How To Eat Vegan On A Student Budget3 min read

The vegan lifestyle is on the rise. Just browse through the over 68 million #vegan posts on Instagram and you’ll get the picture. As the fastest growing diet, it doesn’t look like this “trend” is going anywhere anytime soon. According to a recent study, a massive reduction in our daily meat consumption is likely going to be in the cards for us all eventually, so getting proactive on this makes sense.

The term vegan was first used in 1944, but despite not being a new thing, there are still plenty of myths surrounding veganism. You might have heard that it’s hard to go vegan or that it’s too expensive. When you’re on a student budget, that could definitely make you shy away from trying a vegan diet. 

But the truth is, with a little planning, it’s definitely doable.  Here are some tips on eat vegan on a student budget, plus 10 dorm-friendly recipes to get started.

What to stock up on

As a general rule, you’ll need to have plenty of vegan-friendly snacks and easy meal prep that will help you avoid the allure of binging on just chips. Save on pantry staples like boxed pasta and noodles by buying in bulk. Also, grains like rice, quinoa, barley, and sorghum are must-haves for versatility. These also make great snacks if you pop them just like popcorn.  Canned and frozen foods might not sound as alluring as the fresh stuff, but getting your fruit and veg like this will help you keep your waste and costs down quite a bit. It’s a good idea to keep canned beans and tofu as well as dried fruit on hand too.

For fresh groceries, sweet potatoes, avocados, nuts, bananas, hummus, spinach are all nutritious ingredients that don’t break the bank. Peanut butter (or any nut butter, actually) is also good to stock up on because it has a good shelf life and can be used for dishes or for a quick snack on smeared on apples or celery. To swap out milk, try a few non-dairy beverages to see which one you like best. Personally, I’m a fan of coconut and rice milk, but almond milk makes the nicest lattes, IMO.

What to try for…

Breakfast 

Vegan Overnight Oats | via Oh She Glows

Vegan Overnight Oats - photo by Alisha Hieb on Unsplash
Photo: Alisha Hieb

The 5-minute prep time for this easy breakfast basically means you’ll never have an excuse to not have breakfast. Just whip it up and throw it in the fridge the night before. Bonus tip: make it in a tupperware so you can take it to go.

Smoothie Bowl | via The Simple Veganista

Photo: Simply Veganista

On the days you don’t need to run off to an early morning lecture, a smoothie bowl is a satisfying breakfast that packs in nutritious fruits you’ve been storing in the freezer and you can easily adapt the recipe to whatever you’re in the mood for.

Avocado Toast 

Avocado Toast - photo from Pexels
Photo: Lisa Fotios

Avocado on toast is not only as easy as it gets, but it’s also a good way to get the brain-boosting benefits of the healthy fatty acids in avocados. There’s not much to it, but a few tips will make your toast tastier:

  • Don’t smash the avocado on your toast; use a bowl to avoid messing up your toast and to mix in any other flavors.
  • Consider splurging in some decent sea salt (you can taste the difference).
  • Go beyond just avocado – add in hummus or top it off with some tomato, spinach or corn to add variety to your toast.

Lunch

Quick tortilla wraps two ways | via Exceedingly Vegan

Photo: Exceedingly Vegan

Bonus tip: Stocking up on soft flour tortilla will make it easy to throw together a travel-friendly lunch instantly.

Mason jar salads | via Hurry the food up

Mason Jar salad
Photo: Mariana Medvedeva

There are so many variations you can do with mason jar salads, and if you’re noticing a theme, they also are portable and don’t need any equipment to pull together. Get creative with ingredients and dressings—just swap out any eggs or cheese for tofu to keep them vegan-friendly.

Vegan Loaded Sweet Potato | via The Foodie Dietician Blog

Vegan stuffed sweet potato
Photo: The Foodie Dietician

So I know the recipe says to bake in the oven, but you can bake them in the microwave if you want to avoid it.  Just pierce the potato with a fork in different areas, and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Flip it over and cook on high for another three minutes. Check it and if it’s still hard in the middle, keep cooking until it gets tender.

Dinner

Black Bean Buddha Bowl | via Emilie Eats

Vegan black bean bowl
Photo: Emilie Eats

This recipe is ready from start to finish in just 30 minutes. If you don’t have an oven available (or simply don’t want to bake) you can pan roast the vegetables instead.

Easy Vegan Ramen | via Minimalist Baker

Photo: Minimalist Baker

Ok, so you might be tired of ramen. But homemade is really nothing like the packaged stuff. This version keeps it clean, healthy, and vegan. Be warned though: it will take about 3 hours to make including prep and cook time, but you can make a lot of the broth to freeze and just cook the noodles for individual meals.

Snacks

Chocolate Mug Cake | via Cheap Lazy Vegan

Chocolate. Cake. In 2 minutes. And it’s vegan. This dessert is something you can make while you take a study break or whenever a sweet craving hits and dried fruit isn’t gonna cut it.

Banana “Ice Cream” 4 Ways | via Goodful

So technically, this isn’t ice cream per se. But it’s surprisingly good and really easy to make. Just keep a few bags of banana slices in your freezer to make a bowl whenever you’re in the mood.  I don’t own a food processor, so I just use a blender which works just fine.

Linda is a marketer and former student nomad from New Jersey. Having studied in US, Spain, and Denmark, she's learned how to thrive in different settings and find her calling as a writer and editor. When she's not reading up on the latest tech news and productivity hacks, she can be found hanging out with her dog and enjoying all the foodie hotspots in Copenhagen.

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