Cheap Vegan Meals

Cheap Vegan Meals

There are a lot of misconceptions about the vegan diet and lifestyle. For example, you may have heard people say that it’s hard for vegans to get enough protein despite there being dozens of sources of plant-based protein. 

Another myth you may have heard about vegan food is that it’s expensive. While this might be true of some realistic meat replacements, it’s easy to make cheap and delicious vegan meals that allow you to hit your nutritional goals. 

Here are just some of our favorite cheap vegan meals that are tasty, satisfying as well as affordable. 

1. Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese 

Although spaghetti bolognese is a dish traditionally made with meat (either mince or meatballs), it can easily be made vegan with one simple substitute: lentils. 

You will need 200 grams of lentils to make about 4 servings of vegan bolognese. These pulses are rich in protein so they make a great meat replacement.

When cooked properly in tomato sauce, you’ll barely be able to tell the difference. 

To make this dish extra rich and tasty, you can add a splash of red wine to the sauce, but this isn’t necessary if you’re trying to keep it budget-friendly.

2. Tomato And Avocado Salad 

This tomato and avocado salad only uses cheap, basic ingredients and can be prepared in minutes. It works well as an appetizer or you can have it as a light lunch if you prefer. 

To make 2 servings of this salad, you just need: 

  • A single avocado, 
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapenos
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Lime juice 

3. Falafel Wraps

Since falafels are made of chickpeas, which are high in both protein and healthy fats, falafel wraps make a balanced, cheap vegan meal. 

Buying falafels ready-made can be expensive depending on the brand, but this recipe shows you how to make your own with a blender and food processor. You only need: 

  • Chickpeas
  • Flour
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Onions
  • Herbs and spices 

The recipe also includes instructions for cheap and easy hummus and tahini sauce and load up your wrap of choice!

4. Cauliflower Curry 

Ordering a vegan curry from your favorite takeout might not fit into your weekly budget, but making this cauliflower curry from scratch definitely will! It’s delicious, warming, and easy to make in 30 minutes using affordable ingredients. 

The main ingredients in this recipe are cauliflower and potatoes, both of which are cheap to buy. Then, you need: 

  • Curry powder
  • Chili flakes
  • Turmeric
  • Sunflower oil
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spinach 
  • Coriander
  • Frozen peas

5. Peanut Tofu Noodles 

These peanut tofu noodles taste indulgent, but they don’t involve any fancy or expensive ingredients. This meal takes under an hour to prepare, and since it includes tofu (one of the most affordable meat replacements), it’s high in protein. 

To make the tofu crispy, you’ll be using: 

  • Cornstarch
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt 

The dressing is made of: 

  • Peanut butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Oil
  • Lime juice
  • Soy sauce
  • Spices 

You can have the tofu and dressing over plain rice noodles if you like, or you can add vegetables and chopped peanuts for more micronutrients and healthy fats. 

6. Lentil Soup 

We mentioned earlier that lentil is an excellent plant-based protein source, which is why we love this recipe for vegan lentil soup. The fact that it’s so cheap to make is also a bonus!

All you need in addition to the lentils is: 

  • Coconut milk
  • Water
  • Oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic

The only other ingredients are spices to give the soup a warming, curried flavor. It takes just 45 minutes to make this lentil soup, and a total of just a few dollars. 

7. Vegan Chili

Chili, like bolognese, is a classic dish for the winter months, but it’s usually made with meat. However, vegans on a budget can still enjoy a delicious chili by following this recipe.

The base of this chili is made with:

  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Tomato sauce

The recipe also includes various vegetables, including carrots, onions, and garlic. Oil and spices complete the dish. 

We recommend serving this chili alongside your choice of rice, but it also works well on pasta.

8. Mushroom Stroganoff 

When you’re in the mood for a warm, creamy meal but don’t have the budget to splash out on ingredients, mushroom stroganoff is a reliable choice. 

This recipe for vegan mushroom stroganoff uses 10 ingredients in total, including white wine, but if you’re trying to cut back on expenses, you can leave this out. 

The other ingredients are simple: 

  • Vegetable broth
  • Mushrooms
  • Flour
  • Vegan butter
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pasta
  • Vegan sour cream

9. Kale And Sweet Potato Salad 

This kale and sweet potato salad is the perfect budget-friendly autumnal meal for any occasion. 

