A few years ago, eating a plant-based diet was seen as a very trendy and, if we’re honest, slightly extreme trend some people liked to follow.
Now, however, it’s a movement going from strength to strength, with more and more people adopting this way of eating in an effort to reduce their impact on the environment.
And also because of the health benefits a more plant-focused diet can give you.
For a lot of people, one of the biggest deterrents to eating plant-based is the perception that it can be more expensive. I’m here to tell you that this is not the case – if you know how to shop correctly!
Best tips for eating a plant-based diet on a budgetHere are a few of my best tips for eating a plant-based diet without blowing your budget every month.
Shop seasonally – or better yet, grow your own veg
Buying your fruit and vegetables seasonally is a great way to save money on your groceries, particularly if you buy your vegetables from a local shop rather than a bigger supermarket.
Better still, if you have some space in your garden, why not grow your own vegetables?
Picking a few favorite things to grow like tomatoes, kale, cucumbers, and even potatoes can be a huge amount of fun for all the family, and really cuts down on the cost of your food bills.
Do some planning
Eating a plant-based diet does require more planning, especially if you don’t typically eat a lot of vegetarian or vegan meals, and need to spend a little more time making sure what you’re eating is nutritionally balanced.
Planning your weekly shop is the best way of ensuring you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet that’s not going to break the bank.
For example, I’ll often create a weekly meal plan of what I’ll cook each week, and then write out my shopping list using that plan.
Buy staple items in bulk
Staple pantry items include things like rice, oats, beans, pulses, and nuts that have a long shelf-life and that you’re always likely to need.
Since these items are unlikely to pass their sell-by date, it makes more sense to buy these items in bulk for a reduced price. This is a great frugal tip that I would really recommend to everyone, whether you’re sticking to a plant-based diet or not!
Stick to whole foods
With plant-based diets becoming more popular, it’s no big surprise that the number of vegan items on offer at the supermarkets have also increased.
However, vegan items such as mock meats and ready meals can be expensive if you rely on them too often. To save money on a plant-based diet, you’re better off sticking to exactly that – plants!
Find your meal prep favourites
One of my best tips for anyone looking to eat plant-based on a budget is to find a handful of cheap, healthy meals that you love to eat. I have a few recipes that I go back to time and time again, such as lentil dahl, baked tofu, or a simple black bean burrito bowl.
I’ll prep these recipes at the beginning of the week, and eat them several times – saving money in the process.
Finding your meal prep favorites is so important because it means you’re cooking plant-based meals on a budget without sacrificing on flavor!
Making this diet stick means loving what you’re eating!
Overall, eating a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be expensive at all. In fact, I now save so much money being vegan than I did when I ate meat once or twice a day – not to mention all the other fun benefits like losing weight, having clearer skin, and feeling less bloated!
I hope these tips have helped you see that eating a plant-based diet on a budget can be easily done – it just takes a little planning and preparation!
Here are some more easy plant-based to help you eat a plant-based diet on a budget
This is a great nutrient dense dish to use as a base for a veggie bowl.
Riced Broccoli is just that: broccoli that has been prepared in a manner so that it resembles rice. You simply:
- cut the head of broccoli into florets
- chop it finely if you don’t have a blender or food proccessor
- OR throw it in a blender or food processor and whizz until it resembles rice.
I use a Vitamix for ricing broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. It gives such a great consistency in a really short time. However any good blender or food processor would do the job.
Once you have the right consistency, then you can either steam it or pop it into the saucepan or wok with some cooking oil of choice and a little bit of salt.
After a few minutes, you have a great grain-free low-carb alternative to serve up with your next meal.
You can even eat broccoli rice raw!
Pesto broccoli rice
What to do with leftover pesto broccoli rice
Pesto Broccoli Rice makes a perfect little low-carb/full-flavour side dish for jazzing up some chicken or even in a veggie bowl.
But using up any leftovers can be just as fun:
- throw into the base of a pan, top with whisked eggs and milk and you have a delicious omelet for breakfast;
- stuff into a wrap alongside some chicken and veg and you have a great little veggie-packed lunch wrap
- throw into your next batch of savory muffins or scones to amp up the flavour.
If you have any other ideas for using up leftover pesto broccoli rice be sure to leave them in the comments and I will pop them into the notes for everyone to share.
Vegan tomato cream sauce with pasta
This pasta is full of bright, bold flavors. It comes together quickly and is super cheap to make a big batch.
Vegan Tomato Cream Sauce and Pasta is a staple recipe to have in your house on those nights when you need dinner on the table in 15 minutes and you haven’t had a chance to venture to the grocery store yet. Creamy, delicious and nutritious, this is the perfect meal for big and little ones alike. It also packs well for lunch the next day.
What ingredients are required for vegan tomato cream sauce?
This is a simple dish.
One that everyone has probably thrown together at some time in their life. And it is made out of ingredients most people no doubt have lingering in the fridge and pantry.
- 2 cans of diced tomatoes, or if they are in season then fresh tomatoes are amazing;
- mixed herbs;
- balsamic vinegar (don’t leave this one out, it makes the dish!);
- non-dairy milk of choice.
Fresh heirloom tomato sauce
Buy heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market when they are in season. They will sell them in bulk for cheap. Buy a lot, make this sauce and freeze for later in the year. A great way to add flavour to a dish.
Set aside that jar of store-bought tomato sauce full of added sugar and switch it up with some Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce, using the best of what the season has to offer. Use it on top of some meatballs, in layers of lasagne, as a pizza sauce, or as a regular old pasta sauce. Such an amazing flavor and a great way to preserve the season. Get the kids to help and they will be lapping up those tomatoes in no time.
