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Whether you’re new in college, at uni, or just looking for nutritious, quick and filling food that won’t break the bank, these student-inspired cheap vegetarian meals are the perfect place to start!
Not gonna lie, food can be pretty expensive. Speaking from experience, a monthly grocery bill can run you up to 20% of your entire budget and sometimes even far more.
As a young and (very) broke student at uni, finding healthy but cheap options that I’d enjoy was a huge pain.
There were days I’d just settle for a medley of raw veggies, arranged into a smiley face to make it less sad (which didn’t help by the way) and on others, store-bought snacks I’d have stocked up on.
I know what you’re thinking and I totally agree, those were dark times indeed. But hey, don’t be like this guy!
Even when you’re trying to cut costs, there’s absolutely no reason to starve yourself or miss out on any essential nutrients especially when affordable vegetarian meals like these are available.
It might sound too good to be true but trust me guys, great and cheap vegetarian meals ARE real! So don’t deny yourself the good stuff just to save up money.
Gotta keep it healthy but fun. Your brain will thank you for it too.
What is a vegetarian?
A vegetarian is basically just about anyone who doesn’t eat any kind of animal meat, including poultry and fish. There are many forms of this diet but most people who practise it follow the basic rule of only consuming meatless meals.
Most people do so for ethical reasons, taking animal cruelty or the environmental impact of the meat industry into consideration. It could also be for religious reasons.
Lacto vegetarianism is one form of this diet, and it excludes meat, fish and eggs but includes milk, cheese, butter and all other kinds of dairy products.
Ovo vegetarians on the other hand exclude all meat and animal products except eggs.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians just exclude meat and fish, they can have all kinds of dairy products and even eggs.
Vegans follow a much stricter diet, excluding all kinds of meat, fish and animal-derived products.
Check out this vegan meal plan to have a look at what a typical vegan menu is like!
But what’s even more intense is the plant-based diet, a branch of veganism that does away with all kinds of highly-refined foods and only allows fresh plant based ones like legumes, nuts, fruits grains and veggies.
How many people are vegetarian around the world? Is it growing?
It’s estimated that roughly a billion and a half people all over the globe are vegetarian and the numbers are set to grow.
While those are encouraging stats, there’s also something I’ve gotta put out there; most of the vegetarians today are vegetarians for economic reasons and not because they want to, they’re having cheap meals without meat because they have to.
That being said, there’s still a long way to go till many people are willingly adopt this lifestyle.
What makes delicious vegetarian recipes cheap and nutritious?
There’s no mystery behind these cheap vegetarian recipes, just a few simple things:
- cooking from scratch without wasting money on processed foods
- inexpensive plant-based proteins like beans and legumes
- lots of vegetables and fruit (best if they’re in season, they should be low cost)
- fresh herbs and spices for extra flavours
- whole grains
- eggs and dairy
Why is nutrition important for students (or anyone)?
To learn well, you need to eat well. Following a nutritious vegetarian diet is an easy way to improve your cognitive skills and maintain a healthy weight.
This article on brain-boosting foods explains how certain nutrients influence your memory, concentration and mood.
Foods high in protein, fibre and healthy fats provide the much-needed energy to focus and process information throughout the day.
So let’s increase your brain power with some of the best vegetarian meals!
Affordable recipes for breakfast
Bonus: just needs a frying pan, perfect for lunch
Make the best scrambled eggs you’ve ever had with our quick & easy but simple to follow recipe – so good you’ll never look elsewhere again!
It’s a simple and quick breakfast you can throw together with easy-to-find ingredients that are super cheap too.
A pack of six eggs would run you $2 and you only need two for this recipe. The cheese should cost somewhere between $1-$2 dollars for a quarter pound depending on the brand (maybe even cheaper).
A loaf of some yummy quality wholegrain bread would be about $2-$4 and the salt, pepper and oil are staples you should have in your kitchen.
One of my favorite cheap veggie meals that’s pretty economical if you ask me!
