" We're here to facilitate your plant-based journey "

PlantPlate.com is here to provide the recipes, information, and practical advice needed to follow a healthy plant-based diet. Whether you're interested in improving your health, losing weight, or eating more sustainably, a whole foods plant-based diet may be the perfect solution for you.

My name's Emma, and I started PlantPlate in 2013 with the help of my husband Scott, a web developer and fellow plantivore. I’m a certified Plant-Based Nutritionist who loves to cook, and I've followed a plant-based diet for over a decade. Having lived in various locations throughout the world - sometimes on a shoestring budget, and often with irregular and demanding work schedules - I’ve had to constantly adapt my diet in order to make it work. It’s taught me a lot, and it’s motivated me to show others just how accessible and enjoyable this way of eating can be.

The recipes featured on PlantPlate are based on minimally processed plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. They're free from all animal products, processed oils and refined carbohydrates, and are made with simple and affordable ingredients. Our articles are aimed at providing you with plant-based know-how when it comes to shopping, cooking, nutrition and day-to-day living. We have answers to common questions and share practical knowledge that we have acquired through experience. Finally, the resources section contains links to books, DVDs, and video presentations from some of the world's leading experts on plant-based nutrition. It is our hope that these resources will help you to fully understand and evaluate the health benefits of this wonderful way of eating.

Welcome to PlantPlate!  We hope you enjoy your visit. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email us at contact@plantplate.com.

The information on this website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat health problems or illnesses without first consulting your doctor.

Plant-Based on a Budget

Eating healthily doesn't have to mean spending more money! Find out how you can follow a plant-based diet, on as little as $3.50 a day.

Many people are concerned that eating healthy means spending a lot of money on food. We can tell you with great assurance that this is just not true! Of course, it can be costly if you are buying specialty vegan foods, premium produce items or various “super food” concoctions, but none of that is really necessary. All PlantPlate recipes are made with everyday ingredients, most of which you can find at your local supermarket. So whether you're living on a shoestring budget, or simply want to save a little extra money, we’ve got some great tips for staying healthy at an affordable price.

Before we begin, we’d like to acknowledge that the idea of a “restricted budget” is pretty subjective. To put things in perspective, we’ll talk numbers: we've eaten a whole foods plant-based diet on less than $3.50 per person, per day (for 3 generous meals, plus snacks). A lot of people will spend that amount on a single cup of coffee! Naturally, food prices vary from suburb to city, from city to region, and from region to country, but we’ve seen similar food budgets from plant-based folks all around the world (including budgets much lower than this!).

Whether it’s $2 or $10 a day you’re budgeting, the following tips will help you stretch your dollar further.

 

WHERE TO SHOP

If you’re lucky, your local supermarket will have good prices on generic brands, as well as produce, and you’ll be able to get everything you need there. But sometimes, in order to make big savings, you need to source your groceries from a few different locations.

  • Local markets for great deals on fresh produce
  • Discount ($1) stores for canned tomatoes, beans, frozen vegetables and seasonings
  • Local ethnic supermarkets (Asian, Indian, Middle-Eastern, etc.) for rice, tofu, legumes, dried herbs and spices
  • Stores with bulk-bins- including organic or health food supermarkets- for grains and legumes, as well as week-to-week portions of dried herbs, spices and seeds

 

WHAT TO BUY

There are certain foods that seem to be very affordable no matter what your location is. These include:

  • Oats and oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Potatoes and/or sweet potatoes
  • Dry beans, peas and lentils
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Shelf-stable tomato products, ie. diced tomatoes, pureed tomatoes and tomato paste

You can rely on these staples, or other inexpensive whole grains, then add whichever fresh fruits and vegetables you can get at a good price. This usually means buying in season, or checking for discount deals in the produce section. Carrots, tomatoes, cabbages and apples are some of our favourite affordable options. Also be sure to check local Asian grocers for bargain prices on tofu and leafy greens.

When it comes to seasoning, dried herbs and spices are a simple and economical way to add flavour to your food. We usually buy 100g bags for $2 from an Indian spice market, and they last for months. You can also check for deals and generic brands at the supermarket, or buy small quantities from bulk sections at health food stores if you’re living week to week.

