I promised you all I would write an entire blog post about why I choose to cook vegan, but I decided to start off with some of my recipes and ideas for how I meal prep for the week on a budget. I’d like to start off by saying that I am not a cook at all, just a girl who wants to eat cruelty-free and nutritious food. Living in Saudi Arabia means that it is best I make my own food because the diet here is highly meat based. But that being said, I am super lucky that I have a fruit/veggie/nut market within a five minute walk from my apartment!
There are so many negative comments criticizing vegans, but I don’t understand why because these choices are based of compassion, love, and caring for Mother Earth. For those who don’t know, veganism means that you don’t consume meat, milk, or eggs.
The negative comments usually include (1) that I do not get enough protein (2) that eating as vegan is a privilege for rich people and (3) It is too “hard” to go vegan because….I love cheese, ect. Well this post will show you some amazingly delicious, nutritious foods that I make that are pretty easy and cheap.
Below is an idea of how I prep my meals for the week. I reuse many of my ingredients so I don’t have to buy too many (have I mentioned I am super cheap?)
I just returned from my fruit/veg run, here’s what I got, all for $10 (notice my reusable produce bags, highly suggest because it is a great way to reduce your single use plastic consumption)
Breakfast: Pomegranate, avocado toast, fruit, or oats (microwaved with soy milk and brown sugar topped with fruit on top)
Lunch: Pad thai, roasted veggies with chickpeas and hummus on lentils
Dinner: shepherd’s pie, roasted veggie wraps (also with chickpeas)
Snacks: raw carrots/peppers with hummus, garlic edamame, fruit
Alright folks let me get to it, I will also attempt to do some math to calculate the price for all of my meals.
Lentil and veggies shepherd’s pie
This is my take on a recipe I found here: https://avirtualvegan.com/lentil-shepherds-pie/
2 cups of lentils (cooked) $1.26
6 potatoes ($1.35)
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy milk.. ~$0.15 for this much milk)
vegan butter (most margarine brands do not use milk)
1 medium onion ($0.35)
1 carrot ($0.19)
3 cloves of garlic ($0.02)
2 veggies bouillon cubes ($0.23)
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 can of tomato sauce ($1.35)
Breadcrumbs as a topping
Total cost: under $5.00 (and will last several meals)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Cut potatoes into smaller chunks and boil until soft enough to mash, once mashed add the soy milk, a little margarine, and salt and pepper
- At the same time, cook your lentils (I cooked excess to eat with roasted veggies throughout the week) I did 2 cups dry lentils with 2 cups water, adding a bouillon cube and added water if the lentils looked dry, took about 40 minutes for them to be ready
- Sautee the diced onions, carrots, and garlic in a little oil. When brown, add to 2 cups of cooked lentils
- On the medium heat, add 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 bouillon cube, cornstarch, and soy sauce. Once the mixture starts to bubble from heat, put it in a dish (I used a shallow pie pan).
- Spread the mashed potato mixture on top. Make sure the mashed potatoes are as smooth as possible (I mashed with a fork so it took a few minutes)
- Top with bread crumbs for a crunch, and let bake for 30 minutes
2. Tofu Pad Thai
1 teaspoon crushed ginger (0.02)
3 cloves of garlic (0.02)
2 carrots (0.38)
firm tofu ($4.00)
1/2 head of broccoli (0.90) (save other half for roasted veg)
1/2 onion (0.18) (save other half for roasted veg)
peanuts and cilantro for toppings
200 g of noodles (I used thick Thai noodles $1.20)
1/4 cup peanut butter (0.40)
1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 lime (0.40)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup water
total cost: under $7
- Boil your noodles, add a pinch of salt for taste
- Use a peeler to ribbon the carrots
- Sautee on medium heat with coconut oil, add diced onion, garlic, and broccoli (cut into small chunks)
- Add diced tofu and a little soy sauce, fry until it is brown
- Make the sauce by adding all the ingredients together, adjust amount of water to desired consistency (depends on the brand of peanut butter you buy as well)
- Once the noodles are done, drain and add to the sauteed veggies, gently mix together trying not to break the tofu pieces
- Add in the peanut sauce and mix until it is evenly distributed
- Add 1/2 cup of edamame beans (I used shelled edamame and microwaved in water for 3 minutes, set the rest aside for garlic edamame)
- When you serve it, top with some peanuts and cilantro!
3. Roasted Veggies
This is my go-to meal almost every week. I use whatever veggies are on their way out, or whatever I could find for sale. This week, I used the leftover potatoes from the Shepard’s Pie recipe, along with 1/2 head of broccoli and 1/2 onion from the pad thai, and whatever else I had laying on the fridge (Carrots, cauliflower, and Zucchini). My oven was still on from the shepherd’s pie, making this super quick and easy to make.
I eat my roasted veggies on top of rice or lentils, then add a spoonful of hummus or 1/4 an avocado. If I don’t have these ingredients I make a wrap on pita bread adding hummus, and roasted chickpeas (baked in the oven with curry power and oil for 10 minutes). If i have a lot of leftovers, I put them on a stove with water, coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons of curry paste for an amazing veg curry, amazing with some chickpeas thrown in there!
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic, any veggies seasonings
sliced carrots (0.19)
2 cubed potatoes (0.45)
1/2 head of broccoli (0.90)
1/2 head of cauliflower (0.75)
1/2 onion (0.18)
3 mini zucchini (0.24)
(If i had brussel sprouts I would have sliced in half and roasted them, but they’re too expensive here)
total cost: under $3.00
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Chop all the veggies up so they are about the same size, potatoes can’t be too thick or they won’t cook through.
- sprinkle olive oil on a pan and add the veggies
- top with salt, pepper, and any seasoning you desire! (I add garlic because it is amazing)
- Let roasting for ~20 minutes, take out when veggies look like they have started to brown
4. Lyndsey’s super easy garlic edamame
I used the leftover edamame from the pad thai and the rest of the garlic I hadn’t used. This is so easy to make and so delicious and healthy, try it out!
1 bag of edamame (still in the shell) $2.70
Lots of garlic!! (0.06)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame, coconut, veggie, or olive oil (whatever you have lying around)
2 tablespoons soy sauce and/or teriyaki sauce
total cost: under $3.00
- Microwave for three minutes (or boil) edamame covered in water
- add oil to hot pan on medium heat, add 1/2 of the crushed garlic (I highly recommend buying a garlic press, an amazing investment)
- strain the edamame and add to the hot pain, sautee for around 5 minutes
- Add in the sauce, and some salt and pepper, as well as the remaining crushed garlic
- After 2 minutes remove from heat and top with sesame seeds!
I hope you guys enjoyed these easy and cheap meals that will (hopefully) last me the week! For those of you who wonder how the heck I save money to adventure and travel the world, it is because I am very good at saving money and don’t normally spend money out at restaurants (thanks KAUST for the free housing- that definitely helps too). If you guys have any questions comment below. If you enjoyed these cooking ideas, please let me know and I will do this again!
By the way, I try to do all my cooking in one or two days of the week because I make a huge mess in the kitchen so it is nice when I only have to clean up once. I also find myself too busy/lazy during the week so it is nice to have food on hand!