31-Day Vegetarian Challenge!

by Beth - Budget Bytes
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You guys know how much I love a challenge, right?? I haven’t done a challenge in a couple of years, so I was kind of itching to do something new. January is the perfect time for resolutions and challenges because there’s nothing else going on, so it’s easy to stay FOCUSED. I’m sure I’m going to need a reset after all this holiday food, so for the entire month of January I’ll be doing a 31 Day Vegetarian Challenge! 👏BRING ON THE VEGETABLES!

31 Day Vegetarian Challenge title over a bowl of coconut curry.

Why Do A Challenge?

I love doing challenges because it forces me to think outside the box, reassess my current habits, build new habits, and show you guys how this whole “budget cooking” thing works in the real world. During my challenges I share as much detail as possible about what I buy, cook, and eat so you can see how everything comes together. You’ll see what worked, what didn’t work, and everything in between. And hopefully, sharing these experiences will inspire you to get busy with your meal planning and budgeting, regardless of what dietary practices you follow.

For this year’s vegetarian challenge, I especially want to demonstrate that it is possible to eat a diet full of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and all the other “good for you” foods that are often assumed to be too expensive. So whether you want to try vegetarianism on for size, or just want to work more plants into your diet, I hope this challenge inspires and encourages you.

Roasted Summer Vegetables are the easiest side dish of the season and can be served as a simple side, or added to several other dishes to add color, flavor, texture, and nutrients. BudgetBytes.com

What to Expect:

Each week I’ll post a couple new recipes, as usual, but I’ll also be posting weekly recaps. The recaps will include a very detailed breakdown of what I bought, cooked, ate, and what went into the compost. I’ll show price break downs of everything so you can see the comparison between the total costs of my meals vs. the total cost of my receipts. And I’ll likely offer a short reflection at the end of each recap discussing what worked and what didn’t.

The format will be very similar to my previous challenges: SNAP Challenge and September Challenge, although I am not limiting myself to a specific budget. Instead, I’ll just be using the Budget Byting Principles to keep my overall costs low, and I’m excited to see where my total costs land.

Join Me!

We will also have a dedicated 31 Day Vegetarian Challenge newsletter, which will provide weekly previews of my meal plans (so you can compare them to the end of the week recap and see what was a success or a #fail), plus extra tips for sticking to your budget. The Challenge has now ended but you can read my recaps here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4.

What Not to Expect:

The purpose of this challenge is not to tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat, or why. People eat vegetarian for so many different reasons and I don’t plan to “sell” you on any of them. What you eat is your decision, and yours alone. I chose to do a vegetarian challenge for several reasons, but will only discuss the budget-related aspects here (okay, maybe a few of the health aspects, too). I aim to inspire, not convince.

This challenge is not going to be all tofu and tempeh. While I might use those ingredients on occasion, my favorite vegetarian recipes are the kind that just happened to be vegetarian. The kind that makes people say, “Wait, that was vegetarian?” after they wolf down their meal. ;)

My Objectives:

  • Maintain a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet for 31 days (all plant ingredients plus dairy and eggs are allowed, no meat, poultry, or seafood)
  • Eat as many vegetables, legumes, and whole grains as possible, while not relying too heavily on pasta and rice (my weakness!).
  • Develop vegetarian recipes that are easy, satisfying, and equally enjoyable to omnivores.
  • Plan each week’s meals ahead of time and shop only once per week.
  • Eat all home-cooked meals, aside from one date night out per week. I will stick to the vegetarian diet even when eating out, but date night costs will not be included the total food budget.
  • Keep costs as low as possible, while finding a personal balance between budget, convenience, and splurge items (hello cheeeeeeeeese 🧀).

Chop Vegetables

The Countdown Begins…

So that’s it for now! I just wanted to give you a heads up about what’s coming in January, give you an opportunity to sign up for the challenge newsletter, and provide a place for you to ask any questions ahead of time. You can leave your questions in the comments below!


