Tight-Budget Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes

Considering the number one way to save money on groceries is (and will always be!) to create a meal plan and grocery list and stick to it, here are some meals to put on that meal plan! Click here for a free printable weekly meal plan template! I seriously challenge anyone reading this to fill it out and use it for a week and just see what your experience is like! Laminate one to re-use it, or print off several to kick-start your planning habit.

To watch my YouTube video, click here: “10 Tips to buy a LOT of food with a LITTLE bit of money.”

Whole-Food Plant-Based is Inherently the Cheapest Healthy Way to Eat

The most affordable healthy foods all happen to be whole, plant foods! Here are the top options from a list of cheapest groceries (from a non-plant-based site called Money Tamer)

  • Lentils
  • rice
  • beans
  • potatoes
  • pasta
  • oats
  • popcorn
  • tomato sauce
  • lettuce
  • carrots
  • onions
  • garlic
  • cabbage
  • spinach
  • apples
  • bananas
  • frozen vegetables

Looks like someone just copied my grocery list!

Eating low-budget doesn’t have to feel low-budget and doesn’t have to feel out of the norm. If I really needed to save money on groceries, I would cut back or cut out these items: dates, maple syrup, almond butter, out-of-season fruits, tahini, berries, nuts, almond flour, coconut milk, convenience foods, and going out to eat. I would replace some of those ingredients with brown sugar and peanut butter, which are cheaper. I would buy only the fruits and vegetables that are currently in-season and on-sale and plan my meals around them (which I usually always do anyway!). I would look at what I have in my pantry and freezer, and plan meals around those ingredients.

I love knowing that if I had to survive on very little money, I totally know how to do it and it wouldn’t be drastically different from my normal life. Some people might fear living on rice and beans, I would mostly love it! Ha ha!

Basically my entire website is a list of budget recipes, but here are some real penny-pinchers!


Hash Brown Pile-Up

Overnight Carrot Cake Steel Cut Oats

Apple Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars

Cruciferous Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Fluffy Whole Wheat Pancakes (top with applesauce, peanut butter, sliced bananas, or thawed frozen berries to not use as much expensive maple syrup)

Oatmeal with a little brown sugar and almond milk, topped with bananas, raisins, cinnamon



Pantry White Bean Salsa Verde Soup

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos  (much cheaper than buying frozen burritos or freezer meals)

Madras Lentils

Easy Mexican Rice and Bean Soup

Easy Asian Bowl (I’ve made this literally probably 50 times)

Red Beans and Rice

Sweet Potato or Russet Potato Baked Fries

Just a peanut butter and jam sandwich on whole grain bread! That was my staple every day for lunch while I was in college—a PBJ and a piece of fruit.


Un-Fried Rice

Lentil Vegetable Soup

Farro Vegetable Soup

Southwest Pasta Salad

Egg Roll in a Bowl

Pantry Taco Soup

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Low-Fat Vegetable Curry

Lentil Shepherds Pie

Creamy Leek Potato Soup from A Virtual Vegan

Pea Soup from A Virtual Vegan

Burrito made of canned fat-free refried beans spread onto a whole grain tortilla, wrapped up and microwaved (or “grilled” in a skillet). That was my college staple for dinner. 🙂

Whole wheat pasta with spaghetti sauce. Add lentils or cooked mushrooms if you want.

Pasta with almond flour “parmesan” on it. My kids ask for this about once a week. Here’s a video with the parmesan recipe.  I put this stuff on so many things!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Protein Blender Muffins

Banana Chocolate Cake

Healthy Shamrock Shakes

Rice Pudding (recipe in my Holiday Recipes e-book)

For cheap vegan chocolate chips, I get mine in the bulk section of Winco or at Costco (they don’t say vegan but the ingredients are indeed vegan). Many organic store brands are also vegan. I don’t buy the Enjoy Life vegan brand which are very expensive.



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