Even non-vegetarians can benefit from a couple meat-free days a week. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recommends it. Plus, it benefits your wallet almost as much as your health, considering whole food meat-free proteins are almost always less expensive than meat products. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be cheap so here are five customizable, budget friendly, meat-free meal ideas for any collegiate.
1. Rice Bowls
Rice is inexpensive and super easy to make on the stove or in a rice cooker. Make a Chipotle-style bowl by adding your favorite beans, salsa, avocado, and lettuce. Or take another route and add some pan fried tofu, steamed veggies, edamame, and tamari or soy sauce to make a protein packed Asian inspired dish.
2. Chickpea Salad
This is a recipe I originally found from Oh She Glows but after some budget minded alterations has become one of my go-tos because of how inexpensive and easy it is to make. Plus, it keeps well in the fridge! First, smash some rinsed chickpeas with a fork, add mayo (grab a vegan version if you don’t eat eggs), mustard, pickles, celery, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to your taste and pair with some bread, lettuce wraps, or crackers. The original recipe is linked here if you want to check it out!
Boiling some noodles and adding in your favorite sauces or seasonings is super budget friendly and there are almost always coupons or deals at your local supermarket so keep an eye out.
A warming vegetable soup can be a great way to use up vegetables that are on their last leg. Bring some vegetable broth to a boil and throw in your veggies. Celery, broccoli, carrots, and squashes are some of my favorites. Throw in some red pepper flakes for a kick or just add your other favorite seasonings such as basil or thyme. Add some noodles or rice if you’re looking for something more filling.
Wallet and earth friendly hack: if you’re noticing that your veggies are reaching the end of their lifespan, put them in the freezer until you’re ready to make your soup!
Oatmeal doesn’t just have to be a breakfast food! Add your favorite fruit and nut butters for a sweet snack or throw in some sautéed veggies and cheese or vegan alternative for a quick, filling, one-pot meal.