Speech and Language Therapist and mum of three, Wanausha, shares their tips on how to stick to a budget whilst feeding an active vegan family.
Hi! I’m Wanausha, and I’m a speech and language therapist living in Cambridgeshire and a mum of three – Sophia (19), Sefin (6) and Evin (3) – as well as two cats. There’s always someone eating in our house, so I'm always on the lookout for cheap vegan family meals I can make! As a family, we’ve been vegan for around ten years now. Sophia became vegan out of choice when we decided it was the right path for us, and the youngest two have both been vegan since birth.
It is fair to say that we’re always on the go. My eldest has been a swimmer all her life, and then moved on to CrossFit and is now dabbling in open water swimming as well as going to the gym. My husband does CrossFit five times a week. Our six-year-old swims and is starting to get into running with me and he spends a lot of time hanging upside down and running around. My three-year-old also swims and really loves running. And then there’s me. I love running and have completed ultramarathons in the past. I’m also getting into swimming at the moment, so this year my goals are to stick mainly to 10ks and give swim-runs a go – although I couldn’t resist signing up for a marathon in December! I train five times a week and sport makes me feel good.
Cheap vegan meals
So you get the picture: typical active family, always on the go, always eating. I love cooking, so a lot of meals are made from scratch – but I also work full time and can’t dedicate my life to cooking time-intensive meals for the family. This means that what we eat has to be nutritious, quick and easy. I love finding new budget friendly vegan recipes to try.
I’m going to tell you a bit about how we fuel our very active lifestyles, and Live Vegan for Less. Here are some of my top tips!
Make your own granola
Granola can be really expensive. I have a huge tub of muesli that I just chuck whatever I can find in: oats, flax powder (I usually buy the flax seeds and then grind at home as it’s way cheaper), chia powder (same thing with the seeds), pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cacao nibs, raisins – whatever you can find. I also add some cocoa powder sometimes too if I’m feeling fancy!
Try ‘nice cream’
Nice cream is a fab way of using up fruit that’s about to turn – particularly bananas. Freeze your bananas (brown ones are the best) and berries, and then just blend them to make a healthier ice cream equivalent. My kids genuinely think they’re eating proper ice cream, and we waste a lot less fruit this way.
Experiment with seitan
My youngest two have never eaten dairy or meat, so they’re less fussed about ‘cheese’ or ‘sausages’ because they don’t really see the point. They will however hoover up a bowl of seitan shreds in an instant! If you’re not aware, seitan is a vegan meat substitute you can make at home from vital wheat gluten or by washing strong bread flour. It’s so versatile and can be boiled, baked, fried, marinated and more. I like to make seitan jerky. The internet is full of decent recipes, and you can add whatever spices you like. It’s protein-packed so great for when you’ve just finished exercising.
Who doesn’t love popcorn? I’m definitely not a fan of sweet popcorn, so I always make ours with nooch (nutritional yeast flakes), kala namak (otherwise known as black salt), white pepper and dill. I spray the popcorn with spray oil so the toppings stick to the popcorn. This is my favourite snack, but I always end up making it for everyone else!
As for dinners, we eat such a huge variety of different foods. I love to follow recipe creators online to get new ideas.
Our favourite dinner is probably giant sushi rolls: prep the sushi rice and finely cut carrots, spring onions, cucumber, peppers, avocado, tofu and whatever else you fancy. Plonk it in the middle of the table together with a small bowl of water to seal the nori (seaweed sheets), and then everyone can make their own. You will definitely eat the rainbow when you have this meal, and the kids in particular enjoy making their rolls.
These are just a few examples of what we eat. I always do a menu each week, planning the meals according to what we’ve got going on, what’s in the fridge and how much time I have. I stick to it 90% of the time. This definitely reduces food waste and ensures the meals are balanced. Meal prep is also a useful habit to get into! Here’s an example of a weekly menu:
- Monday: palak matar (spinach and green peas curry) with naan
- Tuesday: seitan steak and ale pie with peas, mash and gravy
- Wednesday: coconut red curry with tofu
- Thursday: giant sushi rolls
- Friday: seitan parcels and rice
- Saturday: tagliatelle and cabbage and beans
- Sunday: chickpea and veg soup with dumplings
Do your best
At the end of the day, people are going through really hard times at the moment so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage to eat as much variety as you’d like. I do strongly feel however, that whilst eating nutritionally dense food that’s cost-effective can sometimes be time-consuming, planning makes it all a whole lot easier.
Good luck and enjoy! Follow @lavegankurda to see my meal prep and our family’s antics.
Want to find cheap vegan meal ideas? Explore our Live Vegan for Less recipe hub which contains simple and affordable dishes that do not compromise on taste, like our chickpea and pumpkin burger, or Katy Beskow's coconut and squash traybake.
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.