Times are tougher than ever, but you don’t need to break the bank by putting a wholesome vegetarian meal on the table. Find out how to make cheap vegetarian meals that will keep you feeling satisfied.
It feels like the cost of almost everything has doubled. But it’s not like our need to eat has been cut in half. So what do we do? It’s a good idea to have a big handful of inexpensive meal ideas in your back pocket for those rainy (er, poor) days.
Are meatless meals cheaper?
There is a misconception that eating a meatless diet is expensive. While this can be true depending on the type of food you purchase, it’s also possible for it to be very inexpensive.
Meat is a huge cost, especially if you have a large family. Cutting out meat at least a few days a week can mean big savings.
I’m going to share with you a month’s worth of my favorite cheap vegetarian meals (suitable for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) so you can stick with it without dipping into your savings. These are ideal for anyone looking to reduce their grocery budget, college students, singles, empty nesters, and more.
How to save money on your grocery bill
- Shop at home first – Look through your cupboards and freezer to see if there’s anything that needs to be used up. Enjoy a pasta night using all the little leftover bits together, and throw together a sauce from a can of tomatoes, an onion, and a clove of garlic.
- Make a list (and stick to it) – Planning your meals weekly and visiting the store once to get everything can help cut down on impulse purchases and overspending. Some people find grocery delivery to help with this as well.
- Choose meals with the same few ingredients – Buy the big pack of corn tortillas and use them to make sheet pan veggie tacos one night and veggie stacked enchiladas another night.
- Choose inexpensive proteins – Tofu and beans only cost a few dollars and can be stretched with veggies and grains.
- Grow your own herbs – Herbs can add lots of flavor to an otherwise simple meal. It costs about the same to purchase a growing plant as it does to purchase cut herbs at the store. Plant them in your windowsill or outside in your garden and you won’t need to buy herbs again.
Cheap vegetarian meals
Cheap Vegetarian Meals
Spaghetti Aglio Olio
This simple pasta recipe has plenty of flavor and pairs well with lots of vegetable sides or salads. Only 3 pantry ingredients make this a very low cost meal.
Spinach and White Beans
These garlicky white beans with spinach could be a meal on their own, or serve with spaghetti aglio olio for a filling and well balanced dinner. This one can be made for around $3.
Vegetarian Potato Skin Egg Boats
Even with the cost of eggs rising, they're still an economical vegetarian protein. Use up leftover baked potatoes to make this recipe that works as a breakfast, snack, or appetizer.
The Best Marinated Tofu Recipe
This cheap and easy tofu recipe can be paired with rice or rice noodles and whatever crunchy veggies you have on hand for a full meal.
Crispy Fried Tofu
If you have cornstarch, you can turn my best tofu marinade into crispy fried tofu to change things up.
Southwest Veggie Breakfast Skillet
This breakfast skillet can be enjoyed any time of day and customized to fit whatever you may already have on hand.
Air Fryer Home Fries
Potatoes are an inexpensive side dish option. Enjoy them for breakfast with these air fryer home fries.
Tofu may be even cheaper than eggs these days, so consider trying this scrambled tofu for breakfast or brunch. They taste just like eggs and are great in sandwiches, burritos, and on their own.
Soft Scrambled Eggs
Basic recipes can still be exciting when they're cooked just right. Learn how to make scrambled eggs that are light and fluffy.
Scrambled Egg Sandwich
Egg sandwiches are a great way to stretch a few eggs, and are easy to customize to what you have and can afford. You could also turn these into a wrap!
Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup
This healthy, hearty soup is vegan and made with a few basic ingredients. You can omit the coconut milk if it is outside your budget.
Vegan Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin soup can be made with canned or fresh pumpkin depending on what you have available to you. It's creamy and perfect for fall!
Easy Vegan Minestrone Soup
Minestrone soup is easy to customize to what you have on hand and is plenty filling thanks to the beans.
Use store bought or homemade hummus and clean out the veggie drawer with this mile high sandwich.
Easy Stir Fried Tempeh
Just 6 ingredients gives you a full meal when paired with rice, and it's ready in just 15 minutes!
Easy Canned Butter Beans
It doesn't get much cheaper than a jazzed up can of beans. Serve with salad and flatbread for soaking up the broth.
Easy Cheese Enchiladas
Cheese enchiladas use very few ingredients and are excellent on their own or alongside any of your other favorites like refried beans or salad.
Don't let your cheap breakfasts be boing. Homemade muffins are an inexpensive way to feed a crowd, and these carrot muffins are even cheaper if you grow your own carrots.
Five Minute Breakfast Burrito
Save time and money with this simple breakfast burrito that's ready in just 5 minutes.
Black Bean Patties
Black bean patties give you a vegetable and a protein with just a few inexpensive ingredients. Serve with rice and salsa for a complete, flavorful meal.
Vegetarian Burrito Bowls
Customize your vegetarian burrito bowl to fit whatever you have on hand. You can swap frozen corn for inexpensive, in-season ears, use any kind of tomatoes, and add onions or mushrooms if you have those on hand.
Grilled Bean and Cheese Burritos
Beans and cheese are a match made in penny pincher heaven. Wrap them inside a big flour tortilla for a crispy, melty, filling meal.
Keep the cost down and the flavor big with spicy spaghetti arrabbiata.
Butter Bean Soup
Beans are a very inexpensive protein, and butter beans are especially creamy and satisfying. You can also customize this soup to your needs, leaving out the carrot and onion if needed.
Roasted Veggie Tostadas
Veggie tostadas are a great way to use up a mixture of vegetables. Consider buying a big bag of corn tortillas to bring the cost down per tortilla, and use the rest to make nachos another night.
Onion and Green Pepper Pizza
Homemade pizza is just a packet of yeast away. Onions and green peppers are one of my favorite toppings, but any color bell pepper would be delicious.
Crispy Baked Black Bean Tacos
Nothing feels cheap when it's cheesy and crispy. These black bean tacos have plenty of protein and can help you use up that big bag of corn tortillas.
Roasted Sweet Potato Bulgur Bowl
Bulgur is quick cooking, inexpensive grain. Pair it with roasted sweet potatoes and spinach, or whatever was on sale in the veggie section.
Mashed Potatoes without Milk
If milk doesn't fit your budget this week, you can still make creamy mashed potatoes without it! Try topping with BBQ tempeh for a full meal.
Just 2 ingredients are needed to make this hearty vegan main dish. Use store bought BBQ sauce or try making your own from ingredients you already have on hand.
If you love barbecue but need a different texture, BBQ tofu is super easy to make and offers a different flavor and texture than the BBQ tempeh.
Black Bean and Butternut Squash Quesadillas
I love the combination of butternut squash and black beans. This recipe is very filling, which helps it stretch farther than you might think.
Sweet Potato Tacos
Sweet potatoes are mixed with salsa to make a creamy filling for these tacos. You can swap the cheese for whatever kind you have on hand and leave off the pepitas if they aren't in your budget.
Vegan Fajita Recipe
Fajita veggies are inexpensive yet flavorful. This quick cooking recipe only needs a few ingredients and can be enjoyed with flour or corn tortillas.
I hope you’ll give a few of these inexpensive recipes a try! Let me know in the comments what other favorites you’ve found to help keep your grocery bill down.
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