You can do the Daniel Fast, even on a budget! Here are some tips to keep your grocery bill low while still eating fast friendly food.
Is your church participating in a Daniel Fast this year? Or maybe you and your family have decided to do it by yourselves for the first time?
Everything may seem overwhelming, but I promise you’ll be fine! During the next three weeks you’ll be eating differently, and I have some tips on how to do it all on a budget.
What can I eat during a Daniel Fast?
First of all, what is the Daniel Fast?
In the book of Daniel, we see that Daniel chose not to eat the royal food of the palace but instead ate only vegetables and drank only water. We also read that he denied himself of the “choice” foods, and meat and wine.
Some people do this for the weight loss, but this fast is about much more.
You can read in more detail over at Ultimate Daniel Fast, but here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll avoid during the fast:
- Sweeteners, including honey, maple syrup, and added sugar
- Leavened bread (Although I avoid all wheat products including tortillas, which some people still eat)
- Refined and processed foods
- Deep fried foods
- Beverages other than water (including coffee)
So it’s basically a strict vegan diet, no animal products or dairy products, but without sweets and bread.
Is it overwhelming? Don’t get too caught up in what you can’t eat. Pita bread, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pasta, and Ezekiel bread are grey areas for some, but you have to decide that for yourself.
Focus on your whole foods:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains like rice, quinoa, and oats
- Plant proteins like black beans, pinto beans, and lentils
- Nut butters and seeds
- Quality oils like olive oil
Want a printable list? Visit this post to get a Daniel Fast Foods List!
How to Do the Daniel Fast on a Budget
Here’s how to get started:
Make a plan
Like with anything, especially meal planning, make sure you have a plan to tackle this 3-week fast. You can’t let yourself get surprised when you’re hungry for a snack and all you have is some eggs.
When it comes to your budget, you may not need to raise your budget much, if at all. You’re buying a LOT more fresh food like fruits and vegetables, but you’re not buying any meat.
I found that we pretty much had just enough money for what we needed and didn’t have any leftover to stockpile things like I usually do.
- A week before the fast: Start making your grocery list. Plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You may find that you eat a little more during the fast, so making room for extra snacks isn’t a bad idea. New to meal planning? Check out my post on Meal Planning for Beginners!
- A few days before the fast: Start eating up the non fast-friendly food in the house. I don’t like food waste, so we had a few leftover nights right before to use up what we had. Whatever doesn’t get used can be frozen; we froze a couple bottles of coffee creamer and they came back out just fine.
- The day before: Prep ALL of your produce and some food for the week. Chop carrots and celery for snacks, cut up any vegetables you’ll use for dinner, make up a couple batches of rice and beans… set yourself up for success right away so there are no slip-ups.
Buy in-season and frozen produce
The cheapest way to do the Daniel Fast is to buy the cheapest produce available. Buy fresh berries in the summer, and apples in the fall and winter.
Bananas are cheap year-round, as are potatoes and carrots. Focus on those cheaper items and you’ll find you won’t go over your budget.
Frozen vegetables work just as well, too. I can find one-pound bags of vegetables for a dollar at Meijer when they’re on sale, and they’re excellent for adding to soups, stir fry, or just microwaving as a side item.
They’re just as good as fresh produce; just make sure you check the ingredient list to make sure the only ingredient is the vegetable. They’re a reasonable price when you can’t buy fresh.
And frozen fruits like strawberries and blueberries can be good in the winter. I like to use them to make a green smoothie.
Focus on the dried goods
You’re going to need some protein, especially since you’re not eating meat. Brown rice, quinoa, and many kinds of beans are going to be your friends for the next 3 weeks.
Not only are these cheap, they’re easy to make and store in the fridge for a few days. And if you buy dried beans, you’ll be saving even more money.
Not even kidding, this Instant Pot I got for Christmas is a game-changer. Put in a pound of dried beans, fill with water, and cook for about 25 minutes or so. In less than an hour you go from dried beans to perfect deliciousness.
Many days during this fast I’ve used my Instant Pot and rice cooker in the same night, and that makes dinner pretty much done.
Keep it simple
Simple doesn’t always mean boring, but for the Daniel Fast it does mean a lot of rice and beans. You can change things up every day though, with different seasonings and flavors. Here’s what we did a lot of:
- Burrito bowls with black/kidney beans, rice/quinoa, sweet potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, guacamole, and salsa
- Bean salads with different things each time- Chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, quinoa, wheat berries, olive oil, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, red onions, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Soups- They’re really filling and make a lot so you can eat some for lunch the same day.