Bonus: quick to make, cheap ingredients, needs only one pot, the perfect start to a student’s day 😉
A hearty way to start the day. Simple coffee and oatmeal breakfast to fill you full of fuel ready to take on the day. Tastes great too.
Bonus: simple ingredients, quick to make, perfect for a student’s budget, amazingly healthy
This world’s simplest pancakes recipe contains just two ingredients (egg and banana) and is super quick – just minutes from bowl to plate! Simple and tasty.
Bonus: a high protein meal, quick to make, few ingredients
There is a trick to making the perfect omelette – and it’s weirdly easy. We’ll show you how. You’re gonna love this one!
Bonus: perfect as a student’s breakfast, a high protein meal, can be stored for a while in the fridge
Vegan Breakfast Potatoes – the best way to start the day. Animal-friendly, high in protein and even higher in taste. Yes please!
Recipe by: HurryTheFoodUp
Bonus: easy meal anytime, just 5 minutes prep
The new vegan burrito is here, paving the way and setting the standard. Mega quick and perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Bonus: a speedy and filling recipe that makes a beautiful breakfast
Love pancakes, but looking for something new? Try our couscous kaiserschmarrn recipe- healthy, delicious shredded pancakes!
Bonus: a high protein dessert for breakfast, minimal prep time
Looking for a new breakfast treat? Try our bread pudding breakfast – a healthy, high protein take on the classic dessert!
Bonus: a super simple recipe with just a few ingredients
Avocado Toast with a creamy, cheesy twist! Cottage cheese is the perfect partner to mashed avocado and makes lunch healthy and tasty.
Bonus: quick to make, cheap ingredients, just needs a frying pan
Simple but satisfying, and so very tasty. Ready in just a few minutes – why wait longer for a delicious and healthy breakfast?
Bonus: a super filling and quick breakfast idea
Looking for a high-protein, low-carb breakfast? Try these breakfast egg muffins – 1 recipe, 4 amazing flavours!
Bonus: an easy recipe, just needs one microwavable cup
Looking for a protein packed start to your morning? Whip up our healthy & tasty microwave mug omelette in minutes!
Bonus: an easy and healthy breakfast idea, minimal prep time
Ever heard how powerful a good oat breakfast can be? Try our Swiss Bircher muesli recipe – super easy and yummy!
Bonus: a high protein meal, quick to make, perfect for an easy breakfast
Try breakfast beans and eggs, for a hearty breakfast that will satisfy you until lunchtime, and quench the urge to snack!
Bonus: incredibly speedy, just a few affordable ingredients
Our take on the tried and true combo of egg on Avocado Toast. It’s high-protein and delicious with just a hint of spice!
Bonus: super speedy, you can choose any fresh toppings you like
This vegan French toast should be on every food radar. Our simple guide with the dos and don’ts of French toast means breakfast has never been easier!
Bonus: a quick and healthy recipe you can really impress your friends with
Win over the crowd at your next brunch without hurting your waistline with these raspberry low calorie pancakes!
Bonus: a healthy and tasty hangover cure, the best breakfast sandwich recipe ever
Anti Hangover Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich. Simple to make and refuels those important nutrients and amino acids to have you feeling better in no time.
Bonus: nutritious and easy vegetarian lunch or breakfast, cheap ingredients
Searching for the perfect omelette? This protein packed, easy omelette recipe has got your back!
Cheap and healthy lunch ideas
Bonus: just needs a frying pan, can be stored for a while in the fridge, a protein and vitamin bomb
Quick and delicious veggie side dish. High Protein, low carb, vegan and done within 10-12 minutes. In my opinion a must-have recipe.
Bonus: quick to make, healthy ingredients, needs only one pot and no additional appliances, excellent after a hangover
High Protein White Bean Salad that’s healthy and vegan. High in fiber, vitamins A, C, E, B2 and B6 as well as iron and calcium. Takes less than 10 minutes.
