Day 3 Living Below the Line: Why eating vegan food is cheaper

Day 3 Living Below the Poverty Line Why Eating Vegan Is Cheaper

I’m really getting into the swing of this now.  I actually feel like in some ways this week has been a bit too easy for me.  I eat very similar foods to this normally (with more treats) and the portion sizes are very similar to what I’ve been used to do.  The hardest thing for me has been the time I’ve spent planning the meals to make sure that they:

  • Are within the budget of £5 per person per 5 days
  • Are within the budget of £1 per person per day
  • Are healthy and balanced
  • Are filling
  • Will have a small amount of variation

So I’ve had to calculate the cost of each ingredient for each meal for the 3 of us and then for each person.  I’ve had to calculate the calories to ensure that we’re all getting the correct amount of calories as none of us are in a position that we can afford to lose any weight.   I’ve also calculated the nutrients to see whether the meals contain all the nutrients that balanced meals should do.  I also spent a fair amount of time over the weekend making the meals, and spend all evening blogging about the meals.  So when I actually sit down to eat the meals I breathe a sigh of relief that I can enjoy a rest and a lovely satisfying meal with my family.

I’m so enjoying this project though as it’s given me another focus rather than worrying about how I’m going to cope with 2 children and whether my labour will be as hard as my last one.

Wednesday’s Meals


Frugal Green Thickie No.3: Mint Refresher

Day 3 Breakfast Living Below the Poverty Line

** Please note that this post may contain affiliate links which means that I can receive a small payment if you make a purchase through my links.

I admitted in my post Why I stopped Drinking Green Smoothies that this pregnancy I’ve not been enjoying my green smoothies as much as I normally do.  For the first few months I couldn’t stomach them at all and for the rest of my pregnancy to be honest I’d rather be eating something else.  That’s hard for me to admit as my whole website is dedicated to green smoothies, but I know it’s just a pregnancy thing as I felt the same way during my last pregnancy.   I’m expecting to start enjoying them again soon after my baby is born.  I still have them a couple of times a week with my toddler as I know they are good for us and I want to make the most of the fact that she still loves them.

So after 3 days of drinking green smoothies, I can honestly say I’ve had enough of them now.  I don’t want anymore on Thursday and Friday but I do have the problem of only having the ingredients I bought for the challenge to eat for the next 2 days.  So I’m going to have to get creative with my smoothie ingredients, but I can promise you there will be no more green smoothies this week!  I will be sharing my frugal smoothie recipes soon though.

This smoothie was actually really nice.  I added some peppermint extract to it and it made it so refreshing.  My husband doesn’t like minty things so I left it out of his portion.

  • Oats £0.05
  • Flaxseeds £0.06
  • Spinach £0.08
  • Bananas £0.13
  • Peppermint Extract £0.01
  • Water: FREE

Total cost of breakfast: £0.33


Carrot & Ginger Soup with Homemade Wholewheat Chili Flat Bread, Apple & Cucumber batons

Day 3 Lunch Living Below the Poverty Line

I think my lunch description sounds more luxurious than it actually is.  I’m getting bored of this lunch now.  I’m not in soup mood at the moment so I can’t say I’m really enjoying this too much.  It’s tasty enough though and easy enough to eat, but can’t wait to eat something different on Saturday, I am craving a nice fresh salad with some pickled onions.

This is the lunch breakdown:

  • Carrots: £0.04
  • Onions: £0.02
  • Kidney Beans: £0.01
  • Oil: £0.01
  • Salt & Ginger: £0.01
  • Fresh Yeast: FREE (Tesco gives this away free at the bakery)
  • Wholemeal Flour: £0.06
  • Oil: £0.01
  • Salt £0.01
  • Water: FREE
  • 1/2 Apple: £0.06
  • Cucumber batons: £0.01

Total Cost of Lunch: £0.24

This lunch does seem to be exactly the right amount of food to fill me up from 12-5pm as I always seems to get hungry at that time this week.


Baked Potatoes with Cannellini Beans,  Cauliflower, Carrots and Garden Peas in a Garlic and Tomato Sauce, with a Mixed Vegetable Salad & French Dressing

Day 3 Dinner Living Below the Poverty Line

This was another gorgeous dinner and really is the kind of thing I’d normally eat.  I’d probably usually buy organic potatoes though and some fancier fresher veg but I really couldn’t tell from the taste of this meal that the ingredients were so cheap.  I ended up buying new potatoes as they were the cheapest potatoes in my local Tesco which is why there are a few small baked potatoes rather than one big one.

