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

Devon DelfinoDevon Delfino

  • I'm a vegan living outside San Francisco, and I spend about $175 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 only need to spend about $175 a month on groceries.

I have a few reliable, easy meals I make often: baked veggies and tofu, rice with stir fry, 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.

The hardest obstacle to staying on budget is pre-made foods like veggie burgers, pre-chopped 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.

Related: We're a vegan millennial couple that spends around $415 a month on groceries -here's exactly what we buy

I also try my best to stick to my grocery list, shop seasonally, and put blinders on when I go past all of 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 like spices, sauces, or other items that tend to last at least a few weeks but cost more up front.

Here's a breakdown of my typical $175-a-month grocery list in Brentwood, California, about an hour outside of San Francisco.

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Trader Joe's — weekly: $31.44

Trader Joe's — weekly: $31.44

I love Trader Joe’s — there are plenty of vegan options (read: delicious junk food that’s conveniently marked as vegan, like 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 — $3.16
  • Tofu — $5.37
  • Canned corn – $1.78
  • Spinach — $1.99
  • Sweet potatoes – $3.67
  • Avocados — $2.99 (Note: I won’t buy these when the costs is more than $1.50 per avocado)
  • Bananas — $1.33
  • Fuji apples — $4.67
  • Cucumbers — $1.49
  • Grape tomatoes — $2.49
  • Cauliflower — $2.50

Trader Joe’s — monthly: $13.44 (or more)

Trader Joe’s — monthly: $13.44 (or more)

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

  • Vegan tikka masala — $3.69
  • Bell peppers — $1.99
  • Pasta — $1.29
  • Marinara sauce — $1.79
  • Marinated artichoke hearts — $2.69
  • Peanut butter — $1.99

Safeway — every other week: $10.61

Safeway — every other week: $10.61

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 those. Lucky for me, it’s on my way home from Trader Joe’s, so I can easily pick up a few items:

  • Rice — $4.12
  • Cracked wheat sourdough — $2.99
  • Almond milk — $3.50
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