Recipes/Shopping Smart

5 Delicious, Easy Vegan Recipes That Cost $5 Or Less

By | Wednesday, February 05, 2020

I’ve been cooking vegan food for more than four years. It’s hard to stick to a vegan-friendly meal plan at first, but once you have a few fast, easy meals in your repertoire, it’s much easier. And there are few dishes that can’t be improved with a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of cilantro, or a generous glug of tabasco sauce. I always have these instant flavor-boosters on-hand in my kitchen. 

Below are five of my favorite recipes for making tasty, vegan-friendly meals. They’re cheap. They’re healthy-ish. They make your tummy happy – what’s not to love about them? 

Each serving will set you back around five bucks or less, depending on where you shop and what you already have on hand. I’ve included estimates of what I usually pay per meal. Of course, these are estimates, so your own mileage will vary, depending on what you already have in the fridge or pantry. 

Chickpea curry

Total cost: ~ $5 for two servings, or $2.50 per serving. If your budget allows, you can also dress the meal with cilantro and a slice of lime. 


  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes 
  • 1 cup of plain soy yogurt
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala 
  • 1 tsp olive oil 
  • 1 cup white rice, cooked 


  1. Heat the oil in a pan. Fry the diced onion for a minute or two, then add the curry and turmeric powders.
  2. Add the drained chickpeas and give it a good stir. 
  3. Add diced tomatoes and soy yogurt (or any dairy-free plain yogurt alternative) and stir again. 
  4. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. 
  5. Stir in the garam masala, allow to cook for a few more minutes and then serve with the rice. 

Easy minestrone soup 

Total cost: ~ $5.00 for two servings or $2.50 per serving. You can load this soup with whatever vegetables you have left over in your fridge, too.


  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup tomato puree
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup pasta, cooked 
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning 
  • 1 tsp olive oil 
  • Optional: a few leaves of fresh basil


  1. Heat the oil in a pot. Fry the diced onion for a few minutes before adding all the vegetables. Cook for five minutes with the lid on. 
  2. Add all the other ingredients, except for the pasta. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the carrots are soft. 
  3. Stir in the cooked pasta and serve. You can season the soup with as much salt and pepper as you like. Garnish with basil. 

Spaghetti in garlic oil

Total cost: ~ $1.50 for two servings, or $0.75 per serving. Season as desired. You probably won’t need any pepper as the chili should be enough of a kick. This is a super easy recipe for when you just want something quick and warming. 


  • 3 cups spaghetti, cooked
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • ½ tsp dried chili flakes
  • 6 tbsps olive oil
  • A few leaves of fresh basil


  1. Warm the oil in a pan on medium-low heat. Add the garlic, and fry gently for five minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. 
  2. Stir in chili flakes. 
  3. Add the cooked spaghetti, tossing it until it’s coated in oil. Remove from heat and serve with fresh basil on top. Salt as desired. 

Creamy mash and peas 

Total cost: ~ $4 for two servings or $2 per serving. For some tips on how to make perfect vegan mashed potatoes, check out this video


  • 3 cups white potatoes, diced
  • ½ cup soy cream ($0.80) 
  • 1 cup readymade gravy, prepared according to package instructions (if you’re vegan, check the ingredients for any milk products)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary 
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped


  1. Add diced potatoes to a pot of boiling water and cook until tender. 
  2. Drain potatoes and then add them back to the pot. Use a fork or spatula to roughly mash them. Then, add the cream and continue to mash to your desired consistency, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add peas and dried rosemary to the gravy in a different pan. Bring the pan to a boil and simmer for five minutes.
  4. Serve the mashed potatoes and pour the gravy mixture on top. Garnish with fresh chives.

Kidney bean & lime stew

Total cost: ~ $4 for two servings or $2 per serving. This recipe is a simplified version of a traditional Georgian dish which can also be served with pita bread.  


  • 2 cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tsp zest of lime (use the same lime as above!)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup white rice or couscous, cooked
  • 1 tsp olive oil


  1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add garlic, crushed cumin seeds, and lime zest and fry gently for a few minutes. Add kidney beans and stir. 
  2. Stir in diced tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, add the lime juice, and cook for 15 minutes or until the beans are very soft. If you have time, you can slow cook this dish for an hour on low heat. 
  3. Season as desired and then serve with warm rice or couscous. Garnish with fresh cilantro. 

I hope these recipes give you some ideas for how to make wallet-friendly and vegan-friendly dishes. If you give them a try, let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Image via Pexels

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