Plant Based Family on a Budget


Even if you aren’t struggling to make ends meet, you’ve likely experienced sticker shock on aisle nine as grocery prices soar. Throw in raising a few kids and finally buying a new bra, and the need to stretch your dollar continues. 

I’m Brittany from Team Dirty, and I’m going to share how I feed my plant based family on a budget. We live near Seattle, Washington, where the cost of living is one of the most expensive in the United States. We have three kids with an abundance of activities. Eating primarily plant based is important to us, and so is paying the bills. Plant Fueled Life helps me do both! Curious how? Join me for three weeks of grocery shopping to see how we do it.

What our plant based family looks like

Finally, an accurate family photo. One parent is missing, 66% of kids are not looking, and me setting the example!

I grew up on bologna. Soup was from a can, and muffins were from a box.

My husband, Robby, grew up on home cooking and was a steak and taters guy when we met.

We watched a few plant based documentaries in 2017, found Clean Food Dirty Girl shortly after, and have been mouthgasming ever since 💥. 

CFDG taught me how to cook like a plant based boss. Robby has enjoyed nearly every meal and is appreciative of all the time and effort I put into cooking. He represents plants on his union construction site on the daily.

Our teen, Keldan, has a huge appetite and is pleased with plain tofu and a stack of jicama. His form of rebellion is telling me boxed mac and cheese is his favorite CFDG recipe. Smartass. 😂

Our daughter, Kyndel, identifies as a carnivore but deep, deep down, she loves the food I make. Her favorite recipe is the Antipasto Superhero Sub Sandwich.

Brayden is our youngest and the winner of the pickiest kid in the house, but he typically likes at least one of the elements on his plate. He loves the Dirty Wizard’s Soup

A few notes before we head to the grocery store:

  • I don’t use a meal plan for breakfasts and lunches, I grab what’s on my mental list. This can vary depending on what I find in the back of the cupboard, seasonal produce, sales, etc.
  • I split my shopping between multiple stores on different days. I’m not sure if that’s on purpose or because I forget stuff.
  • I have a well-stocked pantry. By pantry, I mean overstuffed cabinets. If you’re just starting on your plant based journey, expect the first few weeks to be more expensive as you’re stocking up on staples. The savings add up over time.

Pro tip: Go grocery shopping alone if possible. I tend to shop at night when there are fewer humans, and I can get in and out fast. I’m a sucker for my kids’ cute faces and tend to spend more money if they’re with me. 

Wave bye to the kids, and let’s go grocery shopping and see how I feed my plant based family on a budget

Soy curls and squashing perfection

My six-pack of Soy Curls for $36 was delivered, which meant it was time to batch Simple Fast Food Frenzy! These are game changers, and recipes like BBQ Soy Curls and Soy Curls Fajitas are easy last-minute meals with pantry staples. 

I headed to Walmart since I’m a damn night owl and proud of it! 🦉 I squealed with excitement when I found a squeeze bottle of Tahini! I checked out 15 minutes before closing and spent $114.04.

I hit up Trader Joe’s the next day and spent $50.44 on the rest of my produce, frozen dinner, and more. I returned to Trader Joe’s a few days later and spent $15.25 on sweet potatoes, fresh fruit, and a loaf of Pumpkin Brioche bread.

Later in the week, I spent $27.00 at a pumpkin patch. I was ooohing and ahhing over all the squash, and my kids just looked at me like I was the weird one. They don’t get it! My haul included acorn, delicata, and spaghetti squash. 

Left: Soy curls are a game-changer! Middle: Kyndel doing the duck face, and Brayden pretending like he doesn’t want to. Right: Simple Sonoran Style Carrot “Dogos”

Pro tip: batching a Wizard Plan can take two to five hours, especially starting out. To save time and stress, pick an easy dinner for the night you’re batching. For example, this week, we had fried rice and gyoza. Did they contain oil? Yes, and I give precisely zero fucks since I’m more about progress and less about perfection.

Oh nuts, it’s time to stock up

After finding three unlabeled bags of white powder (Tapioca starch? Baking soda? Who knows?!) in the cupboard, I went on a massive organization spree. I noticed I was running low on plant based pantry staples like nuts, seeds, and noodles, so I headed to Winco (a warehouse-style supermarket) to stock up. I decided to batch cook Classic 70s, so I grabbed most of the produce I needed while I was there. I spent $103.26. I hit up Winco every two months or so to restock bulk items—their prices are unbeatable for bulk foods!

