7 Days Plant-Based on a Budget Meal Plan Under $50
Grocery List for the Week Under $50
Forget whatever you thought “budget” meant. This meal plan redefines frugal and will make you wonder why you’ve wasted money on takeout.
To feed yourself for a week, you’ll only need the following:
- Rice and beans (dried, of course). Grab a sack of each, and you’ve got dinners for days.
- Oats. Pour some in a jar, add water, and whatever else you’ve got – boom, breakfast.
- Bananas. At under 50 cents a pop, they’re nature’s perfect snack, dessert, and smoothie booster.
- Broccoli. Tossed in your stir fry or straight out of the bag for max nutrition and min effort.
- Carrots. See broccoli. Also great for stabbing into hummus should you have some leftovers from your pre-budget days.
- Frozen veg. For when fresh isn’t feasible or you just can’t anymore.
- Soy sauce. To make the rice and beans taste like takeout.
- Nutritional yeast. For cheesy flavor without the cheese.
With some staples and creativity, cheap and healthy is possible. Stay strong; the savings will be worth it! Now, off to the bulk bins with you – there are deals to be had!
Day 1: Black Bean Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries
Day 1 concerns hearty, plant-based protein packed black bean burgers and crispy sweet potato fries. Because who doesn’t love a burger? Am I right?
Soak 1 1⁄2 cups of dried black beans overnight or for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse, then mash or pulse in a food processor until smooth but chunky. Mix in 1 diced onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp chili powder, and 1 tsp cumin. Form into patties and chill for 30 minutes.
While the patties chill, slice 2 large sweet potatoes into fry shapes. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 400 F, flipping halfway, until browned and tender, about 25 minutes.
Cook the patties in a skillet over medium-high heat with some oil until browned, about 5-6 minutes per side. Serve the burgers on buns with your favorite toppings like lettuce, tomato, and avocado.
Your belly will be pleasantly full, and your wallet won’t feel a thing. A perfect start to your budget-friendly, plant-powered Week! Now go forth and conquer Day 2, you penny-pinching vegetarian, you.
Day 2: Lentil Soup and Whole Wheat Bread
The Day of Reckoning
After the carb-heavy indulgence of Day 1, your body will be craving nutrients. Have no fear; today, we repent with a hearty lentil soup. Lentils are packed with 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber per cup, so this soup will fill you up and then some.
As the lentils simmer, the heady aroma of spices fills your kitchen with notes of cumin, garlic, and thyme. “This is going to be good,” you think as your stomach rumbles in anticipation. You glance at the clock, wondering if time has stopped.
Finally, you can stand it no longer. You ladle the soup into a bowl and tear off a chunk of whole wheat bread to complete your penance. The first spoonful hits your tongue, earthy yet bright, with a kick of acidity from the tomatoes. Your eyes close in bliss. All is right in the world again.
As you polish off the pot over the next few days, congratulate yourself on a job well done. Your body and budget have been satisfied. Until next week, little lentil soup, when we shall meet again for another day of reckoning!
Day 3: Tofu Stir Fry With Rice Noodles
The Stir Fry That Wasn’t Meant To Be
You had every intention of making a healthy stir fry for dinner. You even went to the store and bought extra-firm tofu, broccoli, bell peppers, and rice noodles. In a moment of delirium, you also picked up a bag of potato chips, a pint of ice cream, and a six-pack of beer.
Oops. That impulse buys derailed your plans for a wholesome meal. You had zero motivation to chop vegetables when you lugged the groceries inside. The potato chips were calling your name. You cracked open a cold one, turned on Netflix, and nestled into the couch.
A few episodes later, you awoke to find crumbs on your shirt and the tofu bloated in its package on the counter. The veggies were weeping in the crisper. In your haste to unwind, you had forgotten about dinner altogether.
Now what? Do you:
- Rally for a late-night cooking session? Not a chance. You’re too cozy under your blanket.
- Get takeout? Your budget says no way. You already blew it on junk food.
- Make pancakes for dinner? Bingo. Pancakes cure-all. Whip up a batch, top them with ice cream, and call it a night.
Lesson learned: next time you shop, avoid the snack aisle. And set the alarm to start cooking before you get too comfortable! A stir fry can wait for another day. Pancakes await.
Day 4: Hummus and Veggie Wraps
The Hummus Among Us
Day 4 dawns, and with it, the siren song of chickpeas blitzed into creamy hummus. Please resist the urge to eat it straight from the container with a spoon and instead spread it on wraps with veggies for a balanced meal.
You’ve been so good at sticking to the diet meal plan, but now your stomach’s rumbling fiercely. Not to worry, today we’ve got you covered with hummus and veggie wraps. Pick up pre-made hummus, or whip up your batch of the garlicky goodness. Gather ye veggies of every hue and get wrapping!
Carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers – chop them up for a refreshing crunch. Spinach, kale, or arugula for greenery. Tomatoes, sprouts, or cabbage for extra nutrition. Really, any vegetable that crosses your path is fair game. The more, the merrier!
Just be sure not to overstuff your wraps, or they’ll fall apart faster than you can say “falafel.” No one wants a lap full of hummus and veggies (unless you’re into that sort of thing, no judgment!). Wrap techniques may vary, seal those bad boys up, and you’re ready to get your snack on.