- Oatmeal- This was our standard breakfast, usually with peanut butter, almond milk, sliced banana, and pecans
Want some new recipes? Here’s exactly what we ate on the Daniel Fast:
- Wheat Berry Salad
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
- Red Beans and Rice
- Lentil Salad
- Butternut Squash Lentil Curry
- Butternut Squash Soup (No bacon)
- Baked Oatmeal
- Black Bean Chili (No meat)
- Veggie Stir Fry
- Stuffed Peppers
- Vegetable Soup
- Kidney Bean Salad
Remember that it’s not about the food
I can give you all sorts of recipes and food tips, but remember you’re not doing this as some sort of fad diet plan. You’re honoring God with spiritual discipline for the next 3 weeks by committing to pray over specific things while denying yourself the pleasure foods.
It’s super hard. I admit, I struggled a lot, especially toward the end. It was coffee and scrambled eggs I missed the most, I think. But you’re supposed to do this fast with an open heart and trust God to do some amazing things in your life. I know He did for mine.
To be honest, there have been times when I only did a partial fast or gave up non-food things like social media for the 21 days.
When I did a full fast, I felt like all I was doing was complaining about the food I couldn’t eat. And giving up social media was still hard and still accomplished my main goal.
However you decide to do the Daniel Fast, I wish you luck! And hopefully these tips will at least help you stay on budget and keep on track to complete the fast.
Monday 21st of March 2022
Thank you for your DF post. The details are very thorough. I begin my fast with my church next week. I’m looking forward in growing my relationship with God. To God be the Glory. Thanks again for sharing!
Tuesday 22nd of March 2022
I love this! Good luck to you! =)
Monday 7th of March 2022
Preparing to begin my first DF, both spiritually and logistically. Your tips have been amazing thank you! Keeping the focus off taste and pleasure, and centered on Him is just where my focus need be. Again, thank you
Tuesday 8th of March 2022
That's awesome!! Going through the fast is an eye-opener in regards to what God wants to teach you. Good luck!
Sunday 27th of February 2022
I just heard about this a lot lately, but none of the posts I’ve seen have explained that it was called that because of God’s Daniel, so I had no idea. I’m even more excited to give it a try now! I also have a LOT more questions now too. lol So many have said you can have maple syrup because it comes from trees, a few say you can have honey because that is “natural” too…but…sugar cane is a plant based sugar too, so why wouldn’t sugar be allowed, or is it somewhat about denying yourself those “pure sweeteners”…or just the nastier things like soda/candies/pastries? Also, if you CAN have honey & maple syrup, can you make leavened sour dough breads using an overnight starter made with them, and then using ancient grain flour (farro/oats/rice/etcetera), or would that be “cheating”? See? SO many questions! LOL
Monday 28th of February 2022
Hi there! These are all VERY good questions and I love how you're trying to be a good steward of God's will.
In general, you don't eat any kind of added sugar during the Daniel Fast. This includes maple syrup and honey, even though they're "natural". I also believe that yeast and leavened bread are discouraged, too.
However, the fast is all about depriving yourself to get closer to God. And if we worry too much about the details, it starts to take us away from the true meaning of the fast.
I know of some people that still use honey. And some people still drink coffee even though caffeine is not "allowed". The important thing is that we focus on the reason, not the food. =)
I think I answered your question in a roundabout way... sorry! But I hope that makes sense!
Friday 7th of January 2022
Great article. My pastor is Jentezen Franklin, and we do the Daniel Fast every year. However, he says we *can* have coffee and tea, as coffee is nothing but the beans of the coffee plant, and tea is the leaves of the plant. We actually used to have a Starbuck's in our church until they put out some very liberal stuff and so they had to go. :) We do still have a coffee and food bar. I don't know that it's been open since COVID. Anyway, just thought I'd share that. I'd also say that one thing he points out is that if you have a medical condition, work out what you are doing with your physician. I have dairy because I need to keep my protein consistent because of some medications I am on. I think this is my 14th year. I use my Instapot a lot.
Friday 7th of January 2022
Thank you for sharing this! What I love about the Daniel Fast is that the "rules" are between you and God. =) I know some people that still eat dairy, like you do. Others add in honey.
Saturday 18th of December 2021
For burrito bowls, can we have white rice? Did you use the “Red beans and rice” recipe for that meal idea? Still learning all the rules. Beans, rice, salsa and quac may be my go to :).
Sunday 19th of December 2021
Excellent question! Honestly, I've used both, although one source I found said "whole grains". In the end, we should try not to be legalistic because the point of this is to honor God. =)
I say white rice is okay! We depended a lot on the Mexican-style foods while we did the fast, just because it was very filling!