This post is for my cousin who has just started university. She wants to eat a healthy, predominantly vegetarian diet, but is concerned about the costs of buying lots of fresh produce to cook with, as well as the practicalities of buying loads of different ingredients. She asked for some advice on good, cheap and easy vegetarian recipes, so I thought I would put together a few tips and resources for her. Do feel free to comment if you have any of your own!
Top tips for eating well on a budget
- Going vegetarian is actually a great start as vegetables, pulses and beans are all cheaper than meat and fish. But quite often vegetarian dishes require a lot of ingredients which can be daunting and costly, especially if you can’t buy small enough quantities. The best way round this is to cook in bulk. Yes, it does cost more at the time, but vegetarian food is safe and easy to freeze, and will also generally last in the fridge for a couple of days. Once you’ve made your dish, separate into individual portions to freeze or refrigerate for future meals. Think of different ways to eat the same meal to make it more interesting. For example, you could have a bean chilli with rice one day and on a jacket potato with salad another.
- Buy “wonky” veg! a number of the supermarkets (including Morrisons and Asda), now sell boxes of wonky veg- produce that looks less than perfect but it still just as fresh and tasty. These boxes are extremely good value and will get you trying new items and dishes.
- Eat seasonal! It really is cheaper to eat local seasonal produce which is abundant and won’t have had to be transported far. Markets are a great place to get well priced vegetables if that is an option, but even if you have to shop in the supermarket, most items will say where they come from, and generally seasonal items will be the ones on special offer.
- Don’t stress if a recipe calls for a load of different spices. Whilst a selection of basic spices is well worth investing in, you can usually leave out one or two without compromising too much on flavour, or invest in one or two jars of spice mixes to use instead (eg garam masala for curries, mixed spice for sweet dishes, or five spice for Asian flavours)
Here are some great websites with budget vegetarian recipes
And even the NHS has some useful tips! https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Vegetarianhealth/Pages/Budgetvegetarian.aspx