Ta-da! A plant-based, budget-friendly meal in minutes. Your belly and wallet will thank you. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with Mr. Hummus and the Vegetable Rainbow. The chickpeas are calling my name!
Day 5: Grains and Starches: Rice, Oats, and Potatoes
Rice, the Staple Grain
As a staple food for half the world’s population, rice will make up the bulk of your calories today. Cook up a big pot of rice since you’ll be eating it at most meals. May I suggest a nice basmati or jasmine rice? Their nutty, floral aroma will transport you to the paddies of Asia.
While the rice is simmering away, contemplate your place in the vast, uncaring universe. Gaze out the window and watch people live their tiny, insignificant lives. Marvel at humanity’s hubris in the face of a cold, indifferent cosmos. Rice has been cultivated for over 10,000 years, yet our species has existed for a mere blip of time on the grand scale of things.
When the rice is done, fluff it with a fork and season it with some salt, seeds, or spices – whatever you have on hand will do. As you sit down to your bowl of nourishment, give silent thanks to the farmers, ancestors, sun, soil, and water that made your meal possible. Appreciate each grain, for they represent the ephemeral nature of existence. Savor the simple pleasures in life, like a perfect bowl of rice.
Tomorrow, potatoes. But for today, we have rice.
Day 6: Nutrition Boosters: Nuts, Seeds, and Nut Butter
The Nutty Truth
Day 6 calls for boosting your nutrition with nuts, seeds, and nut butter. Grab your nutcrackers and whipped peanut butter—it’s time to get cracking!
While almonds and walnuts are great for your heart, pecans will make you smarter, and Brazil nuts pack selenium, cashews contain the mineral zinc, which will boost your immunity. Pick a variety and go wild. Just watch those sodium levels in the roasted and salted options unless high blood pressure is your jam.
As for seeds, sprinkle sunflower and pumpkin on your oatmeal, yogurt, or salad. They’re full of healthy fats and fight inflammation. Don’t have time to chew? Make seed butter instead. Tahini, made from sesame seeds, adds creaminess to hummus and a zing to salad dressings.
Speaking of butter, whip out your peanut, almond, or sunflower seed butter. Swipe it on whole grain toast, dip pretzels or apple slices, or add to smoothies for protein. Just mind the sugar since most commercial brands pack more than you bargained for. Make your own to control the sweetness.
While a handful of nuts may be nature’s perfect snack, a little goes a long way. Portion control is key unless you want to end up nutty in a whole other way! A single ounce, about a shot glass worth, contains 160 to 200 calories.
Go ahead, get nutty and seedy today. Your body and brain will thank you if you don’t go overboard. Nutrition boosters, indeed!
Day 7: Fresh and Frozen Produce: Veggies and Fruit
The Final Feast
You’ve earned a special treat after a week of beans, grains, and green things. Raid the freezer aisle for whatever frozen fruits and veggies catch your eye. Berries, tropical mixes, stir fry medleys – go wild! Stock up on fresh produce too. Apples, bananas, citrus, leafy greens, root veggies, mushrooms, avocados – whatever makes you happy.
Today we feast! Blend berries and bananas into ice cream or smoothies:
- Saute mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach with garlic and chili oil.
- Make avocado toast 10 ways.
- Zest lemons and oranges onto salads.
- Roast sweet potatoes, beets, and broccoli with chili and maple syrup.
Really want to go crazy? Add some plant-based protein to your plate. Tofu, tempeh, or veggie burger patties pair great with roasted veggies. Hummus, guacamole, and salsa make fantastic dips and spreads.
After a week of budget-friendly basics, you deserve to treat yourself. Eat what you want and as much as you like. But don’t forget – moderation is vital. Pace yourself and savor each delicious bite. There’s always tomorrow for leftovers!
Though our 7-day meal plan is done, the plant-based journey continues. Explore new foods, experiment in the kitchen, and discover what fuels you best. Eat the rainbow, nurture yourself, and stay open to all the possibilities a plant-based diet has to offer. Happy eating!
Meal Prep Tips to Save Time and Money
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
Rise and shine, you overzealous meal planner! While the rest of the world hits snooze, you’ll be chopping veggies and simmering beans before the rooster crows. Getting a jump start on your meal prep over the weekend means you’ll have more time for essential things, like watching Great British Bake Off reruns.
- Cook a few pounds of beans or grains like quinoa in bulk. Separate into containers for easy lunches and dinners.
- Wash and chop veggies for snacks, salads, and stir-fries. Keep in reusable containers or bags in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Make a double batch of veggie broth. Freeze half for when you’re feeling lazy but want something homemade.
- Get wild and make a few hummus, pesto, or tapenade varieties. Great on sandwiches, as dips or pasta sauce.
With some forethought and a couple of hours of work, you’ll have the basics ready for a week of Plant-Based on a Budget Meal Plan. While your friends are scrambling to get dinner on the table, you can kick back with a glass of OJ, knowing you’re ahead. Meal prep may not be exciting, but saving time and money sure is. Now, about that Great British Bake Off marathon…