Plant Based Diet on a Budget – Easy to Source Grocery List


plant based diet on a budget

Eating a plant based diet on a budget needn’t be as daunting as you may think. This easy to source grocery list will show exactly which foods are the cheapest, most nutritious, and easiest attainable to cover all your dietary needs when not eating animal products.

Would you believe me if I said that a plant based diet can actually be cheaper and easier than your normal diet? Read on to find out how this is possible, and exactly how I do this every day for myself and feel fantastic because of it.



mixed vegetables

  1. More energy
  2. Better sleep
  3. Clearer skin
  4. Anti aging
  5. Less risk of disease
  6. Stronger immune system
  7. Faster recovery from illness
  8. Faster recovery from sports
  9. More endurance
  10. Environmentally/animal friendly
  11. Weight Loss
  12. Mental clarity
  13. Anti inflammatory
  14. Helps fight depression/anxiety
  15. Helps beat stress

With SO many awesome reasons to go plant based, it’s hard to find any reasons not to. And once you have learnt the basics of combining your macronutrient’s correctly (i.e. proteins, carbs and fats), plus a few tasty recipes to boot, you will be well on your way to abundant health, and I’m talking the kind that will change your life forever!



box of raw carrots

The fact that most plant based foods are more alkaline, and most animal foods acidic, means that the plant based diet will cause a lot less inflammation in general in your body.

Inflammation is good in small doses, and there to alert you to a problem within the body such as an injury, but the problem is many people have long term chronic inflammation, often due to a whole host of factors, including a bad diet in general, pollution, sugar, trans fats, chemicals in food, smoking, alcohol, and generally just not obtaining enough antioxidants from food in the form of fruits and vegetables.

As a healthy plant based diet will revolve around lots of veggies, fruits, pulses and healthy fats, you will automatically be eating LOTS of antioxidants and therefore keeping inflammation to a minimum.


There is a HUGE difference between a healthy, and unhealthy plant based diet!

It’s very important to understand the difference between a healthy plant based or vegan diet, and an unhealthy one. The healthy version consists of all the foods on the list below. There are of course MANY unhealthy plant based foods, of which I have deliberately not added to this list as they won’t give you any nutritional benefits.

ring donut

For example, many fast foods or junk foods are actually plants yes, but you wouldn’t necessarily make the correlation. Examples are fries, sugar, confectionery, sweets, candy, trans fats, chips, refined flours… the list goes on, but as you can see they are all very unhealthy but still classed as vegan or plant based foods. And now that the vegan and plant based eating trend is so big, it means there are many more varieties if vegan junk foods available from supermarkets just waiting to tempt you.

However, you should be aware that if you indulge in too many of these vegan junk foods then you obviously WON’T feel the benefits of the foods on the below list. In fact, you will probably become less healthy than before due to missing out on vital nutrients.

Going plant based the easy way:-

almond butter on toast

When you start a plant based, or vegan diet, you will more than likely be asked the inevitable “where do you get your protein from” question by friends and family. And this is actually a good question, because getting enough protein is indeed something you will need to be mindful of, but worry not for there are many plant sources.


Plant foods can also be CHEAPER than animal products too!

potato with a smiley face

Pretty much all of these foods are very budget friendly: potatoes are really cheap (even sweet potatoes), and make fantastic homemade chunky chips. Just par boil and cook in the oven with a little olive, or coconut oil, along with some herbs and spices of your choice, and voila – carb crave busting chips!

Beans, legumes, quinoa, millet,  pulses, peanuts, pastas, rice, and seasonal fruits and vegetables are all pretty inexpensive, and it’s often cheaper to buy in bulk to save money, especially with your pulses, rice, and pasta. They also have the added bonus of literally lasting years, so you never have any wastage.

Pulses can be bought much more cheaply when in their dried form, and taste much nicer than their tinned counterparts, however, it is often so much easier to buy the tinned varieties if you don’t have lots of time on your hands.


Plant based supplements:-

green superfood powder is high in antioxidants

Any spare cash you save from this more frugal lifestyle, you can use if you so wish (I do) to spend on the more expensive items such as protein powders, green superfood powders, and other supplements that can help supercharge your health even more. You don’t absolutely need these on your plant based eating plan, but they do give you an extra edge in terms of energy, glowing skin and anti aging, due to their high levels of antioxidants. Plus, you will be extra sure that you’re covering all bases when it comes to your nutritional needs.


