Vegan on a Budget Part 2

vegan on a budget

Take a look at Vegan on a Budget Part 1 for an easy vegan recipe for rice with any vegetable.

One of the most overwhelming feelings for me is when I am trying to find an affordable recipe to cook and after clicking “5 cheap vegan recipes“, all of them are not cheap at all and happen to include 10 different ingredients that you don’t even know how to find in your local store or what those ingredients are called in your language.

What is tempeh? What if I don’t have garlic or onion powder at home? Liquid smoke? How can smoke even be liquid? Those are some of the questions I asked when I was just starting out on my plant-based journey and I hear you – when you are just starting out it can sound like people are speaking a totally different language.

Budget vegan meals

To ease the pain, I’d like to keep on sharing some of my really simple, budget vegan meals that I have figured out over the past few years. I am in no way expert at cooking, but I like to think I am an expert at trying to do things quickly and eating on a budget (being a student will do this to you).

cooking tip

Vegan Red lentil Dahl (simplified)

This one is a recipe a dear friend gave to me when I became vegan for the first time a couple of years ago. I was so clueless about what to cook and for a while I actually disregarded this recipe thinking it is way too difficult to cook. I was so totally wrong about that – now it is one of my favorite quickest, cheapest and savory meals.

For those of you who may be wondering, this is most likely not an Indian meal. I apologize for using the word dahl but I have no clue what else to call it. Maybe a lentil sauce?

vegan lentil dahl

Simplified Vegan Red Lentil Dahl

An easy red lentil dahl that is completely vegan, quick to make and perfect if you are new to cooking or plant-based cuisine.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian


  • 250 g/ 9 oz red lentils
  • 300 ml / 10 oz hot water
  • 380 g / 13 oz tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp oil of choice (can be replaced with water)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp ginger
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili optional


Cooking the dahl

  • Heat up some oil in a large pot, then add the garlic and optional ginger. Cook for 1-2 min.
  • Add all spices you want to use and stir, it should turn into a bit of a paste.
  • Add quickly the tomato sauce and stir, after which you can add the lentils and the hot water.
  • Let it simmer for around 20 minutes as you stir often so it does not stick to the bottom.
  • After around 20 minutes you can taste and see if it needs some salt (it usually will, especially if you did not use stock).
  • Voila! Serve over whatever you want or eat as it is! Simple, quick and cheap!


  • For best results use the optional ingredients, however it's still tasty without them and works if you want to save up.
  • This meal is so incredibly versatile that you can combine it with pretty much anything you like. So far I have tried it on top of rice, spaghetti, pasta, even potatoes, and I like it on top of all of it!

Is this a healthy vegan meal?

If you’re like me you might be thinking if this is even healthy considering the canned tomatoes. I personally like it and believe it is healthy for me. However, we are all different so if you are worried you can always try cooking it with real tomatoes. It will cost a bit more but it might even taste better. I have personally never tried it.

Check out Vegan on a Budget Part 3 for more recipe ideas and tips on being vegan on a budget.

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