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    1. Hi Mandy, this is an older blog post where Beth just tracked her progress eating vegetarian for a month. There wasn’t any specific meal plan involved, but if you’d like to try something similar yourself, there are lots of vegetarian recipes on the blog to accommodate you and even vegetarian meal plans available for purchase. :)

  1. Thanks for the post, im just about to complete my 31 day challenge and this really helped me out a lot. I just finished writing a piece about my experience and final thoughts after completing the challenge on my blog so feel free to give it a read if it’s of any interest!

  2. Love it! This week I’m about to make a recipe you used for the challenge last year. The family loves it. I love finding new ways to cook veggies!

  3. Love your easy and very simple recipes. I will definitely try them and let you know the outcome.

  4. Hi I’ve signed up twice for challenge emails and received one email, but that was it. I doubt understand and there is nothing on website or Instagram. Is the challenge going on? Where are the recipes?

    Priscilla Elliott

    1. Hi Pricilla, yes I am currently in the first week of the vegetarian challenge. Everything on the blog will be pretty normal, aside from my weekly recap post, which shows what I bought, cooked, and ate for the week. If you are subscribed to the newsletter you will get an email before each week begins where I share what I have planned for the week. Since we’re only in week 1, only one email has gone out so far (if you signed up after that went out, you may have only gotten the welcome letter). And just to clarify, I will not be providing a meal plan for other people to follow, since everyone needs a different amount of food and has different schedules, etc. I am challenging myself to eat vegetarian for 31 days and showing all of you my meal planning process. I encourage everyone to try it as well, but I can not provide personal meal plans, since everyone has different needs.

  5. I’ve been vegan for 3 years now and I still visit your blog regularly for recipes and inspiration! You totally nail the “accidentally vegetarian” category, which is my favorite way to eat plant based as well. The mock meats and special vegan items are fun, but you don’t need them to create tasty and satisfying meals. I’m looking forward to this challenge for you and I hope you enjoy it!

  6. I have an idea that would be really useful for your website. You could have a function that would allow your viewers to choose recipes and put them into a “cart” as if they were going to buy the recipes. Rather than buy them, when they click submit the “cart”, your website sends an email with a grocery list of all the items needed for those recipes.
    The grocery list can have boxes next to the items so people can easily check off the items they already have in their fridge/pantry.

    Love your website and the recipes are amazing.

    1. The website/app “Copy Me That” can basically do this! A few more steps are involved, but it’s how I meal plan, store recipes, and create shopping lists that I can see on my phone or print out. And it’s free!

    2. There’s also a website (with an app) that does this called Plan to Eat. I import all my recipes from various websites there (LOTS of Beth’s BudgetBytes recipes!), drag and drop them onto a calendar when I mealplan, and it creates my grocery list for me. It’s been a GINORMOUS help to me over the last year or so. If your interested, my (affiliate) link is here: https://www.plantoeat.com/ref/NikkiHargrove

  7. I’ve tried signing up for the challenge newsletter using two different email accounts and still haven’t received anything yet. What am I doing wrong? I’m excited for this challenge!

    1. I see that you entered your email in the subscription form, but the subscription is “unconfirmed.” When you first subscribe we send an email with a button you have to click to confirm your subscription. If you didn’t get that email, have you tried checking your spam folder? You won’t receive the newsletters until that confirmation button is clicked.

  8. Really looking forward to the vegetarian challenge!! I’ve thought for years I could easily go vege and not miss the meat. This will be a good test and I may just stay with it permanently if it goes well. Can’t get the other 3 in my family on board, but I’m still doing it. Funny thing is, we eat vegetarian probably 3-4 nights a week already, and as long as I don’t call it that, no one seems to notice or care (homemade mac and cheese with broccoli, veg quiche, spaghetti with shredded veg sauce, etc). So I may up them to 5 nights a week and if there are complaints, I’ll try to make modular meals where they can add in a chicken breast, or meatballs to their spaghetti, etc. Shouldn’t be a problem. :-)

  9. A (vegetarian) friend turned me onto your site a couple years ago. I appreciate your straightforward approach and attention to detail. Keep up the great work.

  10. YEEEES THIS IS THE BEST! Long time reader and longer time vegetarian here. Beth, I literally learned how to cook by reading your blog. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Everything I make from Budget Bytes is pure gold with no exceptions.