I'm vegan, and I spend about $175 a month on groceries — here's exactly what I buy

Devon DelfinoThe author, pictured, spends about $US175 a month on groceries.
  • I’m a vegan living outside San Francisco, and I spend about $US175 a month on groceries.
  • I cook most of my meals at home and typically rely on a few key staples that I use over and over again.
  • I get my groceries from two markets near me: Trader Joe’s and Safeway. Here’s exactly what I buy.

When it comes to groceries, it’s relatively easy for me to stay on budget – I’m vegan, I like simple foods, and I’m fine with cooking in bulk and eating the same meal for a few days.

That’s why I need to spend only about $US175 a month on groceries.

I have a few reliable, easy meals I make often: baked veggies and tofu, rice with stir fry, and baked sweet-potato fries. I try to experiment with the few items I have to work with in the kitchen – for example, adding a different vegetable to the mix or opting to steam, rather than bake, one or two of the existing ingredients – to stave off boredom.

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The hardest obstacle to staying on budget is premade foods such as veggie burgers, prechopped produce, and microwaveable meals, so I have to be more conscious of those items when I go to the store. I’ve cut most of those out of my usual grocery list to keep costs low, but I try to give myself at least one or two of those quick meals a month. That way, I can relax for those days when I’ve got three deadlines, piles of laundry to do, and my dog has a vet appointment.

I also try my best to stick to my grocery list, shop seasonally, and put blinders on when I go past all the tempting last-minute buys that used to entice me. That said, I’m willing to go a bit over my budget if I need to stock up on things such as spices, sauces, or other items that tend to last at least a few weeks but cost more up front.

Read more:We’re a vegan millennial couple that spends around $US415 a month on groceries -here’s exactly what we buy

Here’s a breakdown of my typical $US175-a-month grocery list in Brentwood, California, about an hour outside of San Francisco.

Trader Joe’s — weekly: $US31.44

Shutterstock/Jeff Bukowski

I love Trader Joe’s – there are plenty of vegan options (read: delicious junk food that’s conveniently marked as vegan, such as cookies and vegetable panang curry), their store-brand products are solid, and the produce is usually high quality. I’ll occasionally treat myself to a new-to-me vegan item, but for the most part I stick to my staple foods:

  • Canned garbanzo beans – $US3.16
  • Tofu – $US5.37
  • Canned corn – $US1.78
  • Spinach – $US1.99
  • Sweet potatoes – $US3.67
  • Avocados – $US2.99 (Note: I won’t buy these when the cost is more than $US1.50 per avocado.)
  • Bananas – $US1.33
  • Fuji apples – $US4.67
  • Cucumbers – $US1.49
  • Grape tomatoes – $US2.49
  • Cauliflower – $US2.50.

Trader Joe’s — monthly: $US13.44 (or more)


There are also some items I buy at Trader Joe’s only about once a month:

  • Vegan tikka masala – $US3.69
  • Bell peppers – $US1.99
  • Pasta – $US1.29
  • Marinara sauce – $US1.79
  • Marinated artichoke hearts – $US2.69
  • Peanut butter – $US1.99.

Safeway — every other week: $US10.61

For some reason, Trader Joe’s doesn’t have cheap staples. I can’t justify buying small amounts of organic rice when I so frequently use it, so I usually go to the local Safeway to stock up on such items. Lucky for me, it’s on my way home from Trader Joe’s, so I can easily pick up a few items:

  • Rice – $US4.12
  • Cracked wheat sourdough – $US2.99
  • Almond milk – $US3.50.

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