Cheap Vegan Meals: Top Tips for Eating Vegan on a Budget From a Mother of Seven
By Simone Roberts
Do you need inspiration for cheap vegan meals? Research from the University of Oxford has revealed that eating vegan could reduce your food bill by up to one-third. Together with expert Simone Roberts, we’re sharing some top tips to help you and your family stay happy and healthy while eating vegan on a budget.
My name is Simone, and I’m a full-time homemaker for myself, my husband, Mark, and our seven children – Raél, 21; Rocsi, 9; Taurel, 8; Kenzi, 6; Nile, 4; Hezekiah, 2; and Benjamin, who is 9 weeks old. Here, I share my top tips for feeding a vegan family on a budget.
My Vegan Adventure
Mark was already vegan when we met in 2010, and after a period of cooking separate meals and eating some of his, I went vegan, too.
As fewer animals ended up on my plate, I found it easier to think of them as individuals, and my respect for them grew, along with my passion for sharing with others how easy and satisfying it is to enjoy a cruelty-free lifestyle.
I felt creative as my taste buds came alive again. I was exploring food as I did when I was a child, and I was excited and curious to know more. I began experimenting with tastes and textures to create succulent meals packed with flavour and love.
Some of our family friends have been vegan since the 1980s. In Rastafarian culture, it is known as “ital” – just plants – so growing up, we regularly ate veg-based meals. I applied some of my past experience cooking with pulses such as beans, peas, and lentils to preparing healthy meals for my growing family.
I was learning how to make dishes “pop” and create food that didn’t make me feel like I was missing out. I knew that if I was impressed with the food, my family would be, too. I like to serve meals to my family as if they were royalty – which we are!
Are you ready to eat like royalty on a budget? Read on for my secrets to making nutritious and affordable vegan meals:
Cheap Vegan Meals: Top Tips for Eating Vegan on a Budget
1. Save money with protein-packed dry beans and pulses.
Soak them overnight, boil, and use for your dishes. It’s much cheaper than buying tinned beans, and the texture and flavour is better, too. This this how I do it:
2. Batch prep and freeze.
Save time in the kitchen by batch cooking and freezing things you eat often, including biscuits and cakes, like this easy banana cake.
3. Learn to cook with what’s available.
Want to make a quick, cheap vegan meal? Have a look at what’s already on hand. Is there a bag of barley in the back of the cupboard? Build a meal around that. A zero-waste policy helps. Even a limp celery stalk can be chopped up and tossed into a dish.
4. Look for discounted fruit and veg.
It will save you money, and you can experiment with different dishes and discover new foods you may love. I also buy from organisations that support buying surplus foods to reduce food waste.
5. Eat seasonal.
Produce costs less when it’s in season, and it’s often more nutritious and better for the environment than foods flown in from other parts of the world.
6. Embrace experimentation.
Learning how to modify a recipe and cook with what you already have is a fantastic life skill – and it can save you money. Think of recipes as a guideline, not a rule. You just might stumble upon a great new combination. And don’t only search for vegan recipes, as any recipe can be “veganised”. Once you start experimenting, you’ll love the challenge of doing so.
7. Encourage food sharing with other families.
This is a great way to learn about new foods and recipes, and it may make it easier to buy in bulk and reduce food waste.
8. Prep ahead for the following day – even if you’re tired.
Do you need to soak some beans? What’s hiding in the back of the cupboard that you can use tomorrow? Just a few minutes spent planning can go a long way, and your future self will thank you for it.
Get to know the edible (and poisonous) plants and bushes that flourish in your area. You never know what superfood is growing on your doorstep. We found rosehips, elderberries, and wild garlic.
10. Develop a selection of inexpensive go-to vegan meal ideas.
We have some great ideas for cheap vegan meals on our YouTube channel, and one of our favourites is vegan cottage pie. This recipe is also a great candidate for batch cooking and freezing.
11. Grow your own veg!
You can grow your own staples, such as onions, garlic, potatoes, and herbs.
Cheap Vegan Meal Plan: Simone’s Typical Daily Menu
For breakfast, we usually have porridge or cereal and a fruit platter. We add nuts, seeds, and “magic dust” (ground superfood mix) to every breakfast and salad.
Our lifestyle allows us to eat when we choose, and we generally have our main meal at lunchtime.
Here are some ideas:
- Ackee and callaloo or spinach
- Shepherd’s pie
- Steamed veg and crackers with rice and peas
- Sticky cauliflower nuggets with jacket potatoes and salad
- Mushroom Wellington
Watch Rocsi make our family meal:
In the evening, we typically have a light snack such as smoothies made with frozen banana, soaked oats, kale, or peanut butter; crackers, salad, or hummus with nuts and seeds.
We let the children shop and make their own evening snacks.
Being a vegan family is not hard, it’s actually essential!
Are You Inspired?
And check out PETA’s free vegan starter kit for more recipes and tips on eating vegan: