Contrary to popular belief, it’s easy to eat delicious plant-based meals that will satisfy your taste buds, even when you’re on a budget! Try stocking up on canned goods and frozen vegetables and fruit, which are often cheaper than buying fresh. Not only does it save you time when it comes to meal prep, you can save yourself the stress of worrying about using fresh produce before it goes bad. If you do buy fresh, focus on affordable produce you can use to bulk up your meals like potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach or kale, and carrots. Apples, bananas, and seasonal fruit are all great ways to enjoy fresh fruit that’s affordable. Don’t forget your proteins, either — if you’re lucky enough to live close to a grocery store that gives you the option to buy in bulk, that’s where you should get your beans, grains, and legumes. If not, then canned or dry, bagged beans and grains will keep you just as full.
Once you’ve got a pantry full of affordable staples, try making meals that can easily be made in bulk with minimal ingredients. But don’t worry — minimal ingredients doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on flavor or that you’ll end up making the same meals every week. To get started, try these 15 meal ideas for lunch and dinner!
1. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Peanut Sauce
These Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Peanut Sauce are always an easy lunch or dinner. Not only that, they’re budget-friendly and filling! These stuffed sweet potatoes are loaded with black beans, crushed peanuts, crunchy banana chips, and fresh cilantro. Then, you drizzle a spicy and creamy peanut sauce over the whole dish to add one last layer of flavor.
2. Caramelized Onion Pasta
What’s great about pasta is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated to be tasty and you can always make it affordable. This Caramelized Onion Pasta is tossed with olive oil, lemons, and caramelized onions — and that’s all. Savory with a pleasant, citrus-y surprise. Yum.
3. Chickpea Vindaloo
In this recipe, chickpeas are smothered in a spicy and tangy tomato curry. This traditional Chickpea Vindaloo is flavorful, gluten-free, and easy to make. Enjoy wafting in the delicious curry aroma of this fragrant dish with a side of steamed rice for a filling and budget-friendly dinner!
4. Smashed White Bean and Avocado Basil Sandwich
Instead of your typical chickpea salad, white beans are the star of this Smashed White Bean and Avocado Sandwich. They’re mashed together with creamy avocado, whole grain mustard, lemon, and fresh basil. Leaving the beans slightly chunky gives them the perfect texture as a base for creamy avocado and crisp, fresh lettuce. Mixed with all those fresh flavors and tangy mustard, this easy sandwich is the perfect lunchtime staple for anybody.
5. 15-Minute Sesame Ginger Noodles
If you’re looking for a quick dinner tonight, look no further! These 15-Minute Sesame Ginger Noodles with bok choy will be your new favorite go-to dish. These sesame ginger noodles are bursting with bold ginger flavor and loaded with veggie goodness from the bok choy. If you don’t have any bok choy available, you can feel free to use broccoli or even any other green vegetable you have in your refrigerator. And if you can’t find soba, substitute it for pasta!
6. Baked Potato Falafel
These savory Baked Potato Falafel are a wonderful twist on the traditional kind. They’re baked, soft on the inside with a lightly crispy texture on the outside, and so very satisfying. They’re great as an appetizer with a tangy tahini dip, stuffed in a veggie loaded sandwich, or tossed in a salad.
7. Smoky and Spicy Black Bean Burger
Barbecue season is upon us, and you can really never have enough tasty burger recipes. While pre-packaged patties are definitely an easy option, sometimes it’s nice to make your own from scratch. This Smoky and Spicy Black Bean Burger is perfect served with a good BBQ sauce and loads of greens.
8. Lentil Fra Diavolo Over Zucchini Pasta
Strike the perfect balance between spicy and refreshing with this chunky, spicy Lentil Fra Diavolo Over Zucchini Pasta. This dish is loaded with hearty protein, thanks to the addition of lentils in this spicy marinara sauce. Enjoy this sauce over any kind of pasta or with creative dishes like mushroom and tofu scallops.
9. Cauliflower Steaks With Sweet Pea Purée
For a unique dinner entrée, give these Cauliflower Steaks With Sweet Pea Purée a try. Baked to crispy perfection and seasoned with paprika, coriander, and black pepper, they are zesty and flavorful. Sweet pea purée adds a delicious freshness to the dish as well.
10. Chinese Steamed Tofu
This Chinese Steamed Tofu will be your go-to recipe when you’re in a hurry to prepare something for lunch or dinner. Silken tofu is steamed for five minutes and then served in a garlicky, umami sauce, then topped with scallions. When it comes to toppings, you can play with all kinds of options, like crushed peanuts, fresh herbs or celery leaves, and serve it with rice to make a complete (and affordable) meal.
11. Healthy Mac and Cheese
Put mac and cheese back on the menu! This Healthy Mac and Cheese recipe delivers comfort food goodness without all the heaviness. The creamy cheese sauce is made with a base of potatoes and carrots and made cheesy through the awesome power of spices!
12. Sesame Orange Sweet Potato
Who says budget-friendly means boring? This Sesame Orange Sweet Potato bowl is possibly the best easy meal idea you’ve stumbled upon. Tender roasted sweet potato is coated with a sticky-sweet orange sauce and paired with steamed broccoli. If you’re looking for a little more substance in you meal, you can easily pair it with grains, greens, or any other vegetable you’re craving.
13. Super Simple Potato Curry
It takes about five minutes to prepare this Super Simple Potato Curry and then you just have to wait 20 minutes for it all to get hot and the potatoes to get soft. Basically, you cut the potatoes and then dump everything in a large saucepan and simmer. Not quite as simple as throwing a pizza in the oven, but pretty damn close. This recipe is also extremely cheap to make and can feed the masses. Double the serving if you have more than two or three people as it’s guaranteed they will go back for seconds.
14. Curry Spiced Carrots
These Curry Spiced Carrots are seasoned with a dry rub of paprika, cinnamon, curry powder, garlic, and dry parsley just before they go into the oven and then roasted until they begin to caramelize. They’re slightly crisp and sweet on the outside and tender with just the right amount of bite on the inside. Serve these as part of a larger platter of roasted vegetables and grains for a simple meal that’s flavorful and filling.
15. Spinach and Bean Chipotle Casserole
For a hearty and affordable meal that only takes a half hour to make, look no further than this Spinach and Bean Chipotle Casserole. It’s loaded with iron and protein and is drenched in delicious tomatoey goodness. Serve with fresh coriander sprinkled on top and with some crusty bread to soak up all the tasty sauce!
We’d love for you to share your budget-friendly meals with us! Tell us about your favorite plant-based, affordable meals in the comments or post a photo on Instagram and use #EatForThePlanet!
Lead image source: Spinach and Bean Chipotle Casserole