Updated November, 2019. 25 Budget Friendly Vegetarian Meals
Whether you’re vegetarian or happen enjoy a Meatless Monday meal every week, preparing vegetarian meals can be a great way to save money on groceries, especially if you’re preparing those meals from scratch. These tasty meals are loaded with veggies and are easy on the wallet, so you can eat well on a budget.
💰 Saving Money
When you eat vegetarian, whether it’s full-time or just once in a while, you’re bound to save some money if you play it smart. For starters, proteins like chicken, fish, steaks, and other meat can be so costly. You will spend several dollars per pound, even for the lower end cuts of meat, and the costs add up super quick. So, fill up on a vegetarian meal every once in a while and your bank account will thank you!
Here are a few things you can do to stretch your dollar even more when eating vegetarian.
- Hit the discount bins. Produce will go bad at some point, and because markets and grocery stores know that, they try to sell it at a highly discounted rate. This allows them to make a little bit of money and keep it out of the trash. When you go to the market, be on the lookout for deep discounts on fruits and veggies that are starting to go bad. My local grocery store bags them and keeps them on the end cap at the back of the store. My nearby Harris Teeter puts them all on a large rolling cart on the edge of the produce section.
- Watch flyers for sales. Most stores rotate what is going to go on sale week after week. Keep a close watch and buy foods when they are on sale. Plan your meals around the ingredients you pick up for cheap.
- Cut, dice, and freeze fruits and veggies when possible. If you find a deep sale on tomatoes, for example, chop them up, and then you can add them to soups, stews, omelets, and other recipes later. Just make sure to label anything you put in the freezer, so you know what you have.
- Plan your meals in advance. It’s so much easier to plan your meals one or two weeks at a time. By planning ahead, you can make dishes that have similar ingredients. For example, if potatoes are on sale, make several recipes that require potatoes to be cooked in different ways. This will give you some variety, but save you money too. Use a meal planning tool like these free printables to keep you on track!
- Buy larger containers of herbs and seasonings. I gave up buying small containers of my most commonly used items like soy sauce, herbs, white wine vinegar and olive oil. Check out the per unit pricing at your grocery store. Then compare it to online prices, or even Costco! I have a love-hate relationship with Costco, but when it comes time to buy my grocery staples, the prices make it worthwhile!
❗ Meal Prepping
Each recipe in this list has its own instructions. However, many of them can easily be made ahead of time. Imagine how much free time you will have when you don’t have to cook every day! Just pull something out of the fridge, warm it up, and dinner is served.
Many of these dishes are perfect for meal prepping. You can easily place them in individual food containers, heat them up, and enjoy.
🧀 Can I Eat Dairy When Eating Vegetarian?
Yes, you can still eat cheese, milk, sour cream, etc. when you eat vegetarian. There are no strict rules against it. If you eat a vegan diet, however, you are not permitted to eat anything that comes from an animal. This would include dairy products. Eat foods that work for you, your family, and your lifestyle, and you’ll be good.
⏲️ What Kinds Of Food Should I Keep On Hand For Vegetarian Meals?
Sure, each recipe has its own list of ingredients that are needed to make the dish. However, I tend to keep several staples on hand. This way, even if I just want a quick and easy snack, I have food ready to go. Here is a list of the staples I recommend keeping on hand:
- Potatoes – Having some potatoes around is a life-saver. You can quickly make a baked potato and eat it as a simple lunch idea or chop them and oven roast them. The options are endless when it comes to potatoes, and they are cheap.
- Sweet Potatoes – For the same reason as having regular potatoes. They are easy to turn into a meal. Bake them, toss them in olive oil and roast them or cut the sweet potatoes and turn them into french fries. My favorite recipe is black bean stuffed sweet potatoes. There are tons of ideas.
- Carrots – They make a great snack on the go, or you can use them in all sorts of recipes. They are perfect for many vegetarian meals. We joke that the sheet pan roasted balsamic carrots are so good that we usually eat them before the meal is even served!
- Beans – If you are just trying to have a meatless meal here and there, you will love how much protein you get from beans. They make you forget all about meat!
- Rice – Whether you are making something Mexican themed or are looking for comfort food, rice is a huge asset. You can add different seasonings to give it some more flavor too.
❄️ Tips on Freezing Vegetables
A little prep work here will save you a lot of hassles later. These steps will eliminate the problem of trying to portion out a specific amount of frozen vegetables without having to defrost the whole package.
- Step 1: Start off by cleaning all of the vegetables.
- Step 2: Cut the vegetables into pieces. Generally, I do a 1 inch piece for freezing.
- Step 3: Place the vegetables on a parchment lined sheet pan and spread out.
- Step 4: Place the sheet pan in the freezer 8-12 hours or overnight.
- Step 5: Remove the sheet pan and place all of the vegetables into a freezer safe ziplock bag and label with what is in it and the date. Place back in the freezer until ready to use.
Liked these budget friendly vegetarian meals? Check out these other frugal meals below!