11 budget friendly, low-meat recipes that taste amazing
Whether you're heading to university or just trying to save a few pennies, eating sustainable, tasty food doesn't have to cost the Earth.
We've collected 11 cheap and easy recipes from our supporters to help you eat better for less.
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1. Scramble recipe
One for the student in you. This quick idea for scrambled egg with veggies takes only a few minutes to prepare and leaves just one saucepan to wash up.
- Basil (fresh or dried - optional if the budget won't allow)
Sauté the mushrooms in a saucepan with oil or butter, add the chopped vegetables, basil if used, and an egg or three.
Stir with a wooden spoon and you’ll end up with a great scrambled egg brunch with some added veggie goodness.
If this doesn’t appeal, an omelette is another great budget meal. For omelette, don’t stir your egg mix, just fill with anything from cheese to mushrooms to mint (use plenty of mint for a taste sensation).
Vegetarian recipe from Juliet Chaplin
2. Simple pasta with roasted vegetables recipe
Cheap and sustainable meals don’t come easier than this…
- One large mushroom
- Half an onion
- Half a tomato
- Green, red and yellow peppers (one piece of each)
- A couple of handfuls of pasta
Put these on a baking tray with a little oil and cook on gas mark 6 for 20 minutes.
After cooking your pasta, drain it and add a ready-made pasta sauce or, for something even healthier, a tin of chopped tomatoes heated with fried garlic, salt, pepper and chilli (if you’re feeling spicy).
Recipe from Juliet Chaplin
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3. "Phil’s Ferrocity" recipe
Great for a snack, light meal or starter, this iron-rich toast is climate-friendly and great for your health. Phil says: "my motivation for creating this snack was that I wanted something that was rich in iron, quick to prepare, and of course tasty. I discovered that pumpkin seeds are high in iron (the ferric part) and that red pepper is very high in vitamin C, which helps absorption of the iron."
- Bread for toasting (decide how many slices you need to fill you up)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Half a red pepper (other colours are fine, but lower in vitamin C)
Heat a frying pan on a medium heat (no oil) and sprinkle enough pumpkin seeds into it to cover the surface of the toast as densely as you want. Lightly roast them for a couple of minutes and lower the heat as they start to brown.
While the pumpkin seeds are roasting, toast your bread and then cut a red pepper lengthways into small slices, removing the pith and seeds.
When the toast is done, butter it, then spread with hummus. Now the trick is to get the order right - sprinkle the roasted pumpkin seeds onto the hummus and embed them as a pebble-dash, before laying the pepper slices over the top – as densely as you like (or can afford). In the other order the seeds are likely to fall off!
And that’s it – Phil’s Ferrocity.
A good way to add more flavour is to sprinkle on some Worcester sauce or balsamic vinegar before you lay on the pepper slices or even add horseradish sauce or Tabasco for a spicy kick.
If pumpkin seeds float your boat, it is easier and more economical to roast larger quantities of them, in an oven if possible. Add salt or your spice preference before roasting.
By the way, if you have it with a cup of tea it will inhibit absorption of the iron, so resist the temptation until later. Enjoy!
Recipe from Philip Williams
4. Fancy porridge recipe
Judith recommends an old favourite for cheap and comforting winter grub, great for any time of day or night. She says: "My student staple dish was porridge, and it’s still a favourite dish - quick, warming and nourishing. Microwaves also make for minimal washing up - something that was not around when I was a student!"
- Oats (about 25 g per person) – mix it up a bit by mixing a variety of grains like rye, barley or quinoa in with your porridge oats
- 350 ml milk or water
- Fruit (whatever takes your fancy)
Put the oats/grains and milk or water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally – or if using a microwave, cook for 5 minutes and stir halfway through.
Add some fruit for extra taste, and serve however you fancy. If you want breakfast on the move, pour into a jam jar to eat later (it’s great cold). Or try experimenting with Bircher muesli – that’s cold porridge with added grated apple and lemon juice to you and me.
Recipe from Judith Russenberger
5. Topped veg mash recipe
Chayley became a veggie as a student, and still loves her reliable root vegetable mainstay.
- A variety of root vegetables (try sweet potato, swede or parsnips alongside your regular carrots and potatoes)
- An onion or leek (or both)
- Some cheese
Boil up a pot of water and add your root veg, peeled and roughly chopped. At the same time, chop and fry your onion or leek, and grate your cheese.
When the veg is soft, drain and mash with a bit of butter. Then top with your fried veg and sprinkle with cheese. Delicious!
Recipe from Chayley
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6. Cheese pudding recipe
Delicious hot or cold with sauce or chutney - Patsy’s grandson is already trying this one out at home!
- ½ loaf bread (you could use mashed potato instead of some of the bread, if you have some left over)
- ½ lb cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs
- Milk (amount depends on freshness of the bread)
- Seeds eg sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, if desired.
Crumble the bread in a mixing bowl. Add enough milk to make it fairly soft.
Add eggs, grated cheese and seasoning, and mix well until it’s the consistency of mashed potato.
Put in a greased baking dish and sprinkle with seeds and a little cheese.
Cook in a medium oven for about 1 hour til crunchy on top.
This low-meat recipe is from Patsy
7. Stuffed potatoes recipe
This variation on a traditional baked potato was a war-time favourite, and is a great way to use up some leftovers.
- Large potatoes
- Leftover mince
- Leftover vegetables, chopped
- Onion, chopped
- Baked beans (or gravy).
