Vegan On A Budget (The Only Guide You Need)

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Many of you already know by now that I’ve been vegan since I was 22 (27 now!) and I’ve learned so much since then. 

I always get the same question, isn’t being vegan expensive? Not at all, and it’s actually much more affordable than eating a meat-based diet. 

Being vegan means you avoid eating meat, dairy, and any animal product. Fortunately, plant-based foods are incredibly affordable. Even faux meat foods are becoming more affordable due to high demand. 

Before we get started, make sure to sign up for my free resource library and get tons of free printables to help change your life. 

Here are 10 ways to live a vegan lifestyle on a small budget. 

1. Keep your kitchen stocked with plant-based staples

Eating a plant-based diet is much easier when you have certain items stocked. You probably already have many of these items in your kitchen, but let’s go over the basics. 

My favorite plant-based staples are:

  • Rice
  • Pasta noodles
  • Pasta sauce or canned tomatoes
  • Nutritional yeast (gives a cheesy flavor AND you can buy in bulk at natural food stores for very cheap)
  • Plant-based milk (almond, soy, coconut) 
  • Nut butter (I stick with regular peanut butter because it’s cheap and tasty)
  • Sriracha (make everything taste better)
  • Beans (Black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans)

I personally stay away from cashews because they are so dang expensive, but they’re a staple for many vegans because they’re delicious and add a creaminess to many recipes. 

2. Learn how to cook easy vegan recipes

If you hate cooking, you’re lucky because vegan recipes are so easy to make. When I first went vegan, I hated cooking, so basic, simple meals became an everyday thing for me. 

Even better, you can still eat what you usually eat and just sub a few ingredients for plant-based options. For example, if you often ate stir fry, you can sub any meat for tofu or faux meat, which has gotten very affordable in the past few years. 

Favorite easy vegan recipes:

You can also read the 7-day vegan budget-friendly meal plan on my blog for meal plan ideas. 

3. Have certain kitchen equipment on hand

Certain kitchen equipment will make it easier to cook and you probably already have them in your kitchen.

I recommend having these tools:

The kitchen items I’ve used the most AND have found to be the most helpful are a blender, a good knife, cutting board, and mixing bowl. When you eat a vegan diet, you’re eating a lot of vegetables and fruits, so a good knife and cutting board is a must. I find that a large mixing bowl makes it much easier to stir around sauces with plant-based foods. 

My blender is my go-to for smoothies and sauces. I bought an inexpensive $20 blender at Walmart and have been using it for years and it works just fine. I do plan on purchasing a Vitamix in the future because I use my blender so much.

A cast iron grill pan makes it easy to grill tofu, seitan, tempeh, hot dogs, burgers, and other plant-based goodies. You get those amazing grill marks and it creates crispy tofu. 

A tofu press is not necessary at all, but if you love tofu like me, it helps get rid of the water and create crispier tofu. This is the tofu press I use.

4. Take advantage of bulk items

Buying in bulk is always going to save you money as long as you actually eat the food before it expires. This is a key thing to remember because a lot of people buy in bulk thinking they’ll eat all of it and then find out it expires before they can finish it all.

I find that natural food stores and international markets have the best selection of bulk items and they’re affordable. 

You may consider buying these foods in bulk:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Nuts

5. Meal plan

One of the easiest ways to save money and time is by meal planning. Many people know about meal planning but don’t take advantage of the process.

Here are some quick tips for meal planning:

  • Join my free resource library and get a free meal planning printable
  • Choose meals that can turn into leftovers
  • Buy a vegan meal prep book
  • Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t follow it perfectly – it’s just a guide
  • Be realistic and plan meals that you actually like and will cook
  • Use meal prep containers
  • Check your pantry and fridge and use food before it expires
  • You don’t need to cook new recipes every day

6. Make meals tastier

Spending a few minutes to learn how to make meals tastier is important. Adding a certain seasoning or cooking a meal a certain way can make an okay meal into the best meal you’ve ever had.

  • Use spices such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon, onion powder, and vanilla extract
  • Use oil when cooking
  • Add different textures to meals (Ex. Adding beans and vegetables to rice

7. Start a beginner garden

You don’t need to know how to garden to start one. The key is just starting and learning as you go.

If you rent a house or live in an apartment, you can still make a garden by using these Plant Grow Bags. I personally know 2 different people that use these and they come highly recommended. 

Quick tips for starting a vegetable garden:

  • Plant in a sunny location
  • Moist, well-drained soil is a must
  • Plant in an area where it’s protected from strong wind
  • This guide is very helpful for beginner gardeners 

8. Keep it simple at grocery stores

Plant-based grocery shopping couldn’t be easier. Shop the perimeter of the store and stock up on fruits, vegetables, beans, canned goods, and frozen fruits & vegetables. The aisle with international food is also a hot spot for vegans. Stock up on all kinds of sauces here. 

9. Budget-friendly vegan restaurants

Depending on where you live is going to determine how many options you’ll have at restaurants. I live in a small town and still have many options to choose from.

These chain restaurants and fast food joints have vegan options:

  • Chipotle
  • Burger King
  • Taco Bell
  • Olive Garden
  • TGI Fridays
  • P.F. Changs 

This article lists 145 vegan restaurant menu items.

10. Read budget-friendly vegan recipe books 

My all-time favorite budget-friendly vegan recipe book is Plant-Based On A Budget. I personally own it and even got to interview the author, Toni Okamoto. The book is filled with recipes that you can cook for under $30 a week in under 30 minutes. 

I have a few vegan recipe books and this one is my favorite because it’s simple, yet still delicious. 

There are a lot of vegan recipe books out there that call for expensive or fancy ingredients and this book is not one of those. 

P.S. Here are some of my favorite vegan books and bloggers! 

Favorite Vegan Educational Books

Favorite Vegan Recipe Books

Favorite Vegan Bloggers

Favorite Vegan YouTubers

Final Note

I recommend checking out NutritionFacts.org, which is a science-based public service provided by Dr. Michael Greger, a well-known plant-based physician. There are more than 1,000 videos on nearly every topic of healthy eating that are all backed by science and studies. 

If you want to find a plant-based doctor in your area, check out Plant-Based Doctors. When I first went vegan, I visited a plant-based doctor in my town and it was so incredibly helpful.

Don’t forget to sign up for the free resource library and get exclusive access to free printables & planners related to saving and making money, meal planning, and more!

What’s your best budget tip for being vegan? 

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