To roast the sweet potato for the salad, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Oil 
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ground cumin 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Salt 

The salad itself is made of:

  • Kale
  • Apple
  • Pecans
  • Cranberries
  • Pepitas 

To complete the salad, you can also make the maple-tahini dressing, for which you’ll need:

  • Tahini
  • Water
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Maple syrup
  • Salt 
  • Lemon Juice 

This may seem like a lot of ingredients, but all of them can be bought for affordable prices. 

10. Mushroom And Tofu Pot Pie 

We love having this mushroom and tofu pot pie on cold winter nights, especially since it’s cheap to put together. 

To minimize the number of ingredients you need to buy, you can use pre-rolled pastry. In addition to the pastry sheet, you need: 

  • Vegan butter
  • Leeks
  • Porcini mushrooms
  • Olive oil 
  • Flour 
  • Smoked tofu 
  • Soya-based cream
  • Soya milk
  • Vegetable broth 
  • Wholegrain mustard 
  • Chives
  • Garlic 

Some of these ingredients are more expensive than others, but overall, this is a cheap vegan meal.

11. Black Bean Burgers 

We mentioned earlier that vegan meat replacements can be expensive, but you can make these black bean burgers at home using cheap ingredients. 

The only ingredients needed are:

  • Black beans
  • Flax meal
  • Garlic powder
  • Oats
  • Cornmeal
  • Chunky salsa
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin 
  • Pink salt 
  • Olive oil 

12. Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad 

If you’re looking for cheap and easy light meal ideas that are suitable for vegans, look no further than this summer vegetable pasta salad. 

You can swap out any of the recommended ingredients for others depending on your favorite vegetables, but the recipe calls for:

  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Red peppers
  • Parsley
  • Onion
  • Pasta 

For the dressing, you will need to buy:

  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt 
  • Pepper

13. Kidney Bean Fajitas With Guacamole

A lot of the cheap vegan recipes we recommend include kidney beans since they’re very affordable and high in both fiber and protein. Our final kidney bean recipe for today is this one for black bean fajitas and guacamole. 

In addition to the tortillas, you will need the following for the filling:

  • Kidney beans
  • White button mushrooms
  • Bell peppers
  • Vegetable oil 
  • Water 
  • Fajita seasoning 
  • Chili powder
  • Cornstarch 
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Onion powder

14. Lentil Shepherd’s Pie 

Another traditionally meat-based classic you can veganize for an affordable price is shepherd’s pie. You just need to substitute the usual mince for lentils, as this recipe recommends. 

For the pie filling, the necessary ingredients are:

  • Lentils
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Soy sauce
  • Spinach
  • Basil 
  • Salt

For the topping, you’ll simply be making a healthy mash out of sweet potatoes and your choice of vegan milk. 

15. Overnight Oats 

We’ve recommended a lot of cheap vegan meals for lunch and dinner so far. However, if you’re looking for an affordable breakfast option, you can’t go wrong with overnight oats.

For the oats themselves, the recipe recommends using:

  • Rolled oats
  • Vegan milk (unsweetened)
  • Vegan yogurt
  • Maple syrup
  • Flaxseed meal 

You’ll also want to get some fruit, nuts, seeds, or other toppings (like extra maple syrup, for example) to serve. You can buy ingredients in larger quantities if they are on offer.

Then, you can prepare up to 5 breakfasts at a time since they keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Vegan Cooking Cheaper?

There is a myth that vegan cooking is expensive. However, studies have demonstrated that eating a vegan diet can reduce your grocery costs by up to a third compared to a diet including meat and dairy.

This is because ingredients such as lentils, beans, rice, vegetables and fruit (vegan dietary staples) are inexpensive. 

How Do I Eat Plant-Based On A Budget? 

The best way to eat vegan on a budget is to buy seasonal produce from low-priced grocery stores. If possible, buy non-perishable foods in bulk to take advantage of offers.

Try to prioritize beans, lentils, chickpeas and tofu as sources of protein rather than more expensive meat replacements.

Can Vegans Eat Pasta? 

A few of the cheap vegan recipes we’ve suggested include pasta since this is an affordable staple. Bear in mind that while most pasta is vegan, any pasta containing egg is not plant-based.

Final Thoughts 

Thank you for checking out our top 15 cheap vegan meal recipes! All of these recipes are affordable and easy to make from scratch. 

Which will you be making first?

Brandon White
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