Bonus: minimal prep time, easy ingredients, salad in a jar
Looking for an easy gluten-free lunch you can bring to work or university with you? Try our vegetarian kale, feta and buckwheat salad!
Bonus: a high protein lunch idea with numerous health benefits
Looking for healthy, straight forward lunch options? Try our ramen noodle salad – it’s veggie, high protein & gluten free.
Try the recipe right away 😉
Cook ramen noodles according to package instructions.
4.5 oz ramen noodles, dried
In a small pot with boiling water, cook eggs for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and place in cold water to cool. When cold enough to handle, peel.
Prepare veggies: Grate or shave with a mandoline the carrots. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Slice into thin strips the green zucchini. Slice the scallions.
1 medium carrot, 8 cherry tomatoes, ½ small zucchini, 2 green onions
In a small bowl mix until incorporated the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, peanut butter , ¼ tsp of salt and 1 ½ to 2 tbsp of water.
1 tsp sesame oil, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar, Salt and pepper to taste, 1 ½ tbsp peanut butter
If serving immediately place the noodles in a bowl and drizzle over the sauce. Top with all the veggies and eggs and generously season with salt and pepper. Optionally, add other toppings like sesame seeds, chilli flakes and shred nori leaves.
Sesame seeds, Chili flakes, Shred nori leaves
If storing in a mason jar to eat later, first add the noodles once they are cold and drizzle with the sauce. Then add in layers the corn, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, eggs and scallions seasoning with a little salt and pepper each layer before continuing with the next. Finally add the optional toppings if using. Close and store in a cool place before serving. When ready to eat, mix a little and serve in the jar or dump into a plate, mix and eat.
¼ cup corn
Bonus: quick to make, perfect for lunch box, excellent appetizer for any event
Easy to make Italian tomato and mozzarella bread. High in calcium and Mediterranean flair. Delicious.
Bonus: super healthy and quick veggie breakfast or lunch, common ingredients
Huevos rancheros are a quick and easy traditional mexican breakfast that make a great healthy option for vegetarians.
Bonus: super speedy and filling lunch option, kind of like a tuna salad but better
Upgrade your sandwich offerings with this chickpea salad sandwich! This healthy vegetarian recipe is simple and speedy with 20g of protein!
Bonus: a healthy high protein salad, minimal prep time, easy ingredients
This protein packed vegan lentil and potato salad is a perfect weight loss recipe. It’s filling, healthy and nutritious, while still tasting amazing!
Bonus: needs just a frying pan, perfect for lunch and dinner, can be stored for a while in the fridge
Make these sweetcorn fritters your new go-to recipe with ingredients you’ll always find in your kitchen. They’re vegan-friendly, too!
Bonus: a highly nutritious meal, quick to make, perfect for lunch box, excellent for sports lovers
A tasty AF sandwich that hits all your nutritional post run needs – carbs, protein, healthy fats and electrolyte replenishment.
Bonus: a healthy and filling lunch or dinner, just 10 minutes to prep
Four easy steps to a delicious and nutritious crispy, crunchy potato lunch. Make your colleagues jealous!
Avocado Tomato Salad – A perfect summer salad
Ready in:8 minutes
Bonus: a refreshing and quick salad, fresh vegetables, you can use any leafy greens you prefer
This fresh avocado tomato salad is healthy and delicious, perfect for adding to a weight loss meal plan, or just as your new favourite go-to lunch!
Recipe by: HurryTheFoodUp
Bonus: a mega tasty and quick lunch idea
It’s time to make the humble cheese sandwich something to be proud of for lunch again!
Bonus: healthy toppings, you can enjoy the beans alongside different meals
These healthy refried black beans are our take on the traditional Mexican dish, with a health-conscious twist!
Bonus: a great way to save some $$$, and ideal for lunch on the go or at university
Speedy White Bean Salad – this tangy take on the classic is super-quick and super-tasty. It’s time to make lunch a thing to look forward to again.
