Eating Vegan On A Budget: Cheap Vegan Foods

A vegan diet refers to a plant-based diet that excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs. Veganism has gained popularity in recent years due to its numerous health benefits and positive environmental impact. However, one common misconception is that a vegan diet is expensive and not affordable on a budget. This article aims to dispel this myth by providing information on budget-friendly vegan foods that are nutritious, delicious, and affordable.

Eating vegan on a budget can be challenging, but it is possible with the right planning and preparation. This article will explore the benefits of a vegan diet, the importance of budget-friendly vegan foods such as grains, legumes, and vegetables, and how to shop smart for vegan foods. We will also provide tips on meal planning and prepping, eating out on a budget, and reducing food waste. By the end of this article, readers will have a better understanding of how to eat vegan on a budget and make healthier, more sustainable choices for themselves and the planet.

Key Takeaways

  • Veganism can be a budget-friendly dietary choice with the right planning and preparation.
  • Whole, unprocessed foods such as grains, legumes, and vegetables are affordable and nutrient-dense options for a vegan diet.
  • Nuts and seeds, tofu and tempeh, and plant-based milk are versatile and budget-friendly sources of protein and healthy fats.
  • Meal planning, batch cooking, and being creative with leftovers can help save time and money while reducing food waste.

Benefits of a vegan diet

The adoption of a vegan diet may offer various health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic diseases and improved gut microbiome. Research shows that individuals who follow a vegan diet typically have lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. This is because plant-based foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help to lower inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.

In addition to the health benefits, ethical considerations are another reason why many individuals adopt a vegan diet. By eliminating animal products from their diet, vegans are reducing their contribution to animal suffering and exploitation. This is especially important given the environmental impact of animal agriculture, which is responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions, land use, and water pollution.

Considering the various benefits of a vegan diet, it is important to ensure that it is accessible and affordable for everyone. This is where the importance of budget-friendly vegan foods comes in. By making informed choices and incorporating affordable plant-based foods into their diet, individuals can not only improve their health and reduce their environmental impact but also save money in the long run.

Importance of budget-friendly vegan foods

Significance lies in opting for economical plant-based nourishment alternatives, especially for those who consume a primarily vegan diet. Vegan meal prep and grocery shopping tips can help individuals save money on their food expenses while still maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. By incorporating budget-friendly vegan foods into their meal planning, individuals can benefit from the health benefits of a plant-based diet without breaking the bank.

One way to save money on vegan meals is to focus on whole, unprocessed foods. These foods tend to be less expensive than their processed counterparts and are often more nutrient-dense. For example, beans, lentils, and other legumes are a great source of protein and can be purchased in bulk for a lower price. Vegetables and fruits are also an essential part of a vegan diet and can be purchased in season or frozen to minimize costs.

Another useful tip for budget-friendly vegan eating is to incorporate grains into meals. Grains such as rice, quinoa, and oats can be purchased in bulk and used as a base for many different dishes. Additionally, incorporating nuts and seeds into meals can provide healthy fats and protein without breaking the bank. By focusing on whole, unprocessed foods and utilizing bulk purchasing options, individuals can save money on their grocery bills while still enjoying delicious and nutritious vegan meals.

Transitioning into the subsequent section about ‘grains,’ incorporating these versatile foods into meals can add variety and nutrition to a vegan diet. By utilizing budget-friendly vegan foods like grains, individuals can create satisfying meals that are both healthy and cost-effective.


Incorporating grains into meals can add a diverse range of nutrients and flavors to a plant-based diet, serving as a foundation for various dishes and providing cost-effective sustenance. Grains are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. For example, brown rice is a nutritious and versatile grain that can be used in a variety of recipes, from stir-fries to burrito bowls. Quinoa, on the other hand, is a complete protein that is gluten-free and can be used as a base for salads or as a substitute for rice.

