Adopting a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean you will need to start spending copious amounts of money on faux meats and cheeses or refining yourself to hot chips for every meal. When I first decided to become vegan, I knew the best way to make this a sustainable lifestyle choice was to make it easy, familiar and delicious. I basically took all of the meals that my partner and I would regularly eat and ‘veganified’ them. It made the transition much easier for both of us and it didn’t (and still doesn’t) feel like we’re missing out.
If you’re anything like me and not a whiz in the kitchen, you may find the below options suit you. Due to my work, I don’t have a lot of time to develop extravagant dishes or follow huge recipes so I try to keep things simple and nutritious. I can become a bit overwhelmed when I search for vegan food ideas and see all of these 30 ingredient creations, so I have found some comfort in having the below meals on rotation.
So here are my 10 low cost meal ideas which I generally rotate through over a fortnightly basis:
- Spaghetti Bolognaise
This dish is really basic and takes about 10 minutes to put together. I simply boil up some pasta, drain and rinse two cans of brown lentils and heat them in a pan with a tomato pasta sauce, then combine the lot. I’ve also been making my own garlic bread by mixing some minced garlic, parsley leaves and dairy free butter and spreading it in the 1 inch cuts along half a baguette. 10 minutes in the oven and voila! This meal costs about $8.00 and lasts two nights.
- Burrito Bowl
This is a favourite of mine lately and feels so healthy! I drain, rinse and heat a can of black beans and corn kernals in a pan with a chopped up capsicum for around 10 minutes. I then cut up two tomatoes and an avocado. Heat up a family pack of brown rice and pop it all in a bowl with some tortilla crisps. This meal costs me around $13 and provides three servings, plus about half a bag of tortilla crisps left as a snack.
- Polenta Tart
This is a recipe that I got out of a recipe magazine at my supermarket and adapted it. It is basically polenta and vegetable stock (as per packet instructions) pushed into a tart tin (with removable base) and cooked at 200 degrees celcius for 15 minutes. Meanwhile I mix up a filling of cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, cherry tomatoes, spinach, and red peppers. I also blitz red peppers, almonds, olive oil and some garlic powder in my blender to make a sauce base for the tart. Spread the sauce over the base of the tart, pop the filling on top and then back in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. This meal costs around $20 and would serve four people, but my partner and I eat half the tart each. You also get more than one use from the bag of polenta.
- Curry with Coconut Rice & Naan
Usually I make up my own curry, but lately I’ve been loving a vegan curry product that is available at my local Woolworths supermarket. The brand is called Naked Kitchen and the product is Jungle Curry. Basically I heat this up as per the packet instructions and serve it with coconut rice and vegan roti bread. This meal costs about $15 for two serves.
For this dish, I just chop up a whole bunch of vegetables and mix them up with a tin of diced tomatoes. I usually use two carrots, 1 large sweet potato, 2 zucchinis, 1 eggplant and 1 capsicum. Cook in the oven on 190 degrees celcius for 45 minutes. Its usually around $10 for these ingredients and I pair it with brown rice or cous cous so a full baking dish provides 3-4 servings.
- Vegetable Pasta
This meal is basically the same process as the above, however I mix it with boiled penne or curly pasta instead.
- Quinoa salad
This is another recipe that I adapted from a magazine. I roast up some chopped sweet potato, carrot and zucchini at 190 degrees celcius for 45 minutes. Then I heat up some quinoa as per packet instructions and mix into together with the baked vegetables. I sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top for some acidity and some flaked almonds for crunch. You can also make a dressing from oil and lemon juice. This meal costs about $15 for three large bowls and the quinoa pack can be stored for other meals at a later date.
- Eggplant Parmagiana
I decided to try this out more as a test than anything, but it actually tasted great. I slice up two large eggplants long ways then coat them in plain flour, dip them in rice milk, then coat them in panko breadcrumbs. I fry them in some olive oil until they start to brown and then let them soak on a piece of paper towel. I serve them with some tomato pasta sauce and vegan fetta on top, and sweet potato fries. If you are a plant based vegan that is trying to avoid oil then this recipe isn’t for you, as it is quite oily. The meals costs about $12.00 and gives you two serves of 3 well sized “parmigianas” each.
- Vegan Pizza
Another favourite is my vegan pizza. I started this off as a vegetarian pizza and still used cheese and we have slowly weaned off having any cheese on this dish as the vegan cheese I tried with it didn’t really taste right. I buy a Lebanese wrap pack, smear them with tomato paste and pop on button mushroom, sundried tomatos, olives, capsicum and spinach. You can add any toppings that you like. 12 minutes in the oven on about 190 degrees celcius. This usually makes us two pizzas each and costs about $12.00.
- Pumpkin & Sage Gnocchi
This is my go to meal when I don’t feel like cooking because it literally takes about 5 minutes. I boil the gnocchi until it rises, then drain it and pop it in the frypan with a packet pumpkin soup and some sliced sage leaves. Easy peasy. This meal costs about $9 for two serves, or $6 if you leave out the sage leaves.
Do you have any simple, low cost meal ideas? Let me know in the comments below!