Commonly mistaken to be more expensive than its meat-centered counterpart, a plant-based diet can be a cheaper and healthier option. Even better, it can save money beyond the grocery store. Healthcare costs are shown to be lower for those following a plant-based diet due to a decrease in chronic diseases and possibly a reduction in medication use [1].

20 Plant-based meals on a budget

August 26, 2021
3
 Min Read

Commonly mistaken to be more expensive than its meat-centered counterpart, a plant-based diet can be a cheaper and healthier option. Even better, it can save money beyond the grocery store. Healthcare costs are shown to be lower for those following a plant-based diet due to a decrease in chronic diseases and possibly a reduction in medication use [1].

5 TIPS TO EAT PLANT-BASED ON A BUDGET

1. Purchase from the bulk section
Visit the bulk section to lower your grocery bill. You will pay less for staple pantry items, only buy what you need, and reduce food waste and packaging.

2. Eat whole foods
Expensive, plant-based items are typically processed foods meant to substitute for things like meat and dairy. Purchasing whole foods will cost less and be a healthier option.

3. Buy in season
Produce is typically cheaper when bought during its growing season. Fruits and vegetables considered to be in their off-season must be shipped from different regions, driving up prices.

4. Meal prep
Meal prepping will save you both time and money. It will also reduce the amount of food wasted. By cooking or freezing perishable foods, such as fruits and vegetables, they will last longer.

5. Buy frozen
Frozen fruits and vegetables can be lower in price and will last longer than fresh produce.
Bonus – if you are able, grow your own vegetables and herbs

RECIPES

Breakfast
Oatmeal w/ Frozen Fruit
½ cup oatmeal, ¾ cup non-dairy milk or water, ¼ cup frozen fruit

Directions:
1. Combine oatmeal and liquid and microwave for 2 ½ to 3 minutes
2. Top with frozen fruit
*fruit can be thawed beforehand by microwaving for 30 seconds


Banana Roll-ups
1 banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tortilla

Directions:
1. Spread 1 tbsp of peanut butter on a tortilla
2. Place 1 banana in tortilla and roll until banana is wrapped
3. Slice into 1-inch pieces


Sweet Potato Toast
1 sweet potato, ¼ peanut butter, ½ cup fruit of choice

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Slice sweet potato length-wise and bake for 20 minutes
3. Top with peanut butter and fruit of choice
*store plain, leftover sweet potato slices in refrigerator for up to 1 week

Toast w/ Beans
1-2 slices of bread, ½ cup navy beans (or beans of choice), rinsed and drained, seasoning of choice

Directions:
1. Toast bread
2. Combine beans with seasoning and mash with a fork
3. Top toast with bean mixture

Smoothies
1 cup frozen fruit of choice, 1 banana, 1 cup non-dairy milk or water

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender
2. Enjoy!
​*use ingredients you have on hand, such as overripe fruit and leftover raw vegetables

Snacks
Veggie Sticks
1 carrot*, 1 celery stalk*, 1 bell pepper*

Directions
1. Slice vegetables lengthwise
2. Enjoy plain or with hummus
*purchase vegetables that can be used in a variety of dishes

Hummus
Check out this 3 ingredient hummus recipe!

Popcorn
2 tbsp popping corn kernels

Directions
1. Heat a frying pan on medium heat
2. Add kernels to the pan and cover with a lid, shaking pan every 20-30 seconds
3. When popping slows down, remove from heat
4. Top popcorn with salt or other seasoning of choice

Edamame
1 cup frozen edamame, 1/8 tsp sea salt

Directions
1. Place edamame in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute, or until thawed
2. Sprinkle with sea salt

Nice Cream
Try this base recipe for nice cream and add fruit/flavorings you have on hand.

Lunch
Three Bean Salad
½ cup black beans, ½ cup kidney beans, ½ cup chickpeas, ½ red onion, ½ bunch parsley, chopped, 1 tbsp of lemon or lime juice, 2 tbsp of olive oil

Directions:
1. Drain and rinse all beans
2. Combine all the ingredients and enjoy
*feel free to add spices and use beans you have hand

Rice and Vegetables
½ cup brown rice, 1 cup water or broth, cooked vegetables of choice

​Directions:
1. Boil water or broth and add rice
2. Cook until rice is soft
3. Add vegetables of choice
*use leftover or frozen vegetables

Lentils
1 cup dried lentils, 2 cups water, ¼ tsp salt

​Directions:
1. Combine lentils and water in saucepan and bring to a boil
2. Cook lentils 20 to 30 minutes, until tender
3. Drain excess water and season with salt

Sauteed Greens
1 bunch of kale (or other greens of choice), 2 tbsp olive oil

​Directions:
1. Heat oil in a skillet
2. Rinse and chop greens
3. Saute until wilted
4. Season with salt, pepper, or lemon juice as desired

Soup
Make soup from items found in the fridge! Here's how.

Dinner
Vegetable Stock
Trimmings from carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, and other vegetables.

Directions:
1. Instead of throwing away inedible portions of produce, freeze them
2. Place trimmings in pot and cover with water
3. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer
4. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes
5. Strain out solids
6. Refrigerate or freeze

Baked Potato
1 russet potato, 1 cup broccoli (fresh or frozen), ½ cup black beans (or beans of choice)

Directions:
1. Pierce potato with fork
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake potato for 1 hour OR microwave for 5 minutes or until soft
3. Steam or thaw broccoli
4. Rinse and drain beans
5. When potato is cooked, slice open and top with broccoli and beans
6. Season with salt, pepper, or spices as desired

Roasted Frozen Vegetables
16 ounces frozen vegetables, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with baking sheet in the oven
2. Combine frozen vegetables with oil and salt and pepper
3. Add vegetables to the baking sheet
4. Roast for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender
*cooking times will vary depending on vegetable

Quinoa
1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water or broth.

Directions:
1. Bring water or broth to a boil
2. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low and cover
3. Cook for 15 minutes or until quinoa is fluffy
*add vegetables, beans, tofu, and/or seasonings of choice

Marinated Tofu
Try marinated tofu with just three ingredients with this recipe.

REFERENCES

[1] Tuso, Philip. “Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets.” The Permanente Journal 17, no. 2 (2013): 61–66. https://doi.org/10.7812/tpp/12-085.