A Vegan Diet on a Budget: Harmonizing your Mind + Wallet

Have you ever arrived at the store and wondered, what the hell am I doing here?

I feel like it happens to all of us at some point or another. But what if I told you three easy steps to not only make food shopping an easier process but all of those foods were vegan and didn’t sacrifice on flavor either. Not only that but WHAT IF you could supply consciously bought food that’s good for you, your family AND your wallet – totaling everything out to around 100 dollars. Here we’ll go over three ways to switch to a low-cost vegan diet that WON’T kill your bank account. If ethical reasoning is more of a concern than cost, know that vegans spare the lives of about 190 animals a year, and their carbon footprint is about half of the average meat + dairy consumer. With that in consideration, even participating in Meatless Monday can make a huge difference.

It all starts at home believe it or not.

You might have heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen” but maybe it might be easier to start with something a little less abrasive. Instead of your health movement focusing so much on the physical outcome, let’s tone it down a notch. We can further simplify this statement to the well-known Hippocrates quote “let food be thy medicine”. Though, if we think of it – that’s where it really starts – is in the kitchen!

Taking this time to slow it down does your mentality some good in my eyes. Making it more health-focused is a positive start on this journey. Honestly, if you don’t have your “why” down – it probably won’t stick. Even if you don’t have the time, energy, or funds to get into a gym, following even this ONE step can make a huge impact. Little changes can lead up to big changes. After a while, you’ll likely feel the difference in your physical and mental function after certain foods. Giving yourself the space to set yourself up to meet your goals for the whole week is a privilege in itself! I have vegan recipes like low-fat gluten-free pesto and buffalo seitan with blue cheese kale that I rotate in my own monthly meal planning.

Vegan food
Buffalo Seitan Blue Cheese Kale
vegan food on a budget
Vegan GF Pesto

It’s okay if you’re not the best at cooking either, that comes with time! The fact that you’re even reading this is opening the pathway to change! Being a vegan for over a decade has taught me so many things, and the biggest misconception about a vegan diet (besides the whole protein thing) is that it’s expensive.

Know that you’re taking this time to benefit your body with wholesome, delicious foods. By using a few hours once a week – you’re setting yourself up for sucess for the coming week.

Bringing a grocery list eliminates the chance of splurging on items you don’t actually need.

After shopping this way a few times, it’s second nature to me. I go in for exactly what I need, and nothing else. Since I’m pretty familiar with my local whole foods, I know what I’ll need to outsource. Offsetting the cost of boxed items in whole foods is a GAME CHANGER.

I utilize Thrive Market for all of my items I’d normally buy in the boxed and packaged section. Think dry goods, pasta, snacks, and supplements. You can get 25% off using my link, but under no obligation are you required to. I just want to share what I believe to be an awesome tool at budgeting a vegan diet. The only time I defer from using this app is emergencies, and every time that happens my wallet suffers. You can even toggle lifestyle choices like “vegan diet” or “gluten-free” for easy purchasing.

For in-store purchasing, I like to use the app Planny to go with my written list, and you can check off items as you go. You can digitize your daily check-list to help with optimal routine productivity.

Plan, plan, PLAN. I’m talking workbooks, excel sheets, pintrest folders – everything!

When done right, meal planning won’t be extremely difficult, and only involves minimal planning. Remember the goal is NOT a race towards health, its to enjoy the ride! When starting out, planning a different meal plan each week might be the best. I prepare two meals, and a snack for each day since I mostly intermittent fast through the week and don’t usually eat breakfast (I have an easy intro guide here!)

I make a monthly meal-prep list, which isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Since I buy in bulk whenever cost-effective, I prefer a months view to encourage variability with my meals. I source most of my meals from Pintrest, and even when I don’t directly source a vegan meal from there – I find a LOT of inspiration there, and in the vegan community on Instagram. As I said, I plan lunch, and dinner, with a snack to add in. Personally, I like to come up with some ideas well before the actual day I’ll be prepping to ensure a solid structure. I loosely follow my macros, and strive to have a 65-100g of protien depending on my daily activites.

I’m working on building a vegan meal plan that will be available soon! It’ll include a grocery list, nutritional info, and I’m hoping some video content sometime in the very near future! So make sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter, and following on your favorite social media for updates on exactly when!

Infront of Boca Raton Whole Foods

So what it really comes down to is this:

Following a vegan diet CAN be expensive – but doesn’t HAVE to be. When you shy away from processed foods and rely more on whole nutritious food, the difference can be life-changing.

1. A successful, proportionate vegan diet starts at home in the kitchen.

2. Bringing a grocery list and STICKING TO IT is essential!

3. Plan absolutely EVERYTHING so you won’t get tired of your prepped meals or run out of food.

A little bonus tip: don’t be afraid to get creative! If things don’t work out, odds are you’ll learn something from trying. I’ve created some of my best recipies in failed attempts.

Intermittent fasting made easy – tips and tricks

Have you ever wondered what in the world is intermittent fasting?