Why use heirloom tomatoes?
If you have a good farmers market where heirloom tomatoes are available then make sure you try them out. They have a much sweeter more complex flavor than a regular ol’ tomato.
BUT if regular ol’ vine-ripened tomatoes are all you can get your hands on, then go with them.
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Healthy cauliflower soup with carrot cumin and lentils
Fill up on all the good things with this super easy and nutritious soup.
Quick, easy and delicious, this healthy cauliflower soup with carrot, cumin and lentils is the perfect match for spring, with its fresh and zesty flavours.
To make this healthy cauliflower soup more ‘springy’ I have completely lightened it by adding lots of coconut and zesty lime flavours, making it totally workable on those hotter days! It is great eaten straight away with some homemade bread rolls, or packed into some little mason jars and popped into the fridge for a transportable lunch during the week.
Sweet potato and black bean burger
These are great for prepping ahead of time. The leftovers make an excellent addition to your lunch menu as well.
This Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burger is a great way to switch things up on burger night. Packed with good-for-you ingredients, these burgers are scrumptious and fulfilling. Perfect for lunch, dinner, or as a fun addition to lunchboxes. Can be prepped ahead of time and freeze well.
Full disclosure: making these sweet potato and black bean burgers is going to take more time than it would to put together a beef patty.
BUT most of the time needed is hands-off oven time; not actually requiring any effort on your part, which is a huge bonus!
It is super popular with all 3 kids and my beef burger loving husband, and I was able to cram a helluva lot of veggies in there, which is always a big win in my books.
This recipe is:
- vegetarian (vegan options provided below),
- gluten-free (we use almond meal instead of regular flour to bind the burgers together),
- easily made allergy-friendly with a few easy substitutions,
- easily meal prepped in advance.
How to make these vegetarian burgers the same shape so they cook at the same time.
This is one of my favorite kitchen hacks.
To make these burgers all the exact same size, use a measuring cup lined with cling wrap to make perfect little circle patties.
I tend to use ⅓ cup sizes for my burgers but have also used ¼ cup to make mini burgers to serve as little sliders.
How to serve bean burgers
When it comes to serving the burgers, use your creativity and make it the most epic burger imaginable, or you can keep it super simple.
You do you.
We like to serve a freshly cooked sweet potato and black bean burger with some lettuce, tomato, mayo, red onion, and lots of avocado on a seeded bun.
They are also great:
- wrapped in some lettuce leaves if you want to keep things lower in carbs. Baby cos, baby gem, and iceberg lettuce work well for this.
- the burgers are great thrown into wraps for lunch with some salad leaves and a dollop of hummus.
Easy homemade chocolate
Skip the price tag attached to store-bought vegan chocolate and make your own with only two ingredients.
What ingredients are needed?
Now, if you were going to make the type of chocolate you would find in a gorgeous little chocolate shop, you would be needing all kinds of ingredients.
These are not those chocolates.
These are super easy, make at home with the kids, completely impossible to stuff-up homemade chocolates made using only clean ingredients.
You will need:
- coconut oil
- raw cacao powder
- pure maple syrup
- sea salt
- Himalayan pink salt for topping (purely for aesthetics)
Tips and tricks for the best homemade chocolates
With the holiday season very much upon us, it is the perfect time to set up shop in your own kitchen, and start pumping out some delicious homemade chocolate treats.
You don’t even have to give them away, it’s a lovely gesture just to have some on the table to have with a wee cup of tea if someone pops around.
Now, because these homemade chocolates are not tempered, and don’t have all the extra ingredients to stop them from melting, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- These will need to be stored in the fridge until ready to use, simply take them out when you plan on them being eaten
- They aren’t the best chocolates for traveling long distances unless you keep them in a cool bag to stop them from melting
- These homemade chocolates melt easily (sensing the theme here?), which makes them perfect for adding to some warm milk for a hot chocolate!
I have been whipping up lots of choccie treats over the past couple of weeks, using this Easy Homemade Chocolate as a base.
The Plant-basede budget Friendly pantry
This is based on the New 4 Food Groups (Whole Grains, Legumes, Vegetables and Fruit). These foods are cheap and delicious!
Whole Grains: Brown rice, whole grain pasta, rolled oats, barley, whole grain bread, whole grain tortillas, corn tortillas.
Legumes/Nuts/Seeds: Chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, tempeh, tofu, lentils, split peas, walnuts, flaxseed, peanut butter, tahini, almonds, cashew pieces, almond milk.
Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, corn, peas, green beans, cucumbers, brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, onions, mushrooms, sweet peppers, zucchini, etc.. *TIP: Buy some veggies frozen and save big! I like frozen broccoli, green beans, corn, peas, spinach and even brussels sprouts.
Fruit: Bananas, apples, frozen fruit of all kinds (blueberries, cherries, mango, pineapple), and whatever fruit is seasonal and on sale. Also, raisins and dates are a staple in our home.
The Bottom Line
A plant-based diet is a way of eating that is focused on foods that come mostly from plants. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a plant-based diet can include meat or dairy, but you are proportionately choosing more of your food from plant sources.
For some participants of a plant-based diet, the inclusion of animal-derived food products including dairy, honey, or even fish may be included, yet limited. But for others, animal-derived food products in a plant-based diet are avoided or eliminated.
This means that you decide if animal-based food will be a part of your plant-based diet, however, it should be used sparingly. Plant-forward food should be the focus on your plate.