Prices for all recipe ingredients were based on the cheapest brands available at grocery chain Stop & Shop, and both plans totaled 2,000 calories per day.
Specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-recommended plans cost an extra $14.36 per week, while the vegetarian diet had about 25 more servings of vegetables, 14 more servings of whole grains, and eight more servings of fruit per week.
The vegetarian meals didn’t just cost less and include more nutrition—they also maintained that $750 discount even while including splurges like olive oil in lieu of the cheaper canola oil used in the government recipes.
Now, if you’re trying to build muscle, you might see downsides to the vegetarian diet. Both meal plans had more than 50 grams of protein daily (the recommended intake for someone weighing 165 pounds), but the meatless diet had less: 60 grams versus 96 in the government plan.