Getting enough protein:-

Protein supplements will also help to ensure that newbies to the plant based lifestyle will be getting enough (OR a full spectrum) of amino acids. Obtaining enough protein can sometimes be a problem, especially in the early stages when you are still finding your feet and understanding nutritional values of plant foods etc. A protein supplement is also highly recommended if you wish to lose weight (especially belly fat), OR if you are in training or exercising hard, you may find it hard to meet all your protein needs on whole plant foods alone.

protein shake

Fortunately there are many newfangled and simply wonderful products on the market these days and many come with green superfoods already added, plus digestive enzymes, probiotics, and other added nutrients. In fact, everything you could possibly need to keep your body in tip top condition and muscle mass high (VERY important on a weight loss plan or when body building).

I have searched out and reviewed  some of the best plant based protein powders of 2018 for you to check out. Some will suit different people with different needs, which is why it is really important to look in more detail.


Plant Based Diet on a Budget – Easy to Source Grocery List:

(The items marked with an asterix are your sources of protein, and should be included in every meal to make it ‘complete’).


As you can see there is an abundance of foods to choose from, and also many variations and recipes you could make with all of these foods. The internet is awash these days with plant based recipes, and meal ideas for breakfasts, dinners, snacks, and deserts so you need never struggle for something new to try.


Supermarkets are getting on board in a big way!

supermarket trolley

Thankfully, now the plant based trend is really taking off and is most definitely here to stay, it means most supermarkets, shops and restaurants (even fast food chains) are stocking everything us PB food lovers could ever wish for.

We’ve never had it so easy, and the choices will just keep getting better as more and more people adopt this super healthy, planet friendly, lifestyle – yep, the future really is looking pretty exiting.


avocado on toast

As I hammered home earlier, it’s very important to ensure you obtain enough protein and amino acids on the plant based diet. Make sure you have a source of protein from the list above (the protein items have an asterix beside them), with every meal or snack if possible.

This is especially important if you are training or exercising a lot, as the demands on your body will be higher.

A good way to plan a meal or snack is to make sure you have some kind of low GI carbohydrate, such as wholegrain bread, rice, pasta, millet, buckwheat, amaranth or quinoa, and a protein source such as tofu, tempeh, lentils, pulses, beans, soybeans, nuts or seeds. Also, try to have some fruits and vegetables for antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Examples of properly combined meals and snacks:-

  • Oats/oatmeal with nut milk, chopped nuts, sliced banana
  • Granary toast, tahini, mashed avocado
  • Oat cakes, sugar free peanut butter
  • Coconut yogurt, chopped fresh fruit, mixed seeds
  • Chickpea curry with brown rice and green vegetables
  • Buckwheat pasta, roasted vegetables, tomato sauce
  • Lentil soup, sourdough bread
  • Handful of nuts, fresh or dried fruit

You can see how all of these have a good balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats; plus some fruits or vegetables for added fiber and antioxidants. Aim to learn off by heart which foods your proteins, fats and carbohydrates are in and you will never have to think twice about what to eat, or how to combine foods.

roasted whole cashew nuts

Point to remember:- Some foods contain both protein and carbohydrates, and so can often be eaten alone. Examples of these foods are lentils and pulses, wholegrains, and some nuts (cashews and chestnuts are highest in both carbs and protein).

For a complete week’s meal plan that contains all the nutrients for a great plant based diet please check out my one week plant based diet plan. You could use this plan to help you understand food combining a little better, and to show you how to put plants together to make a complete meal.

Quinoa is an all round superfood that you should aim to eat at least 3 times per week. It contains superior amounts of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and a whole array of nutrients. It is known as the ‘perfect food’ and you could literally live on this fantastic superfood alone, it is that nutritious!

To conclude, I have left you with some more meal ideas with this great YouTube video to get your juices flowing. Enjoy!

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts, feelings or any concerns in regards to the plant based diet bow in the comments section. Or maybe you’re already eating this super healthy diet and have some further information o advice to offer on this subject. I am always happy to update my posts accordingly. Thank you!


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24 thoughts on “Plant Based Diet on a Budget – Easy to Source Grocery List”

  1. Stephanie,

    You are making me hungry!!!! I really like your grocery list on a budget. People think being a vegetarian or vegan is hard but it’s actually really easy if you are mindful. Do you have any opinions on taking it a step further and going with a raw food diet only (nothing cooked)?

    Thank you for your insight!

    • Hi Nora, yes there is a huge misconception that vegan diets are expensive, but I have honestly found them to be cheaper.It’s meat that is actually expensive, especially if you buy organic/free range etc. I’m just glad i don’t have to think about it anymore.

      In fact, now I understand this way of eating I actually find it a whole lit EASIER than before. Things are much simpler, and I literally only need to think about shopping in like 2 aisles of the supermarket which is the fresh fruit and veg and the dried stuff. It’s great!

