Top 5 Affordable Vegan Breakfast Ideas for College Students

Living life as a college student is never easy. Especially, if you’re struggling to balance your study time, social life, chores, responsibilities, hobbies, and self-care routines. Top it all off with a limited budget, and you get the perfect recipe for stress. Due to this reason, we often forget about the importance of nourishing, balanced breakfast-opting instead of sugary processed foods or skipping the meal altogether.

As a vegan college student on a budget, I have learned about the significance of a nutritious and satisfying breakfast the hard way. After much experimenting, I reached the conclusion that without some proper morning sustenance, I simply cannot think straight, focus, work out, and carry on with the rest of the day. Being the only vegan in the family, I had (and still have) the added challenge of cooking and meal-prepping for myself every single day.

Throughout the years, I have picked up a few tips and tricks to design my meals in an inexpensive and healthy way. In this article, I will be sharing my top 5 go-to affordable vegan breakfast ideas for college students on a budget, as well as some cost approximations and recommended brands for each recipe. Enjoy!

  1. 1. Tofu Scramble with Sourdough Toast and Veggies

    Cost of Meal: $3.00

    Ingredients:

    • 3 oz extra firm tofu (recommended brand: Melissa’s)
    • 2 slices of 100% whole wheat bread (recommended brand: Nature’s Own)
    • ½ oz of alfalfa sprouts
    • ½ sliced tomato
    • ½ tsp turmeric
    • 1 tbs soy sauce 
    • 2 tbs olive oil
    • Salt
    • Pepper

    Instructions:

    1. Press 3 oz tofu in a dry paper towel or an absorbent dish towel to sponge up the water from the pre-packaged tofu.
    2. Toast two slices of whole wheat bread.
    3. As tofu drains, pour soy sauce and turmeric in a skillet over medium heat. You can also add optional spices such as cumin, curry powder, paprika, or cayenne pepper to taste.
    4. Once the sauce is hot, add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Cook from 3-5 minutes.
    5. Unwrap tofu and crumble it into bite-sized bits, so as to achieve a scrambled egg-like consistency. 
    6. Add tofu to skillet and immediately stir with sauce, sauteeing it for 2 minutes. Cook until tofu looks golden and lightly browned.
    7. Serve scrambled tofu with the toast slices. Top tofu scramble with the sliced tomato and alfalfa sprouts.
  2. 2. Hummus and Tapenade Toast

    Cost of Meal: $3.50

    Ingredients:

    • 3.5 oz hummus (recommended brand: Cedar’s)
    • 3.5 oz black olives (recommended brand: Goya)
    • 2 slices of Ezekiel bread (recommended brand: Food for Life)
    • ½ strand of fresh chives
    • ½ tsp of paprika

    Instructions:

    1. Toast slices of Ezekiel bread (if not available, any vegan whole wheat bread will do just fine!) until crispy and golden
    2. Spread hummus onto freshly toasted bread
    3. Chop the black olives and chives. Place evenly on top of toast.
    4. Add a dash of paprika and serve!
  3. 3. Blueberry Banana Nice Cream

    Cost of Meal: $5

    Ingredients:

    • 1 frozen banana
    • 3/4 cup of frozen blueberries (recommended brand: Woodstock)
    • 2 tbsp almond butter (recommended brand: California Almond Butter)
    • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (recommended brand: Silk)
    • ½ tbsp of cinnamon (recommended brand: BADIA)

    Instructions:

    1. On a high-speed food processor, blend frozen banana, ½ cup of frozen blueberries, unsweetened almond milk (or plant milk of choice!), almond butter and cinnamon until you achieve a thick, ice cream-like consistency (hence the name nice cream). Leave remaining blueberries thawing as you blend ingredients.
    2. Pour nice cream into a bowl and add thawed blueberries on top. You can also get creative by adding other plant-based toppings, such as cacao nibs, nut butter, coconut yogurt, and other types of refreshing fruit!
  4. 4. Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes

    Cost of Meal (with toppings): $3.90

    Ingredients:

    • ½ cup whole wheat rolled oats (recommended brand: Maga)
    • ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
    • 1 banana
    • 2 tbsp maple syrup (recommended brand: Vingfood)
    • ½ tsp cinnamon
    • 1 ½ tbsp of coconut oil (recommended bran: Spectrum)

    Toppings:

    • 1 tbsp peanut butter (recommended brand: Brad’s Organic)
    • 1 Tb sliced almonds
    • 2 Tb blueberries

    Instructions:

    1. On a high speed blender, place all pancake ingredients, except the coconut oil. Blend until smooth and thick.
    2. Drizzle coconut oil evenly on a pan or skillet. Turn stove on medium heat. Add pancake mixture for 3 minutes (it can be a little less or a little more, it really depends on how hot your stove gets) and flip when the first side is golden brown. After flipping, cook the remaining side for another 3 minutes.
    3. Repeat the process with the remaining mix and get creative with the mixture distribution for each pancake. In my case, I achieved 2 five-inch diameter pancakes.
    4. Top it all off with the peanut butter, sliced almonds, and blueberries. (Note: If one of these ingredients is missing, or you’d rather substitute them with other vegan toppings, feel free to do so!
  5. 5. Cinnamon Overnight Oats

    Cost of Meal: $1.50

    Ingredients:

    • ½ cup whole wheat rolled oats
    • ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 tsp cinnamon

    Instructions

    1. Pour all the ingredients in an 8 oz mason jar (or any recycled container you like!). Mix until thick and creamy. 
    2. Store covered container in the fridge and let refrigerate overnight.
    3. In the morning, or after 6 hours or so, open your jar or container of choice. Note this recipe details the process and the approximate cost of a portion of overnight oats without toppings, so feel absolutely free to top it off with whatever ingredients you fancy! (recommended toppings: chia, flax or hemp seeds, nut butter, dried nuts, fresh fruit, and cacao nibs, to name a few)

Now that you have these easy and affordable nourishing breakfast recipe inspo, there is literally no excuse to skip the most important meal of the day! Sure, you can't expect every day to be perfect nutrition-wise, but preparing and planning ahead is a great way to start. Also, here is some proof that eating vegan can, in fact, be an affordable and yummy way to start the day. For more easy, cheap and vegan breakfast solutions, check out these wonderful Youtube channels: