Since starting a budget, I wanted a cheap, quick, protein packed vegetarian / vegan lunch. Below is how I made a lunch that is £1.34 a day, 659 calories, 43g of protein, and can be made either vegetarian or vegan.
Cheap: Dave Ramsey talks about rice and beans, beans and rice. So I thought I would try and make a reasonably balanced rice and bean meal.
Quick/Batches: It takes about 40 minutes to cook, prepare and clean up for 5 meals.
High protein: As I am still fasting in the mornings, lunch is the first thing I eat after a workout. Therefore my lunch has to be reasonably high in calories and protein. Each of these lunches has 660 calories and 43g of protein.
Vegan/vegetarian: One of my goals is to become vegetarian this year, and vegan in the future. I’ve started by cutting out red meat. So I wanted my lunch to be as vegetarian as possible. In fact, until I started adding cottage cheese, this meal was entirely vegan.
Here are the details:
The carbohydrate base for the meal is 60g of brown basmati rice. As the flavours in this meal are all quite subtle, I really recommend going with brown rice rather than white as the nutty flavour really stands out. You could replace this with quinoa or cous cous, but I like rice for it’s protein content. It’s also very cheap: the price of a 1kg bag in Sainsburys is £1.70, so 60g works out at 10p per day. For five days of rice you want to cook 300g of rice, which takes about 20 minutes.
In a bowl I mix 5 tins of beans/pulses: kidney beans, baked beans, butter beans, lentils and chickpeas. You can mix and match these and try others: I sometimes use black-eyed beans and cannellini beans. Each tin is 55p in Sainsbury’s, so as we’re dividing it among 5 meals, that’s 55p a day.
For texture, I add a tablespoon (20g) of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. A kilo bag of pumpkin seeds is £11.99, and a kilo bag of sunflower seeds is £6.29. So combined seed cost per day is 36p.
I cook the rice, then wash it with cold water and allow it to drain. I dish out in 5 lunch containers, then add the seeds and the bean mix.
I then add about 80g of frozen peas – cost of about 12p.
The containers can now go in the freezer. They defrost easily overnight.
In the morning I add 100g of cottage cheese, which works out at about 21p per day.
Alternatively, if you want to keep this vegan, I have in the past just added steamed veg (broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower). However the veg doesn’t keep very well so I recommend cooking the veg the day before, putting it in the fridge, then adding it to your lunch in the morning.
Total: 10p + 55p + 36p + 12p + 21p = £1.34 a day.
The macros for this meal are as follows:
Calories: 659. Fat: 24g. Saturated Fat: 4.4g. Carbohydrate: 61g. Sugars: 10g. Protein: 43g.
All in all, a practical, easy lunch that you can prep quickly on a weekend for a full week of protein punch. If you try it, I’d love to know what you think in the comments!