Cheap and easy vegan comfort food you can cook at uni

I. Like. Carbs.


Recently it feels like everyone has turned to vegetarianism or veganism. The lack of animal-based foods makes the weekly shop cheaper, but it can still be hard to cook delicious meals at low costs.

Often, bloggers present vegan meals as incredibly elaborate and unfulfilling, but sometimes all you want is comfort food to fuel the heart as well, especially at a stressful time like coming to university and missing home.

With the risk of catching Freshers’ Flu at 120 per cent and the sudden need to intensively budget, it's important to eat right without pulling at the purse strings.

So, I present to you four vegan meals (can easily be altered if you don't have or like some products) that don't sting your bank or compromise your health for the days where all you want to do is curl up and watch Netflix!

Breakfast – Peanut butter chocolate chip granola

Breakfast – the best meal of the day! Lectures are hard work, and the thought of rolling out of bed to stodgy porridge is enough to make anyone cry. Homemade granola is the way forward if you want to make those 9ams that little bit easier.

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You will need:

– 3 cups/ 300g oats

– 2 tbsp/ 20g cane sugar (this is mainly for crispiness, makes very little difference to the taste)

– ¼ cup/ 60ml peanut butter

– ¼ cup/ 60ml oil (I used melted coconut oil)

– ¼ cup/ 60ml maple syrup (or liquid sweetener of choice)

– 1/3 cup/ 50g chocolate of choice (I’ve used Sainsbury’s no added sugar dark chocolate)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to around 170 degrees Celsius.

2. Melt peanut butter, oil and liquid sweetener in microwave.

3. Add oats and sugar to mixture, stirring together well (if mixture is too wet, add more oats!)

4. Spread a small amount of oil around a baking tray and spread granola mix evenly.

5. Cook for around 15-25 mins, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.

6. Cool mixture and then add choc chips (I added half when mixture was still warm to get oaty chocolate clumps, and then the other half when it was fully cool).

7. Top with fruit, seeds, yoghurt and/or milk .

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Topped with almond milk, raspberries and chia seeds

Cost:

This depends on how big you like your breakfast, so if you up the toppings you won't need as much granola etc. Without toppings and milk, this can make around 8-10 meals, working out at £0.19- £0.23 per serving.

Lunch – Spicy chickpea wraps (serves four)

Let's face it, lunch is the worst meal of the day, but these tasty and versatile wraps make lunch slightly more bearable.

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For dressing/salad:

– ¼ cup hummus

– 1 tbsp maple syrup

– 2 tbsp lemon juice

– 1-2 tbsp hot water to thin

– Lettuce of choice (I used gem lettuce)

Chickpeas:

– 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

– 1 tbsp oil (I used coconut)

– 1 garlic clove or garlic paste

– Hot Sauce – I used tabasco, but in hindsight a stickier sauce would have worked better (Nando's sauce would be probably be lush)

– Salt to taste

To serve with:

– 4 tortillas, pittas or flatbread

– Optional: red onion, tomatoes, avocado

Method:

1. Make dressing by mixing hummus, maple syrup, lemon juice and water to create a thick but pour-able consistency. Toss lettuce leaves in and put to side.

2. Heat oil in a pan, adding the chickpeas, hot sauce, garlic and salt, sautéing for around 3-5 mins.

3. Assemble your wraps, topping each with the dressed salad, approx ¼ cup chickpeas per wrap and other veg as desired.

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Cost:

Without optional extras (tomatoes, onion, avocado etc) £0.48 per serving.

Dinner – Spaghetti Bolognese (serves four)

Need I say more than: PASTA PASTA PASTA!!

NOTE: I’m a faulted individual, and yet again I may have mildly messed up… I used Quorn mince which IS NOT vegan, but the alternative is simply Sainsbury’s own meat-free mince (also hella cheaper).

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You will need:

– 600g vegetarian mince. I’ve based this recipe off Quorn mince (NOTE: Sainsbury’s own brand frozen veggie mince is vegan, but Quorn frozen mince is veggie as they use rehydrated egg white).

– 1 onion

– 1 carrot

– 250g mushrooms (if you’re a mushroom hater you can replace with courgette, celery, etc).

– 2 garlic cloves

– 2x 400g Sainsbury’s basic chopped tomatoes

– 1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in around 200ml boiling water (remember you can always add more water but you can’t take it away!)

– Squirt of tomato ketchup

– Squirt of tomato puree

– 2 tsp oregano

– 2 tsp mixed herbs

– ½ tsp dried basil (or garnish with fresh if you’re feeling fancy)

– Salt and pepper to taste (I use more pepper than salt)

– Optional: 1 tsp garlic paste (I like a lot of garlic, okay?!), ½ tsp chilli powder

– PASTA!! Obviously spag bol conventionally uses spaghetti, but as I didn’t have any I used roughly 100g of bow tie pasta.

Note: Quorn mince absorbs a lot more flavour than Sainsbury’s own so adjust herbs, spices and garlic depending on what you use!

Note: if you have some red wine lying about, add it in! Always makes spag bowls, chillis, curries, gravies etc taste so much better!

Method:

1. Chop/grate all your veg.

2. Heat around 1 tbsp oil in a pan on a moderate-high heat and fry the onion, garlic and herbs until the onion starts to become soft (around 5 mins). Then, add the pepper, mushrooms and carrot (only if you chopped instead of grating), cooking for a further 3-5 mins.

3. Add the carrot (if grated), chopped tomatoes, stock cube, tomato ketchup, tomato puree and your choice of mince to the pan, bringing it to the boil. Once bubbling, turn the heat down and cover, let simmer for 10-15 mins.

4. When you think it’s nearly done, try it! Add more herbs or garlic to your taste.

5. Put some pasta on while the Bolognese finishes cooking and voila! HINT: that wine you added to the sauce earlier would look great in a glass in your hand right about now.

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Cost:

I've added 20p on for garlic and herbs used throughout the whole batch (which is probably generous anyway), so using Quorn mince this works out at £1.63 a portion, and Sainsbury's own meat-free mince totals at £1.10!

Dessert – Single serve choc chip cookie

Baking for yourself at uni is sometimes tricky so it can often be tempting to buy pre-made desserts that are packed full of saturated fat and sugar. Comfort food is 100 per cent needed and the sugar is mostly from the banana, so you can eat cookies guilt free.

You will need:

– 50g oats

– 1 banana

– 1 tbsp vegan butter or coconut oil (or regular butter if not vegan)

– Sprinkle of cinnamon

– 20-25g chopped chocolate of choice (I used Sainsbury’s dark, basics)

Method:

1. Blend oats and banana using a food processor/ blender

2. Melt your butter/ coconut oil and add the oat-banana mix to it

3. Sprinkle as much cinnamon as you like (I use around 1tsp) and stir in the chopped chocolate

4. Put cookie mix on parchment paper on a microwave and oven save plate, microwaving for approx 1.5mins

5. You can either eat the cookie like this, however I prefer it slightly crispier on the outside so put it in the oven for a few more minutes until crisped to your satisfaction!

Cost:

These cookies work out at roughly £0.75, but they are huge so can easily be halved!

You may have reached the end and thought, 'meh seems like a lot of effort to cook, Dominoes it is!' BUT think of it this way: if you eat well, stay hydrated and take your vitamins you'll have less chance of catching Freshers' Flu, i.e. you can sesh your way through freshers week and beyond! Enjoy!