In addition to their nutritional value, grains are also cost-effective and easy to prepare. Many grains are available in bulk, making them an affordable option for those on a budget. They can also be stored for long periods of time without spoiling, making them a convenient staple food to have on hand. When it comes to preparing grains, there are endless recipe ideas to choose from, such as savory grain bowls, creamy risottos, and hearty soups. The possibilities are endless, making it easy to incorporate grains into any meal plan.

Grains are an essential component of a budget-friendly vegan diet. They are not only packed with essential nutrients, but they are also cost-effective and versatile. Adding grains to meals can provide a variety of flavors and textures while also providing satiating sustenance. In the next section, we will explore another cost-effective and nutrient-dense food group: legumes.


Legumes are a nutrient-dense plant-based protein source that can be used in a variety of dishes to add flavor, texture, and satiety. They are an excellent choice for vegans on a budget because they are both inexpensive and highly nutritious. Legumes include beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas, and each variety has its unique nutritional profile. For example, black beans are high in protein, fiber, and iron, while lentils are an excellent source of folate and magnesium.

To better understand the nutritional value of different legumes, the following table compares the macronutrient content of 1 cup of cooked legumes. It is essential to note that the nutritional value may vary depending on the cooking method and processing. Therefore, it is best to choose minimally processed legumes and cook them from scratch to maximize their nutritional value.

LegumesProtein (g)Carbohydrates (g)Fiber (g)
Black Beans154115

When it comes to cooking methods, the best way to cook legumes is to soak them overnight before cooking them in a pressure cooker or slow cooker. Soaking legumes can reduce cooking time and improve their digestibility by breaking down complex carbohydrates and reducing anti-nutrients. Additionally, cooking legumes with spices and herbs can enhance their flavor and increase their nutritional value.

Legumes are an affordable and nutrient-dense protein source that can be incorporated into any vegan diet. By understanding their nutritional value and cooking methods, vegans on a budget can create delicious and healthy meals that are both satisfying and nourishing. Next, we will discuss how vegetables can be a cost-effective addition to a vegan diet.


Vegetables, often overlooked as a cost-effective protein source, offer a variety of essential nutrients and can be incorporated into a vegan diet in creative ways. Budget-friendly recipes can be made with vegetables such as lentil and vegetable soup, roasted cauliflower and chickpea tacos, and sweet potato and black bean chili. These dishes provide a good source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, and can be easily prepared in large batches for meal prep.

Creative vegetable dishes can also be made by experimenting with different seasonings and cooking methods. For example, roasted vegetables with curry powder or paprika can add flavor to a simple dish. Spiralized zucchini noodles can be used as a substitute for pasta in spaghetti dishes, and roasted eggplant can be used as a base for homemade pizza. Incorporating vegetables into meals not only adds nutritional value, but also provides a variety of textures and flavors to keep meals interesting.

In addition to being cost-effective and nutritious, vegetables can also be easily grown at home. Growing a small herb garden or planting vegetables in a backyard can provide fresh produce at a low cost. Incorporating fruits into a vegan diet can also provide essential nutrients and add variety to meals.


A wide variety of fruits are available year-round and can be a delicious and nutritious addition to any diet, providing essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and potassium. Incorporating fruits into vegan meals can be budget-friendly and add a burst of flavor to any dish. Some budget-friendly fruit options include bananas, apples, oranges, and frozen berries.

Bananas are a great option for adding natural sweetness to smoothies, oatmeal, or as a snack on their own. Apples are a versatile fruit that can be eaten raw or cooked, and can be used in salads or baked goods. Oranges are a great source of vitamin C and can be eaten as a snack or added to salads for a refreshing burst of flavor. Frozen berries are a budget-friendly option that can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, or used in desserts.

Incorporating a variety of fruits into a vegan diet can provide a wide range of essential nutrients. However, it is important to choose fruits that are in season and locally sourced to save money. Next, we will discuss nuts and seeds, which are another budget-friendly option for adding protein and healthy fats to vegan meals.