      I have myself dabbled in the plant based lifestyle and I love it. I do probably eat at least 60% raw at the moment but I am trying to go further with it. I guess I’m at the point where I have encountered the same kind of problems that many first time vegan/vegetarians have, as in not knowing exactly what to eat. Though I am learning all the time.

      I find dinners the hardest thing as I can easily eat raw all day, but when it comes to dinner time I tend to want the comfort of a warm meal. I know this is just conditioning that I can change though, and now summer is here I will find it a lot easier.

      I know people who are eating 100% raw and they all say the same thing, that they feel better than they have ever felt in their lives and that it’s helped them to manage and beat all kinds of illness. So I know for sure there is something great about it, I have done a post on just the basics of eating raw which you may find interesting

      • Thank you for sharing your insight, Stefanie! I hear you. I try to eat all raw but then get sucked into eating crap at my corporate job (ok my will power is weak and for some reason at work it is even weaker). The challenge I find is time. Eating a raw diet can take time if you want variety. If you are ok keeping it simple and have the willpower it can be done. I know I definitely feel the best when I am eating raw and making my own food at home. Thanks for the other post. I will check it out. You have inspired me to return to my raw ways. Thank you!!

        • That’s great that I have inspired you to start eating raw again. Like I said, I have done it myself before and just felt fantastic. In fact, I didn’t realise it was possible to feel so good and alive. God knows why I don’t go back to it. I guess I just wasn’t fully ready, funny how the mind works!

          And you’re right, it is such a huge lifestyle change that it’s not surprising we find it hard to do long term. I am finding however, that because I do eat more and more raw food these days my body just doesn’t seem to want cooked anymore. It’s like it knows, so I reckon that I’m heading that way naturally as I start listening to my body.

          Funny enough, I am on a raw vegan Facebook group and it’s the general consensus on there that it takes most people about 15 years to go fully raw. That’s from the time they first try it to the time when their body and mind is fully happy and ready for it. So bear that in mind and don’t be too hard on yourself, I’m starting to see more and more that is a spiritual journey as well as a physical one.

  2. I love the list of foods! I have been wanting to go on a plant based diet, and really just haven’t gotten in gear to do it. But, after reading this I know I need to start. Just the part that a big benefit is being anti-inflammatory…I’m all for it. This would be so much better than constantly taking something for inflammation. I loved the video. I am ready!

    • Wow, I am so happy you have been inspired to make these positive changes, that really is fantastic! Yes, the biggest thing you will notice is the anti inflammatory effects. I don’t have any flammatory diseases but I can judge it by the fact that I never really ache anymore after exercise, no matter how hard I work, and I never get the PMS that I used to get so it has definitely balanced my hormones out (due to the fact that I’m not eating any animal hormones.

      I would definitely urge you to give it a go. In fact, you would probably benefit from eating lost of turmeric and green super food powders such as wheatgrass, barleygrass etc as these are both great for inflammation. And you may find this post really helpful as you are a beginner. Good luck!

  3. Hi Stefanie,

    I can actually say that I felt the same thinking a vegan diet would be too expensive, and I would be left hungry! I don’t eat much meat to begin with it’s mainly for protein. I definitely have a strict budget.

    I have to buy gluten free foods which are expensive so gluten free pasta is good but no rice, potatoes or whole wheat I will just get sick. I always thought protein powders were for those who worked out.

    Thanks for leaving the list of foods, there is so much! there is no way I would go hungry and you are right, with all the recipes online there are plenty of varieties to make for our meals.

    I love the video, I’m a ‘visual’ type of person and this was great. Everything looks so good, I’m not a ‘hamburger’ eater but now with the vegan patty, this for sure I need to make it looks amazing.

    Thanks for your informative article!


    • Hi Patsy, I’m sorry to hear that you can’t eat gluten, that must make life jolly difficult for you at times. My brother has just been told he has a gluten intolerance and could be at risk of getting Crohn’s disease if he doesn’t cut out gluten and dairy. This has been a major upheaval for him as they are such large food groups, but he is learning gradually and he feels so much better already. Luckily for him he has a big sis who is a nutritional therapist.

      I’m thinking it would be harder (but not impossible) for you to go vegan because you cannot have the basic forms of carbs that most can have…and not even potatoes! I couldn’t imagine life without spuds, they are my favorite food ha ha.

      I,m glad you enjoyed the article, and be sure to let me know what those vegan burgers taste like as I haven’t tried them yet!

