5 Vegan Dinners on a Budget

When some hear "vegan" or "plant-based", they assume that means too expensive, not filling enough, and won't have enough protein. I wanted to prove these theories wrong, so I decided to make five delicious and inexpensive meals that would feed two people easily (with some leftovers).

I was craving Indian and Thai food so a lot of the recipes are inspired by those flavors. Also, Indian food is really easy to make vegan (since a lot of dishes already don't include meat or dairy, especially beef) which helped with the budget and planning. I spent $37 at my local Whole Foods and used pantry items as well. (See Grocery List below to see what I purchased at Whole Foods, the rest I had in my pantry)

The meals turned out super flavorful, packed with protein and were very easy and quick to make. My favorite was definitely the Zucchini Curry with Quinoa. I will be adding this to my repertoire or quick weeknight recipes! Check out these vegan dinner recipes below and let me know what you think.

Zucchini Curry with Quinoa


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1/2 yellow onion, small dice

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 tsp fresh, grated ginger

  • 3 tbsp tomato paste

  • 4 small zucchini, cubed

  • 1 tbsp turmeric

  • 1 tbsp cumin

  • 1 tbsp coriander

  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 cup vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

  • 1 cup quinoa (cooked)

  • handful of fresh cilantro (for garnish)


  • In a large pot, add the coconut oil, garlic, onion and ginger in medium heat. Saute until the onion is translucent.

  • Next, add the tomato paste and let it caramelize for a few minutes. Add the zucchini, turmeric, cumin, coriander, curry powder and salt.

  • Stir gently so the spices are evenly incorporated. Saute for 5 minutes and then add the vegetable broth and coconut milk.

  • Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 20 minutes or until the zucchini is fork tender.

  • Serve on a bed of quinoa and top with fresh cilantro.

Green Thai Curry with Eggplant


  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1/2 yellow onion, small dice

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 red bell peppers, large dice

  • 1 medium sized eggplant, large dice

  • 2 tbsp green Thai curry paste

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 Thai chili, minced

  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock

  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil (or regular basil)

  • 1 tbsp lime juice

  • 1 cup cooked brown jasmine rice

  • handful of fresh basil to garnish


  • In a large pot on medium heat, add the coconut oil, onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent.

  • Next, add the red bell pepper and eggplant. Stir in Thai curry paste, soy sauce and the Thai chili.

  • Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the vegetable stock and coconut milk.

  • Let the mixture come to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

  • Stir in the basil and lime juice, then remove from the heat.

  • Serve over cooked brown jasmine rice and garnish with more fresh basil.

Moroccan Spiced Roasted Veggie and Lentil Bowl


  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 beet, large dice

  • 1 cup butternut squash, large dice

  • 1 red bell pepper, large dice

  • 1 tsp coriander

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 2 cups cooked lentils

  • 1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage (for topping)

  • sliced green onion for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

  • In a large bowl, add the beets, butternut squash, red bell pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, salt and olive oil. Toss until the vegetables are coated in oil and seasoning.

  • Place on the sheet pan and roast for 35-45 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender.

  • To assemble the bowl, add the lentils, roasted veggies, shredded cabbage and green onion for garnish.

Thai Tofu Lettuce Wraps


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1/2 yellow onion, small dice

  • 1 green onion, sliced thin (save green parts for garnish)

  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger

  • 1 package firm tofu

  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tsp vegetarian hoisin sauce

  • 1 Thai chili, minced

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce


  • In a saute pan, add the coconut oil, onions and ginger on medium heat. Continue to cook until the onions are translucent.

  • Add in the tofu and using a spoon, break it apart so it resembles ground meat.

  • Add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce and Thai chili.

  • Saute for a few minutes, then add the peas. Cook just until the peas are defrosted and turn off the heat.

  • Garnish with the green parts of the green onion and assemble your lettuce wraps with the washed iceberg lettuce.

Blackened Cauliflower Steak with Sauteed Spinach


  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch "steaks"

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp old bay seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp chili powder

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tsp coriander

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 1 bag fresh baby spinach

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat your oven to 350, and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil

  • Stir together the spices in a small bowl: old bay, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, and chili powder.

  • Brush the cauliflower steaks with the olive oil and sprinkle the spices onto each side of the steaks.

  • Place the steaks onto the baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.

  • In a saute pan, add 1 tsp olive oil and the whole bag of fresh baby spinach. Season with salt and pepper and cook spinach until it's completely wilted.

  • Next, plate the spinach and add the cauliflower steak on top. Enjoy!

Grocery List

  • Basil - $2.49

  • Red Cabbage - $1.58

  • Firm Tofu - $1.99

  • Iceberg Lettuce - $2.99

  • Green Onion - $0.99

  • Baby Spinach - $2.49

  • Cilantro - $0.89

  • Zucchini - $2.75

  • Eggplant - $1.17

  • Thai Chili - $0.05

  • Cauliflower - $3.99

  • Vegetable Broth - $2.99

  • Red Bell Pepper - $2.33

  • Red Beet - $0.77

  • Turmeric - $3.99

  • Butternut Squash - $5.07

Subtotal - $36.53