Nuts and seeds

In the previous subtopic, we discussed the importance of incorporating fruits into a vegan diet, especially when on a budget. Fruits are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are essential for maintaining good health. However, a vegan diet requires more than just fruits. It also requires protein sources, and nuts and seeds are one of the best options.

Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and other important nutrients. They are also versatile and can be used in various ways to create delicious and creative vegan recipes. Some of the most popular nuts and seeds include almonds, cashews, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. These can be eaten as snacks, added to smoothies or salads, or used as ingredients in baking.

In addition to their nutritional benefits, nuts and seeds are also relatively affordable. Buying them in bulk can save money and ensure that you always have them on hand for quick and easy meals. Incorporating nuts and seeds into your vegan diet can help ensure that you are getting enough protein, healthy fats, and other important nutrients without breaking the bank.

Moving on to the next subtopic, tofu and tempeh are two other great sources of protein for vegans.

Tofu and tempeh

Tofu and tempeh are both versatile plant-based sources of protein that can be incorporated into a variety of dishes for a nutrient-dense vegan diet. Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made from soy milk and comes in various forms, such as silken, firm, and extra-firm. It has a neutral taste and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. Tempeh, on the other hand, is made from fermented soybeans and has a nutty flavor. It has a firmer texture than tofu and can be sliced, crumbled, or grated.

Here are some reasons why incorporating tofu and tempeh in your diet is beneficial:

  1. High in protein: Both tofu and tempeh are rich sources of protein, with tofu containing around 10 grams of protein per 100 grams and tempeh containing around 19 grams of protein per 100 grams.

  2. Low in saturated fat: Tofu and tempeh are low in saturated fat and can be a healthy alternative to meat-based sources of protein.

  3. Rich in minerals: Tofu and tempeh are good sources of minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium.

  4. Versatile: Tofu and tempeh can be used in a variety of dishes, such as stir-fries, curries, soups, salads, and desserts.

Incorporating tofu and tempeh into your diet can provide numerous health benefits, as well as add variety and flavor to your meals. In the next section, we will discuss another plant-based food that can be used as a dairy substitute: plant-based milk.

Plant-based milk

Plant-based milk is a popular dairy alternative that has gained traction in recent years due to its versatility and health benefits. Unlike cow’s milk, plant-based milk is suitable for individuals with lactose intolerance, and it is also a great option for those who follow a vegan diet. Plant-based milk can be made from various sources, such as soybeans, almonds, cashews, and oats. Each type of milk offers a unique taste and texture and comes with its own set of nutritional benefits.

Nutritional comparison between plant-based milk and cow’s milk shows that plant-based milk contains fewer calories, less fat, and no cholesterol. Plant-based milk can also be fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, making it a nutritious alternative to cow’s milk. However, some plant-based milk may contain added sugars, which can be detrimental to one’s health. Therefore, it is essential to read the label and choose unsweetened or low-sugar options.

Sustainability issues also arise when it comes to plant-based milk production. While plant-based milk is a more sustainable option compared to cow’s milk production, some plant-based milk production may require a significant amount of water and energy. Opting for locally sourced and sustainably produced plant-based milk can help reduce the environmental impact and support local farmers. Incorporating plant-based milk into one’s diet is a simple way to increase the variety of nutrients while reducing the environmental impact of food consumption.

Plant-based milk is a versatile and nutritious dairy alternative that offers various health benefits. However, as with any food product, it is crucial to read the label and select the most nutritious and sustainable option. Incorporating plant-based milk into budget-friendly meal ideas is an excellent way to increase the variety of nutrients while maintaining a healthy and sustainable diet.

Budget-friendly meal ideas

Affordable and appetizing vegan meal options are plentiful for those looking to save money without compromising taste and nutrition. Quick and easy recipes can be made from staple ingredients such as rice, beans, and vegetables. Meal prep ideas such as overnight oats or roasted vegetables can also save time and money.

