1 Sep 2014

How to Eat Vegan Cheap & Easy - Especially for Uni/College Students


Let's face it - University students are usually poor. That's a fact of life. What isn't a fact, however, is the idea that a vegan diet is too expensive. That may be the general consensus among the omni population, but it's far from true. I am a poor University student and I never run out of food. Our food is actually the least expensive!

So, if you're a university student (or just somebody who lives on a budget) and you're looking for affordable, easy meals to make (especially if you're not the best cook, I'm just a beginner myself) - read on.


Breakfast

  • Baked beans on toast is always a simple, easy choice! You can't go wrong with that.
  • Avocado on toast is another simple, easy, yet slightly more "out there" option. You could add some chia seeds for an extra health-kick.
  • Soy or coconut yoghurt with your choice of fruits - I'd recommenced mixed frozen berries. Absolutely delicious! Kingland Soy Yoghurt is a great brand. 
  • Sanitarium veggie sausages with pan-fried mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, toast and tofu scramble - a plant-based version of the traditional big breakfast! This has to be my favourite choice for breakfast if I have a little bit of extra time to cook in the morning.
  • Fruit salad - add a tiny sprinkle of sugar or agave nectar if you're after some extra sweetness! I'd recommend using blueberries, green grapes, mandarin pieces, peaches, plums and raspberries to taste the all the beautiful colours of the rainbow.

Delicious and healthy fruit salads, served in affordable plastic cups

Lunch
  • Mexican-style salad - healthy and absolutely delicious! Throw cold four-bean mix, raw broccoli, apple, tomato, cucumber, raw cauliflower and raw onion into a bowl (everything chopped finely). Add a drizzle of olive oil and herbs and viola, you've made a beautiful salad. Once again, add chia seeds for some extra vitamins.
  • Pasta bake - very easy to make and absolutely delicious. I use this recipe, replacing the cheese with plant-based varieties (I recommend Daiya, Toffuti or Cheezly) and throwing in some mushroom instead of Italian sausage. This could also be eaten for dinner.
  • Mac 'n' cheese - an age old student favourite. You can buy a ready-made pack (from here) or you can make your own using this recipe. 
  • Two-minute noodles - if you're after something quick and you're not too fussed about the health aspect, two-minute noodles are a good way to go. Maggi's Original and Me Goreng flavours are two "accidentally" vegan options.

Noodles - a student staple, and they're easily veganised

Dinner
  • Veggie burger - one of my all-time favourites! They are simple to make and absolutely delicious! I use Sanitarium Not Burgers, but any brand will do - you could even make your own if you're a little more advanced and have the time. I fry the not burgers in a pan with tomato, mushroom, onion and a sprinkle of all-purpose seasoning. I then place the burger, tomato, onion and mushroom between two toasted rolls and throw in some baby spinach, grated carrot, cucumber slices, avocado spread, tomato sauce, a Toffuti American cheese slice and some chia seeds (you should know by now that I put those on everything possible!) What you end up with is an awesome, tasty burger packed with vitamins - you can't get much better than that!
  • Lentil bolognese - another one of my favourites that's easy to make. Here's a great recipe.
  • Zucchini noodles - I haven't tried these before but I'm eager to give them a go as soon as possible. They look fantastic!
  • Steamed vegetables with rice and soy sauce - this one's simple and packed full of vitamins. I like to quickly steam some chopped broccoli, carrot and cauliflower in the microwave, and team it with half a cup of brown rice and a drizzle of soy sauce.
  • Stuffed mushrooms - another one of my favourites, and they're not as difficult to prepare as it may initially seem. Here's a recipe. I'd recommend using portobello mushrooms instead of cremini. For extra flavour, top them with nut or soy-based cheese.
  • Pizza - a huge vegan favourite. You'd be hard-pressed to find one who doesn't enjoy vegetables and sauce smothered all over a circular base! Here is a list of fifteen awesome recipes, all very simple to make.

All hail the glorious vegan pizza!

Dessert
  • Chocolate donuts - a widely available, delicious treat. Cruelty-free donuts can be found quite easily in most parts of Australia, but if you're interested in making your own, here is a simple recipe.
  • One-ingredient ice-cream - you can't get much more simple than this! All you need is two to five bananas, a freezer and a blender. Chop up the bananas, freeze them overnight and mix them up in the blender in the morning - they make a perfect, healthy, ice-cold dessert. You can add a variety of other ingredients, such as peanut butter, cinnamon or chocolate buttons for extra flavour.
  • Churros - a cheeky and delectable little dessert that's surprisingly simple to make. Very few ingredients are used. Here's a recipe. Of course, you can always visit San Churro if you're unwilling to make your own. Their churros, dark chocolate sauces and hot chocolates (when ordered with soy milk) are all vegan.
  • Scones - my absolute favourite dessert, best served with raspberry or strawberry jam and some coconut whipped cream. Here's a simple recipe. Just replace the butter with Nuttelex, or a similar butter alternative, and the milk with your favourite plant-based variety. I'd recommend soy.

The only ingredient you need to make delicious, healthy ice-cream

Snacks
  • You can't go wrong with fresh fruit or nuts - the healthiest forms of fast food!
  • Sweet Williams chocolate - a huge favourite among the Australian vegan community. There are many other brands of cruelty-free chocolate out there if you're not from Australia or Sweet Williams isn't your thing.
  • Macro Gluten Free Double Choc Biscuits - the vegan version of Tim Tams! If you're Australian, I'm sure you miss eating the classic Aussie favourite, and if you're not Australian, you'll love them too. They're comprised of two rectangular chocolate biscuits sandwiching a chocolate-flavoured cream, and they're delectable. 
  • Vege chips - healthy, tasty and great for a quick, light snack. All flavours are suitable for vegans except for the Sour Cream & Chives and the Tasty Cheese. The Rice Crisps are also not suitable.
  • Bhuja Cracker Mix (also known as Bombay mix) - easy, nutritious, delicious... and spicy!
  • Oreos... they're vegan in Australia. Need I say more? 

Most dark chocolate is vegan (and quite healthy)

These are just a few of an enormous variety of options - I'd never be able to list them all in one place. Try and incorporate a few of the above recipes into your daily life and I promise you wont be disappointed. Don't forget to share them with omni friends as well - we really need to demolish the ridiculous myth that our food is boring!


[Images courtesy of Praisaeng, Serge Bestasius Photography,
Sommai & Mister GC @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net]