Cheapest Vegetarian Food Options? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 12-29-2012, 12:59 PM
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Things are going really bad for me. I lost my job in September, my oldest cat was diagnosed with kidney failure in November, and my student loan needs to be paid back starting in January. I'm totally broke. I've been eating pretty much nothing but pasta for a week straight and I feel gross.  I've been having to resort to drinking protein shakes and giant multivitamins. I hate them. 


So I was wondering if anyone had any cheap vegetarian recipes or general food suggestions? I made vegan chili last week and ate it for like 4 days so no more chili recipes please x_x but I'm open to anything else.  


Please help! Thanks!

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#2 Old 12-29-2012, 02:25 PM
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Any combination of beans, rice and vegetables should be pretty cheap, tofu and tempeh help too. The cheapest fresh vegetable this time of year is carrots, and these days shredded carrots and zucchini are going into everything I make. Lentils are a nice break from chili beans; I've got some lentil soup going in the crock pot right now, and there are many recipes for it online. This one is curried with coconut milk and vegetable stock, but that's just one way and not the cheapest. Canned tomatoes, fresh onions and fresh garlic make everything taste better. Lentils and beans cost a lot less if you buy them dried instead of canned. It helps to have a crock pot and a food processor, but those things aren't necessary if you have a knife and cutting board, and a big pot for the top of your stove.


I lost a beautiful cat to kidney failure; no matter how much money you spend on vet care, your cat might not make it. I'm sorry. It's a hard thing to face, and kidney failure takes even young ones sometimes. I hope your cat is able to either recover or pass away in peace. I bring this up because of a co-worker who took out a second mortgage on her home for the money to spend on vet care, for a cat who died anyway.


You might not have to start making payments on that student loan if you're unemployed. I wish you all the best on finding a much better job than the one you lost.

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#3 Old 12-29-2012, 02:48 PM
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I'm so sorry to hear how hard things have been on you lately, that does sound really rough.

Joan already gave some great advice but I'll add in my two cents too. I tend to always go for vegetable soups, stews and stir fries as my easy cheap and healthy options, and lately I've been really into Indian food so I've been experimenting with some simple curries. It's definitely worth looking into various kinds of vegetarian ethnic food, there are a lot of cultures that have found delicious ways to make an endless combination of vegetables, rice and beans exciting and healthy. tongue3.gif

I'm really into kale right now, I definitely recommend eating more of that. I buy it for 1.39 a bunch and it's insanely healthy for you, it seems to be the healthiest vegetable you can get so cheaply and easily. I like just rinsing and chopping it and then throwing it into whatever I'm making during the last couple minutes of cooking so it stays mostly raw and keeps all the good nutrients in it. I had it in a stir fry with broccoli and baked tofu last night and it was great, it's also good in soups, stews, pasta, curries, raw salads, whatever you can dream up. You can also make crunchy kale chips although that's a little more time consuming.

And this is a good cheap recipe site to give you some more ideas:

Hope that helps, and I hope things get better for you soon. I'll be keeping you and your cat in my thoughts. hug.gif

"If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others... why wouldn't we?" - Edgars Mission
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#4 Old 12-29-2012, 04:23 PM
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For fresh veggies shelf life can be as important as cost because larger bunches/bags mean lower cost per ounce. Cabbage, kale, collards, and carrots are not only relatively inexpensive in winter but store well in the fridge if they are dry and in a bag. Drying and rebagging whole carrots can markedly improve shelf life! Its the surface moisture that rots them. Cabbage can be as significant of a vitamin C source as typically much more expensive fruits and a little salt, any spice or no spice, and 5 days can turn it into a sauerkraut for variety. Youtube has sauerkraut and kimchee video recipes- cabbage, some salt, and a jar is the bare minimum, carrot shreds add color and flavor.

Brown rice and potatoes together can easily supply most calories and protein and can both be found for good prices. Adding a dried legume such as beans, lentils, or split peas improves the protein profile and the diversity of flavor, and adds more vitamins. Its a good idea to pre-soak intact grains and intact legumes for at least 2 hours, preferably longer, it improves their nutritive properties.

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#5 Old 12-29-2012, 08:27 PM
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I cook up a big batch of beans and keep them in the fridge. I'll get a big bag of potatoes and make hash with mashed beans, and use different spice combinations for variety. That's pretty cheap and filling.


Instead of buying bread, I make flatbread. It's fast, and just consists of flour and water.


