11 Homecooked 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, stovetop, 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.


Stovetop: This takes a little more time out of your day, but all you have to do it add water or milk to a saucepan, bring it to boil, add your oats, let it thicken, dump in a bowl, add preferred toppings and you have yourself some breakfast!


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!


For more dorm friendly recipes, click here, and for fall-inspired oat recipes, click here.

Recipe and photo are from me!

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. Pancakes/Waffles:


Did you know it is incredibly simple to make your own pancake/waffle batter? It's just a few simple ingredients I will outline below, or you can opt for a box. Top them however you see fit. I will also leave a few ideas for inspiration below:


- A bag of flour costs about $2.00, but we will only need 1 cup: $0.08

- Baking soda costs about $0.75 per box, but we only need 1 tsp: $0.01

- A bag of sugar is about $1.75, but we only need about 1/4 cup: $0.04

- Canola oil is about $2.00, but we only need about 1/4 cup: $0.08

- I also like to add cinnamon and vanilla if I have it on hand

- Mix with water for a free option, or use whatever milk you have on hand

- Add apple cider vinegar to make it fluffy (just a tsp or so)


Total: $0.21

Servings: 10 pancakes

Price per pancake: $0.02


Wow! Isn't it crazy how much money you can save by making your own batter? Here are some yummy ideas to jazz them up:


- Peanut butter, maple syrup, bananas

- Mixed berries

- Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, and pumpkin puree

- Cocoa powder and peanut butter


Click here for an easy pancake recipe made with oats instead (yay, GF!).


4. Breakfast Hash:


If you're looking for a savory breakfast option, here it is! This recipe is customizable and you can use your favorite veggies or whatever is cheapest for you. This just requires a little prep time and some baking time and will definitely be a crowd-pleaser:


- 6 potatoes: $3.00

- 1 onion: $0.75

- 2 bell peppers: $1.00

- 2 cans chickpeas: $1.50

- Maple syrup costs about $6.00, but we only need about 1/4 cup: $1.00


Total: $7.25

Servings: 6

Price per serving: $1.21


Click here for another breakfast hash recipe.


Lunch/Dinner:


1. Fajitas:


Mexican food is so easy to veganize because it naturally contains a lot of vegetables and it is so easy to just omit the meat. I loved the fajitas I made the other night. We used:


- 1 onion: $0.75

- 2 bell peppers: $1.00

- 2 8 oz cans of mushrooms: $1.00

- 1 can of black beans: $1.00

- 2 packets of taco seasoning (just because we had them lying around, use what you have on hand!) $1.50

- and tortillas, which I made myself but will cost about: $2.50


Total $7.75

Servings: 4

Price per serving: $1.94


For another recipe idea, click here.


2. Burritos/Enchiladas:


Like I said, Mexican food is easy to just omit meat. These can be served as burritos/soft tacos, or, if you feel like spending a little more, add more enchilada sauce, bake, and you have enchiladas! I will include prices for both:


- Rice: $2.00 (note: a bag of rice contains more servings in the bag than you would consume in one meal)

- 1 bell pepper: $0.50

- 1 onion: $0.75

- 1 15 oz can of corn: $0.75

- 1 15 oz can of black beans: $1.00

- 1 15 oz can of tomatoes: $0.75

- Some spices: Free! If you don't have spices, get some taco seasoning: $0.75

- Tortillas: $2.50

- Green chiles*: $1.00

- Salsa*: $2

- Enchilada sauce*: $1.60


* Optional, but adds a lot of flavor and still a decent price!


Total: $9.00

Servings: 4-6

Price per serving: $2.25 or $1.50


Total*: $13.60

Servings: 4-6

Price per serving: $3.40 or $2.27


Or, for a spin on burritos, click here for a burrito bowl recipe.


3. Oven Roasted Veggies:


This is another super easy and simple recipe and perfect all year round. Just chose veggies that are local, in season, and cheapest where you live and this can turn into a delicious, hearty, and cheap meal. All you have to do is cut the veggies (and drain the chickpeas), sprinkle with oil and seasonings of choice, and bake until tender. We typically use:


- 4 potatoes: $2.00

- 2 head of broccoli: $4.00

- 1 bell pepper: $0.50

- 1 onion: $0.75

- 2 cans of chickpeas: $1.50

- 2 small zucchinis: $1.50


Total $10.25

Servings: 4

Price per serving: $2.56


Click here for Mediterranean roasted veggies!


Photo and recipe from themediterraneandish.com/

4. Chili:


Chilis and soups are another go-to of mine. They are super cheap and super easy for busy nights or nights I just don't feel like cooking. Basically, you just add all the ingredients to a pot and simmer until all the veggies are tender. Just don't forget to season it how you like!


- 1 15 oz can black beans: $1.00

- 1 15 oz can kidney beans: $0.75

- 1 15 oz can pinto beans: $0.75

- 2 potatoes: $1.00

- 1 onion: $0.75

- 2 large carrots: $0.50

- 4 cups of vegetable broth (I make my own which is free): $1.50

- 12 oz marinara: $1.00

- 1 15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes: $1.00


Total: $8.25

Servings: 6-8

Price per serving: $1.38 or $1.03


Click here for a pumpkin-based chili.


5. Pasta:


Pasta is like toast in that it is super versatile. Just buy your favorite pasta, your favorite sauce, and top it with your favorite veggies! I will outline my go-to pasta recipe and then give you a few more ideas for inspiration:


- 16 oz box of macaroni: $1.28

- 1 jar of marinara: $2.00

- 1 can of chickpeas: $0.75

- 2 small zucchini: $1.50

- 1 head of broccoli: $2.00


Total: $7.53

Servings: 6-8

Price per serving: $1.25 or $0.94


Some other ideas for pasta might be:


- Vegan alfredo: $4.00

- Mac n Cheese: $4.00

- Peas: $0.75

- Asparagus: $2.00

- Mushrooms: $0.50


For a vegan mac 'n cheese recipe, click here.


6. Shepherd's Pie/Mashed Potatoes and Veggies:


- 4 potatoes: $2.00 (maybe some butter and milk if you want, but not necessary)

- Lentils: $1.00

- 2 large carrots: $0.50

- 16 oz canned mushrooms: $2.00

- 1 onion: $0.75

- If you want to get fancy and make a nice broth, just use some wine, tomato paste, and broth, but this is not necessary


Total: $6.25

Servings: 4-6

Price per serving: $1.56 or $1.04


Photo from emmatheenvironmentalist.com


7. Curry:


I will be outlining my favorite recipe for Japanese curry, but this can easily be your favorite Indian or Thai curry as well. Most of the ingredients are the same for each, the flavors mostly differ. Though, you might have to buy a few more or less ingredients depending on the type of curry.


- 1 onion: $0.75

- 1 large carrot: $0.25

- 2 potatoes: $1.00

- 1 head of broccoli: $2.00

- 4 cups veggie broth: $1.50

- 1 can chickpeas: $0.75


Total: $6.25

Servings: 6

Price per serving: $1.04