College Vegan on a Budget: Under $50

A series about shopping for vegan groceries on a college budget, without compromising my values or health standards.

Another budget post? Yep, I’m just having a lot of fun doing these things and most importantly, I’m definitely improving on my budgeting skills. At least when it comes to grocery shopping. I needed another pair of jeans, so I hit up my city’s (lame) mall and ended up spending over $60 on a pair of burgundy jeggings at Hollister and a set of headbands at American Eagle. I didn’t need the headbands but they were so calling my name 😉 So obviously I’m still not great at saying ‘no’ when clothes shopping but what can you do when you’re a fashionista? Plus I justified it by saying I haven’t shopped for clothes in almost 3 months, so I was in desperate need (and still am) of some new pieces to freshen up my closet.

Anyways, this post is about groceries, not clothes. I was able to spend under $50 this weekend, and I shopped at two stores! This just goes to show that you can buy healthy, vegan foods at specialty stores and not burn a hole in your wallet. Obviously this was more of a stock-up-on-a-few-extras type of trip but it’s inspired me to try to pare down my regular shopping trips as well. I’m making a plan not to buy more than 1 or 2 special items a week–these things add up and I can’t afford to be buying multiple things over $5 or $6 each trip. So if one week I need more maple syrup, I’ll forgo buying some fancy nut butter or coconut aminos or whatever (I still want to buy those, BTW, but it’s $7 per bottle). I know that most of these more expensive items last longer, which is great, but I still can’t be buying them right and left.

My Sprouts mini-haul of the week.


What I Got: Medjool dates (much cheaper than at WF), plantain, garlic*, Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo bean flour (socca, here I come!), Metromint chocolate mint water, raw cashews, pomegranate, dried apple rings

What It Cost Me: $22.80

Verdict: I just really love Sprouts for their produce deals. The plantain was 99 cents, the pomegranate was $2.50 (and huge!), and the dried fruit is pretty cheap for having no added sugars or oils. There were a few more things I was planning on buying but decided not to to save money. But next time, I am definitely trying Zico pineapple coconut water!


Yummy Whole Foods buys.

Whole Foods

What I Got: Kaia sprouted party mix pumpkin seeds*, Chocolove peppermint dark chocolate bar, bulk cacao nibs, bulk almond flour, bulk maple pecans, 365 full fat coconut milk*, Vegan tropical protein powder, bulk olives, vegan chocolate mousse, sweet stuffed squash

What It Cost Me: $25.50

Verdict: The bulk bins save me again! I only have to buy what I need, so I end up saving a ton. Buying almond flour prepackaged costs about $8, but getting a quarter of a pound only cost me $1.20. And cacao nibs are usually very expensive but I got a small amount for just 98 cents! I prefer buying this way because I only make single lady meals, so I want my foods to stay fresh and by buying only what I need, I know it’ll stay fresh when I need it. 

I am super proud of my budgeting skills this week and I know I can make future shopping trips this cheap by watching what I’m spending my money on.

Do you do better at budgeting your grocery shopping or clothes shopping? What’s your policy on ‘splurge’ items?

13 thoughts on “College Vegan on a Budget: Under $50

  1. I know WF has a little magazine with coupons when you first walk in, so that would be a good thing to check to maybe save more? Also we have a store here called Earth Fare and every so often they do an additional 20% off any bulk bin purchase which is good too, they also have coupons on their website. Yesterday I got a free bag of organic lollipops just for spending $5. The lollipops alone were $4, so I just picked up some snack bars and a few other things and got them free… can we say Halloween candy for trick or treaters? Congrats on spending under $50!

  2. Great job on the budgeting, girlie 🙂 I tend to buy splurge items depending on what else I spent money on that week – so if I bought some makeup or clothes, I try to stick to the basics with food. And if I see that I’m running out of something that’s kind of an expensive but longer lasting staple (nut butters for example) then I’ll try to spend less on other things. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t 😆 But I’m definitely a lot more mindful than I used to be.

  3. You are doing so well with this Ashley, something to be proud of for sure! As I have said before, this is a very important message to learn, especially in college when money issues are abundant. Plus the foods we choose are often more pricey, but it can work! I need to start using the bulk bins more, I know they would save me a whole lot

    • Thank you, girl! I love how you said we can buy more expensive foods but still make it work for a budget. That’s what I’m trying to do with these posts, just show people that you can eat healthy and eat things you love while saving money!

  4. It’s totally great to budget! And the pricey extras can stay as a now-and-then treat, like you’re trying to do, but just make sure that you’re getting the cheaper version of them then and not just cutting them out and getting even *less* food and nutrients that you already do – that’s a bad trap! LIke if you skip the fancy nut butter, buy some good old Skippy. Or if you skip the sprouted bread, buy some good old store brand loaf bread!

    • That’s actually a really good tip! I’ve been making do with fresh ground almond butter from Sprouts that I don’t love as much but that is still great while the whole salmonella thing blows over and I can have my favorite mixed nut butter again!

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