10 Dorm Friendly Vegan Meals for Under $3.00

A lot of people going vegan right now are teens and young adults either in school or just don't have a lot of money. And there is a huge stereotype around veganism that the food is expensive. That couldn't be more wrong!


Since going vegan, we have actually decreased our grocery bill. We used to spend probably $90-100 a week on groceries, but now we end up more around $70-90 because we no longer buy yogurt, cheese, eggs, or meat. We eat basically the same foods just without meat and other animal products in them, therefore, buying a lot less.


These meals are some of my favorite and go-to recipes. While I won't be giving you recipes, I will do an ingredient and price breakout. This number will be the lowest price for each item I find in my research and an average cost per serving. So, not all prices will be the same depending on where you live.


The point is, you can eat healthy, whole food, plant-based food on a budget! The key is whole food. You can find pasta and rice and beans and oats for very cheap. Some vegetables can be really cheap too and canned and frozen foods are just as nutritious and can be significantly cheaper.


I strongly believe that a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. It is okay if you have to buy fruits and veggies that come in plastic, specifically from the freezer. Find the cheapest options for you. If it means you're eating vegan, that's great!


Before we begin, let's talk about finding vegan food. I'll bet your grocery store has more than you think. Until I went vegan, I thought it would be incredibly hard to eat vegan, especially in Japan. But, I have seen so many options: a plethora of plant milks, yogurt, butter, cheese, sausage, burgers, and more! So, search a little deeper into your grocery stores. Or, stick to whole food and you won't even have to worry about reading ingredient labels.


If you would rather skip the grocery store, you can find a lot of ingredients online. These brands have vegan options (you can filter your searches!) and will ship right to your door or P.O. box:


- Thrive Market (US)

- iHerb

- Vegan Essentials

- The Vegan Kind Supermarket (UK)

- Billion Vegans

- Vegan Cuts

- Big Green Smile (UK and Europe)



Breakfast:


1. Oats; overnight, microwave, and even to go cups:


For the first three options, a 32oz bag will cost roughly $5.25 and have 17 servings in it. This means that each serving is about $0.30! Add whatever nuts, seeds, nut butter, dried fruit, or fresh fruit you can find cheap and in season and you have a cheap, easy, and healthy meal.

Overnight: This option is so easy. You can prep it the night before by combining all your ingredients in a jar or container and it will be ready for you to take to work or school in the morning. The only necessary ingredients are oats and milk or water. But you can add things like dried or fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds if you have them. Microwave: Using the microwave is just basically speeding up the stovetop process. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover with a lid of some sort, but leave an airflow. Microwave until thickened, add toppings, and enjoy!

To-Go cups/packets: Since this post isn't geared towards low waste, I'll throw in some more "wasteful" options. The single-serve to-go cups are great options for low-budget and dorm friendly vegan food. You just need one of these cups, some hot water or milk, and any additional topping you want to have, but don't necessarily need. This is one of the more expensive options, though, coming in at about $2.50-$3 a cup/serving.

Spice up your oats by adding peanut butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, or cocoa powder to keep it from getting boring each day. Oats are so versatile and can be enjoyed many ways!


If you want some fall-inspired fall oats, click here.


2. Toast:


Toast is so versatile and so cheap. A loaf of bread costs about $3 and there are about 16 slices per loaf. That means that each slice only costs about $0.19 a slice! And, toast is so easy to spice up. Here are some ideas:

- Butter and Cinnamon (Free, if you already have the ingredients in your pantry)

- Avocado: $0.50-$2 depending on the season, this usually feeds two servings

- Refried or baked beans: $0.90 or $2, each can has roughly 3-4 servings in them

- Tofu scramble: $2, makes about 2-3 servings

- Nut or seed butter: anywhere from $3-7 with multiple servings per jar

- Jelly: $2, with multiple servings per jar- Fruit or veggies: this number depends on what you chose to use

And so many more! You can make it sweet or savory and any flavor you want.



3. Granola and Fruit:


This option is very easy and can be very cheap. You can find your favorite granola at the store, or if you have time and a community kitchen, you can even make your own. Chose your favorite fruits and you're all set! Spice it up by eating it with milk or yogurt if you want. The prices below are just an example of something I might eat, but chose what works best for you:


- Granola: $3.00

- Blueberries: $3.00

- 4 bananas: $0.75

- Strawberries: $3.00


Total: $9.75

Servings: 4

Price per serving: $2.44


Obviously, it will cost more if you chose to eat it with yogurt or milk, but this is still a fairly cheap and still filling breakfast.


