Does Eating Vegan Cost More

breakfast over meal planning

Who spends more money at the grocery store without a shopping list? Anyone?

Totally me.

Or if I don’t spend a lot, I will probably have to go back two more times that week. Then ultimately, it costs more. (Especially if I go to Trader Joe’s for dried natural mangoes…I’m not going to tell you how many I can consume).

The more times I’m at the store = the more times I buy things I wasn’t planning on.

So less store visits = more money in my pocket.

Total side-note…has anyone else ever put themselves in “No Shopping at Target” timeout for this reason? No…just me?

(***If you feel like you have meal planning under control, skip to Does Eating Vegan Cost More.***)

Meal Planning:

Some weeks I can live on the past week’s leftovers, but this is not one of those weeks. We only have Cheerios for cereal in the house (I’ve been informed they’re getting boring) and I am 100% out of apples, oranges, pears, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, garlic, and Dave’s Killer Bread.

So over a bowl of homemade granola (which I keep in the house on a regular basis), with blueberries (thawed from the freezer), and a sliced up banana, I made my menu.

And I was having so much fun that I decided to try 2 weeks. There will most likely be a fresh food run next week, but that’s ok. I’m typically a once-a-week grocery shopper for the bulk of things, so we’ll see how this goes.

Ok, before you’re all like “I should plan 2 weeks” or “I can’t even shop for 1 week” or “I’m not a planner” etc, etc. Go into this knowing it takes a little time, you got this! Remembering at the same time that it will save you money. I’m an experimenter by nature, so I love to look through my cookbooks (my own or from the library) and make my meal plan. If you have some tried and true favorites, then this is going to go much quicker for you.

To start, list 7 dinner meals that you want to make. After you write down each one, check the ingredients and list what you need. I find it easier to do this as I go along. Keep in mind that this won’t be very possible with 1/2 hour notice of shopping. Plan ahead so you’re not scrambling as you go out the door. Remember…more money in your pocket. Also, children aren’t very patient with meal planning in the grocery store parking lot….I’ve tried it.

If you need lunch and breakfast variety, then plan for those as well.

Planning 7 meals will give you a couple days buffer. You probably really have at least one leftover day and one day of making something random and last-minute.

I’m not going to lie, sometimes gearing up for meal planning feels like quite a chore. But as I get into it, I get excited to make some good food. I know not all of you love cooking. If that’s the case, hopefully the pull of saving money and having a plan will spur you enough to write it out.

Once I had a grocer comment, “Wow, I thought it would be way more than that!”  That my friends, is what we’re going for. If we buy fresh and cook homemade, it’s going to save our budgets and impress total strangers. (Okay, I guess we don’t need to impress anyone, but the compliment felt good!)

Below is my scrambled menu for the next 2 weeks. Just in case you were interested. I think it’s fun to save them as ideas for future meals. Maybe sometime I’ll show you my collection of chicken scratch meal plans.

menuDoes Eating Vegan Cost More?


How about less?


I get asked this question a lot. I meal plan the same as I did before, I make complete meals as I did before.

The difference is just ingredients. There’s a plethora of recipes out there that I enjoy and constantly find, like I said above, I love to experiment. This hasn’t changed.

So what is the difference?

I don’t buy cheese or meat. Both of those can add up. But on top of that, I also don’t buy granola bars, fruit snacks, fishy cracker, mac and cheese, or any other pre-made meals of any kind (cut out the processed stuff as much as possible). I still keep on hand: eggs, butter, and 1% milk for my kids. If I have children with me at the store, they are really excited because I let them choose ONE yogurt out each as a treat. Our house is 90% vegan purely for the sake of being healthier.

Total success when my 5-year-old said yesterday, “Mom, can I have that salad with cucumbers and tomatoes for lunch?”

Yes, yes you can…as I fist pump in the air!

With my cooking, looking at different kinds of recipes totally opened up a whole new genre of cooking. Because of this I sometimes buy things I wouldn’t have before or as much as before, like tahini, so much peanut butter, beans, quinoa, lentils, almond meal, flax seeds, chia seeds, oatmeal, and tons of fruits and veggies. You could very well be buying these things without eating like us, just that we mainly consume these things and need way more of them.

