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.
TOP 15 REASONS TO ADOPT A HEALTHY PLANT BASED LIFESTYLE:
- More energy
- Better sleep
- Clearer skin
- Anti aging
- Less risk of disease
- Stronger immune system
- Faster recovery from illness
- Faster recovery from sports
- More endurance
- Environmentally/animal friendly
- Weight Loss
- Mental clarity
- Anti inflammatory
- Helps fight depression/anxiety
- 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!
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.
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:-
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!
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:-
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.
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’).
- EVERY KIND OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES (CHOOSE A RAINBOW OF COLOURS)
- ALL HERBS AND SPICES
- BROWN RICE
- WHOLEWHEAT/ SPELT/ BROWN RICE/ CORN OR BUCKWHEAT PASTA*
- OATCAKES*/ WHOLEGRAIN RICE CAKES/ RYE CRACKERS
- NO ADDED REFINED SUGAR BREAKFAST CEREALS INCLUDE OATS/ WHEATABIX*/ SOME GRANOLAS AND MUSELLI*/ SHREDDED WHEAT*
- FLOURS – WHOLEMEAL*/ SPELT*/ BUCKWHEAT*, BROWN RICE*/ QUINOA*
- LOW SUGAR BAKED BEANS*
- GREEN AND RED LENTILS EITHER CANNED OR DRIED*
- 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)
- 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 SUPERFOOD POWDERS SUCH AS SPIRULINA*, CHLORELLA*, WHEATGRASS*, BARLEYGRASS*, MORINGA*
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!
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.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT FOOD COMBINING:
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.
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.
Maybe you are already eating this way and have some further information and advice to offer on this subject. I am always happy to update my posts accordingly.