If you want a recipe for homemade granola, click here, and click here for pumpkin spice granola.


4. Smoothies:


If you are allowed to have one/even own one, having a blender or even an immersion blender can be a lifesaver, not only in college, but in life. I use my blender and immersion blender both multiple times in the week.


If you have a regular blender, just throw some fruit and maybe veg in, blend, and breakfast is served. If you have an immersion blender, choose a deeper bowl, place your ingredients in there, and blend and mash until done. These are both great options too for "nice cream."


- 4 bananas: $0.75

- Strawberries: $3.00

- Spinach: $1.50

- If you already have it on hand, peanut butter and milk make great add-ins!


Total: $5.25

Servings: 2

Price per serving: $2.63


Some other great combos are:


- Banana, peanut butter, chocolate powder

- Mixed berry

- Banana, pineapple, mango, coconut milk



5. Granola bites/bars:


This recipe does take a little bit of prep work, but after you're done, you will have breakfast or snacks ready to go for the rest of the week.


- 32oz bag of oats: $5.25

- Peanut Butter: $2.25

- Coconut flakes: $2.00

- Other nuts, seeds, and dried berries of choice

- Chocolate chips, melted to dip them in: $2.00


Total: $11.50

Servings: 17 bars or about 3 dozen bites; 17 servings of oats in a bag

Price per serving: $0.68


Or, you can use this recipe for breakfast cookies, omit the flour, and add more oats, and shape into bars, cookies, or bites. You can find that recipe here.


Lunch/Dinner:


1. Wraps:


Wraps are super customizable and versatile. I will outline one recipe idea and then list a few more ideas:

- Tortillas: $2.86 (20 count)

- Hummus: $3,14

- 2 small zucchini: $1.50

- 2 bell pepper: $1.00

- 2 onion: $1.50

- Lettuce: $1.50

Total: $11.50

Servings: 8

Price per serving: $1.44


Some other ideas for wraps might be:

- PB&J

- cold burritos/Mexican inspired

- Buffalo chickpeas with avocado

- Cesar salad or your favorite salad put into a wrap


Or, you can even do a breakfast wrap! Find that recipe here.


2: Sandwiches:


Just like wraps, sandwiches are very versatile and easy. You can make them whatever flavor you're feeling that day or week. I will outline one recipe idea and then list a few more ideas:

- Loaf of bread: $3.00

- Lettuce: $1.50

- 2 tomatoes: $1.00

- 2 onion: $1.50

- 2 large, sliced carrots: $0.50

- 2 Avocado: $3.00

- Condiments of choice

Total: $12.00

Servings: 8

Price per serving: $1.50


Some other ideas for sandwiches might be:

- PB&J

- PB and banana

- Greek-inspired (kind of like the wrap)

- Chicken patties (there are lot's of vegan brands) with veggies

- Whatever veggies you love and are cheap!



3. Salad:


I am going to outline a basic garden salad. But, you can use whatever veggies you have locally and you can find for cheap and use whatever dressing you have on hand.

- Head of lettuce: $1.50

- 1 tomato: $0.50

- 1 cucumber: $0.50

- 1 large carrot: $0.25

- 1 avocado: $1.50- Croutons: $1.00

- Dressing: $3.00 (though this will definitely get more than 2-3 uses out of, so keep that in mind when looking at the price)

Total: $8.25

Servings: 3

Price per serving: $2.75



4. Microwaved "baked" potato and steamed veggies:


All you need is a microwave for this one. Just stab holes in your potato with a fork, cover with a damp cloth, and microwave until tender. For the veggies, place in a microwave-safe container, fill with water, and steam until veggies are tender. Season and enjoy!


- 2 potatoes: $1.00

- 1 broccoli: $1.50

- 1 large carrot: $0.25

- 1 bag of cauliflower: $1.00

- 1 15oz can of green beans: $0.50


Total: $4.25

Servings: 2

Price per serving: $2.13


For this loaded potato recipe, click here.