Planning & Prep

27 Essential Foods for a Vegan Grocery List on a Budget



Last Updated: Nov 10, 2022

There are many reasons people love consuming a vegan diet, but one problem some people have is that vegan ingredients can be expensive. What is easy to forget, especially for those who’ve recently made the switch, is that you don’t need to eat all of the specialty vegan groceries like meatless burgers and seaweed caviar. Many foods you already enjoy and use in daily cooking are naturally vegan. Here is a list of vegan grocery ideas for those in need of a vegan grocery list on a budget.

Quick Answer

How to Shop for Vegan Food on a Budget

Break down your grocery list to essentials that include protein, produce, grains, condiments, and other vegan staples: the more you plan ahead, the easier it will be to stick to a budget. It’s also helpful to determine your overall vegan grocery food budget using Instacart’s calculator tool. You can then further plan out your weekly meals through meal prep.

Vegan proteins on a budget 

There are many meatless versions of popular meats, but they aren’t usually the most budget-friendly items in the supermarket. Here are several less expensive ways to get protein. 

1. Dried beans

Beans are a protein powerhouse, and you’ll get the most bang for your buck with dried beans. They cook up quickly in a crockpot or electric pressure cooker, so there’s little effort on your part. 

2. Tofu

These days you can find a variety of kinds of tofu in almost every grocery store. Use it as a meat replacement in recipes, sauteed with vegetables, or as a way to thicken smoothies and pudding. 

3. Nut butter

For quick sandwiches, additions to your breakfast smoothie, or just as a snack, nut butter is essential for vegans. Stored properly, these will last several months unopened, so stock up when you see a good price.

4. Frozen edamame 

Edamame is used in many recipes, but fresh edamame goes bad quickly. Having a bag of frozen edamame on hand ensures you always have some on hand. 

5. Nuts 

For a snack, adding granola, oatmeal, or bread, or making your own plant-based milk, nuts are great to have on hand. Nuts like walnuts, almonds, and cashews are filling and good for you. Buy in bulk to save money, and store extras in the freezer. 

Vegan produce on a budget

The best way to stay within your budget is to stick to produce in season. This will ensure it’s fresh and full of nutrients, too. 

1. Cucumbers

English cucumbers, grocery store produce, on a blank background.

These often are cheapest in late summer and can keep for at least two weeks when stored properly. 

2. Zucchini

Full of fiber and a great addition to Italian dishes, zucchini is very inexpensive when it’s in season. 

3. Potatoes

You can’t go wrong with potatoes of any variety, including sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and red potatoes. They can be part of a dish or an entire meal on their own. 

4. Bananas

Rich in potassium and easy to eat on the go, bananas are great to have.  You can buy the marked-down bananas that are getting dark and freeze them for future use in banana bread or muffins. 

5. Apples

During the fall months, you can often find apples on sale in five, 10, or 15-pound bags at low prices. Store the apples in a cool dark place to keep them fresh longer. You can also make applesauce and dehydrate apples to have on hand for snacks. 

6. Oranges

In season, oranges are very affordable. Keep extra oranges in a dark, cool place to extend their shelf-life. 

7. Onions

Onion, grocery store produce, on a blank background.

Those who enjoy onions know that they are cheap and can be cooked in many ways. Onions are perfect for stir-fry, sauteeing, soups, and eating raw on salads and sandwiches. 

8. Carrots

Like most root vegetables, carrots are budget-friendly and can be stored for a long time. 

9. Frozen vegetables

When you can’t get fresh vegetables, go for frozen ones. They are generally packaged right after picking, so they retain their nutrients well. Stock up when your grocery store has a sale because these are great for quick vegan meal ideas. 

10. Frozen blueberries and strawberries

Out-of-season berries are costly, but fortunately, most stores carry large bags of frozen fruit. You may also want to keep them on hand all year round because they’re instantly ready to be turned into smoothies or vegan ice cream.

Vegan grains on a budget

When possible, buy these grains in bulk because although you’ll spend $10 for ten pounds of rice, it’s better than having to pay $3 a pound for one-pound packages. When grains are correctly stored, they have a long shelf-life. 

1. Rice

Rice is easy to cook in a rice cooker, crockpot, or electric slow cooker. Make a double batch because it reheats nicely. 

2. Oats

Oats, grocery store produce, on a blank background.

Skip the excess cost and packaging that comes with packets of instant oats in favor of the more filling regular or steel-cut oats. 

3. Chia seeds

Add some extra nutrition to your morning oatmeal or smoothie with chia seeds. You can also use chia seeds to make dairy-free pudding. 

4. Quinoa

Use quinoa to make main dishes, sides, salads, and even bread! 

5. Barley

You can use barley as an alternative to rice in most recipes, including stews, pilaf, and casseroles.

6. Couscous 

This tiny grain cooks up easily and can be used in vegetable salads and baked dishes. 

Vegan condiments 

While vegan products are more readily available, they don’t carry the lower price tags of non-vegan products. Fortunately, condiments are used in small amounts, so they tend to last a long time.

1. Pickles

Gherkin Pickle, grocery store produce, on a blank background.

A good pickle (cucumber, onion, carrot, or pepper) makes an excellent topping for a salad. 

2. Vegan mayo

A must-have for sandwiches and wraps, vegan mayonnaise is something you don’t want to be without. 

3. Sesame oil

Sesame oil is nice to have on hand for sauteeing or drizzling on Asian-style recipes. 

4. Olive oil

Good olive oil is a must for cooking, making salad dressings, and creating dipping sauces.

5. Coconut oil

From frying and sauteeing to adding to your smoothie or cookies, coconut oil is a staple no kitchen should be without. 

6. Jam and jelly 

Various fruit jams and jellies are great for topping bread and bagels or putting in yogurt or oatmeal. 

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Resources related to vegan grocery lists

If you found this guide on how to shop for vegan food on a budget helpful, make sure to check out our related content:

Have your vegan groceries delivered to your door

Another way to save money (especially those impulse buys in the checkout lane) is to order your groceries through Instacart. Place your order online, and a shopper will pick up everything, bag it up, and deliver it straight to your door. You may also want to check out current deals from our retailers. Try it now!



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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