Vegan Meals on a Shoestring

The Gripe

So since being vegan, one of the recurring complaints I come across is how to make vegan meals on a shoestring. By this I mean nutritious and fairly simple to make meals.

When switching from omnivore to vegetarian to vegan, one of the things you’ll notice is that there is a growing abundance of processed meat alternatives. Sadly many of these end up costing more than their actual meat counterparts. Not only this, but ready-meals and take-away food seem to have higher pricing mark-ups.

 

Money Talks

So the question remains, how do you affordably get by on a vegan diet? I thought as an extreme, I’d run a scenario where I am in Greater London, over 25 and living on Universal Credit. For this exercise, I’m going to take inspiration from this Essex Live News article and use this Turn2Us benefits calculator to figure out what my food budget will be. Please note that this is an informal calculation and is not intended to be a substitute for your own due diligence. If you want to find out more about Universal Credit, I suggest checking out this UK government link.

After going through the calculator and providing guestimate figures, my Universal Credit came to about £190.34 a week or 761.36 per month. This does not include Council Tax support and Job Seeker’s allowance. It also works on the idea that I am over 25, single, able and living in a 1 bedroom shared accommodation with monthly rent of £500 a month. Once rent is deducted and Council Tax (including discount & support), this leaves me £214.40 a month.

Now I need to factor in bills. As I’m basically living on goodwill alone, I’m going to forgo having an Internet and phone line connection. I figure the public library will have to be my resource for all things Internet related. It is likely I’ll have a SIM only mobile contract at £3.95 a month by Lebara, providing I have a phone. Finally I would have aggregate bills costing around £50 p/m on account of being in a flat share.

In the end I now have £160.45 for the month/£37.43 a week/£5.34 per day.

 

So Far, So Grim

Now, how am I going to live on this? First thing to consider is what the recommended daily calorie intake should be for a discerning gentleman in this situation. The average calorie intake for a man of roughly my age is 2600 (I believe it’s 2000 for women). It would make sense not to do any excessive physical activities. The more active you are, the more calories you burn and hence, the more money you need to spend on food.

Now this scenario assumes I still have access to a kitchen complete with a fridge/freezer, microwave/oven and cooking utensils. My average weekly shop will look something like this:

Product

Price

Servings

Calories per serving

Item Quantity

Total Item Spend

2KG Porridge Oats

 £       2.00

40

181

1

 £       2.00

2KG Brown Rice

 £       2.75

27

364

1

 £       2.75

Mixed beans in tomato sauce

 £       0.60

2

195

7

 £       4.20

1KG Bag of onions

 £       0.50

N/A

39 (per 100g)

1

 £       0.50

3KG Pasta

 £       2.85

40

132

1

 £       2.85

500g brown sugar

 £       1.30

N/A

20 (per teaspoon)

1

 £       1.30

4 pack of garlic cloves

 £       0.55

N/A

6

1

 £       0.55

Pack of 5 apples

 £       1.60

5

71

2

 £       3.20

1kg Frozen Mixed Vegetables

 £       0.69

12

47

1

 £       0.69

40 Green tea bags

 £       1.19

40

2

1

 £       1.19

400g finely chopped tin tomatoes

 £       0.42

2

50

7

 £       2.94

400g tin of chickpeas

 £       0.40

2

125

7

 £       2.80

Brown Bread load

 £       0.33

22

78

1

 £       0.33

Yeast Extract

 £       1.85

N/A

21

1

 £       1.85





Total

 £    27.15

 

This leaves me with £10.28 to spend on things like toiletries, cleaning agents and maybe a cheeky treat. From the above shopping list, I can make the following daily meals:

 

Breakfast

·         2 x Porridge servings made with water and topped with sugar: 402 calories

·         1 x yeast extract on toast: 99 calories

·         Green Tea: 1 calorie

Snack

·         Apple: 71 calories

·         Green tea: 1 calorie

·         1 x yeast extract on toast: 99 calories

Lunch

·         2 x servings of Mixed beans in tomato sauce with rice, onions and garlic: 1208 calories

·         Green Tea: 1 calorie

Dinner

·         2 x servings of mixed veg, chickpeas, onions, garlic in pasta and tomato sauce: 706 calories

·         Green Tea: 1 calorie

Total daily calorie intake: 2590 calories

This is slightly under the recommended daily intake, however there is enough excess carbs from this shopping list to bulk up your meal for the week should you still feel hungry. I also should note that I only included the yeast extract and brown bread simply because vitamin B12 is hard to come by in a vegan diet. Although I’m not keen on including bread, I don’t think anyone wants to be eating Marmite out of a jar either.  It should also be noted that this is not an exhaustive list. There are plenty of variations you can make.

 

Rounding Up

Now anyone who is reading this and actually lives on benefits knows that I’m making some assumptions here. I haven’t factored in travel costs, though admittedly if you live in Greater London you probably are within 20-30 walking distance of a supermarket. There’s also the fact that you can often buy foods on discount at the end of the day as shops clear out stock.  The savvy or lucky among you may have access to places like Lidl/Aldi or some other local provider who can do better deals on off brand products. There’s also the fact you can access soup kitchens, though if you aren’t homeless/broke I would consider it unethical to take advantage of such a service.

The main aim here is to show some cheap vegan meal ideas that have a good mix of carbs, protein, fats, fibre and vitamins. But I’ll be brutally honest, it’s not going to be comfortable living on a diet like this. It is bland and dull, but it will keep you alive. But most of all, no animals would have to die for you to live another day.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.