Eating vegan doesn’t have to be expensive. All of the meals here cost $5 or less for two servings!
Here’s an unexpected twist when you go vegan: non-vegans often feel compelled to tell you, unbidden, why they haven’t made the leap. Since going vegan in 2006 I’ve heard many, many reasons why veganism is too hard, and the perceived price tag is high up on the list.
When you first go vegan, it can seem super expensive. Part of the problem is that you’re restocking your pantry with vegan staple ingredients. The amount of nutritional yeast (nooch) or agave nectar in a single recipe may not be much, but the bag, jar or bottle can seem expensive before you look at how many servings you’re getting.
Think about those grocery trips when you seem to be out of all of the staples like ketchup, mustard, mayo, flour, salt and spices. That’s an expensive shopping trip, but you only have to do that stocking up occasionally. And usually not all at once. A recipe that calls for a few tablespoons of nooch might seem expensive when you include the cost of the whole bag, but that bag will last you for many meals.
Eating vegan, like eating in general, certainly can be expensive, but you don’t need a pantry full of maca and goji berries to eat vegan. In fact, there are lots of easy vegan meals that cost $5 or even less for two servings. Here are some of my favorites.
To calculate the 2-serving cost of the recipes below, I combined prices from my local Whole Foods and prices that I found on Amazon. Since Whole Foods produce can be pricey, some of these totals may even be overestimates! You can check out a pdf of my calculations here.
10 Vegan Meals Under $5
1. Avocado Chickpea Salad, $3.04 – Don’t worry, vegans don’t eat salads all day, every day. But sometimes a hearty meal-sized salad is just what you need, especially in the thick of summer swelter. Dianne Wenz has tons of amazing supper salads on her site, and this budget-friendly avocado chickpea salad is as satisfying as it is healthy and affordable.
2. Grits Bowl, $4.82 – This easy recipe is a favorite breakfast or brunch recipe in my house. Savory grits topped with avocado and baked tofu is a filling meal that won’t break your grocery budget. Even my three-year-old likes this healthy breakfast!
3. Grilled Avocado Sandwich, $4.22 – Nothing screams, “Quick lunch!” like a sandwich, and this is one of my all-time favorites. Who needs cheese when you have creamy avocado and plenty of rich-and-spicy vegan sriracha mayo? Not you, my friend. Not you.
4. Chickpea Quizza, $2.59 – Pizza, schmizza! Ricki Heller’s veggie-packed chickpea “quizza” is a crowd-pleasing, healthy meal that’s super affordable. You can really use any veggies you like, so you can reduce this recipe’s price even more by choosing veggies that are on sale or from your own garden.
5. Spring Roll Wraps, $4.83 – All the goodness of a spring roll without the deep fried greasiness. Cadry’s spring roll wraps are a satisfying lunch or supper dish. This is another recipe where you could really mix up the veggies to use what’s seasonal and cheap, so have fun with it!
6. No-Honey Tofu, $3.66 – No need to heat up the house to make this simple tofu dish. Kathy shows you how to prepare this restaurant-style tofu in the slow cooker. You can serve it with rice (that’s what I used to calculate the cost) or stuff it into big leaves of lettuce, wrap-style. Really, you could do rice and lettuce without going over $5 per serving, so choose your own tofu adventure!
7. Greek Lentil Soup, $4.97 – Sophia’s bright and hearty lentil soup is a great easy lunch or supper. You can even prepare this the day before and reheat for an even quicker meal. This is really filling enough to be a meal on its own, but you can serve it with some crusty bread for dipping if you need a little extra something. Full disclosure: adding the bread will put you over $5 for two servings.
8. Baked Curry Risotto, $4.13 – Risotto might sound like a fancy dish, but really it’s just a type of rice. Alisa prepares this one dish, no stir meal using canned veggies, making it extra inexpensive. It’s a perfect meal to have on hand for a busy night!
9. Taco Soup, $4.99 – This allergy-friendly vegan recipe is kid-friendly, too! Sarah created this vegan version of her mom’s family recipe, and now it’s a favorite in her own house. Her two kids love it, and I can see why—it’s packed with budget-friendly goodness! You can make this recipe even cheaper by substituting the spices with a packet of taco seasoning.
10. Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, $2.93 – Mel’s recipe is a vegan spin on a classic dish. It’s a stick-to-the-ribs vegan meal that’s super cheap to make. Instead of vegan meat, which can get expensive, she uses lentils to give this dish some cruelty-free meatiness and a protein punch. The full recipe makes six servings, so you’ll have leftovers for lunch the next day.