One example of a budget-friendly vegan meal is a classic rice and bean bowl. Cook a large batch of rice and beans at the beginning of the week, and mix in different vegetables and seasonings for variation throughout the week. Another option is a hearty vegetable soup, which can be made in large batches and frozen for future meals. Adding ingredients such as potatoes and lentils can make it more filling and satisfying.

By planning meals ahead of time and utilizing simple ingredients, eating vegan on a budget can be both manageable and delicious. Shopping for seasonal produce and buying in bulk can also save money in the long run. In the next section, we will discuss how to shop smart for vegan foods and make the most of your grocery budget.

How to shop smart for vegan foods

Smart grocery shopping is essential for those following a vegan diet, as it requires careful consideration of ingredients and product labels. Here are four tips on how to shop smart for vegan foods:

  1. Shop the perimeter of the store: The outer aisles of grocery stores typically offer fresh produce, whole grains, and plant-based proteins. Stick to these areas to avoid processed and packaged foods that may contain animal-derived ingredients.

  2. Read labels carefully: Many packaged foods contain hidden animal products such as whey, gelatin, and casein. Familiarize yourself with common animal-derived ingredients and always read labels before purchasing.

  3. Buy in bulk: Buying staples such as beans, grains, and nuts in bulk can save money in the long run. Look for bulk bins at your local grocery store or co-op and bring your own reusable containers to reduce waste.

  4. Plan your meals in advance: Meal planning can help you save both time and money. Make a grocery list before heading to the store and stick to it to avoid impulse purchases.

By following these tips, you can shop smart for vegan foods and save money while nourishing your body with plant-based options. In the next section, we will explore the importance of meal planning and prepping for those following a vegan diet.

Meal planning and prepping

Meal planning and prepping are essential components of a healthy and budget-friendly vegan diet. Planning meals in advance allows for a well-balanced and varied diet, while batch cooking for the week saves time and money. Freezing leftovers can also be a great way to reduce food waste and have quick and easy meals on hand. Incorporating these practices into your routine can help you stay on track with your vegan lifestyle while also being mindful of your budget.

Plan meals in advance

By strategically planning meals in advance, individuals can dramatically reduce their overall food expenses while maintaining a healthy vegan diet. Creating grocery lists and meal prep tips are two essential strategies that can help in planning meals in advance. Firstly, creating a grocery list before going to the store can help individuals avoid impulse buying and stick to their budget. A well-planned grocery list can also help in identifying ingredients that can be used for multiple meals, reducing food waste, and saving money.

Secondly, meal prep tips can help in planning meals in advance by preparing ingredients that can be used for multiple meals. For instance, cooking a large batch of grains, such as rice or quinoa, can be used for multiple meals throughout the week. Preparing vegetables in advance, such as washing and chopping them, can also save time and ensure that they are ready to use when needed. By utilizing these strategies, individuals can save time, money, and ensure that they have healthy vegan meals available throughout the week.

Batch cooking for the week is an excellent strategy to ensure that meals are prepared in advance, reducing the need to cook every day. This strategy involves cooking a large batch of meals, such as soups, stews, or casseroles, that can be portioned and stored in the fridge or freezer. This way, individuals can have meals ready to heat and eat throughout the week, reducing food waste and saving time.

Batch cook for the week

Batch cooking for the week involves preparing large quantities of meals that can be stored in the fridge or freezer for later consumption. This meal prep method is particularly useful for individuals who have busy schedules and limited time for cooking throughout the week. By taking a few hours on a weekend or weeknight to prepare meals in advance, individuals can save themselves time and stress during the week.

To make the most of batch cooking, it is important to practice effective time management. Here are a few tips for successful meal prep:

  • Choose recipes that are easy to scale up
  • Use ingredients that can be prepared in bulk
  • Utilize cooking methods that require less attention, such as slow cookers or pressure cookers

By incorporating these strategies into your meal prep routine, you can save time and money while still eating a nutritious vegan diet. Next, we will discuss another strategy for maximizing your food budget: freezing leftovers.

Freeze leftovers

It is quite amusing how freezing leftovers can magically turn them into a convenient and satisfying meal option for those with a busy schedule. Maximizing leftovers is a great way to save time and money, and creative meal ideas can transform bland leftovers into a delicious meal.

One way to maximize leftovers is by freezing them in portion-sized containers. This ensures that the leftovers won’t go bad and can be easily reheated for a quick meal. Leftovers such as soups, stews, and casseroles freeze particularly well. Additionally, roasted vegetables can be repurposed into a stir-fry or added to pasta dishes. By getting creative with leftovers, you can avoid food waste and stretch your budget even further.

Without sacrificing taste or variety, eating vegan on a budget is achievable with a little bit of planning and creativity. Freezing leftovers is just one way to maximize your resources and save time in the kitchen. In the next section, we will explore how to eat out on a budget without compromising your values.

Eating out on a budget

When dining out on a budget, making smart choices can help ensure that vegan options are both affordable and satisfying. One option is to look for fast food establishments that offer vegan options, such as Subway’s Veggie Delite sandwich or Taco Bell’s bean burrito. Many fast-food restaurants also offer meal deals that can help save money.

Another option is to DIY vegan options at restaurants, such as by ordering a salad and requesting that cheese and meat be removed, or asking for a vegetable stir fry without the sauce. Additionally, ethnic restaurants such as Indian or Thai often offer vegan options at a lower cost than traditional American restaurants.

It is also important to be mindful of portion sizes when dining out, as many restaurants serve large portions that can lead to food waste. To reduce food waste, consider sharing a meal with a friend or taking home leftovers for another meal. Overall, with some creativity and planning, it is possible to eat out on a budget while still enjoying delicious vegan options.

Transition: While dining out can be a fun and enjoyable experience, it’s also important to think about food waste and how we can reduce it. Here are some tips for reducing food waste at home and when dining out.

Tips for reducing food waste

Transition from the previous subtopic:

When trying to eat out on a budget, it can be easy to overindulge and end up with leftovers that go to waste. However, reducing food waste is an important part of eating vegan on a budget. By being mindful of what we buy and how we use it, we can save money while also reducing our impact on the environment.

Current Subtopic: Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Reducing food waste is a simple way to save money and reduce our impact on the environment. Here are some tips for reducing food waste when eating vegan on a budget:

  • Plan your meals: By planning out your meals for the week, you can avoid buying excess food that might go to waste. Try to use up what you have on hand before buying more.
  • Get creative with leftovers: Leftovers can be turned into a whole new meal with a little creativity. For example, leftover rice can be used to make fried rice or added to a soup or stir-fry.
  • Freeze excess produce: If you have excess produce that you won’t be able to use before it goes bad, consider freezing it for later use. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be used in smoothies, soups, and other dishes.
  • Use the whole vegetable: Many vegetables, such as broccoli stems and beet greens, are often discarded even though they are perfectly edible. Look up recipes that utilize the whole vegetable to reduce waste.
  • Compost: If you have food scraps that can’t be used, consider composting them instead of throwing them away. Composting is a great way to reduce waste while also creating nutrient-rich soil for your garden.

By implementing these tips, you can reduce food waste and save money while also enjoying creative and delicious meals. Eating vegan on a budget doesn’t have to mean sacrificing taste or nutrition. With a little planning and creativity, you can enjoy a variety of tasty and healthy meals while also reducing your impact on the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make sure I’m getting enough protein on a vegan diet without spending a lot of money?

In order to maintain a healthy vegan diet without breaking the bank, it’s important to focus on budget-friendly protein sources. These can include beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh, all of which are rich in protein and can be purchased in bulk for a lower cost. Additionally, meal prep is key for creating cheap vegan meals that are also high in protein. By planning ahead and preparing meals in advance, you can ensure that you have a balanced and nutritious diet without overspending. It’s important to note that while some vegan protein sources may be more expensive than others, they often provide additional nutritional benefits that make them worth the investment. Ultimately, by being mindful of your budget and taking a strategic approach to meal planning, it’s possible to maintain a healthy and protein-rich vegan diet without spending a lot of money.

