Guest post from Koren of She Makes Magic
Ever feel like all your hard-earned cash is being eaten up by your family … literally?
You try your hardest to keep your grocery bill down but feeding your brood’s insatiable appetite is an expensive operation. You know there must be a cheaper way but you’re just too busy to explore and experiment. The last thing you want is to spend precious free time holed up in the kitchen testing the latest gastronomic masterpiece.
The good news is that creating cheaper meals quick is as simple as occasionally skipping meat.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never tried a meal without meat before. If you’re worried about your grocery bill, now is the time to try adding the occasional meatless recipe to your meal rotation. Let this guide be your new start.
Why veggies can be more than a match for meat.
Eating like a vegetarian every so often can save you time in the kitchen and cash on your grocery bill. Plus, there are enormous health benefits to cutting down on meat, including a lowered risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Grains and legumes such as chickpeas and rice are an excellent alternative source of protein to expensive cuts of meat. They’re also extremely versatile, exceptionally cheap and can be bought in bulk to further reduce the price.
You can save even more by stocking up on commonly used herbs and spices such as turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin and curry powder when they’re on special. Even go a step further and grow your own herbs, which is much cheaper than buying fresh bunches and far less goes to waste.
Now that you know what to do, it’s time to get cooking. To help you out, I’ve trawled my favorite meatless websites to come up with 52 vegetarian recipes that can be whipped up for under $10 each!
Hearty meals for a hungry family.
1. Vegetarian pot pie – use up leftover vegetable odds and ends with this hugely flexible throw-everything-in meal.
2. Roast pumpkin and cannellini bean soup – give traditional pumpkin soup a filling protein punch by adding creamy white cannellini beans.
3. Black bean burgers – these basic ingredients are packed full of protein for a meat-free burger patty that cooks up quick.
4. Moroccan vegetables with chickpeas – throw everything into the oven and come back half an hour later for a satisfying low-calorie meal.
5. Indian lentil soup – turn lentils into something truly tasty with just a few spices and some cheap veggies such as potatoes and carrots.
6. Chickpea tagine with cinnamon, cumin and carrots – a good one to throw together and leave to simmer while you get the kids organised.
7. Pumpkin and potato bake – turn a simple bake into a meal by adding a protein-rich cup of lentils.
8. Spring vegetable minestrone with broken spaghetti – ideal for using up vegetables and half-used packets of pasta, this meal can also be frozen for later.
9. Chickpea and pumpkin Moroccan strudel – this strudel filling is a cinch to make and can even be served up as a curry if you’re out of frozen pastry.
10. One-pot mushroom and potato curry – a hearty, spicy dish that will be ready in under 30 minutes.
Lighter dishes for easy eating.
11. Basil, tomato and mozzarella pizza – makes enough sauce to freeze for round two.
12. Homemade falafels – far cheaper than store-bought options but just as tasty.
13. Zucchini potato pancakes – the perfect way to use up a giant zucchini with healthy pancakes packed full of fresh goodness.
14. Cauliflower leek soup – a thick and creamy soup, without the need for cream.
15. Nettle pasta – a wonderfully green pasta using stinging nettles. Yes, stinging nettles! Spinach can also be used as a substitute.
16. Spinach, feta and sundried tomato strudel – all the nutritional benefits of spinach wrapped in a deliciously flaky pastry.
17. Potato and pea soup – the perfect winter comfort food, this recipe makes a big pot for sharing or to enjoy over several days.
18. Vegetarian taco salad – a healthy and colourful salad that can be partly made ahead for quicker assembly at mealtime.
19. Pumpkin and rice soup – make your pumpkin soup go further by serving it over rice.
20. Spinach and feta filo pies – an incredibly cheap recipe that looks a lot more expensive than it is.
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Super quick bites for time-poor moms.
21. Black bean zucchini quesadillas – expect to have dinner on the table within 15 minutes using this easy recipe.
22. Avocado scrambled eggs with onion and cheddar – take a breakfast-becomes-dinner approach for quick and nutritious results.
