Plant-Based on a Budget: Strategies for Affordable Cooking and Eating

Many people mistakenly believe that plant-based eating is more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. What can get expensive quickly is buying lots of “faux” meats and cheeses (real meat and cheese is already costly), packaged and prepared food, and takeout. A diet composed of simple, wholesome ingredients can actually cost less than one that includes meat. Here are some strategies you can use to keep costs low:

  1. Join a CSA.
  2. Buy foods from the bulk section of a store.
  3. Place wholesale orders together with other people.
  4. Prioritize whole, plant-based food over organic.
  5. Shop at Walmart and big box stores for staples (their inventory is expanding).
  6. Start a garden or container garden; you can get free seeds from your local Cooperative Extension.

Given all the sources of affordable plant-based foods, it really is possible not to spend more. This table compares the cost of two plant-based dinners using groceries purchased at Walmart in Pennsylvania in 2015 to the epitome of cheap food—McDonald’s—for a family of four. These meals assume you have a few spices and vinegars at home in the kitchen, but the cost of these is factored into the comparison.

Dinner for Four, Four Different Ways

food costs table

*Additional research by Kathy Pollard.

Excerpt from A Plant-Based Life: Your Complete Guide to Great Food, Radiant Health, Boundless Energy, and a Better Body by Micaela Cook Karlsen. © 2016 Micaela Cook Karlsen

2 thoughts on “Plant-Based on a Budget: Strategies for Affordable Cooking and Eating

  1. Hi I love the article. It is so true, it is easy to save money on a plant based diet when you eat whole foods instead of processed ones. The bonus is also the money you’ll save on snacks too because the beans and rice or the mushrooms and sweet potatoes will fill you up for hours whereas the fast food will leave you hungry again rapidly. It is so easy to make plant based versions of many of the meals that people eat already so that it doesn’t require a total change in what the family is eating.

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