Bonus: super easy and customizable – choose how you want to serve it
Looking for an easy tabbouleh recipe? Get a load of our lentil tabbouleh – a protein packed take on the classic dish!
Easy vegetarian dinners
Bonus: a simple pasta dish, quick to make, easy to impress your mate 😉
Pasta Salad with an unbelievable Peanut Butter Dressing. Did we mention it’s actually healthy too? Ready in 15 minutes, and packed with fiber and protein.
Sexy Vegan Lentil Stew
Ready in:30 minutes
Bonus: a nutrient-rich powerhouse, quick preparation, cheap ingredients, helps your body to stay sexy 😉
The sexiest lentil stew you have ever eaten. A nutritional powerhouse, this recipe is here to kickstart your year – and your health.
Bonus: one of the best pasta dishes on a budget, a versatile recipe for any time
Creamy Broccoli Pasta. This vegetarian combo is a real nutrition powerhouse. Ready in 25 minutes, super versatile, and sooooo tasty! Enjoy!
Bonus: a fast and healthy soup recipe, can be kept in the fridge for 3 to 4 days
Healthy African peanut soup with rice, based on a traditional West African recipe that’s packed with protein, vitamins and, best of all, flavour.
Bonus: a super delicious meatless meal, you can add your favourite toppings, switch up sides and even store it in the freezer for up to 3 months
Who said meatless meals can’t deliver? This vegetarian chili proves that you can still enjoy your favourite meals, but in a new, animal friendly way.
Recipe by: HurryTheFoodUp
Bonus: a tasty and quick toast, cheap and easy ingredients
Our delicious vegan take on the trendiest cafe food of the moment, Mushrooms on Toast. It’s perfect for everything from a savory breakfast to a light dinner.
Bonus: super quick and easy, you can choose your favourite vegetables and noodles
A delicious peanut sauce compliments this fantastic stir fry with simple to follow cooking tip. Beginner friendly and super quick to make!
Bonus: healthy tacos to impress someone, minimal prep time
These veggie lentil tacos are our new go-to meal. SO TASTY and stacked with lentil protein and fiber, it’s time to take dinner up to the next level.
Bonus: minimal prep time, a huge choice of toppings, you can enjoy it with a bunch of friends
These pizza pancakes are perfect for lunch or dinner – super simple and full of the most exciting base and taste combos make it the best of both worlds!
Recipe by: HurryTheFoodUp
Bonus: light and filling, easy ingredients
This speedy and roasted creamy corn soup is here to show the world just how much vegan food rocks. Why should vegans have all the fun?!
Recipe by: HurryTheFoodUp
Bonus: great for busy weeknights, super simple and filling
This easy vegetarian shakshuka recipe breaks everything down into simple steps for a great Shakshuka result every time!
Recipe by: HurryTheFoodUp
Bonus: a nutritious, speedy and healthy microwave-baked potato, lots of veggies
So many vegetables, so little time to make. Hit your nutrient and vitamin count for the day with ease. No need to spend loads of time doing it, either.
Bonus: a healthy and filling dinner option, that can be made in bulk
A dump and bake dish that will please everyone, this bean and pasta vegetarian casserole makes a perfect healthy dinner.
Bonus: just 5 minutes prep, you can swap ingredients or add extra veggies
Looking for a speedy noodle dish, packed with vegetables and flavour? The search is over with this easy vegetable lo mein!
Side dishes, snacks and treats
Bonus: a healthy and easy snack, quick prep, affordable ingredients
How do you want your deviled eggs? Check out our stuffed eggs recipe – complete with special taste boosters.
Bonus: homemade tortilla chips, little fuss, cheap ingredients, can be stored for a while in the fridge
Tangy and tasty guacamole with crispy nachos that are healthy, vegan and very easy to make. High in good fats, fiber, vitamin C, and iron. 10 minutes.
Homemade Custard Pudding with Strawberries
Ready in:55 minutes
Bonus: quick prep, perfect after-dinner treat, common ingredients
After a modest but delicious dessert recipe? Try our custard pudding, flavoured with cardamom & topped with strawberries!