I then stopped at Trader Joe’s and spent $72.36 on frozen veggies, snacks, and fruit.

I found purple cauliflower, romanesco, beautiful golden beets, and some other items for $30 at a farmers market. 

Pro tip: Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry, especially if you’re going to Trader Joe’s!

I lived on avocado-sauerkraut toast for lunch that week. I used my first batch of homemade organic sauerkraut, which cost me 90% less than the store-bought fermented brand. 

Toward the end of the week, I hosted a dance for our school. After a long day, I wanted to spend time with my kids instead of the sink, so I ordered pizza for $37.65. I put the leftover batched food in the freezer. This is where being flexible helps, and guilting yourself doesn’t.

Left: Keldan enjoying Retro Soft Tacos. Middle: If you listen to Twenty One Pilots, you’ll love Brayden’s costume. I’m the leopard. Rargh! Right: Mushroom Salisbury Steak “TV Dinner”

Fall flavors and a freezer win

I didn’t feel like shopping over the weekend. But the kids had to eat, and I remembered Molly’s enchilada casserole, so I did something similar. I layered tofu crumbles, sour cream that I’d frozen the previous week, Deluxe Cheesy Sauce I’d made & froze the month prior, corn tortillas, and other fixings. I had plenty of leftovers, so I invited my neighbor for dinner, who has loved every Plant Fueled Life recipe she’s tried. 

Since I stocked up last week, I knew I didn’t need much from the store. Simple Canadian Harvest was on my to-try list, and the hubs got me two colossal butternut squashes from the farmer’s market for just $8. My only stop was Trader Joe’s for the meal plan groceries and snacks for $102.41.

Pro tip: If making a sauce, max out your blender’s real estate. If you’re a member of Plant Fueled Life, go to the recipe and tap the Make More button until the yield equals eight cups (or whatever the max is for your appliance) and freeze the leftovers. I use Souper Cubes to freeze sauces in one-cup portions.

I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by having sauces frozen and ready to go for last-minute meals.
Left: Brayden crumbling and sneaking tofu, and I’m not mad about it. Middle: Tofu crumbles baking in the oven. Right: Cheesy Mac with Spinach and Italian Tofu Sausage is a winner!

What plant based breakfasts and lunches look like

I usually don’t follow any particular recipe for breakfast—I just try not to burn shit. Here’s what’s on regular rotation.

  1. Cereal with oat milk 
  2. Nutty Banana-Berry Smoothie 
  3. Oatmeal or Malt-O-Meal 
  4. Vanilla Soymilk Yogurt (so good!)
  5. Waffles or pancakes
  6. Sunrise Smoothie 
  7. Sweet potatoes with crushed nuts and maple syrup
Our co-founders invited us to stay at their home on Maui for an entire week! When I announced the trip to Kyndel, her first question was, “but do we have to eat Molly’s weird cereal when we are there?” 🤣 It may seem weird, but it’s a must-try breakfast and packs incredible nutrition for an unbeatable cost.

Keldan and Kyndel typically eat school lunch. Do I love that? No. But it’s impossible to control what goes in their mouths 24/7. I got frustrated after finding wasted food in their lunchboxes, so I let it go this year (easier said than done). 🤷‍♀️ When they’re not in school, a week of lunches usually looks like:

  1. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  2. Veggie patties with condiments
  3. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches again
  4. Avocado toast with sauerkraut
  5. Trader Joe’s Instant Noodle Cup 
  6. Meal plan leftovers 
  7. Annie’s Vegan Noodle Bowls

Is it expensive to feed a plant based family of five?

Let’s pretend I’m a mathematician and break down my three weeks of food purchases:

Week one groceries: $242.73
Week two groceries: $243.27
Week three groceries: $110.41
The total I spent on groceries over 21 days: $596.41
$596.41 divided by 21 days = $28.40 per day to eat
$28.40 divided by five people eating each day = $5.68 to feed each person per day
$5.68 divided by three meals per day = Each meal costs $1.89 per person!

Considering this and that a 2021 study by Oxford University found adopting a vegan or flexitarian diet can reduce your grocery bill by one-third, I think it’s safe to say a plant based diet is a budget-friendly option. 

