The Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition came out with a study in 2013 that showed that adopting a plant based diet has the potential to save the average American household at least $750 a year.
That finding flies in the face of the widely held belief that eating healthy, and particularly eating a plant based diet is expensive.
And it makes sense too that eating mostly plants will save you money because estimates show that meat on the average accounts for as much as 30% of the grocery budget of the average American household.
It therefore makes sense that adopting a meat free or meat restricted diet such as the whole food plant based diet should actually save you money rather than cost you more.
Especially if you choose to keep things simple and just stick with the essentials instead of opting for elaborate meals and treats every time.
But there’s even more good news.
You can save even more money while eating a plant based diet.
Below I show you useful, practical tips to help you cut your healthy food bill even more.
So that you end up spending as little as $50 a week on whole, nourishing, disease curing, healthy plant food while eating your fill.
And you need to do only three things to make that happen.
You’d be amazed at how simple it is.
I also included a list of 20 healthy but cheap plant based foods that you can buy for approximately $1 per unit.
Shopping from that list will make it even easier for you to save even more money ( you’ll find at the end of this article: don’t miss it! )
3 Tips To Eat A Healthy Plant Based Diet On $50 A Week
- Spend $20 on fresh produce—and pick carefully.
Fresh produce is expensive, whether you’re buying organic or not, so it’s incredibly important to focus on getting your money’s worth (nutritionally speaking). Choose vitamin and antioxidant-rich dark leafy greens like spinach or kale (about $5 per bag) and broccoli ($3 per head) over watery, nutrient-poor options like iceberg lettuce.
You will also want to prioritize fruits and vegetables with a high fiber content (like celery, at $3 per bunch and apples, at $4 per bag) and healthy fat content (avocados, $4 for two). Fiber and fat are both highly filling, allowing you to make smaller portions go farther.
Note that all of the prices above have been adjusted to allow for organic choices; while going “all organic” is not an absolute requirement where whole foods are concerned, when it comes to fruit and vegetables it’s preferable owing to the toxicity of common pesticides. Organic farming is also associated with higher soil quality, which in turn leads to better nutrient density—meaning that while organic fruits and vegetables appear more costly, in the long-term, they’re actually a better investment.
- Spend $10-$15 on whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
These staple “fillers” are relatively dense and inexpensive, so a little goes a long way, especially when you’re purchasing high-fiber whole grains and nuts. (Remember that it’s important not to eat more than a handful of nuts in a sitting as nuts are extremely high in calories. Buy just a few ounces of nuts per week and use them sparingly.)
Head into the “bulk” section of your nearest supermarket in order to ensure that you find the best possible prices, then pick up about $3 worth of whole grain oats and raw almonds and grab approximately $2 worth of dry beans (choose black beans for an excellent beef substitute if you plan to make burgers, tacos, etc.). Finally, select $2 worth of your favorite whole grain side-dish, such as brown rice or quinoa.
For some added variety, you can also try chick peas (about $2 per can), lentils ($3 per bag), and flax seeds ($3 per bag).
- Spend $10-$15 on healthy beverage ingredients and non-dairy snacks.
Combine a non-dairy milk of your choice (e.g., soy milk, almond milk, or hemp milk, at about $3 per container) with frozen fruits and vegetables ($3-4 per bag) to create inexpensive healthy smoothies at home. You can also pair frozen fruits with non-dairy yogurt.
If you’re concerned about getting enough protein and amino acids while adhering to a low-cost plant-based diet, you should try picking up a bag of hemp seeds (or hearts) and adding them to your smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt.
While hemp seeds appear relatively costly at about $8 per bag, you only need to use a teaspoon or two of them per day in order to reap their nutritional rewards. Hemp seeds are the only plant-based food that offer both a complete amino acid profile and a perfect balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Likewise, while hemp seeds look expensive, when you compare the cost of buying a bag or two of hemp seeds each month with the cost of consuming meat daily, it becomes clear that the plant-based alternative is still the far better deal.
While adjusting to a plant-based whole-foods diet might seem challenging at first, it’s well worth it from both a health and cost perspective. Though processed foods like those found on the McDonald’s $1 value menu appear cheaper to the uninitiated, in reality, the plant-based whole-foods alternative is almost always still slightly less expensive (as evidenced by this $0.96 per serving black bean burger meal). When you make the transition to plant-based whole foods, both your body and your budget thanks you.
20 Healthy Foods You Can Buy For $1
Use this simple grocery list to cut your healthy food bill even further.
Price: $1.50 per pound (dry, in bulk), $1.29 for a 16 ounce bag
2 Black Beans
Price: $1.50 per can
3 Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans
Price: ($1.19 per 15.5-ounce can)
4 Brown rice
Price: $1.75 per pound
Price: $1 per pound (in bulk)
6 100% whole wheat bread
Price: $1.99 for a 22 ounce loaf of store brand whole wheat bread (sale price)
7 Sweet Potatoes
Price: $1 per pound
Price: $0.50 per cup (raw, chopped), $2 per bunch
Price: $0.50 per 1/2 cup, $2 per bunch
Price: $0.50 per cup, $2 per bunch
11 Frozen veggies
Price: $1.75 for one 12 ounce bag
12 Winter Squash
Price: $0.50 per 1/2 cup, $1.50 per pound
13 Frozen chopped spinach
Price: $1.19 per 10 ounce bag
14 Fresh bagged spinach
Price: $1.99 per 9 ounce bag of fresh washed spinach. 33 cents per 2 cup serving, 66 cents per 4 cup serving.
Price: $0.18 each, $0.59 per pound
Price: $0.50 each, $2 per pound
17 Canned Tomatoes
Price: $1.80 per 14.8-ounce can
Price: $0.75 per cup, $1.50 per pound
Price: $0.50 per banana, $2 per bunch
Price: $0.50 each, $1 per pound