The Quick Guide to Vegan Keto on a Budget (Vegan Keto on Less Than $5 a Day!)

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Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of emails from you guys regarding eating a vegan ketogenic diet on a budget. When people first scroll through #keto and #veganketo posts on Instagram, it’s hard not to notice just how much reliance there seems to be on protein bars, mock meats and things like shirataki noodles. None of these are particularly inexpensive, so it can be a bit overwhelming when you’re trying to eat a low carb vegan diet for cheap. 

I try to be frugal with my grocery purchases. I already live in a pretty expensive area of the US and don’t really need any extra ways to waste cash.  Below are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years for finding good discounts on various vegan keto staples. I’ve also added a weekly shopping list below with price and macro breakdowns so you can buy your own foods and engineer your very own budget meal plan. The shopping list at the bottom provides a keto-friendly diet that is under $5 a day, and provides 72g of protein from whole foods sources for just 22g of net carbs. There’s even an option for reducing the carbs to 20g while keeping the protein above 70g.

Is this shopping list super exciting? No, not really. It’s actually pretty boring, but it works! This list is also gluten-free and can also easily be modified to be soy-free and peanut-free/nut-free. I’ll be posting some recipes and meal ideas soon for this list, so stay tuned for that!

I used Whole Foods Market prices for most of the foods because I’m always bummed out when I watch a “vegan meal planning for under $5 a day” video, and it turns out they used their parents’ bulk food store membership and then bought only sale items with coupons. I mean, it’s not a lie – it’s just not something I could do. So, I figured by finding a more expensive price point, most people are bound to find these items for less money and can put the extra cash towards some spices, additional veggies, or buying gas for their car. I get it – I budget, too!

How to Eat a Vegan Keto Diet on a Budget: Actionable Tips

Stock Up During a Sale (& find coupons!)

One thing I learned about saving money on food when I worked at a grocery store is that sales provide an ample opportunity to save money and don’t just happen when products are going out of code. Sometimes the manufacturer or distributor will offer a super low price to entice the supermarket into buying more and the store will then pass that onto you. Sometimes it’s because an overzealous buyer has accidentally ordered a pallet of product they don’t normally fly through instead of a case. The latter reason is how I ended up buying a ton of shirataki noodles last year for under $1 each.

This obviously only works with products that have a long shelf life, but a sale on peanut butter or Beyond Burgers can really make a difference, budget-wise. Additionally, there are often coupons that coincide with sales. I usually check the manufacturer’s site when I see a product I love on sale, as well as the store’s available coupons. I also use a free app called Ibotta, which gives instant rebates back on grocery products and a lot more. Through sales, coupons, and Ibotta, I once got a $30 tub of protein powder for just $8. Obviously, I bought more than one!

Try Amazon or Other Online Retailers

I’m obsessed with hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds). They are so nutrient-dense and basically the perfect vegan keto food. They can also be quite spendy in the grocery store.  In fact, my local grocery store charges around $17/lb for these bad boys. No bueno. Amazon however, has 1lb bags of hemp hearts for under $10. That’s a pretty steep difference! Similar price differences exist across several product categories.

Keep it Simple

Eating a vegan keto diet for cheap is going to be a bit boring. While different sauces are tasty, they can be expensive, and making a sauce from scratch requires some investment in ingredients. If you are serious about sticking to a low carb or vegan keto diet but have a restricted budget, I would recommend spending a few extra dollars up front on some spices. Garlic powder can really make a huge difference and is pretty inexpensive. Same can be said for chili powder. I didn’t include either of these on the list below, but the large shaker of garlic powder is usually around $6-7, and lasts for months.

Bulk Bins for Some Things, But Not Everything

You would think that the bulk bin would be the cheapest option for everything, but it really isn’t. So many times, I’ve been really irritated to get home and realize I paid $1-2 more per pound for pepitas or sunflower seeds (for example) than I would have just by buying the 1lb bag. It’s definitely a good idea to price compare when you are standing in front of the bulk bins in a store.