Are there any vegan convenience foods that are actually budget-friendly?

When it comes to vegan convenience foods that are budget-friendly, there are definitely options available. One strategy is to look for affordable substitutions for expensive ingredients. For example, instead of buying expensive vegan meat substitutes, consider using beans, lentils, or tofu as a protein source. Additionally, incorporating more whole foods into meals, such as grains, vegetables, and fruits, can help keep costs low while still providing essential nutrients. Another way to save money is through vegan meal prep. Cooking in bulk can help save both time and money, as meals can be portioned out and frozen for later use. By being strategic and mindful about ingredient choices and meal planning, it is possible to eat vegan on a budget without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

What are some creative ways to use leftover vegetables to reduce food waste?

Get ready to be amazed by the endless possibilities of creative meal ideas you can come up with to reduce food waste with leftover veggies! Not only is this a sustainable way of eating, it’s also a budget-friendly option that can make meal planning on a budget much easier. One approach is to use leftover veggies as a base for soups, stews, and curries. Simply sauté the veggies with some spices, add a can of beans or lentils, and some vegetable broth for a hearty and nutritious meal. Another idea is to turn leftover veggies into a tasty stir-fry by adding some protein (such as tofu or tempeh) and a budget-friendly substitution for noodles (such as zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash). You can also use leftover veggies as a topping for pizzas, quesadillas, and grain bowls for a delicious and filling meal. With a little creativity, reducing food waste with leftover veggies can be a fun and satisfying way to eat on a budget.

Can I still eat out at restaurants while sticking to a vegan diet on a budget?

When it comes to eating out on a vegan diet while sticking to a budget, there are tips and tricks that can be helpful to keep in mind. Firstly, it can be useful to do some research ahead of time and find restaurants that offer affordable vegan options. Additionally, opting for simpler dishes can often be less expensive than more elaborate meals. It can also be helpful to ask about substitutions or modifications to make meals more cost-effective. However, one of the most effective ways to save money on a vegan diet is to engage in affordable vegan meal prep ideas. By preparing meals at home, individuals can control the ingredients and costs of their food, while still enjoying delicious and nutritious meals. Ultimately, with some planning and creativity, it is possible to stick to a vegan diet while eating out on a budget.

What are some tips for finding vegan options at non-vegan grocery stores?

When looking for budget-friendly vegan options at non-vegan grocery stores, it is important to do a bit of research beforehand. This can involve looking up the store’s website to see if they have a specific section for vegan or plant-based foods. It is also helpful to familiarize oneself with common vegan ingredients and brands, as they may not always be labeled as such. Reading ingredient lists carefully can help identify potential vegan options. Additionally, shopping in the bulk section can be a great way to save money on staples like grains, nuts, and seeds. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from store employees, as they may be able to provide helpful information or suggest alternative options. It may take some extra effort, but finding vegan options at non-vegan grocery stores can be a rewarding and budget-friendly experience.


A vegan diet has numerous benefits, including reduced risk of chronic diseases and improved environmental sustainability. However, many people believe that a vegan diet is expensive. The truth is that veganism can be budget-friendly if you know what to buy and how to shop smart.

Grains, legumes, and vegetables are affordable staples of a vegan diet. Shopping at bulk stores and farmers’ markets can also save you money. Meal planning and prepping can help you avoid impulse purchases and reduce food waste. Eating out on a budget may require some research, but there are many vegan options available.

Reducing food waste is not only good for your wallet, but also for the environment. By making small changes to your shopping and cooking habits, you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Eating vegan on a budget is possible with a little creativity and planning. You don’t have to sacrifice taste or nutrition to save money. Incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet can be a sustainable and affordable choice.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top