 Does it just make you think of not eating for an entire day? That’s far from the truth – though I’m working my way to a day fast if we’re being honest. Intermittent fasting is a cycling pattern between eating and fasting.  

Some people report higher energy levels, less brain fog, and curbed cravings. I used to be one of those people that got hangry, you know – hungry and angry? Like to the MAX. Since starting intermittent fasting I really notice a difference when it comes to my appetite and how to control it. 

Common cycles include: 

16:8 (16 hours fasting – 8 hour eating window.)

18:16 (18 hours fasting – 6 hour eating window.)

12:12 (sunrise to sunset)

Extended day fasts

With the paleo diet on the rise, it’s no wonder more people are picking up intermittent fasting in hopes of going back to our early human kind roots.

It’s common knowledge that we’d have to forage for food, and with foraging comes having to go days with little to no sustenance. In doing this, we get rid of all the broken down, old cell parts when there’s no longer enough energy to sustain them. It is a regulated, orderly process to degrade and recycle cellular components. Fasting is thought to help this process along, sort of like an induced apoptosis (aka programed cell death.)

Think of this as your cells cleaning up around the house, Marie Kondo style. They’re looking around at their surroundings, and figuring out what is essential to keep since energy is at a higher demand for more functional cells. Intermittent fasting prompts your cells to do this function more often than when you’re not fasting, because you’re functioning in a deficit. 

Along with cellular repair, intermittent fasting is supposed to have other benefits too. One that I can personally attest to is improved insulin sensitivity. Like I said before, hanger was a HUGE issue, and I felt bad for anyone in my path when the time hit. Nowadays, that’s not the case, I’m resilient – ha!

Now, if you’re just starting to experiment with intermittent fasting, I personally recommend to take it slow. 

say you normally have breakfast at 8 am and get hungry again around looking around the office for snacks around 11 am. Try waiting until 9 am to have breakfast. You can even use an app like @zerofasting to help track your progress. They have preset fast ratios to choose from, and you can even set your own – they make it super simple for you! I used to write it down in a journal, and personally find this app to be VERY helpful and informational.

Once you’re comfortable bumping up the time you wait until breakfast, act accordingly to adjusting the time you eat lunch.

You may notice that with not eating right when you wake up, your food cravings may change as well. For example, something I’ve observed in my partner is when he doesn’t start his day with a carb-centric meal, he has an easier time waiting until the next meal.

You should be mindful during this process, there is no rush to health.

Be sure to drink PLENTY of water, and notice how you feel after eating certain foods. Maybe even break your fast with some vegan pesto or some buffalo seitan + dairy-free blue cheese massaged kale. If you’re looking for more on-the-go snacks or meals and don’t want to sacrifice your health, my favorite site is Thrive Market (hint: it won’t break the bank either.)

Like I mentioned above, there IS the option for a full day fast. I wouldn’t recommend this for the novice. If you’re doing this, I would try to make sure it’s at most a once a week ordeal. Because you doesn’t want to cause too much stress on your body and have negative effects, you need to take it slow.

If you’re new to this, maybe start out with a sunrise to sunset fast! And don’t forget, to take it easy, there isn’t a race to health! Besides, who wants to be known as the hangry person trying a new diet?

I personally love doing 16:8 on week days, and not fasting on the weekends.

Have you tried intermittent fasting before? Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments below, especially if you have a good app recommendation – we’re all about accessability and accountability here!

Vegan Buffalo Seitan and Blue Cheese Kale Recipe

A crazy fact about me is 2018 was the first time I ever tried the combination of buffalo sauce and blue cheese. I know, absolutely wild.

My partner is obsessed with the pairing and after trying it, I get it.

Lately, I’ve been trying to take these typical combos and get a little more creative, you know, think outside the box. I think you’ll love this mix of spicy buffalo seitan with massaged, tender, kale tossed in creamy blue cheese sauce will hopefully be in your rotation of meal prep. I did sort of cheat this time around, and used pre-packaged buffalo dip as my sauce for the seitan – but it happens! I’m actually glad I decided to make the purchase in the first place because it helped satisfy my curiosity if I could really nail this – and I think I did it! A complete game changer was massaging the kale! Seriously – this is a MUST!


You’ll need to add about 2 tablespoons to ~ 3 cups chopped kale (stems removed!), and quite a few cranks of Himalayan pink salt.

If you’re anything like me, your favorite part will be getting to play with my food and massage the hell out of it! Really! Spend a good amount of time doing this, or until you get your desired texture. You’ll want to spend about 3-5 minutes scrunching the kale in your hands and just overall really working it all together. This helps break down the plant cell walls, as cruciferous vegetables can be well, you know, quite crunchy and sometimes surprisingly tough for a leaf.

After your kale is perfectly tender, just gently coated it with the Follow Your Heart Blue Cheese sauce (the best vegan one I’ve found to date.)

I also kind of cheated, and used a store bought buffalo dip as my base.

