Looking to eat vegan on the cheap? This cheap vegan grocery list will make it happen! All the foods are $5 or less!
Wondering how to eat vegan on the cheap? Well, I’m giving you a list of dietitian-approved pantry and freezer staples that are all $5 or less.
Now when you’re having a busy day or week, there’s absolutely no excuse to order takeout every single night. Just take 10 minutes or less to whip up a quick, easy meal with the staples on this cheap vegan grocery list. Score!
Freezer grocery list
Having frozen foods on hand allows you to easily put together a nutritious meal. Add these frozen foods to your cheap vegan grocery list.
“I like to kill two birds with one stone and hit both the veggie category and protein category in one,” says Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN, nutrition blogger at Mama Knows Nutrition. “They’re simple to mix in with rice or pasta, or toss in soups.”
“We get the large bags,” says Ashley Koff, RD, author of Your Road Trip to Better Health. “It’s food for me and my dog, who has ¼ cup daily!”
“So many recipes call for chopped onions, and I don’t always want to spend the time chopping up an onion or only using half an onion for a recipe,” says Mandy Enright, RD, nutrition blogger at Food + Movement.
“Plus, they are often on sale for $1 a bag at the grocery store,” she says. “They’re a time, money, and food-waste saver!”
This is an essential of a cheap vegan grocery list! “Frozen shelled edamame is a quick high-protein, high-fiber addition to stir fries, or pasta,” says Tina Marinaccio, RD, nutrition blogger at Tina Marinaccio Nutrition.
Sarah Marjoram, MS, RDN, a dietitian in Atlanta, is a fan of Gardein’s Chipotle Black Bean Burger. “It is a delicious plant based meat alternative,” she says.
“It’s an easy swap for a traditional beef burger, and the chipotle seasoning is delicious. They even pack 7 grams of fiber into each serving.”
“My favorite is warming fresh ginger in butter, adding frozen peaches and almond milk, and then adding oats once it’s boiling with a bit of pumpkin pie spice,” says Heather Hall, RDN, LD, CLT, a dietitian at Food Medicine 101.
Pantry grocery list
When it comes to making your cheap vegan grocery list, pantry staples are must haves. They allow you to make quick, easy meals!
Canned black beans
“They’re so versatile for beans and rice, bean tacos, bean burritos, bean soup, black bean hummus, black bean brownies, black bean burgers, and chili,” says Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD, CEDRD, co-author of Cooking with Food Sensitivities Survival Guide.
This is a must-have addition to a cheap vegan grocery list. “Chickpeas are my No. 1 pantry staple,” says Christie Gagnon, RD, nutrition blogger at Hoorah to Health.
“I love adding them to soups stews, and salads. Homemade hummus is also a family favorite.”
Canned white beans
“I’m Latina and live in Puerto Rico, where legumes are a huge part of the culinary culture,” says Melissa Nieves, RD, MPH, a nutrition blogger at Fad Free Nutrition.
“I love that they’re an inexpensive, tasty, and versatile way to get plant-based protein—plus fiber, iron, and other phytonutrients.”
I like to prepare them stewed, in soups, with rice, or pureed as dips and sandwich fillings.” You can also use ’em to make healthy roasted chickpeas in the oven.
“I use these with the Instant Pot,” says Cristina Svec, MA, RDN, a dietitian in San Francisco. “They’re versatile and as close to a perfect food as possible.”
“They’re rich in nutrients—including protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and folate. They’re very cheap, too!” Lentils are also wonderful in a vegetarian lentils with eggs recipe.
Natural peanut butter
“I could probably survive without peanut butter, but I hope I never have to!” says Dani Lebovitz, MS, RD, CSSD, CDE, author of 101 Descriptive Words for Food Explorers.
“It’s so versatile. It’s an easy pantry staple you can use to whip something a main course or a tasty dessert, or you can use it as a condiment.”
“For lunch, I jazz up what I make for my kids—peanut butter and jelly,” says Hope Paul, MS, RD, CDE, certified diabetes educator coach for WW.
“I toast whole-wheat bread before spreading peanut butter and raspberry jelly on it, and have sides of baby carrots and apple. My kids get a good example of a nutritious meal, and I get a childhood favorite!”
“We have pizza pretty much every Friday night in our house,” says Jessica Gust, MS, RDN, nutrition blogger at Element Nutrition Co.