  4. What a useful and informative post this is, really amazing. Most people think healthy diet costs lot of cost and money but the list and benefits you have provided proves this isn’t the case. I am going to note down this list and going to include in our daily regimen as well. You are a really well learned person Stefanie, and I am really a big fan of your writing. Thank you so much for that.

    • Hi Sarah, yes you really don’t need loads of cash to be healthy. In fact, most if nature’s super foods are actually some of the cheapest foods out there, and less expensive than many junk foods so lack of funds really isn’t a good excuse for bad eating habits.

      Here is a useful post of which foods are cheap but also fantastically healthful

  5. Hi, I like the idea of raw and vegetarian. I am asking though is a bit of fish sometimes not good as well?
    I can easily stop eating red meat and chicken but fish I think is hard to give up.
    About the price I’m actually not sure, I think at some places BIO produced fruit and vegetables are more expensive than meat or especially processed food.
    But I think we are willing to spend money on alcohol and many other things which are not exactly helping health so why not spend money on healthy food.

    • Hi Stefan, yes of course, fish is great, especially oily fish as it’s good for heart health and brain health. My website is actually about plant based living, which basically means that the bulk of my diet comes from plant foods, there is room for give and take on other ‘healthier’ animal of fish options. Personally, I think plant based with some oily fish thrown in is a good balance.

      I know what you mean about BIO foods being expensive, but I can honestly say that I spend less money on shopping now I’m eating plant based. Don’t forget, plant based sources of protein, such as beans, pulses, lentils and wholegrains are in fact really cheap, especially when bought dried.

      But, I do not necessarily buy ALL organic produce. Just some; for example there is a list of foods called ‘The clean fifteen, and the dirty dozen’, you could probably google it. It basically tells you which foods are fine to eat unorganic, as they don’t get treated heavily with pesticides, and which foods to buy organic as they are heavily pesticided. This list will give you some reference as to what to buy.

      I guess I am also fortunate that I have an organic local veg boxed delivered to me every week that is much cheaper than supermarket organic…and always in season. Plus, I have a great market where you can literally buy huge bowls of fruit and veg for a pound, but not everybody may have this in their country. I have heard fruit and veg is really expensive in the US for example.

      I’m presuming as you live in Thailand that you have access to lots of fresh produce? I would be interested to know?

  6. Hi Stefanie, thanks for the great post. I love finding articles like these to give me more inspiration. We’re not fully vegetarian yet but I continue to try to weave in more plant based foods to our diet. The thing that has helped me has been a thermomix. I don’t know if you know thermomix but it helps me to cook and prepare meals from scratch. And make things like nut butter and almond meal. I can make desserts and sweets with whole foods and I’m learning more every day. I’m learning more about replacing certain foods with whole food alternatives. Anyway I wanted to thank you Stefanie for your site. I’ve visited a few times now and I always feel inspired here.

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment Melissa. It really inspires me to want to carry on writing more interesting and helpful posts for people such as yourself who are starting to learn and enjoy a plant based lifestyle. It really is worth the effort in the long run to try and incorporate healthy, whole foods into the diet.

      I just googled this thermomix that you were speaking of and God it looks awesome! I would love to get one when I have some extra cash as it looks like it can do so many things. I already have a masticating juicer that can make peanut butter, but it’s a messy, tiresome and long winded process. This machine looks much less messy and easier to use. Thanks for bringing my attention to it, I really appreciate it.

      I wish you lots of success with your transformation into vegetarianism, you will learn so much as you go along and it’s a great journey!

  7. Hi, with a plant based diet would I need to supplement my nutrition intake ?

    I have always been heavily into protein and meat based diets, not greatly successfully so would love to consider a different approach, but am just concerned about getting all the nutrients that my body requires?

    • Hi Drew, yes I totally understand your concern about getting your nutrients. So many people go into a vegan or plant based diet and actually make themselves less healthy than before, which is why I set up this website. In fact, if you peruse around my website you would literally find all you need to know about getting all the nutrients you need for good health. When done properly, the plant based diet is one of the healthiest there is.

      Personally, I do take protein supplements of hemp, pea, brown rice etc, and usually I like the blends as they offer a much better amino acid profile. I feel I need an extra protein supplement as I am a big exerciser, plus I am trying to cut fat and build muscle so I feel I need this. However, you don’t necessarily need to do this unless your needs are greater as mine are.

      If you make sure you get a portion of good plant based protein in every meal or snack, such as lentils, tempeh, soy beans, pulses, quinoa, nuts, or seeds, plus plenty of the higher protein vegetables like broccoli and peas, and soy beans, then you should be covering your needs. In fact, quinoa is something you should eat in abundance as it has a perfect amino acid profile, so good I did a whole post about it .