 

HOW TO COOK

Being frugal and healthy generally means preparing a lot of your food from scratch. But with a little planning, this won’t equate to hours spent in the kitchen every single day. In order to save both time and money, we recommend that you:  

  • Plan a weekly menu: Look at what you’ve bought, figure out how many servings there are of each ingredient, and plan your meals for the days ahead. This frees up plenty of time during the week, and also ensures that you’ll make use of everything you bought.
  • Prepare your own legumes: Dry legumes are normally ½ to ¼ the price of canned, so they'll save you plenty of money in the long run. We recommend soaking and cooking them in large batches, then freezing leftover portions, to save time. Check out our guide to preparing legumes to learn more.
  • Cook grains in double or triple batches: Most whole grains take between 40 and 60 minutes to cook, so we recommend making enough for 2 or 3 meals at a time, and refrigerating the extra portions. You can refer to our grain cooking guide for extra info.
  • Choose recipes that freeze well: Soups, stews, curries and casseroles can all be made in with inexpensive ingredients such as lentils, beans, potatoes, and frozen greens. Better still, they can be prepared in large quantities, then frozen in portions for lunches and dinners throughout the week.
  • Get baking: This one’s not really vital, but it will come in handy for some. Baking muffins, cookies and breads at home using whole grain flours and plant-based ingredients means you can treat yourself once in a while, without breaking the bank. You can freeze the extras for up to one month, and defrost as needed. Check out our baking section for healthy recipes.

 

OUR $3.50 A DAY GROCERY LIST

Fortunately, we don’t always need to live on $3.50 a day. But we have in the past, both out of necessity (as students) and for the purpose of experimentation. Here’s an example of what our $3.50 a day grocery list would look like:

Food

Quantity

Price (in US Dollars)

Oats

1 kg / 2.2 lb. bag

$1.89

Brown Rice

1 kg / 2.2 lb. bag

$1.99

Whole Wheat Pasta

1 kg / 2.2 lb. bag

$2.98

Brown Lentils

500g / 1 lb. bag

$1.49

Chickpeas

500g / 1 lb. bag

$1.72

Bananas

2.5kg / 5.5 lb. / 14 med.

$4.20

Apples

2 kg / 4lb. / 14 small

$3.99

Carrots

1 kg / 2.2 lb. bag

$1.79

Onions

1kg / 2 lb. / 10 med.

$1.98

Potatoes

2.5kg / 5 lb. / 14 med.

$3.79

Garlic

1 med. bulb

$0.50

Green Beans (frozen)

1kgg / 2.2 lb. bag

$1.99

Tomatoes

1kg / 2 lb. / 7 med.

$1.49

Broccoli

1kg / 2.2 lb.

$2.65

Green Cabbage

1 large head

$1.29

Frozen Spinach

1 kg / 2.2 lb. bag

$2.29

Frozen Peas

900g / 2 lb. bag

$1.99

Diced Tomatoes

2 x 800g / 28 oz. cans

$2.00

Brown Rice Cakes, Unsalted

2 x 100g / 3.5oz. packs

$1.38

Seedless Raisins

250g / 9oz. bag

$1.79

Flax Seeds

100g / 3.5 oz.

$0.76

Curry Powder

50g. / 1.7 oz. Jar

$1.00

Chili Powder

50g. / 1.7 oz. Jar

$1.00

Italian Herb Mix

10g. / 0.7 oz. Jar

$1.79

Cinnamon

50g. / 1.7 oz. Jar

$1.00

 

TOTAL = $48.74 for 2 people / $3.48 per person, per day

(Please note: we acknowledge that these items may be more expensive depending on your location. We have, however, compared prices in different regions across 3 continents, and while there were variations, most of the foods we bought were consistently inexpensive by local standards.)

So what does this list equate to, in terms of meals?

Breakfast was a bowl of oatmeal, with cinnamon, raisins, sliced banana, and flax seeds.

For lunch, we made a huge pot of soup using the lentils, potatoes, peas and diced tomatoes, plus some onions, garlic, chili and curry powders. This was enough for lunches for the whole week! We kept 3-4 days’ worth in the fridge, then froze the rest in 2 serve portions for the remaining days.

Dinner meals were alternated. I made two different sauces:

  • Onion, garlic, curry powder, chickpeas, spinach and cabbage
  • Onion, garlic, chickpeas, spinach, broccoli, diced tomatoes and Italian herbs

The first sauce was served with a generous portion of brown rice, and the second with the whole wheat pasta.

Snacks included apples, carrot sticks, and brown rice cakes with sliced tomatoes.

We think that given the budget, the variety is pretty impressive! We bought a week’s worth of flax seeds and oats from the bulk section at an organic supermarket. Everything else came from our local store, where we bought in-season produce and generic brands as much as possible. We’d also like to point out that the quantities of curry powder, chili powder and cinnamon purchased would last at least 2 weeks, making the following week’s bill slightly cheaper.

The next time you're wondering if you can afford to eat healthy & plant-based, remember, the answer is yes!

If you'd like a more detailed guide to eating plant-based on a budget, with recipes and grocery lists, check out our eBook Whole Food Plant Based on $5 a Day.