Following a vegan diet doesn’t have to be expensive. Instead of splurging on green juices, packaged foods, and fake meat products, you can use pantry staples, in-season produce, and plenty of spices to cut down on grocery costs. Eating vegan can be budget-friendly; these 6 recipes are proof!
1. Vegan Pancakes
Easy and cheap, AllRecipes.com’s vegan pancakes are a great breakfast go-to. To make this recipe healthier, use whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour and top your finished flapjacks with fresh fruit. It yields 9 servings.
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups water
- 1 tablespoon oil
Directions: Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk together the water and oil in a small bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Stir just until blended; mixture will be lumpy. Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry. Flip and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
2. Vegan Red Beans and Rice
Budget Bytes’ vegan red beans and rice is a low-cost dish that’s filled with big flavors. Anticipate spending $7.40 making this meal, which, when broken down by serving, only costs $1.23. Be patient when preparing this recipe; the longer it cooks, the better it tastes!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 medium bell pepper
- 4 stalks celery
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 pound dry red beans
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 whole bay leaf
- ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 6 cups cooked rice
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
Directions: The night before, place your beans in a large pot and fill with enough cool water to cover the beans by a few inches. Place the beans in the refrigerator to soak overnight. When you’re ready to cook, finely dice the celery, bell pepper, and onion, and mince the garlic.
Cook the celery, bell pepper, onion, and garlic in a large pot with the olive oil over medium heat until softened. Drain the soaked beans in a colander and rinse with fresh, cool water. Add the rinsed beans to the pot with the vegetables. Also add the vegetable broth, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, smoked paprika, some freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a full boil over high heat.
After it reaches a boil, turn down the heat to low and allow the pot to simmer for at least 2 hours. Make sure the pot is simmering the entire time, increasing the heat if needed. Stir the pot occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Keep the lid in place the entire time to keep the beans from drying out. After 2 hours, the beans should be soft and tender.
Mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. This will thicken the pot and make the classic, creamy texture of the dish. Remove the bay leaf and allow the pot to simmer for about 30 minutes more to help it thicken. To serve, add a scoop of red beans to a bowl and top with a scoop of warm, cooked rice. Sprinkle sliced green onions over top and add a dash of hot sauce if desired.
3. Simple and Cheap Vegan Lentil Soup
Food.com’s fuss-free soup only requires 10 minutes of prep time and very basic, budget-friendly ingredients, including carrots, potatoes, lentils, and spices. The recipe yields 10 servings.
- 5 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 cups water
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 2 cups red lentils
- 5 to 6 new potatoes, chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- Salt and pepper
Directions: Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until onions are transparent; be careful not to burn the garlic. While onions and garlic are sautéed, dissolve the vegetable bouillon cube in a cup of the water called for. Add the dissolved bouillon, remaining water, lentils, potatoes, carrots, and salt and pepper to the sautéed onions and garlic. Stir to combine everything and then cover. Allow to cook until potatoes are easily penetrated with a fork or knife.
4. Pasta with Chickpeas
There’s a good chance you already have all of the pantry items and seasonings needed to make Food52’s pasta with chickpeas. Ditalini is the short pasta that’s traditionally used in this dish, but you can also use pasta mista or rombi; just make sure you use dried pasta, as fresh often includes eggs. The recipe yields 4 servings.
- 7 ounces dried chickpeas, plus liquid from cooking
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 whole garlic clove
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 fresh or dried chili, chopped (optional)
- ½ (14-ounce) can of peeled, chopped tomatoes
- 7 ounces short pasta, such as ditalini, pasta mista, or rombi
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: If you’re using dried chickpeas, put them in a bowl covered with plenty of fresh cold water the night before and leave them to soak in the fridge. The next day, drain the soaked chickpeas and place them in a saucepan, cover with fresh water, add a bay leaf, and simmer for a couple of hours, or until the chickpeas are soft. Add salt to taste at the end. Don’t throw away the cooking liquid. In another saucepan, gently heat a smashed garlic clove, a sprig of rosemary, and the chili in a few tablespoons of olive oil. When the garlic begins to get fragrant and soften, add the tomato and let sizzle for a few minutes. Add a ladleful of the chickpea liquid and about two-thirds of the chickpeas.
Purée the remaining chickpeas before adding to the saucepan to create a creamy, thick sauce. Add more of the chickpea liquid to the sauce until it is quite watery, then add the pasta and cook until al dente and the sauce has reduced. If you choose to use a long pasta, you may want to cook it separately in a pot of water, then simply add it to the ready sauce. By the time the pasta has cooked, the sauce should be creamy, not watery, but not too thick, either. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Ladle into shallow bowls, add a touch of olive oil, more freshly ground pepper, and then let it sit for a moment or two before serving.
5. Black Bean Fritters
There is an abundance of affordable ingredients in Inhabitat’s black bean fritters, including beans, corn, peppers, and spices. Care 2 notes that sticking to a tight budget while following a vegan diet is entirely doable, particularly if you cook from scratch on a regular basis, prepare low-maintenance meals, and purchase produce from farmers markets. We suggest serving these patties on One Green Planet’s homemade vegan hamburger buns.
- 1 (16-ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped finely
- ¼ cup of cooked corn kernels (frozen or canned)
- Zest of 1 lime
- 4 scallions, diced
- ½ cup self-rising flour or vegan pancake mix
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- Egg replacer (enough to replace 2 eggs)
- ¼ teaspoon of cumin
- ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika or cayenne pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Directions: Add all ingredients but olive oil together; use a potato masher to crush the beans slightly. Let sit for about 5 minutes, and adjust the flour/pancake mix as needed. Heat 1 teaspoon or so of oil in a large nonstick skillet and drop the batter in by the spoonful. Cook until they’re nice and brown on both sides, and serve hot.
6. Quick Aloo Gobi
Amy’s Healthy Baking’s recipe shows you how to make a quick version of aloo gobi, a traditional Indian dish that features cauliflower, potatoes, and spices. Humble ingredients and straightforward instructions ensure you have a cheap and easy vegan dish to serve for dinner.
- 1 medium Yukon gold potato
- 1 cup frozen cauliflower
- ¼ cup frozen peas
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon curry powder
Directions: Pierce the potato really well with a fork and microwave for 4 to 6 minutes, turning it over halfway through. Let it cool for 2 minutes, then slice into ½-inch cubes. Add the cauliflower and peas to a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until steaming hot. Add the potatoes and spices to the bowl, stirring well to coat the vegetables evenly; re-microwave for 20 to 30 seconds if the veggies cooled off. Serve hot.