Are you a vegetarian on a budget and just want a shopping list to make it much simpler? We’ve got you!
Don’t worry, you don’t have to break the bank to eat meat-free. With this vegetarian on a budget shopping list, you can get all the nutrition you need without breaking the bank. So, let’s get started on your journey to a healthier, more affordable lifestyle.
Eating meat-free meals doesn’t have to be boring or expensive. With the rise of plant-based diets, the options for tasty, nutritious, and budget-friendly meals are growing. You don’t need a fancy vegetarian grocery store or only look for labels that are plant-based. You just have to have a bit of a meal plan to save money. That is with any kind of lifestyle though.
If you’re looking for new and creative ways to add variety to your kitchen repertoire without breaking the bank, read on!
Before we get into the list, we want to reiterate how important it is to plan. Meal prep used to be the rage! Friends would get together and cook in bulk, freeze their food, and have meals for two weeks. You can do that with any type of dietary way of eating, as long as the food tastes well after freezing. It is a great concept, even if you are plant-based, cook vegan recipes, or vegetarian pantry staples.
We just cannot say it enough, plan, plan, plan!
Proteins for the Win
When most people think about going meatless, the first thing that comes to mind is protein. And, it’s true; protein is an essential part of any healthy diet – vegetarian or not. But just because you’re skipping out on beef, pork, and poultry doesn’t mean you’re missing out on essential proteins.
How do you think the cows, pigs, and chickens get their proteins? Plants.
There are plenty of inexpensive sources of protein that can make up for what you’d normally get from animal products. We will give you a great starter vegetarian grocery list that won’t put a frown on your face when you are going grocery shopping.
Vegetarian on a Budget Shopping List
Legumes such as lentils and beans are some of the least expensive sources of protein around. Not only do they provide all 9 essential amino acids that your body needs, but they also come packed with fiber and other vitamins and minerals.
Nuts like peanuts and almonds (if you’re not allergic like I am) are another great option when it comes to getting your daily dose of protein – plus they’re incredibly versatile. Sprinkle them over salads or grains for added crunch and flavor (not to mention extra nutrients). You can also use peanut butter with celery or apple slices as a snack.
It’s healthy and delicious! We learned about this protein and a healthy boost from Be and Eat Well.
Tofu is both delicious and economical – making it a great choice for those looking for a cheap source of protein. Plus, it’s incredibly multifaceted. Try marinating tofu in soy sauce or herbs before baking or grilling for an easy dinner option. Tofu truly does take on the flavor of what you marinate or cook it in. We get more into that as a meat substitute later.
Eggs are one of the least expensive sources of complete protein available – making them perfect for those on a tight budget. Plus, eggs can easily be incorporated into dishes like omelets or frittatas for an inexpensive meal that will leave you feeling satisfied.
Veggies Make Everything Better
How do you have a vegetarian on a budget, and not have vegetables on the shopping list? We do! Before you roll your eyes, veggies don’t have to be boring and should definitely be on your budget vegetarian shopping list. In fact, when you grow your own or even visit a farmer’s market, they just seem to taste better!
Here are some budget-savvy veggies to add to your shopping list:
Mushrooms can be used as a substitute for ground beef in tacos or burgers; try sautéing mushrooms with onions and garlic until browned before adding them to your dish for extra flavor. You can also use portobello mushrooms as burger patties if you want something more substantial than regular mushrooms would provide.
Cauliflower is one of the most popular meat substitutes around; try using cauliflower in place of chicken wings by grilling florets tossed in olive oil and spices until crispy then dipping them in your favorite barbecue sauces (it really does taste just like chicken). Or pulse cauliflower into brown rice consistency as an alternative side dish instead of traditional rice (it’ll save you carbs too).
Eggplant makes an excellent substitute for steak. Have you read Gerry’s Grilled Eggplant Recipe? If not, you should bookmark it and try it! You will thank us!
Zucchini can be used as an alternative to pasta; spiralize zucchini into ribbons then top with tomato sauce or pesto (or whatever else takes your fancy) for a healthier version of spaghetti bolognese that won’t leave you feeling bloated afterward. Plant based pasta is so easy with the right tools. The one we recommend can be found below.
Sweet potatoes make an excellent dessert or side item. You can bake or microwave a sweet potato, and put some olive oil or cinnamon on it. You can even slice it into chips for sweet potato chips. These are healthy and make cheap vegan snacks.
The Beyond Burger/Impossible Burger Debate
If you miss the texture and savory flavor of beef patties in your burgers, faux meat burgers have got you covered. Providing the same juicy taste as its animal-based counterpart with fewer calories and fat, you just have to choose which one you want. We went in-depth on these in a previous debate, but just know you have options.
These can be pretty pricey, so just be sure to check sale prices. Before you waste your time, check Instacart by the brand to see if it is worth the order, the trip, or the purchase. There are plenty of meat dupes out there, even chicken and pork dupes if you are interested.
Tofu is an incredibly versatile ingredient that works equally well in salads, stir-fries, sandwiches—you name it! The most common types of tofu are extra firm and soft (or silken), but there’s also medium firmness if you’re looking for something in between.
If you’ve been curious about trying tofu but didn’t know where to start, try marinating extra firm tofu in a store-bought teriyaki sauce before baking it in the oven—it’s sure to satisfy even the biggest meat lover.
We also love to pan-fry ours a bit with olive oil and nutritional yeast. Ok, it doesn’t sound very appealing, but it is!
Taco Tuesday 2.0
Jackfruit is gaining popularity as one of the best meat substitutes around—and this unique fruit works beautifully as a taco filling. Not only does jackfruit provide a hearty texture similar to pulled pork when cooked with spices like cumin and chili powder; but it also contains vitamins A and C for an added health boost.
If you cannot find the natural whole foods jackfruit, you can buy it pre-seasoned like this one.
Add black beans for fiber plus some diced tomatoes and onions for zest; then top it all off with a dollop of guacamole or vegan sour cream.
We pre-make our taco seasoning mentioned above, and keep it in a sealed jar, sprinkle it on when we have Taco Tuesday, and save a bit of time. Gotta love a time-saving life hack!
Lidl Vegetable Lasagna
Listen, the Lidl Vegetable Lasagna is the best meatless lasagna you will ever taste that is store-bought. Debate us on that. It is better than Stouffer’s, hands down. It is also very affordable. We often go into Lidl to buy a couple of them for the week because they are so convenient and cheap. We just had to add this to your vegetarian on a budget shopping list.
You can be vegetarian on a budget
Eating meatless doesn’t have to break the bank – nor does it have to sacrifice taste either! With so many delicious options available, it’s entirely possible to create amazing meals without relying on animal products; meat substitutes, legumes like lentils, tofu, eggs, and vegetables like mushrooms, and cauliflower – the possibilities are endless!
If you’re looking to save money and eat healthier, going vegetarian on a budget is a great way to do it. With a little bit of planning and creativity and this shopping list, you can make delicious, nutritious meals without breaking the bank. So don’t be afraid to give it a try – you might just surprise yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions | FAQs
Easy! We love the recipes from LA Dunn at Black Girls Eat. She makes the meal prep and cooking fun and simple! We highly recommend you check her recipes out.
It depends on what you are growing. Some foods need more water than others. We have found that our potted veggies and raised bed gardens do well, but some lettuces in the ground also do well. Visit this link to read more about our gardening journey.
Funny you should ask. We wrote an entire blog post dedicated to that question. We save money and enjoy more diverse food by being vegetarian. Read more about going meatless while traveling.