If you need the extra reassurance that this will be a good combo, or you’re low on time, or if you’re lazy, it’s just really freakin’ good. You could easily use this as a dip too (with a little sprucing up, perhaps some vegan cheese, or maybe even some smashed chickpeas for a heartier consistency – or BOTH!)

You’ll add this as the last step in preparing your seitan,

It’s just combining and heating essentially. You can add more buffalo sauce to the dip to thin it out a little, but I think that was more personal preference than necessity.

Seitan is something I’ve been experimenting with more and more as of late, and I really love it! I find it so much more versatile than the frozen meat replacement foods you usually find in the grocery store. Something I’m definitely going to work on in 2019 is getting my processed food intake way down. By no means do I eat processed foods a lot – but I really want to eat as clean and unprocessed as possible in 2019. You can even find seitan available online dried, in stores (by the tofu usually), or you can even make it yourself! I’m not that brave yet – but one day I’ll tackle the task! If you have any good seitan recipes, be sure to link them below! You can cook it on medium heat with a little olive oil, tossing frequently, and cooking until golden.

Overall, I think this meal idea is perfect for the seasoned vegan, and for newcomers alike! As far as cooking skills, you’ll want to be comfortable with cooking seitan (or just comfortable sauteeing in general), as it sometimes sticks (depending on your cookware and knowing when to add more oil).





Things you’ll need!

  • Seitan (I used about 1 cup total)
  • Buffalo sauce – 2 tsp
  • “Good Foods” Buffalo dip – 1 package
  • Kale, raw, stem taken off & chopped – 4 cups
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 6 tsp
  • “Follow Your Heart” Blue cheese vegan dressing – 2.5 tsp
  • “Follow Your Heart” Parmesan-style cheese ( I would have used nutritional yeast if I had some in the house, and would have probably preferred that)
  • Pink Himalayan salt
  • Cracked black pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prep kale by taking off the stem, and roughly chop.
  2. Add ~ 2 to 3 tsp olive oil to kale and toss, add a good pinch of the Himalayan salt while you’re preparing everything else & let it hang out.
  3. Massage kale anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. Time will vary due to individual kale toughness
  4. Lightly oil pan and add seitan, sautee until golden & crispy
  5. When seitan is done, turn the burner off, keep in the pan, add buffalo dip, and combine evenly
  6. (If the sauce is too thick, add some regular buffalo sauce at this point)
  7. Add vegan blue cheese style dressing to kale – be sure to add small amounts at a time to make sure you’re not drowning your kale. I like the kale to the be the main even – not the dressing.
  8. I kept my buffalo seitan and massaged kale separately, while my partner added his seitan on top of the kale – it’s all up to you!

That’s it! Pretty simple for the most part! I’m really excited to play around with buffalo and creamy dressings. I’m looking forward to experimenting and trying to make my own blue cheese style dressing.

If you try this out, please let me know! You can find me across the board @quartzandbees. Maybe chickpeas, next time. What do you think?

vegan food on a budget

Vegan Gluten Free Low Fat Pesto Recipe

So, growing up with a mother who had Celiac disease (I’m talking way before gluten was a hot topic) I had the “privilege” to try all sorts of grain free pasta fifteen something years ago. I’ve found red lentil pasta to be my favorite as of late, though, I try to switch up all the foods I consistently eat, that way my diet is never stagnant. I can go into pasta for an entire day, with pleasure, I mean, we ALL love pasta, right?

This weekend I made it my mission to get creative in the kitchen and figure out a creamy sauce that wasn’t high in fat. I’m a sucker for a good cashew-cream sauce, it’s kind of my go-to, but the fat content was absolutely demolishing any dreams of keeping my diet balanced. This recipe is down-right delicious and I didn’t expect to fall in love with tofu all over again. I do try to keep soy-based products at a minimum, however, it’s solemnly in my diet, and I personally feel the exchanging cashew-cream sauces for creamy sauces high in soy are quite alright. It’s safe to say I will be experimenting in the coming weeks and see what else I can do with this highly versatile food.

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Oh, I’ve been on a strict budget as of late, so I will be posting the approximate cost of my meals, as well as nutritional information whenever possible! I’d like to help crush the myth that living a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to come at a high price tag.

Prep time for this green machine is incredibly quick (especially if you have a powerful blender aka the heart of my kitchen: my vitamix) Of course, you can change things around according to your dietary needs and your taste buds, feel more than free to merely use this as a guide of sorts!

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Prep time: legitimately under 5 min.

Cost: ~$16

  • 349g silken tofu (I used one small package)
  • ~3 tsp of nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups FRESH basil
  • ¾ cup of almond milk
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
  • 4 cloves raw garlic
  • The tiniest bit of yellow miso – it’s my secret! Gives the perfect hint of funk for vegan cheeses!
  • Salt and pepper to taste!

– BLEND INTO SAUCE-

That’s it! So freakin’ easy! Heres the nutritional info too! I made this for lunch for the week, and I was able to get 5 servings from it! Hope you gain some inspiration from this & let me know if you find any amazing additions!

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