Updated on 09.29.15

17 Vegetarian Recipes to Save Money on Meals

These recipes are cheap, healthy -- and taste good, too.

chopped carrots for soup

Fall is the perfect time to prepare a hearty vegetable soup served with homemade bread. Photo: Liz West

A number of recent studies have proven that eating less meat can be good for your overall health. But did you know that eating less meat can be good for your pocketbook, too?

When it comes to finding vegetarian recipes that can help you save, there are a handful of criteria to look for. For starters, you should seek out vegetarian dishes that have only a handful of ingredients, plus those that take advantage of low-cost staples such as beans or rice. Further, the best vegetarian meals will almost always let you throw in whatever vegetables you have on hand.

Remember, the easiest way to save money on groceries is to waste as little as possible. And with the right money-saving veggie meals, that becomes easier than ever.

17 Vegetarian Recipes to Save You Money

Without expensive cuts of beef, poultry, or pork, you can create an array of dishes that are heavy on the good stuff and light on the wallet. Here are 17 recipes that can keep you healthy and help you save money:

1. Easy Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans vegetable broth
  • 1 small can tomato juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Small onion
  • 1 can beans or lentils
  • Chopped cabbage (any amount)
  • Chopped carrots
  • Broccoli chopped
  • Cauliflower chopped
  • Fresh or canned corn
  • Thyme
  • Dried basil
  • Coriander

In a large stew pot, sautee onions and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth on medium heat. Add more broth, tomato juice, and any vegetables you have on hand. Cook for 1-2 hours, adding more water or broth as needed. Add salt and pepper, thyme, dried basil, and coriander to taste. Makes 5-8 servings. Try it with some easy, hearty homemade bread.

2. Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 large can tomato juice
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cans tomatoes
  • 1 package chili seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hot sauce

In a large pot, sautee garlic with onion and celery until soft. Add tomato juice, canned tomatoes and kidney beans and simmer. After 20 minutes, add chili seasoning, salt and pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Cook for at least 1 hour, adding water as needed. Makes 10-12 servings.

3. Falafel Burgers

Courtesy of All You.

Ingredients:

  • 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Toasted pitas, lettuce, pickles, sliced tomato, red onion, for serving

Combine 1/2 cup chickpeas, 3 tbsp. oil, 2 cloves garlic, tahini, lemon juice and 2 tbsp. water in a food processor and purée until spreadable. Move finished hummus into a small bowl or container. After cleaning out food processor, add remaining chickpeas and garlic, parsley and cumin and pulse until finely chopped.

Transfer chickpea mixture to a bowl and stir in panko, eggs, scallions, salt and pepper. Form into four 1/2-inch-thick burgers. In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Sautee falafel burgers until golden and crisp, which should take approximately 10 minutes. Fill toasted pitas with hummus and falafel, adding lettuce, pickles, tomato and onion as desired. Makes 4 servings.

4. Low-Carb Vegetarian ‘Meatloaf’

Ingredients:

  • 12-ounce package soy crumbles
  • 1 small package mushrooms
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 package meatloaf seasoning
  • Ketchup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop onion into small pieces and mince package of mushrooms in a food processor, before mixing all ingredients in a large bowl. Find a loaf-size pan and spray its bottom and sides with cooking spray. Pack pan with meatloaf mixture and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Add layer of ketchup on top of meatloaf and continue baking for another 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 4-5 servings.

5. Broccoli Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 half small onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli
  • 1 unbaked pie crust (optional)
  • 2cups shredded cheese (any kind)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, sautee onion, butter, garlic and broccoli until soft and cooked thoroughly. Add vegetable mixture to baking pan (with or without pie crust) and sprinkle with cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine eggs and milk, and pour mixture over vegetables. Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 4-5 servings.

6. Vegan or Veggie Meatball Subs

Courtesy of PETA.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Trader Joe’s vegan meatballs (or soy meatballs)
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 hoagie rolls, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (vegan or regular)

Preheat the broiler to low. Heat the meatballs and the marinara sauce in a saucepan on medium heat. Once cooked, place four meatballs on each hoagie roll, topping each with mozzarella cheese. Place hoagies on foil-lined pan and put under the broiler until the bread is toasted and the cheese has melted. Makes two servings.

7. Spinach, Tomato, and Chickpea Bake

Courtesy of Stefanie from The Broke and Beautiful Life.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion diced
  • Garlic clove
  • Can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 small package frozen spinach
  • Brown rice or quinoa

Says Stefanie, “Sautee a diced onion and a clove of garlic; add a can of diced tomatoes; salt, pepper and spice to taste (I like a bit of cayenne pepper for a kick). Stir in a can of chickpeas and cooked spinach. Simmer till heated through and serve over brown rice or quinoa.”

8. Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger

Courtesy of Minimalist Baker.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mashed sweet potato (about 2 large sweet potatoes, organic when possible)
  • 1 cup cooked salted black beans, rinsed and well drained (if unsalted, add more salt to the burgers)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (or substitute cooked quinoa with varied results)
  • 1/2 cup walnut or pecan meal (or very finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced green onion
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (optional | for added sweetness)
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sprouts, lettuce or parsley
  • Sliced onion

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut sweet potatoes in half, rub them with olive oil, and place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Place black beans in mixing bowl and mash by hand. Add sweet potatoes, 1 cup cooked rice, green onion, nut meal and spices. Add more of each ingredient to taste. Lightly grease a baking sheet and hand-form burgers to preferred size. You may also use a ½ cup measuring cup to form burgers. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 375 degrees, flipping burgers halfway. Serve on buns and add toppings as desired.

