Eating Vegan Meals on a Budget: 30 Affordable Plant-Based Foods

Eating a plant-based diet doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, there are plenty of ingredients that are perfect for making vegan meals on a budget. Here are 30 of the least expensive plant-based foods, each with its unique flair.
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Budget Vegan Foods | Top 8 Affordable Plant-Based Ingredients | WorldofVegan.com
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Looking for the best cheap plant-based foods and inexpensive plant-based recipes to make vegan meals on a budget? You’ve come to the right place! The idea that vegan food is expensive is a myth. Well, it can be, but it certainly doesn’t have to be! Check out all the budget-friendly vegan foods and recipes below. Money-saving meal ideas galore! 

It feels like every week we hear people say that vegan food is for those with huge disposable incomes, or that it’s hard to eat nutritiously on a budget. And we get it, fancy vegan cheese and plant-based meats can be crazy-pricey. But there are plenty of affordable foods that are vegan. Many vegan staples are among the most affordable foods out there!

Plus, have you ever checked the cost of bacon or that steak at your favorite restaurant? Meat ain’t cheap, y’all! And when it is, you can be sure someone else is paying the price

The Best Ingredients For Vegan Meals On A Budget

So, we thought that now would be a good time to show our aspiring plant-based friends how affordable plant-based food can be. We’re going to help you out by sharing 30 of the top budget-friendly foods to stock in your kitchen if you want to save money on food. 

While there are more than just these staples out there (you can read about more in our 15 vegan pantry staples post), the ones we’ve talked about below are ones that we tend to use the most frequently and that can be found for reasonable prices at most supermarkets. 

Bananas

These humble fruits are not only inexpensive but also versatile. Use them in smoothies, turn them into homemade banana ice cream, smoothies, milkshakes, popsicles, in muffins, or enjoy them as a quick and budget-friendly snack.

A yellow banana on a marble countertop.

Beans

From black beans to chickpeas, these protein-packed legumes are not only budget-friendly but also incredibly versatile. You can whip up affordable and satisfying dishes like refried beans, bean salads, plant-based chili, burritos, and creamy hummus with ease.

A crockpot with refried beans.

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers can be used in various dishes, from fajitas, kabobs, ratatouille, and stuffed peppers. They provide vibrant color and a sweet crunch while staying within your budget.

Chopped rainbow vegetables with red, orange, yellow, green, purple.

Cabbage

Cabbage is a budget-friendly vegetable that deserves more attention. Whether used in coleslaw, tacos, stir-fries, wraps, or stuffed cabbage rolls, it adds a unique and affordable twist to your meals.

A bowl of shredded purple cabbage.

Canned Beans

Canned beans are a convenient and affordable source of plant-based protein. Whether you’re making quick burritos, hummus, chili, or hearty bean salads, they are a budget-conscious choice.

A can of kidney beans.

Canned Coconut Milk

Canned coconut milk is a versatile ingredient that can be used for creamy curries, soups, and vegan whipped cream. It’s an affordable way to add richness and depth to your recipes.

A top-down shot of canned coconut milk.

Canned Corn

Canned corn adds a sweet crunch to your dishes, from salads to soups and cornbread. It’s an affordable way to infuse your meals with flavor and texture.

A top-down shot of canned corn.

Canned Pineapple

Canned pineapple adds a sweet and tropical twist to your dishes, whether you’re preparing stir-fries, sauces, desserts, or fruity salsa. It’s an affordable way to infuse your meals with a taste of the tropics.

A top-down shot of canned pineapple.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are a staple in budget-conscious kitchens. They serve as a versatile base for pasta sauces, chili, and hearty soups, allowing you to create delicious meals without spending a fortune.

Tomatoes in sauce being added to a pot.

Carrots

Carrots are a crunchy and budget-friendly snack, perfect for munching on their own or adding to soups, stews, smoothies, and salads. They’re rich in essential nutrients and are kind to your wallet.

Carrot and carrot shreds, surrounded by produce on a table.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable that can be roasted, mashed, used in tacos, or transformed into cauliflower wings or steaks. It’s a budget-friendly alternative to more expensive produce options.

The cauliflower steaks on a baking tray after adding oil, salt, and pepper.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are small but mighty and can be used to make chia pudding or used in a jam. A little goes a long way, making them an economical choice for adding texture and nutrition to your meals.

A hand mixing the chia seed pudding with a spoon.

Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are not only convenient but also budget-friendly. They retain their nutritional value and can be used in stir-fries, pot pies, casseroles, and side dishes with ease.

Bowls with frozen vegetables.

