar such as bread, peanut butter, etc. Refined white sugar (and other sugars like brown sugar) have been filtered using bone char (cow bones that have been charred). If you are cooking recipes with sugar, choose bone char free brands.
    Most people have no idea that sugar has been filtered this way.
    Keep up the great work!

  23. posted by Stephanie on October 4, 2017

    First just want to start off saying thank you for these wonderful recipes there amazing!! My Family and I just started this and while we are loving the recipes and think it is such a great idea. I have however noticed a few things (just as a heads up for other families that are trying this plant-based idea) that are missing from the grocery list’s such as ingredients like garlic powder onion powder ginger powder liquid smoke lemon juice etc. I’m trying really hard not to complain as I understand this was probably a lot of work to blog about and come up with grocery list for everyone and this person was trying to make it as easy as possible for people. However as a mother of three wanting to prepare this for her family it’s really frustrating when you go to cook a meal ( thinking I’ve already battled the grocery store with three kids) and realise you don’t have three out of the six things on the recipe in which case I then have to pack up the kids and go back to the store. Also I would really love to know where you shop because where you’ve quoted $85 (give or take) on a grocery list I have spent well over $150 and thats before realising the missing ingredients from the list. Again I would just like to reiterate that I am not trying to complain so much as make other families aware that this is not necessarily a cheaper way to eat just because you’re eating fruits and vegetables and beware of the grocery list’s because quite a few of the recipes call for ingredients that are not always included on the list. Seems best to go through each recipe for the week and make sure everything gets put on the list before going grocery shopping just as a heads up.

  24. posted by Holly on October 24, 2017

    So far we are enjoying the majority of the recipes. Some are too spicy for my kids (other weeks included). I’m at the end of week one. Wondering what is the Kale for? Did I miss something?