23. Red lentil soup with lemon – save time by using pre-cooked canned lentils in this deliciously lemony soup.
24. White bean and vegetable burgers – use frozen vegetables to get this meal on the table even quicker.
25. Spicy mushroom stir-fry – throw a few ingredients in a pan, stir for a moment and your meal is ready.
26. Easy veggie pasta – tired and don’t feel like cooking? This is the recipe for you.
27. Beans with tomatoes and Swiss chard – this quick and versatile meal can also be enjoyed cold as a salad or puréed into soup.
28. Sautéed chickpeas with broccoli and parmesan – just a few minutes over the stove and this protein-packed meal is ready to eat.
29. Spicy mushroom and broccoli noodles – mushrooms give a “meaty” texture to this quick stir-fry.
30. Mushroom and white bean soup – load up on mushrooms with this hearty but quick soup.
Out-of-the-pantry meals for when the fridge is bare.
31. Tomato and onion Spanish rice – an easy “throw everything in and simmer” recipe.
32. Mung bean masala – harness the health benefits of mung beans and give your family a protein, vitamin and fiber boost.
33. Simple tomato soup – add a little zing to your soup with a few spices then serve over rice to make it stretch even further.
34. Quick and simple chickpea curry – just onion, chickpeas, canned tomatoes and some common spices you’ll almost certainly have in the pantry.
35. Healthy mac and cheese – this family favorite has a ton of flavor but far less cheese and milk for a healthier alternative.
36. Tomato and basil pasta – save time and money with this easy 15-minute meal.
37. Baked curried brown rice and lentil pilaf – pop everything in the oven and come back when it’s done.
38. Everything-from-the-pantry bean soup – a nutritious way to use up whatever dry beans you have lying around.
39. Garbanzo and tomato pasta soup – a quick and protein-rich soup that’s sure to fill up the family.
40. Tomato rice soup with roasted garlic and navy beans – this recipe calls for roasted garlic but save time by sautéing instead.
Bargain basement bites for a truly frugal feed.
41. Mushroom sub sandwich with chunky fresh salsa – this chucky-licious super sandwich can be made for as little as $1.95 per serving.
42. Simple whole-wheat roll – make a gourmet-style meal with little more than carrots, onions, beans and flour.
43. Quick and easy vegan dhal – a basic dhal that can be further simplified to just three main ingredients in tough times.
44. Super-cheap pea and pearl barley risotto – traditional rice is substituted for far-cheaper pearl barley in this easy recipe.
45. Cauliflower and broccoli soup – only four ingredients are needed to whip up this hearty soup.
46. Bean and zucchini cutlets – chunky patties simply based around canned beans and zucchini.
47. Savory bread pudding with spinach and mushrooms – turn a traditional sweet into a comforting savory meal that’s perfect for using up stale bread and vegetable odds and ends.
48. Potato curry – a filling curry based around two very cheap ingredients: potatoes and onions.
49. Eggplant and potatoes in tomato sauce – a simple but satisfying meal that’s especially perfect if you have leftover boiled potatoes lying around.
50. Vegetable Chowder — an amazingly satisfying meal whenever you’re ready to clean out your vegetable drawer.
51. Squash and coconut curry – a 5-ingredient curry that can also be served over rice to stretch further.
And finally, my secret ingredient for transforming even the simplest of meals.
52. Magic sauce – beautiful fresh herbs and a dash of lemon and garlic combine in this versatile homemade gem that can be splashed over everything from scrambled eggs and salads to soups and baked potatoes. It can even help turn a bowl of soba noodles into a meal if you’re desperate. It’ll keep well in the fridge so you can always have a batch on hand.
Guess what? You now have enough quick and affordable recipes to make one meatless meal every week for an entire year. So no more excuses. Put away the meat for one night a week and watch your savings grow!
Koren is an Australian who likes to eat well without spending the earth. She and her sister, Alana, create simple and cheap vegetarian recipes for everyday people at She Makes Magic, plus offers tips on how to live a kind and ethical lifestyle.