10 of the cheapest vegan meals

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In honour of Fresher's Week, we give you 10 of the best value vegan meals in comparison to their non-vegan counterparts.

The question of whether vegan substitutes are cheaper than meat-based meals has been a subject of debate, particularly when government subsidies to livestock farmers keep costs low. However, despite this, we’ve found that UK supermarket prices still tend to favour the plant-based eater when it comes to cooking. 

This is good news for students, who often have access to a wide range of supermarkets as well as health food shops in their town or city of study. A recent poll [1] found that 18% of students heading to university this year are contemplating going vegan – a huge figure when you consider that no more than 1% of the UK population are currently vegan. Given that the same poll found that 90% of students worry about their budgets, it’s clear that ethical eating at university needs to go hand in hand with counting the pennies.

Thankfully, you don’t have to choose between one and the other, as our comparison of eight student staple dishes, listing the average price [2] of the meal or protein element, demonstrates. Cheap enough to go vegan on your student loan? Absolutely. We’ve done it!

1) Vegan spag bol

You can always healthy up this classic with a handful of frozen veg from a cheap £1 or less bag. Maybe you’ll even be able to splash out on fresh veg when you consider that a 400g bag of vegan supermarket soya mince costs £1.50 - £2.05 compared to a 400g bag of beef mince, costing in at £3.45. With those sorts of savings, you could afford gourmet vegan mince from Holland and Barrett!

Get the vegan recipe here.

2) Mixed bean fajitas

This one’s a no-brainer: chicken fajitas would set you back £4 for 400g, while a can of mixed beans is a mere 60p or less. 

Get the vegan recipe here.

3) Falafel Wrap

Whether you’re making it yourself, sourcing it from a take away or picking up Tesco’s version, falafel wraps are the same price or cheaper than non-vegan wraps. 

Get the vegan recipe here.

4) Jacket potato and beans with spoonful of fortified nutritional yeast

Fortified nooch is a versatile and nutritious cheese replacer – while you can get nutritional yeast from Amazon for a fair price (averaging out at 23p per dessert spoonful compared to 33p for a small handful of dairy cheese) you can find it cheaper in some health food shops and at Suma when you buy wholesale. Why not start up or join a student co-op at university, and get all the cost-price nutritional yeast you desire?

5) Sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry

This easy-peasy (add a drop of) lemon juice squeezy recipe only costs £1.85 for the spinach, chickpeas and sweet potato, while a chicken version would see the price double. 

Get the vegan recipe here.

6) Lentil shepherdless pie

This winter comfort-warmer is much better without the actual lamb, costing £3.75 for 400g. Instead, red lentils are the perfect replacement, with 400g ringing in at a mere 90p.

Get the vegan recipe here.

7) Veggie burgers

When buying straight from the supermarket shelves, veggie burgers out-compete quarter pounders not just in ethics, but in price: £1.50-1.70 for a pack of 4, compared to £2.65. 

Making them yourself is cheap and cheerful too: get the recipe here.

8) Instant noodles


A classic. But did you know that own brand noodles in supermarkets like Lidl and Sainsbury’s are generally cheaper and vegan-friendly? There you can find noodles for 20-30p each compared to Batchelor’s (non-vegan) Super Noodles costing at least 50p.

You could also use these noodles to make a stir fry. Most supermarkets sell packets of 'stir-fry veg' for around £1 
(and they're more than 1 serving) so you could fry these with the cooked noodles, and add a stir fry sauce too!

9) Vegan chilli

Vegan Chilli

You can make your own vegan chilli from scratch with cheap ingredients, or you can even buy a can of mixed beans in chilli sauce from the supermarket for around 65p. You can add soya mince (£1.25 for a large bag compared to £2 for beef mince) to the bean chilli if you wish, and serve with rice.

10) Vegan mac and cheese

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Simply cook some macaroni pasta (or any pasta you wish) and add homemaade vegan cheese sauce!
Who knew you could make a cheesey sauce out of just vegetable and nutritional yeast? Healthy,
delicous, and cheap!

Need more tips? A favourite trick of budgeting vegans is to head to the fruit and veg stall at the local market just before closing, or a local supermarket at about 8pm to pillage the reduced section of the veg isle, and typically get a week’s worth of food for under a tenner. Really strapped for cash students have also been known to bin-dive. Happy [vegan bargain] hunting!

By Ali Ryland and Jimmy Pierce

Are you a non-vegan student, or know someone who is? Why not follow Fresher’s Week with our 30 Day Vegan Pledge for daily emails of advice, information and some delicious, affordable recipes. Don't forget to check out our 'Quick and easy' and 'On a budget' recipe sections for more ideas too, as well as our budget blog.


[1] Study conducted by www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, polling 2,196 respondents

[2] Price average for mid-range product from the leading supermarkets


Making your own dahl is quick, easy and cheap! Sautee garlic and cumin seeds in a little bit of water. Add rinsed red lentils and water and some broth powder or cube (vegan, of course). Add in diced tomatoes and some kale or other green leafy veg. Add salt if needed. Once the lentils are soft, about 20 minutes, you are good to eat. Enjoy with brown or white rice, or pita. One of my go-to meals that I serve to company.

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