Bonus: perfect appetizer, feel free to change the toppings according to your tastes and budget
Crispy Tortilla Pizza. A healthier way to eat pizza with the same great taste that you love. Ready in just 25 minutes, you won’t look back!
Bonus: an easy low calorie snack, just two affordable ingredients
There is no better snack than these healthy oatmeal banana cookies! They’re full of nutrients but they’re still easy and quick to make.
Bonus: minimal prep time, easy ingredients, can be used in salads, soups, as toppings for bread or toast
More high-quality protein and flavour? Check. These flavourful soy sauce eggs with jammy yolks are beyond addictive!
Gluten Free & Vegan Banana Bread
Ready in:1 hour 10 minutes
Recipe by: HurryTheFoodUp
Bonus: the perfect comfort food for the whole family
Love banana bread, but want to make it vegan? Our vegan banana bread recipe is simple made with store-cupboard staples.
Bonus: a mainstay of any excellent British garden party, an elegant guest-pleasing recipe
The ultimate guide to cucumber sandwiches. Know the traps to avoid and the tricks to making the best cucumber sandwiches available in polite (and even student) society.
Bonus: it’s gluten-free too
Quick White Bean Spread (vegan pâté). A super fast recipe that works as an appetizer, snack or party dip. Surprise your guests with this awesome spread!
Cheap vegetarian meals FAQ
Eating on a budget as a vegetarian is pretty simple if you pick up some wallet-friendly habits:
– buy in bulk;
– keep frozen fruits and veggies;
– practise seasonal eating;
– cook from scratch;
– pay attention to sales;
– don’t focus on everything organic.
It’s also important to get enough protein. Vegetarians can obtain it from a variety of inexpensive sources like beans, legumes, eggs, oats, nuts and seeds.
If you’re interested in following a high-protein diet, check out our free 7-day vegetarian high protein meal plan.
If you’re afraid vegetarian food will cost you a bundle, we assure you it won’t.
Skipping meat alone can help you save some major cash.
A whole food plant-based diet is actually cheaper than meat and provides more health benefits if you make smart swaps, skip processed foods, eat in season and learn to love beans and legumes.
Check out this article, if you’re interested in saving some serious cash on a vegetarian diet.
The best meal for students is easy, quick, nutritious and affordable. As a student, you should consider incorporating some brain foods into your meals and aim to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins and dairy.
More tips for saving cash on great meals
You didn’t think I was going to leave you without some extra tips now did you?
There are so many frugal practices you could employ to help you make the most out of your veggie meals on a budget, have a look at them below:
- Get a meal plan: Make sure you have every single vegetarian budget meal you’re going to make per week figured out before you go shopping.
- Budget for every single item: I know I know, shopping lists sound hella cliche but they’re actually great in making sure you get what you need and just those without falling into temptation.
- Shop and cook in bulk: You can get the most out of your money for food items when you get them in bulk. Since they can go bad super easily without proper storage, it’s best you just make them into inexpensive meals and store them in your freezer. You can then have them all during the busier days of the week, and restock over the weekend.
- Keep waste to a min: Overestimated your hunger and made a tad too much? Binning it should be the last thing on your mind. Pop it into a container and store it properly in the fridge or freezer.
- Bag those deals: As a seasoned couponer, I say there’s no shame in collecting coupons or taking advantage of promos, loyalty cards or even discounts. Make use of them whenever you get the chance to save up on a few.
- Compare prices: Go around a couple of stores and shop where you get better deals. The cent or two you save by purchasing stuff from there could amount to something decent over time!
- Use leftovers! We have some brilliant recipes using leftovers right here.
With these simple steps in mind and those recipes above to try, you should be cutting costs and saving big like a pro in no time!
If you haven’t tried eating less meat yet, but want to, how about a meatless Monday for a fresh start? We hope these cheap vegetarian meals will help you with that!