So if you’re looking to save money, I would first recommend cutting out processed foods. If you want to eat paleo, just gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, etc, etc…I think it can all equal about the same – so long as you menu plan. Make it your night activity…or even better, your breakfast one! :)

If you have other questions related to this, ask away and I’ll answer the best I can.

What is your best conversation with a grocery cashier?

P.S. My neighbor Vanda brought me tomatoes from her garden today. Totally random. And she’s my hairdresser too. Neighbors are the best!

tomatoes from the neighbor

8 thoughts on “Does Eating Vegan Cost More

  1. Totally with you on the anti-processed foods = saving money aspect! We cut out processed foods a LONG time ago and it saves a bundle. Also, joining a CSA this year seemed to save us quite a bit too. Not only did we get more for our money, but it pushed us to shop without meal planning and cook more from our imagination. Every Saturday, we would pick up our fruit/veggie box and then we would head to Whole Foods to pick up our protein (we would get whatever was on sale/priced right) and then we’d go home and figure out what to make with it all later. This method helped us avoid “little extras” because we were spending less time actually in the store. Also, sometimes when you pre-decide recipes, you can’t take advantage of deals. Generally, I TOTALLY agree that meal planning is a money saver, but this summer, winging it actually saved us a lot of cash!

    • I wanted to do a CSA this summer, but never did. This next year! I completely agree with imagination cooking. If you make yourself think creatively and say “I’m not going to the store no matter what,” surprisingly good eats are possible. It’s all about less store time for sure. Yea for saving cash!

  2. Our family is on a non-processed Paleo-type food experiment this month. . . and I’d have to say I went a little bat-crazy at the store and I’m overloaded veggies right now! And I have to roast a chicken today just so it doesn’t go bad, but I’m kind of excited for the meals we will be forced to eat just to keep the veggies from going bad! I’ve contemplated a CSA too, but after talking to friends who have done it, they say that bc of our geography/climate, during the summer the box ends up mostly full of kale. I don’t know that we need a mostly kale box. Winter here, however, is ideal. Now is probably the time for me to sign up!

    • I know how overloading on veggies goes. Sometimes I come home from the store and wonder how I’m going to get it all in the fridge! You’ll have to post how your experiment goes. I’ve also heard about lots of kale in CSA boxes (not totally a bad thing, but requires lots of kale eating and kale experimenting). I think I’d like to try an every-other-week box to see how it goes. And you’re right, there’s no reason I have to wait until next year!

  3. Your meal plan list looks pretty similar to mine, even down to writing the page number.What books are you using the list looks pretty yummy. We have always been pretty good about avoiding processed food and meat has dwindled to none existence in our home. This summer I finally started cutting out dairy and I do feel like it opens up possibilties , so instead of buying a block of cheese I can use that money on healthier options . Over all I feel that I am saving money plus our health.:)

    • Yea for twinners! I have to write down page numbers AND what book it’s from! Just to make things complicated, sometimes I throw in blog references as well. :) This list pulls recipes from “Meatless” from Martha Stewart and “Everyday Food Light” also from Martha Stewart. I just realized they’re both Martha Stewart and that’s kinda weird. But she is pretty fabulous. What books are you using right now?

  4. This is the same question I came across whilst traveling in Buenos Aires (actually I’m in Buenos Aires, and have been here since mid September). I can see the food appeals to non-vegans because there are more varieties from juicy steaks (gross) to meaty empanadas and of course cheap eats. There is a limited section of vegan products that are expensive to locals, plus they weren’t even that good plus bland. The fresh produces at general groceries are not that good either (majority of the potatoes and onions are soft) – plus the lines in the groceries took forever (longer than an aisle at Whole Foods). So instead, we focused on making big meals that use simple ingredients, e.g., rice, corn meal (for polenta) and canned or dried beans (lentils, white beans, chickpeas), and basic spices (garlic powder, dried herbs, curry powder, white pepper, dried chili flakes) we have available, and of course some fresh produces available to add to these meals such as winter squash, potatoes, onions and plantains. It’s a challenge though, but we managed to stay at least $10-15 a day by planning our ingredients & making meals.

    • That’s awesome that you are in Buenos Aires! Hello from home! I agree that a lot of Latino food is meat heavy. And what a different experience for grocery shopping too! I’m impressed by your rice and bean creations and would be doing the same thing. I was just talking about plantains the other night and want to try cooking with them. I never have. What would you recommend? Way to go menu planning and in a foreign country no less!!

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