Green Peas

Green peas are a classic addition to rice dishes, salads, soups, and pot pies. They can even be roasted! They bring a burst of color and nutrition to your meals while being budget-friendly.

Blending the green pea soup with an immersion blender in a white pot.

Lentils

Lentils are a powerhouse of protein and iron, and they’re incredibly budget-friendly. Their versatility shines in dishes like hearty casseroles, vegan meatloaf, spicy curries, and comforting stews.

A plate of lentil bolognese served over spaghetti and topped with fresh herbs.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms add a rich umami flavor to vegan dishes like stroganoff and risotto. They are an affordable way to infuse your meals with depth and complexity.

A pot with mushrooms and onions.

Oats

Oats are a budget-friendly breakfast superstar. They can be used to make hearty oatmeal, crunchy granola, or even indulgent overnight oats, making them an excellent choice for affordable morning meals.

Raw oats in a food processor.

Onions

Onions are an essential ingredient in countless savory dishes and are incredibly budget-friendly. Use them in vegan french onion soup, batter them and make onion rings, or pickle onions for a tasty topping. They add depth and flavor to your meals without breaking the bank.

Sauteed diced onions in a skillet.

Pasta

Budget-friendly pasta, especially whole wheat varieties, is a comforting and versatile option. Whether you’re crafting a vegan alfredo, bow-tie pasta dishes, or vegan carbonara, it’s a cost-effective way to fill your plate.

Cooked pasta next to sun dried tomato sauce ingredients.

Pasta Sauce

Affordable store-bought pasta sauces are a budget-conscious cook’s best friend. They provide a flavorful base for quick pasta dishes and budget-friendly meals.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a protein-rich spread that can be a budget-friendly staple in your pantry. Whether slathered on sandwiches, used to make satay, added to overnight oats, or stir-fries, it’s a delicious and economical choice.

Wooden spoon scooping homemade peanut butter out of a jar.

Potatoes

Potatoes are a budget-conscious vegan’s dream. Whether mashed, roasted, or transformed into crispy fries, they offer endless possibilities for satisfying, wallet-friendly meals.

Potatoes chopped into cubes on a cutting board.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin can be roasted, pureed, or used in smoothies, pies, and muffins. It’s a budget-friendly way to add a touch of sweetness and nutrients to your recipes.

Vegan pumpkin pie filling mixed in a large bowl with a whisk.

Quinoa

While quinoa may be pricier than rice, it’s a nutrient-dense grain that can be used sparingly to enhance the nutritional profile of your budget-friendly meals. Use it in salads, soups, nuggets, and more.

Quinoa in a saucepan.

Rice

Rice is a versatile and wallet-friendly staple that can be the base for countless dishes. It’s incredibly affordable and provides a satisfying source of carbohydrates, making it an ideal choice for budget-conscious vegans. Use it to make fried rice, sushi, and more.

Restaurant Style Chinese Steamed Sticky Rice

Spinach

Packed with vitamins and minerals, spinach is a budget-friendly leafy green that can elevate your salads, smoothies, curries, and stews without emptying your pockets.

Key ingredients for spinach banana muffins.

Spices and Herbs

Don’t underestimate the power of seasonings to elevate budget-friendly meals. Spices and herbs add flavor and variety to your dishes without significant additional costs, allowing you to experiment and create unique flavors.

An arrangement of herbs and spices.

Tofu

Tofu is a versatile source of plant-based protein that can be used in various dishes. From stir-fries to tofu scrambles and sandwiches, it’s an affordable way to incorporate protein into your meals.

Silken tofu on a plate.

Whole Grain Bread

Whole grain bread, while slightly pricier than its white counterpart, is an excellent choice for sandwiches and toast. It offers more nutrients and is still a cost-effective option.

easy vegan spelt bread with seeds and herbs

Zucchini

Zucchini is a budget-friendly vegetable that can be made into fries, fritters, and even desserts! Its mild flavor makes it a versatile addition to your meals.

how to slice zucchini into the shape of fries

Eating Vegan On A Budget

Eating vegan on a budget is not only possible but also delicious and nutritious with these 30 wallet-friendly plant-based foods. Mix and match them to create a variety of dishes that won’t strain your finances while keeping your taste buds satisfied. Enjoy the journey of discovering new recipes and flavors while staying kind to your wallet and the planet.

Get More Help With Our Plant-Based On A Budget Meal Plans!

If you need a little help eating healthfully on a tight budget, we’ve got you covered with our Plant-Based on a Budget Meal Plans! In these meal plans, we walk you through everything you need to know to eat vegan without going broke. 

Vegan on a Budget Meal Plans
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