“I buy premade dough at the grocery store and then put a couple in the freezer. I pull them out the night before, and they are ready to go. I’ve started freezing pizza sauce as well!”
Boxed vegetable broth
“You can use it to flavor your grains as you cook them, or to make soups, sauces, gravies, and even steam your veggies with it for a little extra flavor,” says Megan Byrd, RD, nutrition blogger at The Oregon Dietitian.
This might just be the cheapest item on your cheap vegan grocery list. “I’m a huge fan of baking soda,” says Bri Bell, RD, nutrition blogger at Frugal Minimalist Kitchen.
“There are so many versatile uses for it in the kitchen, including leavening baked goods, cutting the acidity of tomato sauce, tenderizing meat, making a homemade cleaning paste, and more!”
“I know it sounds basic, but when you’re stuck at home and have to do a lot of scratch cooking and baking, flour is the one staple you don’t want to run low on,” says Sarah Pflugradt, RD, a dietitian at Salubrious RD and author of Favorite Family Meals.
“I make my own bread, and I also want to make sure I have enough for morale foods like cookies, muffins, and brownies. I’m stocked with all-purpose, whole wheat, and bread flour to cook at home and to not have to worry about leaving the house.”
Faith Martian, RD, a dietitian at Sustainable Nourishment for Life, says she also relaxes by baking cookies, pizza, and bread.
“My favorite meal is a simple whole-grain bowl: a half cup whole-grain such as brown rice, plus half a can no-salt-added beans, and a half cup vegetable like broccoli or steamed spinach,” says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, author of Unapologetic Eating.
“Toss with a teaspoon of olive oil and salt, pepper, and spices to taste.” Brown rice is also great in a vegetarian rice bowl.
“They’re budget friendly and can play so many roles in the kitchen,” says Erin Hendrickson, RD, founder of No Waste Nutrition.
“They work as traditional breakfast to a plant-based burger binder, energy balls, ground up as flour, and even a plant-based milk alternative!”
These nuts are a bit of a splurge on a cheap vegan grocery list––but so worth it!
“I’m a big fan of the MIND diet for brain health, which recommends eating five servings of nuts each week,” says EA Stewart, RD, integrative dietitian at The Spicy RD.
“Plus, they’re so darn delicious and easy to add to salads, oatmeal, and so many other dishes. Or just to pop ‘em in your mouth for a nourishing snack!”
“I’m from Puerto Rico, and we use sofrito in almost everything: stews, rice dishes, beans, braises, soups and sauces,” says Melissa Nieves, RD, MPH, nutrition blogger at Fad Free Nutrition Blog.
“It makes creating a good ragu easy and is just tomatoes so I can control the amount of sodium in the sauce,” says Rosanne Rust, RD, author of Calorie Counter Journal for Dummies. “My pantry shelf is never without a back-up can.”
“I love canned tomatoes,” says Bri Bell, RD, a nutrition blogger at Frugal Minimalist Kitchen.
“They’re hands down the most versatile canned vegetable and can be added to so many different recipes like soups, stews, chili, and pasta sauce. I choose no-salt-added versions and add seasonings to taste.”
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, author of Heart Healthy Meal Prep, is also a fan. “I can whip up soup or tacos in no time with canned tomatoes and black beans,” she says.
“You get lycopene and potassium from the tomatoes—plus vitamin C to help make iron from the beans more bioavailable.”
Canned coconut milk
“This is a dairy alternative in a crunch,” says Shena Jaramillo, MS, RD, a dietitian at Peace and Nutrition. “It’s great in soups and sauces—and is packed with nutrients.”
“This is for my baby,” says Jackie Durand, RD, owner of JD Nutrition. “She prefers fresh—but in a pinch, this is nice to have on hand.” Y
ou can also use canned fruit to make a fruit crumble or as a topping for oatmeal. Plus, it’s wonderful in a glass of pineapple sangria.
And eating prunes can help your health. Per research, eating five to six prunes daily may help prevent bone loss!
More tips to save on groceries
Want more tips to get the most bang for your buck at the supermarket? Use these tips, along with your cheap vegan grocery list.
Stocking your cart with nutritious whole foods doesn’t need to break the bank. In fact, one of the most common questions I get is about saving grocery dollars.
I opt for affordable plant-based proteins like beans and tofu to slash a few extra dollars off my grocery bill.
