7-Day Cheap Vegan Meal Plan on a Budget
There are plenty of reasons people choose a plant-based diet. But whether you’re doing it for your health, the environment, or the well-being of animals, there’s no reason being vegan has to be expensive! You can eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that will keep you from being bored with a little thought and planning—just like any other diet.
This meal plan can help you trial-run veganism, to decide whether it’s the right lifestyle for you – or just use it to take a break from animal products. We’ve made this meal plan as simple as possible—no hunting for exotic ingredients or spices. Everything you see should be easy to find at your typical grocery store or at home in your pantry.
Try this vegan meal plan for yourself and you’ll have some leftovers to snack on, but it can be adjusted to share with a partner or your family as needed. This plan deliberately reuses ingredients from recipe to recipe in different ways, so your vegan shopping list won’t be overloaded. But it also gives you an idea of how many affordable, healthy meals you can make with ingredients you already have – so you’re not wasting money on food you never eat.
Cheap Vegan Meal Plan
1. Overnight Oats in 5 Different Styles
Knock out your weekday breakfast all on Sunday night. Or if you don’t like your oatmeal too creamy, you can cut down to two or three nights in advance. Oatmeal is a filling way to start your day, and fruit and nuts add variety and nutritional value. Soaking them overnight makes them easier to digest, and they will taste sweeter naturally as the starches have changed.
If you have chia seeds or you can find them at a good price, this recipe shows you how to use them in your overnight oats. Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and they add a nice, smooth texture to your oatmeal.
2. Vegan Breakfast Tacos
Good for a lazy Saturday, but straightforward enough for an ambitious, early riser on a weekday, these tacos will give you an idea for how to cook breakfast tofu without odd ingredients like black salt or nutritional yeast. The recipe makes six tacos, so you can have leftovers or share. We recommend cooking a pot of black beans for the week instead of using canned beans. You’ll need 1½ cups of prepared beans to sub for canned beans.
3. Chickpea Omelette
Grocery stores are catching on to the gluten-free trend, so chickpea flour is a lot easier to find. In India, it’s known as gram flour, and it’s a staple ingredient in many South Asian recipes.
This recipe calls for black salt, which is sulfur-smelling salt that can add an eggy flavor to your breakfast, but it’s definitely optional (though worth a try sometime). Make some of these for Sunday brunch and use the leftover cilantro from your tacos!
4. Vegan Black Bean Burgers
Simple and hearty, these black bean burgers can be prepared on Sunday while you’re working on your oats for an easy-to-pack lunch. This recipe yields 4 or 6 burgers depending on how thick you like them, but if you split the difference and make five, you’ll have a satisfying treat to take to work with you.
If you’ve never packed a burger in your lunch before, it’s best to leave your condiments and pickles on the side until you’re ready to eat. Switching up your toppings will keep things feeling fresh, and there will be plenty of leftovers to choose from to accompany your meal. (Try this coconut bacon and you’ll find yourself putting it on everything you eat.)
5. Thai Red Curry
We know you’ve been busy prepping your week’s breakfast and lunch, so Sunday night meal is nice and decadent. This curry is a crowd-pleaser that gives you a simple introduction to cooking your own Thai food. Using easy-to-find ingredients means you don’t have to make a special trip or order online just for one meal. Make extra rice and keep it in the fridge to fry up for the next recipe. Cold rice is always better for frying. While you’re at it, prep the tofu for tomorrow’s meal, and Monday night will be that much simpler.
6. Easy Vegan Fried Rice
After all the work you put in last night, you’ll have this meal ready in just a few minutes! Using frozen peas and carrots is a simple way to give you a break that doesn’t add much to cook time. If you choose almond or cashew butter to eat with your oatmeal in place of peanut butter, use that instead. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can add a teaspoon or so of curry powder. It pairs nicely with the flavor of any of the nut butters.
7. Classic split pea soup
This recipe can easily be tossed in the crockpot in the morning and ready by dinner, but is quick enough to make at night. The split peas and barley offer a complete protein with plenty of fiber to keep you full. And of course, all the ingredients are super cheap and easy to find. Variations of this recipe are also great for vegans who want cheap paleo meals.
8. Vegan Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes require very little hands-on time to make, and this recipe shows you a quick and easy way to make tempeh bacon. Tempeh makes a great high-protein vegan replacement for bacon, and once you’ve made it the first time, it’s easy to recreate. A leftover potato can be sliced and browned in the skillet as a great snack or side to take with your burgers.
9. Vegan Pasta Bake
Friday calls for a special meal, and this vegan pasta bake gets the job done without being too demanding. It calls for vegan cheese, which is optional, but can be a nice treat. If you’re wary of the price tag or the taste, buy yourself nutritional yeast and use leftover walnuts to make this vegan parm.
10. Mediterranean Buddha Bowl
If you aren’t already overloaded with leftovers, this recipe is a light dinner to finish off your vegan meal plan. It’s easy to play around with this concept using what you have on hand, as well. By now, you’ve got lots of practice in your vegan kitchen, so feel free to change your recipes up with your whims.
Shopping for your vegan meal plan
Before you set out to the store with your recipes, take stock of what you already. The more you cook, the more you know what you need to have on hand all the time. Many vegans like to keep several kinds of beans and grains handy, and rotate the veggies and seasoning they use for variety. Dried herbs and spices are an important staple. They will make or break your meal, so find a brand you like and try to order in bulk!
With a few exceptions, dried herbs work well in recipes. You can generally use smaller amounts than their fresh counterparts. Because they have a stronger flavor, they are easier for beginner chefs to use. Fresh herbs are delicate and have a tendency to go to waste unless you have a plan for all of them. If you have a mortar and pestle, you’ll find fresh ground spices are a lot tastier, and you can toast them in the pan beforehand for an even more complex flavor.