6 Easy & Cheap Vegetarian Recipes You Can Make For Just $5.26

Rachel | Rachel Resets
by Rachel | Rachel Resets

I spent just $5.26 at Aldi and you would not believe how many delicious meals I was able to make with just this much money! Plus, all of these recipes were plant-based, as I'm having a veggie week. Keep reading to discover six easy and cheap vegetarian meal ideas.

All grocery prices are as of September 2022.

Vegetarian grocery list on a budget

Aldi grocery list:

  • Garbanzo beans - $0.76
  • Couscous - $1.05
  • Mashed potatoes - $0.69
  • Tomato soup - $0.68
  • California medley - $0.99
  • Pasta shells with white cheddar - $1.09

Total = $5.26

We will make our six easy, cheap vegetarian meals with the ingredients pictured here, plus spices and oils. Our main source of protein will be canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

Oil and spices from the pantry

These are the freebie oil and spices I will use, along with thyme.

Dividing the vegetables and chickpeas

Whenever I do strict budget meals, I try to divide everything up, so I know I have enough for each meal. I’ve dumped out my veggies and drained my chickpeas and divided them up into each meal.

As you can see, originally I had 5 meals in mind, but I ended up dividing them further into 6. 

Coking the couscous

1. Greek-inspired chickpeas over couscous

I started off by making my couscous, according to the directions on the back, which says to heat up water, add oil, and put in the flavor packet. Bring it to a boil and add the couscous. After five minutes, fluff it up, and it’s ready to serve. 

Couscous is really delicious and this box makes a whole lot of meals. I love it because it only takes a couple of minutes to prepare.

Cooking the chickpeas

I’m also starting on my chickpeas that will go over the couscous. I added dried chopped onion, parsley, salt, and pepper, to my oil. Then, I added the chickpeas.

Adding condensed soup for flavor

I added in condensed soup to add a really nice flavor. It’s very sweet actually, due to the tomatoes. If you want it less sweet, you could add a little bit of vinegar or a dash of lemon juice. 

Greek-inspired chickpeas over couscous

Our finished dish is delicious, and vibrant in color, and it’s going to be really filling.

2. Spanish chickpeas over couscous

This will be prepared the same way as the first dish, but with different spices: parsley, dried chopped onions, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

If you don’t have all these spices, these meals can be made with just salt and pepper. It won’t have the same flavor, but it will still taste delicious and function as a filling, nutritious meal.

Spanish chickpeas over couscous

After I put my chickpeas on the bed of couscous, I seasoned them with parsley. 

If you want more food, you can use dried chickpeas and soak and cook them, but the cans are very convenient, and I want to show you how to make quick meals. Sometimes we aren’t just pressed on a budget, but also on time. 

Dry-roasting the chickpeas

3. Pan-roasted chickpeas and veggies over mashed potatoes

I’m dry-roasting the chickpeas in a pan to crisp them up, while I make the mashed potatoes according to the instructions on the box. 

Cheap vegetarian recipes

Now, I’m adding a little oil, along with chili powder, thyme, salt, and veggies for a pop of color. I’m trying to crisp up the veggies, so I’m using high heat and stirring frequently, so they don't burn. 

Pan-roasted chickpeas and veggies over mashed potatoes

Now, I’m plating the mashed potatoes and adding the veggies on top. These garlic mashed potatoes brought the flavor home and complemented the crispness of the chickpeas and veggies.

Frugal vegetarian meals

4. Chickpea curry over savory potato pancake

I heated up oil in the pan. Then, I added water, garlic, parsley, and onion to the mashed potato and stirred it around. I ended up with a somewhat thick pancake. You might need a splatter screen or a lid, because the oil reacts to the water in the mixture.

Frying the potato pancake

Although the pancake fell apart the first time I flipped it, it stayed together once browned. It was crisp around the edges, but still floppy and malleable. I put it on our plate. 

Making cheap vegetarian meals

Next, we are frying up the chickpeas with oil, dried onion, garlic, curry, cumin, salt, pepper, veggies, tomato soup, red pepper flakes to taste, and a little bit of the packet of cheddar that comes with the mac and cheese.

Keep in mind that the longer you cook something with red pepper flakes, the spicier the dish will get, as the heat releases that spicy flavor.

Chickpea curry over savory potato pancakes

Our finished dish is delicious. The parsley adds a nice pop of color, and the chickpeas are soft and creamy. 

Making a base for the gravy

5. Mashed potatoes with chickpea gravy

Our next dish uses the rest of the mashed potatoes. Heat water in a pan with garlic, onions, salt, pepper, and some of the mac and cheese flavor packet, to make a creamy gravy. We will reduce it a bit.

Stirring the veggies and chickpeas

After it thickens up, add in the veggies and chickpeas, and stir it until it gets to your preferred thickness. 

Mashed potatoes with chickpea gravy

I plated the rest of the mashed potatoes and poured this mixture on top, along with some parsley flakes, just to add some color. This is a portion of very creamy and delicious comfort food. 

You could also use real potatoes. I like the boxed mashed potatoes because they are already flavored. If you are on a budget, anything that adds flavor without costing more is a big plus.

Making chickpea mac and cheese

6. Chickpea mac and cheese

This dish uses our box of macaroni, as well as the remaining chickpeas and broccoli. Boil them all in a pot with veggies, and the remaining packet of mac and cheese flavoring. 

Chickpea mac and cheese

I plated it and topped the dish off with parsley flakes, just for that color. It was delicious. 

Easy and cheap vegetarian recipes

Easy and cheap vegetarian recipes

Here’s our completed week of meals! I love to hear in the comments how you are getting inspiration for your budget, and I’d love to hear about any easy and cheap vegetarian recipes you like to make too. Drop a comment and let me know. 

Join the conversation
3 of 11 comments
  • Leila Capell Leila Capell on Oct 16, 2022

    Try buying those ingredients up here in British Columbia, Canada, and they will cost you at least three times as much. Cheap, nutritious meals are hard to come by here.

    • Rachel | Rachel Resets Rachel | Rachel Resets on Oct 16, 2022

      I feel for you! I cannot believe how high prices have gone. My hope is that these recipes serve as a diving off point to help give some ideas to anyone trying to start in a direction of cutting down on their groceries or eating healthier while on a budget. That maybe with a few substitutions based an what is cheaper in their area, they may be able to also make some meals that are a bit easier on the wallet while also being delicious and nutritious. 😊

  • Victoria Noble Victoria Noble on Oct 20, 2022

    Thank you for not including mushrooms in your recipes. There is a lot to play with too!