You, too, can maximize nutrition while spending less on groceries! I asked my registered dietitian nutritionist colleagues for their top tips for trimming down their supermarket bills, too.
Stock your fridge
“When people are prepared to make their own meals, it eliminates last-minute grabbing of takeout on the way home from work, as well as lunches out and breakfasts on the way to the office,” she says.
Load up on fruits and veggies
If you’ve ever thought it’s too pricey to get your five a day, think again.
Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service shows that eating enough fruits and veggies isn’t cost prohibitive to most people.
Fruits and veggies help keep us healthy and provide important nutrients that help in chronic disease prevention.
About 85 percent of American adults don’t eat enough fruits and veggies, per a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authors of the USDA study thought that price might be a deterrent for many Americans.
So they estimated average retail prices of 156 commonly eaten fresh and processed produce.
An adult eating 2,000 calories a day could meet daily fruit and veggie recommendations—2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of veggies—for just $2.10 to $2.60 a day.
- 1 cup strawberries: $.80
- 1 cup apple slices: $.42
- ½ cup Roma tomatoes: $.26
- ½ cup broccoli florets: $.44
- ½ cup cucumber slices: $.18
- ½ cup canned pinto beans: $.26
- ½ cup potato: $.09
- TOTAL: $2.45
One interesting finding of the study is that fresh fruits and veggies sometimes cost more than processed versions—for example, canned corn is $.51 per cup, versus $1.81 for fresh.
So remember that no-salt-added canned veggies or frozen produce can be part of a healthy diet and are great options when produce is out of season or too expensive.
Shop like a European
“Go shopping more than once a week. Living in Europe has made me realize how much money I lose by shopping just once a week,” says Betsy Ramirez, MEd, RD, owner of Betsy’s Kitchen.
“The size of the refrigerators in Europe are small, so people shop every day or every other day,” she says. “You waste less food, and that saves you money.”
With some careful planning, you can make a cheap vegan grocery list to save serious supermarket dollars! You have many options for freezer and pantry staples for $5 or less.
- Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN, nutrition blogger at Mama Knows Nutrition
- Ashley Koff, RD, author of Your Road Trip to Better Health
- Mandy Enright, RD, nutrition blogger at Food + Movement
- Tina Marinaccio, RD, nutrition blogger at Tina Marinaccio Nutrition
- Sarah Marjoram, MS, RDN, a dietitian in Atlanta
- Heather Hall, RDN, LD, CLT, a dietitian at Food Medicine 101
- Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD, CEDRD, co-author of Cooking with Food Sensitivities Survival Guide
- Christie Gagnon, RD, nutrition blogger at Hoorah to Health
- Melissa Nieves, RD, MPH, a nutrition blogger at Fad Free Nutrition
- Cristina Svec, MA, RDN, a dietitian in San Francisco
- Dani Lebovitz, MS, RD, CSSD, CDE, author of 101 Descriptive Words for Food Explorers
- Hope Paul, MS, RD, CDE, certified diabetes educator coach for WW
- Jessica Gust, MS, RDN, nutrition blogger at Element Nutrition Co
- Megan Byrd, RD, nutrition blogger at The Oregon Dietitian
- Bri Bell, RD, nutrition blogger at Frugal Minimalist Kitchen
- Sarah Pflugradt, RD, a dietitian at Salubrious RD and author of Favorite Family Meals
- Faith Martian, RD, a dietitian at Sustainable Nourishment for Life
- Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, author of Unapologetic Eating
- Erin Hendrickson, RD, founder of No Waste Nutrition
- EA Stewart, RD, integrative dietitian at The Spicy RD
- Melissa Nieves, RD, MPH, nutrition blogger at Fad Free Nutrition Blog
- Rosanne Rust, RD, author of Calorie Counter Journal for Dummies
- Bri Bell, RD, a nutrition blogger at Frugal Minimalist Kitchen
- Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, author of Heart Healthy Meal Prep
- Shena Jaramillo, MS, RD, a dietitian at Peace and Nutrition
- Jackie Durand, RD, owner of JD Nutrition
- Abby Langer, RD, author of Good Food, Bad Diet
- A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Betsy Ramirez, MEd, RD, owner of Betsy’s Kitchen
I’d love to hear from you! What would you add to this cheap vegan grocery list?
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