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

Some people think that starting a plant based or vegan diet will just be one huge pain in the backside. They may worry that not only will it be too expensive for their budget, but wonder where they are going to source some of these inexplicable plant foods, leaving them scratching their head wondering what on earth they are actually going to eat for dinner.

Well it really isn’t as daunting as you may think, and in this post I will show you how to make these beneficial changes the easy way, AND how to achieve a plant based diet on a budget.

Starting Out:

There are many reasons to adopt a more whole food plant based way of eating, and you may be surprised to hear that it can actually be even cheaper and easier than your normal diet, it just takes a little of the right knowledge.

 

TOP 15 REASONS TO ADOPT A HEALTHY PLANT BASED LIFESTYLE:

plant foods give you vitality

 

  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 macro nutrients correctly (i.e. proteins, carbs, and fats), plus a few good recipes to boot, you will be well on your way to the healthful and abundant lifestyle that will change your life forever!

ANTI INFLAMMATORY

vegetables lower iinflammation

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

Inflammation is good in small doses to alert us to a problem within the body, such as an injury; but many of us have long term chronic inflammation, due to a bad diet in general, pollution, sugar, trans fats, chemicals in food, smoking, alcohol, and generally just not obtaining enough antioxidants from their diet from 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 is 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 vegan foods which I have deliberately not added to this list as they won’t give you any benefits.

some plant based foods ae high in sugar

For example, many fast/junk foods are actually plants, but you wouldn’t necessarily make the correlation – such as fries, sugar, some confectionery, sweets, candy, trans fats, chips, refined flours… the list goes on. And now that the vegan/plant based eating trend is so big, it means there are many junk foods available from supermarkets in vegan versions all waiting to tempt you.

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


Going plant based the easy way:-

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 – just check out the list below.

 

Many plant foods are way cheaper than animal products anyway!

potatoes are a cheap plant based food

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, plus some herbs and spices of your choice.

Beans, legumes, pulses, peanuts, pastas, rice, in season fruits and vegetables are all pretty inexpensive. And it’s often cheaper to but in bulk to save oodles of 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 easier to buy the tinned varieties if you don’t have lots of time.

green superfood powder is high in antioxidants

Any spare cash you save from this cheaper lifestyle you can use if you so wish (I do) to spend on the more expensive items such as protein powders/ green superfood powders etc. 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 high levels of antioxidants.

 

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 and well-rounded).

  • EVERY KIND OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES (CHOOSE A RAINBOW OF COLOURS)
  • ALL HERBS AND SPICES
  • AVOCADOS
  • BROWN RICE
  • WHOLEWHEAT/ SPELT/ BROWN RICE/ CORN OR BUCKWHEAT PASTA*
  • QUINOA*
  • OATCAKES*/ WHOLEGRAIN RICE CAKES/ RYE CRACKERS
  • NO ADDED REFINED SUGAR BREAKFAST CEREALS INCLUDE OATS/ WHEATABIX*/ SOME GRANOLAS AND MUSELLIS*/ SHREDDED WHEAT*
  • FLOURS – WHOLEMEAL*/ SPELT*/ BUCKWHEAT*, BROWN RICE*/ QUINOA*
  • LOW SUGAR BAKED BEANS*
  • GREEN AND RED LENTILS EITHER CANNED OR DRIED*
  • CHICKPEAS*
  • KIDNEY BEANS*
  • CANNELINI BEANS*
  • BLACK BEANS*
  • BORLOTTI BEANS*
  • PINTO BEANS*
  • BUTTER BEANS*
  • ADUKI BEANS*
  • WHOLEGRAIN BREAD*
  • SOURDOUGH BREAD*
  • RYE BREAD*
  • MARMITE OR VEGEMITE
  • LOW SUGAR JAMS
  • ANY KIND OF NO ADDED SUGAR NUT BUTTER – PEANUT*/ ALMOND*/ CASHEW*/ HAZELNUT*
  • NUTS – BRAZIL*, PEANUTS*, CASHEWS*, HAZELNUTS*, PECANS*, WALNUTS*, ALMONDS*, MACADAMIA
  • SEEDS – PUMPKIN*, SUNFLOWER* SESAME* FLAX* HEMP*
  • TOFU OR TEMPEH*
  • DARK CHOCOLATE AT LEAST 70% (IS USUALLY DAIRY FREE)
  • ANY DRIED FRUITS – NO ADDED SUGAR (GOJI BERRIES CONTAIN PROTEIN)
  • HUMMUS*
  • TAHINI*
  • MILKS – SOY*/ RICE/ ALMOND/ COCONUT
  • FATS FOR COOKING – COCONUT OIL/ OLIVE OIL/ AVOCADO OIL/ CANOLA OIL/ SAFFLOWER OIL PEANUT OIL/ SESAME OIL
  • COLD PRESSED OILS FOR DRESSINGS AND SALADS – EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL/ AVOCADO OIL ALSO FOR COOKING/ FLAX OIL
  • GREEN POWDERS SUCH AS SPIRULINA*, CHLORELLA*, WHEATGRASS*, BARLEYGRASS*, MORINGA*, DR. SCHULZES SUPER FOOD POWDER.*

plant based food snacks

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

 

Supermarkets are really getting on board in a big way!

Thankfully, now the plant based trend is really taking off and here to stay, most supermarkets, shops, and restaurants (even fast food chains) are stocking everything plant based eaters could 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.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT FOOD COMBINING:

high protein meals

It is 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 a * beside them) with, if possible, EVERY meal or snack.

This is especially important if you are in any kind of training or exercise plan 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, with a protein source, such as tofu, tempeh, lentils, pulses, beans, soybeans, nuts, or seeds. And 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

peanut butter on toast

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 proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are in and you will never have to think twice about what to eat or how to combine foods.

Point to remember:- Some foods contain both protein and carbohydrates and so can often be eaten alone, such as lentils and pulses, some nuts (cashews and chestnuts are high in carbs and protein).

And, quinoa is just 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. You could literally live on this stuff! Find out more here ‘Amazing Quinoa Health Benefits’.

For a more concise list of plant proteins please take a look at this ‘Plant Protein Foods List’ where you will find more advice on getting a full spectrum of amino acids, PLUS information about protein powders. These will for sure be something you may need to supplement with if you are training, or if you feel you can’t get enough protein from your diet alone.

For some more meal ideas there is a great YouTube video below to get your juices flowing.

 

 

 

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Categories: PLANT BASED DIET

Stefanie Taylor

I have studied nutrition for many years, and have since discovered that a plant based diet has been the most beneficial to my health and body. I have more energy and zest for life than I have ever had and this website is dedicated to helping others who wish to know more, and start out on this lifestyle.

12 Comments

Nora · 16/05/2018 at 1:34 am

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!
Nora

    Stefanie Taylor · 16/05/2018 at 10:00 am

    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

      Nora · 17/05/2018 at 12:47 am

      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!!

        Stefanie Taylor · 17/05/2018 at 12:47 pm

        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.

Matts Mom · 16/05/2018 at 1:58 am

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!

    Stefanie Taylor · 16/05/2018 at 10:07 am

    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!

Patsy · 16/05/2018 at 8:02 pm

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!

Patsy

    Stefanie Taylor · 16/05/2018 at 8:40 pm

    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!

sarah · 24/05/2018 at 9:25 am

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.

    Stefanie Taylor · 24/05/2018 at 2:34 pm

    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

Stefan · 26/05/2018 at 12:10 am

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.

    Stefanie Taylor · 26/05/2018 at 3:00 pm

    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?

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