The breakdown of my dinner is:

  • Potatoes: £0.23
  • Oil: £0.01
  • Beans: £0.09
  • Spices: £0.01
  • Onion: £0.02
  • Water: FREE
  • Passata: £0.03
  • Frozen Veg: £0.03
  • Oil & Vinegar: £0.01

Total Cost of Dinner: £0.43

Total Cost for the day: £1.00

I’m quite surprised this meal came in the same price as last night’s as it didn’t feel quite as luxurious but it was still gorgeous.  It didn’t fill me up as much either and I stayed up too late, got a bit hungry and ate the remains of my daughter’s meal that I’d saved.  (I’m allowing myself to eat what she leaves as I’m pregnant, but I’m not having anything that I didn’t buy specifically to eat this week).

Why eating vegan food is cheaper

Going vegan can be as expensive as you want it to be.  It’s perfectly easy to stock up on unhealthy processed vegan food and meat substitutes such as fake bacon, fake ham, fake cheese etc. which can be very expensive.  Or you can go the other way as I have often done and end up buying too many ‘healthy’ vegan products from the health food shop such as organic brown rice miso or nutritional yeast etc.  and end up spending an absolute fortune.

A lot of people think vegan food has to be ‘specialist’ vegan food, labeled ‘suitable for vegans’ on it.  When I attend non vegan pot lucks and bring vegan food, people are surprised that the food I bring is vegan.  If I bring chocolate they can’t believe ‘this vegan chocolate tastes so good’.  Most of the time I don’t buy food that is labeled specifically for vegans, I just read the ingredients and see that there are no animals products in it.

However you can go one step better than that, you can simply buy fresh produce, fruit and vegetables which are all suitable for vegans.  This is the way to truly eat cheaply (and healthily) as a vegan.

If you base your diet around fruit, veg, potatoes, rice, pasta, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices then it will always be cheaper than eating animal products.  Everybody benefits from eating fruit and veg so people who eat animal products and want to be healthy should be buying all the healthy vegan basics and then will want to add some meat or cheese to the meal on top of that which will always be more expensive.  There are so many different types of dairy products and people seem to want a bit of everything in their meals, yoghurt, cheese, cream, milk will all be bought on a regular basis by most people including eggs and meat which will end up substantially increasing your shopping bill.

If you have a limited budget, often animal products will be out of the question.  If you think about my ingredients, I bought a big bag of dried beans and have eaten them for most of my evening meals.  As there are 3 of us I’ve got 12 portions of beans out of a bag costing £1.09.  They have really bulked up the meals making bean burger, bean hash and beans in a sauce.  If you were to buy a block of cheese instead costing the same price and tried to divide that by 12 you’d get a sliver so small you’d barely be able to see it let alone use it to base a meal around.

Then the next problem arises if you eat animal products on a budget.  For ethical and health reasons it’s much better to eat meat/dairy/eggs where the animals  have been pasture raised.  The animals have been raised in a healthy way, treated well while they were alive and the food they produce is much healthier for you to eat.  If you buy directly from the farms you know exactly where your meat has come from and you don’t end up eating horse meat by accident in your frozen lasagne.

The problem of course is that organic/ healthy/ ethical animal products cost an absolute fortune so if you’re on such a tight budget you probably don’t have this as an option.  That then leaves you at the mercy of cheap supermarket meat.  Do you really know exactly what’s in your cheap sausages?

I am fascinated by different diets that people eat all over the world and their subsequent health.  Check out these powerful photos of a weekly shop by different families across the world.  What a different lot we all are!  What the world eats – A week’s worth of groceries.  

I would also love it if you could sponsor me and donate to Tearfund to help support truly hungry people.  Thank you so much to those who have already donated.  I will be donating the remainder of my weekly food budget as I’ve saved a fortune this week.

If you want to catch up on my journey so far you can also read about How I’m going to live below the poverty line for 5 daysWhat food I bought to Live Below The Poverty Line and Day 1 Living Below the Line:  Finding out what true hunger really meansDay 2 Living Below the Line: Why eating unrefined food is essential on a budget.

Do you think you spend a lot on your weekly food shopping?  Where does most of your money go? Mine goes mainly on different types of fruit which is very expensive, but this project is teaching me that I could eat cheaper fruit more often and save a fair bit of money.


  1. JuneAnne says

    This is fascinating, Katherine. Well done you. :)

    I’ve recently completely overhauled my diet after realising how rubbish eating rubbish made me feel. I never eat processed foods and always make fresh family meals, but I was too reliant on sugar and high calorie junk food, thinking the sugar was keeping me going. Quite the opposite is true since changing my diet I’ve got so much more energy and am much more positive about life in general. It’s true what they say about you being what you eat. Hope you’re all well, JAxx

  2. where are the recipes please? I have tried to find them but no joy!

  3. How? Your calculation seems so unreal… That’s the problem that I have with so many of those recipes. It’s seems like you had 1/3 of a cucumber or even 1/4 and it’s 1ct? So the whole thing is just 3-4ct?
    I can’t believe that.
    I pay, even at the lowest price store still around 70ct for a cucumber… that’d be around 20ct.
    Do you dumpster dive or how is that possible?

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