How to Prepare a Vegetarian Thanksgiving Meal on a Budget

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to cook. But maybe you want to change it up this year and add a few more plant-based dishes to your holiday menu. Because whether it’s for your health, the environment, or personal reasons, eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains is one of the best things you can do for your body and the planet.

But eating more plant-based foods is actually pretty good for your wallet, too. And with everything being a little more expensive this year—including food, it’s a great opportunity to learn some reliable, budget-friendly recipes that you can turn to at any time.  Plant-based ingredients like beans (canned and dried), lentils, grains, frozen vegetables, salad greens, pasta, peanut butter (the pantry staple that makes everything taste better), broth/bouillon, and polenta are all excellent, affordable options for holiday feasts.

Other Quick Cost-Saving Shopping Tips

  • Shop alone (no extra requests from the family)
  • Stock up on sales
  • Skip name brands
  • Buy in bulk
  • Buy frozen when possible
  • Look online for specialty ingredients
  • Buy seasonal ingredients
  • Prep your own produce vs pricier precut

All of these foods are incredibly versatile, capable of being transformed into a number of different dishes like hearty stews and salads to yummy side dishes and snacks.  Many can even perform the role of main course, like a vegan meatloaf, deep dish polenta pizza, and roasted parsnip and spinach shepherd’s pie.

This Monday, get creative in the kitchen and see how you can use plant-based ingredients to prepare a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal on a budget.

5-Minute Creamed Corn

It will only take you a few minutes (and a few dollars) to make this yummy version of creamed corn. This recipe from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken is totally plant-based, but you can adapt it based on whatever dairy (or non-dairy) products you have at home.

For the 5-Minute Creamed Corn recipe, click here.

Carrot Mac and “Cheese”

Cross utilizing ingredients (using the same ingredient in a number of dishes) is a terrific way to keep your food costs reasonable. This creative recipe from Simply Vegan Blog uses carrots and potatoes—ingredients you likely already have on hand—to create a smooth, dairy-free macaroni and cheese sauce. Using vegetables instead of dairy can also help boost the nutritional profile of typically “unhealthy” dishes.

For the Carrot Mac and “Cheese” recipe, click here.

Creamy Coconut Pumpkin Pie

This recipe for pumpkin pie from Loving It Vegan gets its extra decadent flare from a can of full-fat coconut milk. Fold in some brown sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and a little bit of cornstarch, and you’ve got yourself the ultimate Thanksgiving dessert.

For the Creamy Coconut Pumpkin Pie recipe, click here.

Easy Vegan Wild Rice Stuffing

A Thanksgiving spread is judged not on the quality of its turkey, but rather the quality of its stuffing. We scoured the internet to find the most satisfying stuffing recipe available. Chopped mushrooms, wild rice, bell peppers, vegetable bouillon, plant-based sausage (some plant-based sausage can get pricey, but you can make your own for a lot less using this recipe), cubed up bread, and Thanksgiving seasonings — fennel, garlic, parsley, fresh rosemary — make this stuffing simply irresistible.

For the Easy Vegan Wild Rice Stuffing recipe, click here.

Mushroom Gravy

Let’s not kid ourselves, you can never have enough gravy. This recipe for mushroom gravy from Love and Lemons captures all the meatiness and silky-smooth texture of traditional gravy using tamari, cremini mushrooms, and vegetable broth instead of beef or chicken stock. Make a jug of this stuff and pour it over everything.

For the Mushroom Gravy recipe, click here.

No-Meat Meatloaf

Let your no-meat meatloaf take center stage this holiday season. With a base of chickpeas, this recipe from Nora Cooks is an awesome and affordable alternative to a big bird or red meat.   After it’s covered with a tangy ketchup glaze and baked in the oven; its look and texture will be indistinguishable from its meaty counterpart.

For the No-Meat Meatloaf recipe, click here.

Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

You can’t have a true Thanksgiving meal without a side-dish of creamy mashed potatoes. Budget Bytes recommends using olive oil to give your potatoes a richness and smooth texture without having to use heavier ingredients like butter or cream. The best part is, the whole recipe costs only a few dollars.

For the Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, click here.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Rosemary

Both elegant and comforting, Brussels sprouts are the ultimate holiday side-dish. They’re also really easy to make taste delicious and not that pricey. All you need for this recipe from Holy Cow Vegan is a blend of garlic, rosemary, spices, and olive oil and a hot oven.

For the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Rosemary recipe, click here.

Roasted Moroccan Carrots

Carrots give you one of the best bangs for your buck, but they’re also a breeze to prepare and make delicious. This recipe for roasted carrots from Feasting at Home is just the right amount of sweet, heat, and spice, using cumin, orange zest, Aleppo chile, and cinnamon.

For the Moroccan Carrots recipe, click here.

Streuseled Sweet Potatoes

This recipe from Budget Bytes is a simpler version of the classic sweet potato casserole. Although it isn’t loaded with marshmallows, the crunchy walnut topping does contain a sweet combination of brown sugar and cinnamon. Four servings will run you a little less than $3.00.

For the Streuseled Sweet Potatoes recipe, click here.

Click here for more Inexpensive Plant-Based Ingredients That Won’t Go Bad. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.