I’ve found that spices are usually much cheaper in bulk bins, as are things like nutritional yeast, but nuts and seeds can be all over the place.

You can also buy items in bulk online. I tend to buy 4 lb bags of things like coconut flour and 2 lb bags of pepitas from Amazon because it makes everything much cheaper in the long run.

Frozen Is Your Friend

There is nothing wrong with buying frozen veggies, especially when you are on a budget. I tend to keep bags of frozen spinach and broccoli on hand at all times because they’re relatively inexpensive and they last so long. While fresh veggies certainly retain more of some nutrients, especially as cooking degrades B vitamins and vitamin C, frozen veggies are still quite nutrient-dense.

Recommended frozen foods: spinach, broccoli, cauliflower (& cauli rice)

Vegan Keto Budget Shopping List

For the following shopping list, I used Whole Foods Market prices for these products. Why? Because I figure that this is more or less the peak price, so you can most likely grab all of these items for cheaper somewhere else. A few items (well, basically just the hemp hearts) came from the Amazon price, and I’ve linked to them so you can order/see for yourself. :)

The following shopping list provides the following daily nutrition and price. Because the 2lb of celery puts things a little over the edge in terms of price and carbs, I’ve listed the totals for the list without celery in parentheses.

  • Calories: 1538 (1519 without the celery)
  • Protein: 72.8g (71.9 without the celery)
  • Net Carbs: 22.4g (20.6g without the celery)
  • Cost: $5.07 ($4.78 without the celery)

Vegan Keto Budget Shopping List Notes:

  • I definitely don’t recommend this as a long-term fully nutritionally complete diet, but it’s actually a lot healthier than most people are eating now. You will definitely need a B12 supplement, though, and a multi wouldn’t hurt.
  • I think eating vegetables is important, even on a budget, so there are several servings of veggies listed for each day. Is it ideal? No, but you’ll be eating almost 3/4 of a pound of veggies every day, which is pretty great for such a tight budget.
  • Again, these prices are based off of Whole Foods Market prices – you can almost definitely find everything cheaper elsewhere. I figured this was a good baseline so that eating a vegan keto diet on a budget was as accessible as possible.
  • If you really need to keep things limited to under $5/day, cutting out the celery will accomplish this.
  • The price for nutritional yeast is based off the 1lb  price of $10.70 on Amazon, and is for 1/4 lb (4oz) per week. You can actually find it cheaper in stores for about $9.99/lb in the bulk bin. Definitely recommend this!
  • To make this soy-free, simply purchase a second jar of peanut butter in lieu of the tofu. You will only need to use 1/4 of the jar per week. This will bring the daily carbs to 22.9g, and protein will drop to 70.0g. The daily calories will jump to 1581. The price will remain below.
  • For a peanut-free/nut-free plan, just sub out the peanut butter for sunflower seed butter. This will increase the cost to $5.57/day.
  • I will be putting out another post on making recipes and meals out of this list, so stay tuned!

Drumroll please… Vegan Keto for $5 a Day

  • Peanut butter – 14oz – $2.49
  • Hemp Hearts – 1 lb – $9.88
  • Frozen Spinach (x2) – 1lb – $1.69 ($3.38 total)
  • Tofu, extra firm – 14oz – $1.99
  • Nutritional Yeast – 4oz – $2.68 (see note above)
  • Pepitas – 12oz – $5.74
  • Fresh Zucchini – 1lb – $1.33
  • Fresh Celery – 2lb – $1.99
  • Olive oil – $16.9oz – $5.99

As a reminder, the previous list yields the following nutrition:

  • Calories: 1538 (1519 without the celery)
  • Protein: 72.8g (71.9 without the celery)
  • Net Carbs: 22.4g (20.6g without the celery)
  • Cost: $5.07 ($4.78 without the celery)

Join the Conversation

  1. Brittany Roy says:

    I would love to see a meal plan with this list!