      The most important thing that you must be aware of is to make sure that you vary your diet and protein sources as much as possible. Not many plant proteins (apart from quinoa) are as ‘complete’ as animal, but this is easily combated by a bit of variation, such as different legumes, lentils, nuts, and seeds, as some are higher in some things and not in others.

  8. This is a pretty exhaustive list of groceries you have there! I’ll confess I’m a meat lover but have been trying to incorporate more and more veggies into my diet for a while now.

    My biggest problem has been trying to get some flavor into my meals with veggies. Any tips on this?

    • Hi there, it’s great you are trying to incorporate more veggies into your diet as even that will make a huge difference in terms of long term health. Once you start to experiment more with plant based foods and meals you will gain more confidence and knowledge of what tastes good and what works etc.

      There are literally millions of vegan recipes online these days and for inspiration you should google things like ‘easy vegan dinners’ or similar phrases. Keeping it simple and easy is a must, otherwise you will get frustrated and bored with it if it’s too complex.

      To add flavour to meals I use lots of fresh and dried herbs and spices like cinnamon, cumin, garlic, coriander, basil, chilli, sage, rosemary, oregano. And I also use lots of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar (for salads), tamari sauce for stir fry’s, mushroom sauce and vegetable bouillon for soups and stews. the trick to flavour is always dry frying your DRIED herbs and spices in at the beginning of cooking and FRESH stuff always goes in last minute just before serving. You will find this makes a huge difference to keeping flavour in.

      Hope this helps, but please do check out all the awesome, easy recipes online. My favorite that I make every week that lasts me days is a mixed bean chilli with dark chocolate. It’s fantastic, and goes with so many different things such as rice, quinoa, amaranth, sweet potato wedges, chips, tortilla’s, baked potato. The list is endless, just find a couple of dishes that you really enjoy so you can swap a few of your weekly meals for meat free versions.

  9. Good post, plant-based is a better way to go these days because of all the chemicals being put into to our meats from antibiotics and so on. But did you know that the proteins in the meats come from the diets they eat which is plant-based? So we are much better off eating plant-based which is much healthier than eating meat with all the chemicals and other things in it, all of which are not good for our bodies.

    • Hi Fred, that’s an interesting point about the animals eating plants to grow which ends up being the meat that we eat. Of course it stands to reason that it is far better for us to go straight to the source as they do to get our protein, plus like you say, it is so much cleaner. Who wants extra antibiotics and animal hormones in their body? We surely have enough of our own to contend with so it’s little wonder many people’s hormones are out of whack.

      It’s nice to see that people are starting to understand the benefits of a plant based diet over animal based. It cam only make the world a better place in the long run.

  10. What a great post for me. Over the last 5 years I have had to drastically change my lifestyle due to pre-diabetes. I have gone from eating horribly to cutting sugar and meat out of my diet. I have had a hard time going totally vegan. I can’t seem to give up bread and cheese especially. Your post has given quite a few ideas as how to work through that. Thank you.

    • Hi Mary, that’s just great that my post has inspired you. I can see you have already worked really hard at drastically changing your diet and it’s something that can take years to get right and comfortable with. We all have such deep-seated conditioned patterns going on, especially around food. Comforting eating is definitely one of them, and something I am prone to.

      You sound like have done really well with what you have done so far and I’m sure the odd treats won’t harm you if you are good 90% of the time. I personally live by the 90/10 motto to give myself some leeway, and yes cheese was my hardest thing to give up also but luckily I have found a vegan version of cheddar that tastes just the same as the normal stuff when melted on toast. It’s heaven!

  11. Oh boy, so much great info in one place. Nice job. I did notice the bit about people thinking that it’s a giant pain in the butt to go vegan. It was simple for me, I watched “What The Health” and the next day zap vegan. Sometimes the human mind tends to over-think things, which in turns tends to over complicate life. #Vegan4Life

    • Hi Paul, wow that is fantastic that you found it so easy, and you’re right, it really can be. I have never seen this program that you say did it for you, but it sounds like something that more people need to see. It took me 3 attempts to go vegan I must admit, but I was determined and on the 3rd attempt something just clicked into place and I knew I had changed an old habit/belief system for life.

      I guess everybody is different but i just hope more of the planet will get there in the end, not just for the sake of animal cruelty, but for the sake of the environment and our long term health. In fact there are just so many reasons to make this change, and fortunately it is now becoming mainstream.

      Thanks for your comment, it’s very helpful for others to know how easy it can be.

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