9. Toasted Zucchini Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchinis, cut lengthwise (remove ends)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a spoon, carve out 1-inch hull in each zucchini. Once each zucchini is partially hollowed out, rub each one with olive oil until covered. Line baking sheet with foil and place zucchinis on pan with skin side down. Bake for 30 minutes before removing from oven. Once removed, fill each zucchini with marinara sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Add fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste, then bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes four servings.

10. Everyday Vegetable Side Dish

Courtesy of Jim Wang from WalletHacks.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Vegetable of choice (especially broccoli)
  • ½ cup vegetable stock

Says Jim, “We have a standard preparation for vegetables when they’re sides and it works for basically everything. Just put some neutral oil in a pan, brown some garlic, then throw in the vegetable (we eat a lot of broccoli and those in that same family) to brown for a minute. Then salt and pour in some vegetable stock to steam for a few more minutes until it’s cooked to desired doneness.”

11. Soy Crumble Taco Salad

Ingredients:

  • 12-ounce bag of soy crumbles or Quorn meat-free grounds
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • ½ head lettuce chopped
  • Medium tomato chopped
  • ¼ small onion chopped
  • 2 cups tortilla chips
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped
  • French or Western dressing
  • Sour cream (optional)

Cook soy crumbles or meatless grounds on medium heat, adding water as needed. Add taco seasoning and continue stirring. Create salad with whatever vegetables you desire, and add cooked taco “meat” on top. Crumble tortilla chips on top and serve with French or Western dressing. Add sour cream on top if desired.

12. Vegetable Quesadillas

Ingredients:

  • 1 package flour or corn tortillas
  • Small onion cut in strips
  • Green pepper diced
  • Red pepper diced
  • Yellow pepper diced
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind)
  • Butter
  • Cooking spray
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Taco or fajita seasoning

Start by cooking onion and peppers with butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add water slowly and introduce taco or fajita seasoning in nominal amounts. Continue cooking and adding water and taco seasoning until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked and not much moisture is left. Spray a larger pan with cooking spray and set on medium heat. Line the bottom with a tortilla and spoon vegetable mixture and shredded cheese on top. Top with tortilla and cook, flipping the entire thing over after 5-7 minutes. Continue cooking on both sides until toasted and cheese is melted. Cut in pizza-shaped slices and serve with sour cream. Makes 3-4 servings.

13. Spanish Rice

Courtesy of The Prudent Homemaker.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp dried onions
  • 1 4-oz can diced green chilies (optional)
  • 2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes — do not drain
  • 4 tsp vegetable bullion powder
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning
  • 4 cups water
  • Flour tortillas
  • Corn
  • Black olives
  • Sour cream

Combine oil and rice in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until rice begins to brown. Add tomatoes, chilies, water, onions, vegetable stock bullion, and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil as ingredients combine. Cover and simmer until all liquid is gone, then serve in flour tortillas with your choice of toppings. Makes 4-5 servings.

14. Simple Tomato Soup

Courtesy of 101 Cookbooks.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes (pref. fire-roasted)
  • 14-ounce can coconut milk

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Sautee onions until soft — around 10 minutes — adding salt to taste. Stir in curry powder, cumin, coriander, chili flakes, and onion, and simmer. Stir in canned tomatoes (plus juices) and 6 cups of water. Continue cooking on medium, adding coconut milk as needed for a creamier consistency. Add more salt, pepper, and seasoning to taste. Makes 4-6 servings.

15. Tomato and Basil Pasta

Courtesy of BBC Good Food.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder or ½ crumbled stock cube
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A few basil leaves
  • 1 box pasta (your choice)

Boil water for pasta. Heat oil and garlic in a saucepan on medium heat, adding all ingredients except for basil after one minute. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, boil pasta until it is cooked to desired firmness. Tear basil leaves or pulse in food processor, then add to sauce. Pour over cooked pasta and serve. Makes 4 servings.

16. Veggie Barbecue Flatbread

Courtesy of Kim from Eyes On the Dollar.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Package flour tortillas
  • Your favorite vegetables
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce

Kim says, “Brush a little olive oil on both sides of a flour tortilla and bake at 400 degrees for 2 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and add barbecue sauce like you would on a pizza. Add your favorite veggies, preferably whatever is about to go bad. Cover with cheddar cheese and bake for 5 minutes. Kids love these because they can do their own toppings!”

17. Hearty Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

Courtesy of Julie Rains from Investing to Thrive.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of your favorite vegetables (fresh or frozen)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Prepared polenta
  • Salted butter
  • 2 cups shredded cheese

Says Julie, “Roast your favorite veggies with a bit of olive oil and salt at 450 F until done (I like zucchini and onions) then mix with polenta in a skillet (make your own or mash up the prepared kind), add some butter and cheese until warm. Great comfort food and filling dinner, done cheaply and quickly.”

Related Articles:

What’s your favorite vegetarian meal? How often does your family go meat-free?

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