    1. Liz Author says:

      It’s coming, Brittany! Lots of recipe testing going on :D

  2. I am so excited to see this meal plan that I just signed up with my email, so I won’t miss out!

  3. Thanks for the inspiration! Ive been wondering how to achieve this on a budget! I can see how the veg / seeds / nuts could easily sub to provide variety depending what is on sale / in season.
    Heres an idea for two meals with this list:
    Peanut butter ‘ants on a stick’ for breakfast / lunch / snacks (put peanut butter in celery stalk and sub pepitas for the usual sultanas). For lunch / dinner, fry up or bake the tofu and zuchinni in the olive oil, put on a bed of spinach mixed with nutritional yeast and sprinkle with hemp hearts.

    1. Hi Michelle, thank you so much for these recommendations! They sound delicious and super easy to make as well. And exactly – depending on the season and availability, some veggies will be cheaper at certain times of year. Frozen veggies are also a great option as they’re usually super inexpensive compared to fresh!

  4. omg you need to start a youtube channel seriously I just disovered your blog and I’m in love! Thank you for all the hard work and effort you put into your posts x I always larn something new and I really enjoyed the halva recipe. I can’t wait to make more stuff!

    1. Hi Diana, thank you so much for the kind words! I would LOVE to start a youtube channel, but have no idea how to make videos. Maybe that’s a fun project to take on soon, though :D

  5. Is there a budget meal plan coming soon? I would buy one in a heartbeat! I love this blog, it’s been a great support!

    1. Hi Helen, there is! It’s in the works now. It’s a challenge to make a plan that is low budget, nutritionally complete and also not terribly boring :D

  6. Renee Arias says:

    Thanks for the post. I’d like to see more of this. I’ve been doing vegan keto for almost 2 years but currently really struggling to keep low carb on a tight budget. I’m currently working on my weekly plan. So far I’ve come up with this:
    Breakfast: protein shake 2 days, scrambled tofu and low carb veggies 4 days
    Lunch and Dinner: veggie stir fry with sesame seeds 2 days, salad with pumpkin seeds and 1/2 avocado 1 day, low carb beans with 1/2 an avocado 2 days, zoodles w/ marinara and vegan meatballs 2 days.
    Snacks: spoonful of peanut butter and a glass of almondmilk, a few blueberries and a handful of walnuts

    I punched them into Cronometer and got a range of 40-60net carbs, 1300-1600 calories, 30-60 grams protein and 60-80 grams fat. Plus multivitamin and electrolytes. Not really ideal so if anyone has tips I’ll appreciate it. These things were all everyday low prices, clearance or in the case of the pb jar free with a coupon. So this idea is unique to this week’s shopping trip.

  7. izzi henshaw says:

    Hey! I want to start a vegan keto diet on a budget, and this was so useful! I’m excited to start this!
    I was wondering where I could find a meal plan using the ingredients you listed?
    thank you so much :) xxx

  8. Please notify me when you formulate a meal plan with these ingredients. I will definitely shell out for it.

  9. Joseph Smith says:

    Have you made the meal plan yet?

  10. Did you develop a meal plan for this? Where might I find/buy it?

  11. Liz, can you please direct us to the meal ideas that were to follow this awesome list from 6 years ago???????

    1. Hi, Darlene – great question! I actually pulled the plan down, due to the crazy inflation we’re experiencing. However, I am working on re-tooling it now to work with today’s insane prices. :)

      1. Thank you Liz … cause I actually just purchased this list and it only came to 6.50 a day as of Jan 15 2024 and I am excited to get meals other than my ideas together. I so look forward to it.

  12. Hi again Liz!! I exchanged the pepitas for chia and added 1 quart of soy milk and 1 bag frozen berries (peanut butter chia pudding for breakfast with a few berries on top ) … still only $7.00 a day where I live and meeting my protein and caloric needs … … loving it! Just under $220.00 a month and that is half of what I was spending and NO PROTEIN POWDERS!!! You are the best!

    1. Darlene, this is incredible!!! I’m so happy to hear this :D

  13. Just fyi, it is much cheaper to buy spices at Indian grocery stores (if there is one where you live). Literally it can be 5x cheaper, and you can get a big amount one time and use it for a while.

    1. Liz Author says:

      This is a great tip, thank you!

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