But let’s be honest. What’s the cost of not eating more plants?

Cheers to eating healthier and saving money while doing it

Comment below and tell us what grocery shopping looks like for you. 

May you always remember your reusable shopping bag (because I sure as hell don’t)!


P.S. Saving money is just the beginning. Our community is full of people who have reaped the benefits of eating more plants. Join me and thousands of others in our Facebook group and get ready to change your life.

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Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.


  1. Renee on November 12, 2022 at 10:32 am

    Those are all my favorite stores! I am a proud momma to 7 flexitarians, 6 of whom are teenagers. I’m defintely still working towards more plant-based meals. I really appreciate this!

    • Team Dirty - Brittany on November 12, 2022 at 11:05 am

      Thank you for reading! There’s no wrong way to do this; just eat more plants. It took me about five years to get this far, and we are about 75% plant based. Traveling is probably the most difficult time to stay plant based, but we went from relying on drive-throughs and feeling like ass to packing soy curls in our suitcase! Have you served those to your teens yet? My kids LOVE them!

  2. Jenn H on November 12, 2022 at 3:16 pm

    I have a solo household but your post reminded me how much I used to love shopping at Winco. I need to get back there and see if the joy is still there. I wish I had a separate freezer for making sauces and keeping them on hand. Those Souper cubes look great! I do have frozen pesto pucks though. 😉

    • Team Dirty - Brittany on November 12, 2022 at 3:37 pm

      We have a small house and would LOVE the space for an extra freezer. Our electric system couldn’t handle it even if we put one outside. One day!

      Winco sparks joy for me, especially since they are open 24-7. Yes, I’m the lady buying 92 bags of rice at grains at 1 am! LOL

      The Souper Cubes are on the pricey side, but they are well worth it. They are well made with a wire rim, and you can bake in them. I did find larger silicone ice cube molds at Walmart that would work for smaller batches. Pesto pucks sound right up my alley!

      • Jenn on November 13, 2022 at 9:23 am

        Thanks for the reply! On my list for the New Year!

        • Team Dirty - Brittany on November 13, 2022 at 11:51 am

          Awesome. Happy holidays to you and the family. 💖

  3. Lindy on November 13, 2022 at 2:28 pm

    I live in Australia so different shops but I appreciate reading about plant based being a budget option. I love Molly’s weird cereal by the way!!!!!!

    • Team Dirty - Brittany on November 13, 2022 at 4:46 pm

      Her weird cereal is good! I need to make it more often, even if the kids don’t eat it. My hubs loved taking it to work!

  4. Annu on November 13, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    It all looks amazing and a very smart way to feed a family healthfully. Which brand or where do you buy soy curls from? I’m not very familiar with cooking with it but I do want to try. Thanks for sharing 😊.

    • Team Dirty - Brittany on November 13, 2022 at 7:35 pm

      I have only ordered them from Butler Foods. You can buy them here. For a quick dinner, I soak/drain, and saute in some BBQ sauce and make simple sliders like these.

      Butler Soy Curls with Barbecue Sauce

      There are a ton of ideas online, and a some great recipes in Plant Fueled Life!

  5. Tonya Maloy on November 13, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    We visit Winco more and more. Their bulk spices are by far the cheapest way to go. Actually all their bulk items and produce are cheapest for us.
    I’ve been making my own beans a lot more just to save a buck and using the magic meal planner every couple weeks to avoid a big trip to the store and use up what’s on hand.

    Your family is adorable 🥰

    • Team Dirty - Brittany on November 13, 2022 at 7:38 pm

      I love Winco! Marlene’s has an incredible bulk bin section but it’s not nearly as affordable.

      I can’t decide what to do next… go hiking or meet up in the bulk foods section! LOL Hope you’re doing great and thanks for stopping to read.

  6. Clara on November 14, 2022 at 3:45 am

    This is so, so helpful!! I try to eat plant-based as much as possible but my hubs is a carnivore & my 3 kids are picky. Thank you for sharing your tips & fave recipes!

    • Team Dirty - Brittany on November 16, 2022 at 11:11 am

      Thanks for reading, Clara! One tip I haven’t shared is… don’t tell the kids what’s in their food! The more I brag about it being plant based, the more eyes I see rolling at the table. It’s hard not to get excited about the magic you can make in your kitchen, though!

      What recipe have you found that your family loves?

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