Budget-Friendly Vegan Instant Pot Recipes + Budget-Friendly Grocery Tips

Some of the most common content requests I get are (a) more Instant Pot recipes and (b) easy and budget-friendly everyday recipes. So I thought I’d combine those two requests and create three Budget-Friendly Easy Vegan Instant Pot Recipes!

Check out the video over on Youtube for all recipes, including the money-saving tips and swaps I made to keep these recipes extremely affordable.

You’ll find two dinner/lunch recipes for Instant Pot Mexican Rice and Beans and Instant Pot Lentil and Cabbage Soup, along with a breakfast recipe for Instant Pot Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal!

In addition to these budget-friendly vegan Instant Pot recipes, I thought I’d share some of my tips for saving money at the grocery store!

Buy in Bulk

One of my biggest money-saving tips at the grocery store is to buy ingredients in bulk as much as possible. At nearly every grocery store, buying in bulk will save you money. Plus, buying in bulk is better for the environment because you can bring your own reusable bags and not buy more packaged and plastic goods. It also makes it less likely that you will waste food because you can buy the exact quantity of ingredients you need.

Shop the Perimeter

Another tip that you may already be familiar with is to shop the perimeter. The perimeter of nearly every grocery store will contain the healthiest and often cheapest items, such as fresh produce and other whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods.

In contrast, the center aisles are usually filled with packaged foods that are usually not as healthy and often a waste of money. Sure, not all fresh produce is cheap (and not all packaged food is terrible), but if you shop in season and avoid fancy, exotic fruits and veggies (I’m looking at you, passionfruit), your grocery bill will be reasonable!

In other words, sticking to a whole foods plant based diet is one of the best things you can do for your body, the planet, AND your wallet!

Buy Organic Only When Necessary

In the United States, organic produce is grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. So, yes, buying organically grown fruits and vegetables can be better for your health than buying conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, but if organic is not in your budget, don’t fret.

First of all, you don’t have to choose between (a) eating organic vegetables and fruits and (b) not eating vegetables and fruits at all. Eating conventionally grown vegetables and fruits is way better for you than not eating vegetables and fruits at all. If you skip out on eating your greens and berries, where will you get all those vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that your body needs?

Second, consult the Dirty Dozen list, the Environmental Working Group’s list of the vegetables and fruits that are laden with the most pesticides. I recommend bookmarking the website on your phone or computer or taking a screenshot of the list on your phone so you can easily consult it when you’re grocery shopping. Once you know which veggies and fruits are likely to contain a lot of pesticides, you can focus on either (a) buying organic varieties of only those items and buying conventional varieties for the rest of your produce, or (b) not buying these items at all, or buying them occasionally or when the organic varieties are on sale.

Finally, if you are concerned not just about your wallet but also the health of the planet, you should know that organic farming isn’t always better for the environment. In fact, in some cases, it can be a bit worse, since organic farms often require more land.

Shop Bottom Shelves and Generic Brands

If you haven’t noticed this yet, grocery stores usually put the most expensive brands at eye-level. This seems pretty obvious since they want you to spend more money! But if you crouch down a little, you’ll find that the most inexpensive brands (and often generic brands) are hanging out on the bottom shelves.

And depending on what store you shop at, the grocery store’s house brand is almost always going to be cheaper than other brands. At Whole Foods, the 365 in-house brand is really affordable (even the organic 365 line is rather affordable), and its my go-to brand for nearly everything except the occasional specialty item.

Stock up on Dried Staples

As mentioned earlier, one of the cheapest items you can buy at the grocery store are staples in a whole foods plant based diet. These include whole grains—from brown rice to bulgur to millet—along with legumes and beans—lentils, split peas, and beans.

In the Instant Pot Mexican Beans and Rice recipe featured in this video, I mention that I bought long-grain brown rice in the bulk section at Whole Foods for 75 cents peer pound. There’s very little you can buy in New York City for less than $1, so being able to buy a whole pound of brown rice (which amounts to 8-10 servings when cooked) for less than a $1 is pretty spectacular.

Additionally, buying dried beans and lentils instead of the canned variety will also save you money. I know that canned beans aren’t the most expensive item at the grocery store, but if you eat a lot of legumes, you’ll definitely save money over the long-run if you opt for dried beans over canned.

Again, in the Instant Pot Mexican Beans and Rice recipe, I bought dried pinto beans for $1.29 per pound in the bulk section at Whole Foods. At $1.29, a pound of beans amounts to 7 cups of cooked beans, or 18 cents per cup of beans. In contrast, a 15-ounce can of pinto beans costs $0.79 at Whole Foods (at other stores in New York City, a can of beans can easily cost $2-3). A 15-ounce can of beans has 1 3/4 cups of cooked beans, or 45 cents per cup of beans. While a price savings of 27 cents per cup doesn’t seem like a lot, if you regularly eat beans and lentils, you will definitely notice a difference over the long run.

And in the Instant Pot Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal recipe featured in this video, I bought organic steel-cut oats in the bulk section at Whole Foods for $1.49 per pound. In contrast, packaged organic steel-cut oats cost more than $3 per pound.

Get Back to Basics

As a food blogger and photographer, I am all too familiar with the temptations of buying exotic foods and trying new products. After all, it’s part of my job. But if you are on a budget, you’ll be best served if you stick to the basics. I already mentioned a few above (e.g., brown rice, lentils, oats, etc.), but this also applies to vegetables and fruits.

At any grocery store, basic vegetables like onions, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage are going to be cheaper than more exotic vegetables like artichokes and broccolini. And buying greens in whole (whole heads of kale and spinach) instead of the pre-washed, pre-bagged variety will also save you money (and are better for the environment).

I hope you find these Budget-Friendly Grocery Tips useful and incorporate them into your weekly grocery shopping! If you try any of these Budget-Friendly Vegan Instant Pot Recipes, be sure to leave me a comment over on Youtube!