Healthy recipes on a budget

This is an invention of the government to help you to eat healthy- the original contains animal products, but PCRM (the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) has made it into a vegan plate. Notice that it’s irregardless of portion control- while portion sizes are very important when you’re calorie counting, for the most part, on a low-fat vegan diet, you eat until you’re full. The catch is that you must eat equal portions of everything. Second helping of pasta? Absolutely- as long as you include the other components. This is why a low-fat vegan diet is so successful- there’s no measuring, counting, or “no’s”.

Don’t get me wrong- you can definitely do veganism wrong. As I mentioned in another post, vegan junk food exists, and it’s usually comprised of refined flours, sugar, artificial ingredients, or fat. Avoid those types of food.

I feed my family of 2.5 (yes, 2.5) on approximately $500 a month. We eat predominantly organic, local, and seasonal. The ways we accomplish this are simple. Animal and prepackaged products are expensive, and we don’t consume them. Recently, I’ve started meal and snack planning, and shopping, for 3 days at a time. That way, food isn’t spoiling in the refrigerator, I can adapt my meal planning to my daily plans, and I only have to figure out 9 meals and 6 snacks (approximately). That is a very easy way to chew the overwhelming chore of cooking and planning.

I’ve compiled a list here of my favorite recipes and snack ideas. Some of the recipes are right here on the site, and others are gifts from other blogs. Some are self-inventing. In order to make these ideas work, I budget in things like maple syrup, flour, and spices as I go along.

Snack ideas:

Homemade Popsicle (you can use a non-dairy yogurt- Amande comes in a large container- and add fruit, or you can use lemon juice in water with agave, and even juice)

Frozen fruit- blueberries, sliced banana or strawberry, and grapes are perfect

Air popped popcorn- organic popcorn is $2 for  large bag and air popping cuts back on oils. Add nutritional yeast to make it cheesy

Rice cakes, or rice crackers (with almond butter, hummus, or jam)

Vegan pretzels

Homemade snack mix (vegan cereal, nuts, dried fruit, and maybe even some EnjoyLife chocolate chips or vegan marshmallows)

Kale chips

Dried fruit (a food dehydrator will make some soft, marshmallowy dried apples)- my son prefers cranberries to fruit snacks, but you can make your own fruit leather too

Squash chips

Yogurt with fruit

Fruit salad (I’ve been serving this with a few vegan graham crackers, Kinnikinnick has some, but you can make them too)

Homemade granola bars

Homemade sweets like cookies, vegan jello or vegan pudding

A cold plate (this is my guilty afternoon delight)- pickles, olives, crackers with hummus, and vege sticks

Breakfast ideas:

Whole oats steeped in hot water with sliced fruit and a touch of agave and cinnamon

Bagel with vegan cream cheese or hummus and a smoothie

Vegan English muffin with low-sugar jam and peanut butter

Granola with plant milk

Almond yogurt smoothie or green smoothie


(take care eating quick breads such as pumpkin or banana bread, as many recipes have lots of sugar or sweeteners)

Toasted corn bread with fruit salad

Leftovers or soup (I know this is a weird one, but some mornings I want hot soup, especially Imagine brand vegan tomato. This also applies to breakfast pizza!)

Tofu scramble or quiche

Brown rice with blueberry syrup

Loaded vegan pancakes or waffles (surprisingly easy to make from a mix or on your own, and we make a bunch, freeze them, and toast them up like Ego’s)

Lunch and dinner ideas:

Moroccan soup


Beans, cornbread and beets


Homemade pizza

Shepherds pie (made with Amy’s vegan burgers and Happy Herbivore’s mashed potato recipe)

No-chicken tofu, rice pasta, and veges

Miso and mochi

Chicken pot pie biscuits

Chickpea tacos

Loaded baked potato with Daiya

Stir fry


The recipes from this book (many are gf), shes a MsDougall-er: Everyday Happy Herbivore

No-beef stew


Baked mac with broccoli

Sandwiches- Happy Herbivore has fake tuna, fake egg salad, or avocado spread on toast with sliced tomato and balsamic vinegarette

Vegetarian Chili

Kabobs- string mushrooms, pineapple, cherry tomatoes and green pepper onto sticks and marinate them overnight in pineapple or orange juice mixed with a little tamari, serve with bbq fair like vegan mac salad, corn on the cob, or bbq tempeh sandwiches

Bean burritos

Baked falafel with hummus, and vege sticks

Moro de abichuelas (stewed red-beans over rice)

The bottom line?

  • Shop locally and visit farmers markets, where produce will be much cheaper
  • Buy frozen veges instead of canned, because they’re healthier, more versatile, and last longer
  • Buy dried beans instead of canned because they’re MUCH cheaper, and just require a soak overnight
  • Shop and meal plan every 3 days
  • Plan ahead and bring snacks when you venture out
  • Avoid prepackaged and pre-prepared foods
  • Keep small amounts of “junk” on hand to prevent any slip-ups, including little Bug Bites (vegan chocolate) or salty foods like Snyders gluten free pretzels
  • Don’t go overboard on the soy, as there is still speculation as to it’s effects on the body, good and bad
  • Take a b12 supplement
  • Download or buy a few cookbooks, including Dr.McDougall’s, Happy Herbivore’s, Flying Apron and BabyCakes
  • Set the time aside to prepare food- if dinner is at five, start cooking at 4. It doesn’t hurt to keep a couple of easy things on hand like frozen vegan meals or canned soup, just in case there’s an extenuating circumstance, but it should not be a crutch, as it’s costly and not healthy.
  • If you’re packing your child’s lunch, invest in a good lunch-sized thermos
  • Drink water or herbal tea and avoid juices and sugary drinks. I like coffee, but I use soy creamer and vegan sugar in it (it’s my vice).
  • Eat as many raw things as you can. In order to influence myself to do this, I slice up some vege sticks and fruit every couple days and keep it in a covered dish in the refrigerator. You can get all sorts of fat free dressings or make your own as “dip” or you can get OrganicVille’s vegan ranch!
  • If a recipe doesn’t seem to have a large serving of veges in it, add a small side salad. Remember that the more fiber you eat, the fuller you’ll feel the longer.
  • If all else fails, pb&j!

Best of luck!


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