Long-term, I keep a garden at my parent's house. The good thing about plants like kale, chard, romaine, etc, is that you can keep the plants going for a long time and just harvest off the leaves you need.

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#6 Old 12-30-2012, 10:17 AM
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I also lost my well paying job to outsourcing. They were the last company to pay as well for that type of work, and I've taken on a job that is $7. less per hour.  I'm shaking!

I did have plenty of time to prepare, so i'm stocked on all kinds of beans, lentils, bulgar, brown rice, quinoa. Spices I got at the natural food store in the bulk section- which is so much cheaper.

Do you have an Aldi's? I'm hooked on Aldis! Every week they have featured veggies and fruits on the best sales. I take advantage of that and base what I make around them. I also like their soy and almond milk, although with coupons they can be cheaper namebrand. Cereals, spaghetti sauces, I use their brand of black beans for making bean burgers because they're easy to mush. Aldis wheat bread is vegan and cheap!

Chickpeas are my favorite. I cook them every two weeks, and freeze some in zipper bags. Great sandwich spread!


Make your own mayo--

1 cup veg oil

1\2 cup plain soymilk

Whizz in a blender or food processor. 

Slowly add 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar till thick.

Add whatever seasoning you like.


Make your own sauces with cornstarch. Ask for extra soy sauce, hot mustard- whatever- when you go to places or even ask friends. Combining things with fruit juice and mixing cornstarch in makes a great stir fry sauce!


Always check online for printable coupons if you can. If you have an asian grocery, I get tofu for like a $1.00 a lb. non gmo.


I also keep instant potatoes on hand. When I make a soup and want it thicker, potato flakes really help! Good for making dumplings too!

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#7 Old 01-08-2013, 04:29 AM
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My son eats a lot of tofu and I'm always encouraging him to add more legumes to his diet, and I think you should also try Chickpea Curry

Traditional Food


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#8 Old 01-12-2013, 10:17 AM
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I'm sorry that things are so tough for you at the moment, I hope life improves for you soon.


In the meantime .... lentils are a very cheap source of protein and are ultra-versatile.  Use red lentils to make curries and dahls and soups - also you can mix with rice or cous cous and sauteed spiced onions to make patties/cakes, which you can then fry or bake and have in a bun or pitta.  Green or blond lentils are great to make shepherds pies, or make a filling to stuff vegetables with.  Adzuki beans are very good for you and they go great in soups and even stir fries.


Also, tofu is very easy to make and much cheaper than shop-bought.

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#9 Old 01-12-2013, 10:21 AM
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oh, and don't forget porridge oats.  Very cheap and a great source of complex carbs.  I usually have porridge for breakfast and sometimes, if I feel like it, for dinner to.  Apparently oats are very good to eat at that end of the day .... it was all explained to me once, but I've forgotten the reasoning  huh.gif

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#10 Old 01-13-2013, 10:33 PM
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Dal and Pumpkin Soup i liked most and  is available in cheapest price and easy to make also.

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#11 Old 01-14-2013, 03:30 PM
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Potatoes! Very filling.


A tip for beans: canned beans are convenient and seem cheap, but buying them dry and soaking/cooking them yourself is around  half the cost! Just bag 'em up in 1 1/2 cup portions after soaking and presto! I soaked a 1 lb bag of black beans the other day and got 4  1.5 cup portions plus another cup which I roasted for a snack. The bag cost 2.25, cans are 1.25 - so buying the same amount of canned would be $5 minus the snack!

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#12 Old 01-14-2013, 03:35 PM
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My favorite hot breakfast right now is simply corn meal mush. 1/4 cup corn meal plus 1 cup water and a pinch or 2 of salt microwaved 1 1/2 minutes makes a nice hot cereal.

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#13 Old 01-22-2013, 05:48 AM
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everyone has given great advice....I also like eating oats, which you can get cheap and even at the Dollar Tree. I made these burgers yesterday (not sure if you have the nutritional yeast) but it was really cheap to make and it makes 12 (I got 10?) in any case, here is that burger recipe made with oats, sunflower seeds and other staples bean burgers....peanut butter and jelly, if you shop at Kroger they have packs of frozen veggies for a buck, DT is where I get most of my spices, pancakes, DT has packs of frozen fruit that you can add to muffins, smoothies, make into pancake topping, etc....make baked tofu  for sandwiches, stir fries, rice is cheap.....

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