In the eyes of many, the vegan diet gets a bad rap. This is especially true in college. People say it’s too expensive or too much of a hassle to even bother attempting. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, with the right resources and a little help from a few of my own recipes, finding yummy yet inexpensive vegan meal ideas just got more accessible.

All of the ingredients used in these recipes can be found at your local grocery store.


Breakfast Quinoa:

Breakfast quinoa with raspberries and banana. Image Source: Lily Merriman

Quinoa is typically thought of as a savory dish for lunch or dinner but is overlooked as a morning meal. It’s high in protein, fiber, and important minerals like iron and magnesium. Quinoa also happens to be tasty, filling, and incredibly simple to make. All of these qualities combined make for the ideal start to any busy college student’s morning.


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 tbs agave (maple syrup also works!)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • splash of non-dairy milk
  • a handful of fruit (raspberries, banana, strawberries, etc.)
  • salt

Simply mix together all ingredients, lightly salt to bring out the flavor, and enjoy!



Fresh garlic hummus with tomato slices and basil. Image Source: Lily Merriman

Hummus is a nutritious pick me up, perfect for that post-coffee crash when fuel is needed for those next few classes but it’s not quite time for a lunch break. To keep it simple, consider picking up packaged hummus from a local grocery store. Paired with pretzels and veggies of your choice, you can’t really go wrong. If you happen to have just a bit of extra time on your hands and would like to learn how to make your own, this is the recipe for you.


  • 1 can uncooked chickpeas (drained)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic

Combine ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. And you’re done! Eat with pita bread, pretzels, carrots, celery, cauliflower or anything else you can think up. The options are endless.



Gnocchi with toppings (left) beside plain gnocchi with olive oil. Image Source: Lily Merriman

Gnocchi is an Italian dish, traditionally served in place of pasta or soup. Although the cooking process is similar to that of pasta (heat in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes and drain), it’s actually a dumpling made primarily of potato. There are many ways to prepare gnocchi, but it’s best with simple ingredients.


  • 3/4 cup gnocchi
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • one half small onion
  • one half avocado
  • one small tomato
  • fresh basil leaves
  • seasoning salt
  • garlic powder

Boil 4 cups water on high heat. Once boiling, add gnocchi and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until all dumplings float to the top. Remove from heat and drain. Heat 2 tbs olive oil on medium heat. Once hot, add onion and cook until brown. Add onions to gnocchi once cooked. Top with diced tomato, avocado, 1 tbs olive oil, seasoning salt, garlic powder and fresh basil leaves to taste. Mix and enjoy!


Baked Sweet Potato with Garlic Hummus and Avocado:

Baked sweet potato with garlic hummus and avocado. Image Source: Lily Merriman

Sweet potatoes are packed with just about all the nutrients a college student could need after long days of often stressful and draining work. They’ve got essential nutrients like carbohydrates, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B, C and A. They are also low in sugar and saturated fat. At an average of only 99 cents per pound, sweet potatoes are extremely affordable. Follow this recipe for a simple alternative to your traditional baked potato.


  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt
  • paprika
  • turmeric
  • pepper
  • 2 tbs garlic hummus
  • one half avocado

First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Poke sweet potato with knife or fork and rub with 1 tbs olive oil. Cover in tin foil and place on baking tray. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until soft. Once baked, remove sweet potato from the tray and cut in half. Mash very lightly with a fork. Add hummus (prepackaged or homemade) and avocado. Top with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle salt, paprika, turmeric and pepper to taste.


Oreos! Despite what you may assume, this classic American cookie is actually 100% vegan. Sometimes, even a day’s worth of freshly cooked meals just can’t beat the taste of a cookie dipped in your choice of non-dairy milk. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and chances are you’ve already got a package sitting in your pantry waiting to be devoured.

For a full list of foods you wouldn’t think are vegan, go to