Eating Clean in 2014: Vegetarian Pantry Essentials for Under $50

Happy New Year!

Like most of you, I have a set of goals for the new year. Along with finishing my first half-marathon, I want to make the effort to start eating more clean. By eating clean I mean incorporating more meals into my diet made with whole foods. I’m generally good with my diet. Since I’m a vegetarian, I don’t eat a lot of saturated fat that comes along with eating meat, and I eat plenty of fruits and veggies. My one downfall is sugar, especially in the form of sweets like chocolate. The holidays? Ha! I’m surprised I didn’t turn into a Christmas cookie. My mom makes the best peanut butter cookies topped with Hershey kisses. To die for!

Many people think that eating healthy has to be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Another goal of mine for the new year is to try to be smarter with my finances. I’m in the process of trying to pay down debt, so having a few extra dollars in my pocket that I saved at the grocery store is a great thing!

You might know that I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s. They have great products for low prices. They’re not paying me to say this. I just LOVE this store. If you don’t have a TJ’s in your area, that’s okay. You can still do this. Scope out the sale ads at your local grocery store and take advantage of club cards, coupons, and BOGO deals.

My plan of attack was to purchase foods that I can make multiple meals with. This includes snacks. Here’s what I came away with:

Vegetarian Pantry Items


  • bananas (10 at $0.19 each = $1.90)
  • 1 lb bag of limes ($1.49)
  • 1 Hass avocados bag 4 count ($2.99)
  • 1 organic sweet onions bag 5 count ($2.49)
  • sweet potatoes 3 count ($0.49 each = $1.47)
  • 1 pack of mini pearl tomatoes ($2.49)
  • 2 lb bag of clementine oranges ($2.99)
  • 1 bag of frozen sweet white corn ($1.29)
  • 1 bag of frozen broccoli florets ($1.49)

Total: $18.60


  • 1 bag of organic gluten-free brown rice and quinoa fusilli pasta ($2.99)
  • 1 bag of organic gluten-free red quinoa ($4.99)
  • 1 block of super firm high protein organic tofu ($2.49)
  • 2 cans of black beans ($0.89 each x 2 = $1.78)

Total: $12.25

Jarred, canned, and boxed goods

  • 2 cans of organic diced no salt tomatoes ($1.49 each x 2 = $2.98)
  • 2 cans of organic tomato sauce ($1.79 each x 2 = $3.58)
  • 2 boxes of vegetable broth ($2.29 each x 2 = $4.58)
  • 1 jar of tomato basil pasta sauce ($1.79)
  • 1 jar of pitted jumbo Kalamata olives ($2.99)
  • 1 container roasted garlic hummus ($1.99)

Total: $17.91

Grand total = $48.76

I was really proud of myself for spending just under $50 for all of this food! This will last me a couple weeks, and the variety of meals that I can make is endless. I plan on writing another post with some of the combos that I’ve come up with so far.

For another $10, I HIGHLY recommend buying herbs and spices at TJ’s. They have a pretty decent selection of spices that are super inexpensive. A 2.12 oz jar of lemon pepper seasoning blend WITH a grinder is only $1.99! In fact, most of their spices are around this price. I recommend getting all the basics, like garlic powder, basil, oregano, cinnamon, etc. They also have great deals on live herb plants, depending on the time of year. I’m already thinking ahead to spring and planting another cute herb garden, similar to my recycled dresser drawer garden.

Any other must-have vegetarian staples I’m missing? Let me know so I can be sure to pick them up on my next shopping trip!

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2 thoughts on “Eating Clean in 2014: Vegetarian Pantry Essentials for Under $50

    • Thanks! I’m trying to get in the habit of switching out white potatoes for sweet potatoes. I heard today that coconut oil is a great substitute for butter on potatoes. Might have to try it!

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