Peel the potatoes and slice off the end so they can stand upright. Scoop out the insides, leaving a well about 2.5cm thick (keep the insides to use as mash or to thicken soup).
Fry the onion, then add any leftover meat and vegetables to warm through. Season and thicken with gravy (or baked beans).
Add the mix to the hollow potatoes, piling up above the top.
Oil the potatoes, then put on a baking tray and roast them in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes.
Recipe from Patsy.
8. Mum's standby oatflake fritters recipe
These filling and easy fritters come highly recommended by members of the University of the Third Age. Wiebina says: "these are cheap, easy and delicious. Even meat lovers like them."
Ingredients (for a two-person serving):
- 30 g porridge oats
- 30 g cheese
- 1 egg or a large spoonful of chickpea (gram) flour)
- Onion pieces
- A spoonful of some fluid, such as milk, veggie stock or apple juice (the slight acidity of the apple is actually great with cheese)
- Some oil (try to avoid vegetable oil that contains soya from deforested areas)
- Seasoning - pepper, salt, and any spice that takes your fancy, like cumin seeds.
Mix everything into a batter with a sticky consistency.
Heat a frying pan greased with a very small quantity of oil, until a drop of the batter starts sizzling. Lower the heat and fry large spoonfuls of the batter until they begin to brown, then turn them to cook the other side.
Recipe from Wiebina Heesterman
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9. Potato, onion and bacon hotpot
This is a versatile meal for veggies and meat-eaters alike. You can choose to add more leftover bacon, or leave it out and add other veggies if you wish. Liz remembers this as a great family money saver and one which she still cooks today.
- Some potatoes
- A couple of onions
- Plain flour
- Grated cheese, if you want
- A bit of bacon or ham, if you want.
Slice several potatoes finely. Chop several onions. Chop some bacon or ham if you’re using it. Layer all of this up in a casserole dish, ending with the potato.
Make some white sauce by gently melting some butter in a pan, and adding 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Cook together for a few minutes, or until the mixture starts to thicken. Gradually add milk and stir until you have a fairly thick (or however you like it) sauce. Add salt, pepper and grated cheese if using.
Pour the sauce over the potatoes and tap the dish several times on the work surface to mix the sauce with the vegetables. Cook for about an hour and a quarter in a moderate oven until golden brown.
Recipe from Liz Swinden
10. Veggie chilli
Shane’s favourite, easy meal is veggie chilli. You can make it in a slow cooker, but it's just as easy in a pan, and a big enough pot can last several meals.
- Quorn or supermarket veggie mince, fried in a little oil
- Some tinned tomatoes
- Rinsed tinned kidney beans
- Salt, oregano, dried chilli, and cumin to suit your taste
- Any veg you like - chopped chillies, peppers, mushrooms and chopped celery are great.
Fry your mince in a little bit of oil, then add the tinned tomatoes, rinsed tinned kidney beans, and salt, oregano, dried chilli, and cumin.
Stir in the rest of your veg and cook for about 40 minutes in a pan on the hob, or several hours in a slow cooker.
Serve with boiled rice, or some pockets of pitta bread, to scoop it all up!
Recipe from Shane Stone
11. Migas (that means 'crumbs' to you and me)
Michael sent us this great recipe for preventing bread waste - he discovered it via Sarah Beattie, who picked it up from an old Spanish recipe developed by thrifty Spanish shepherds. This one is a money saver with a long history!
- a pinch of saffron
- ½ tsp crushed dried red chillies
- 90 ml very hot water
- 350 g big dry breadcrumbs – see above
- 1 large red onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 long thin green peppers – the espelette ones or similar, with just a hint of spiciness about them
- 6 sundried tomatoes
- 3 vegetarian sausages
- 125 g chestnut or oyster mushrooms
- 6 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp smoked paprika.
Put the saffron and crushed chillies in a small bowl. Pour on the water and leave to infuse.
Slice the onion, garlic, deseeded peppers, sundried tomatoes, vegetarian sausages and mushrooms.
Pour the saffron water all over the breadcrumbs and mix well.
Heat 4 tbs of the oil in the pan. Stir fry the onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, vegetarian sausages and mushrooms. When nicely browning, stir in the smoked paprika, cooking a minute more. Remove to a different pan, using a slotted spoon, and keep warm.
Add the rest of the oil and get it hot. Then add the crumbs and stir fry until the bread is browned. Add the vegetables back in and cook, stirring, until all is mixed together and hot. Serve.
.… and don’t forget to experiment!
Lesley says "I start with the 'if it's' principle. If it's freely or cheaply available it can be made delicious." Check out Lesley’s top tips:
- Almost any veg can be chopped and turned into stir-fry or steamed
- Add leftover veg to rice for risotto, or tomato sauce and pasta for Bolognese
- Peanut butter makes a great addition to curry (you need to put it in with the oil, before adding water so it goes smooth, not lumpy)
- Put your stir fry mix in puff pastry for a savoury bake, or use pie pastry with eggs on top for quiche
- No pastry? Then eggs straight on top of chopped veg and then baked will give you a soufflé, and fried gives you an omelette! Make this vegan with an egg substitute.
- Lentils are a great addition to your cupboard – they add cheap and quick protein, and take on whatever flavour you put in.
- Tofu and nuts last for ages, and can be added to anything from noodles to salad. They’re worth stocking up on when finance comes in - if you won't be tempted to eat them all at once.
Recipe tips from Lesley Grahame
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