Spending too much money on your weekly food shop? If so and you’d like to start saving instead of spending, try out these 4 cheap, easy to make but tasty vegetarian alternatives to meat. They taste just as good and cost a lot less!

Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese

Packed full of protein, lentils are not only really healthy, but are a tasty and cheaper substitute to the minced beef or pork you’d usually find in a classic spag bol. You can pick up a 500g bag for a fraction over £1 at most supermarkets. Go on, give it a go and let us know what you think.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • tbsp. olive oil
  • tbsp. Italian herbs
  • tbsp. Tomato puree
  • 400g Red split/puy lentils
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 300g dried spaghetti
  • Grated cheddar or parmesan

1. Rinse and drain the lentils and set aside

2. Thinly dice 1 onion, 1 peeled carrot and fry in a large frying or saucepan on a medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil for 5-10 minutes, or until onions turn soft and brown. Don’t let them burn!

3. Add to the mix some chopped garlic, a generous pinch of Italian herbs such as oregano and cook for another minute

4. Add a tablespoon of tomato puree and stir in the lentils

5. Tip in a can of tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock, stir well and bring to the boil

6. Turn down the heat and cook on a gentle simmer for around 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils become tender and the ragu is rich and saucy

7. When the ragu has cooked for around 15 minutes, add the pasta to a separate pan of boiling, salted water and cook for around 8-10 minutes

8. Drain the pasta and add to the ragu. Mix well and serve with some grated cheese…Yum!

Top tip. Always add the drained pasta to the sauce – you’ll get a much better coating.

Chunky veggie soup

There aren’t many more warming or hearty dishes than a lovely bowl of chunky vegetable soup. Granted it’s a little tastier and satisfying with some lamb or beef added in for the average meat eater (vegetarians pardoned), but when the purse strings are tight it’s a sure-fire winner to a hungry belly – you won’t be disappointed.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • Selection of vegetables (carrots, potatoes, leeks, onions, swede, parsnips)
  • 1 sprig of thyme (or tbsp. dried)
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method

1. Peel and roughly chop a selection of vegetables and add to a large saucepan

2. Add some sprigs of thyme (or dried will do)

3. Add 800ml of vegetable stock (use 2 cubes if you have them) and bring to the boil

4. Season with salt, pepper

5. Once boiling, turn down the heat and gently simmer for up to an hour

6. If mixture boils down too much, add a little more stock

7. Once vegetables are properly cooked through, turn off heat, serve in large bowls and enjoy with crusty bread and butter

Top tip. Don’t throw away your vegetable peelings. Boil them up and gently simmer for around 30 mins. Then strain the liquid in a sieve or colander to make a tasty vegetable stock for next time around.

Cauliflower curry

A delicious curry doesn’t always require a meat such as chicken or lamb, which can be quite expensive. A veggie curry using cauliflower goes a long way and is equally as tasty – it’s also healthier and costs less than a chicken tikka or lamb madras. Give this recipe a try! You could also use only chickpeas or even lentils if cauliflower isn’t your cup of tea.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • tsp. ground cinnamon
  • tsp. ground cumin
  • tsp. turmeric
  • tsp. ground black pepper
  • tsp. hot paprika
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 250g washed spinach
  • Natural yoghurt (if desired)

Method

1. Chop the cauliflower into florets and cook in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Reserve around 150ml of the water for later use

2. Thinly chop the onion, garlic and chilli and gently fry on a medium heat for around 5-10 minutes (or until onions turn soft and brown)

3. Mix spices in a pestle and mortar (or in a small bowl) and add to the oniony, garlicy and spicy mix. Gently fry on a low heat for another 2-3 minutes and stir

4. If spices start to burn, add a dash of water

5. Drain chickpeas and add to mix. Add the cauliflower into the mix with the remaining water and simmer for 10mins

6. Add spinach and cook for around a minute until spinach becomes wilted

7. Serve in bowls and enjoy with some naan bread and/or pappadums

Top tip. If you haven’t got the spices to hand (they can be expensive to buy individually), use any pre-made curry spice mix from the supermarket.

Tomato, red pepper and butter bean soup

This tasty, refreshing dish comes straight from the Mediterranean and will set your taste buds alight. It’s surprising what you can do with just a few simple and really inexpensive ingredients from the supermarket or local market to really satisfy your stomach – this one will go a really long way too.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 2/3 large red peppers
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 3 gloves of garlic
  • Oregano (other Italian herbs)
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • Can of butter beans
  • A splodge of single cream (if desired)
  • tbsp. olive oil

1. Roughly chop red peppers, tomatoes, onion and cloves of garlic. Place in a large saucepan and add the olive oil.

2. Add the oregano and cook on a high heat until peppers start to char (around 3-4 mins)

3. Reduce heat and add 500ml of hot vegetable stock to the mix

4. Season with salt and pepper and gently simmer for around 10-15 minutes

5. Take off the heat and add mixture to a blender. Blend until mixture is smooth (a few bits of pulp will remain – sieve them out if you wish)

6. Pour liquid back into the saucepan and add a can of butter beans

7. Gently simmer for another 3-4 minutes

8. Spoon into a big bowl and enjoy with a drop of cream and some crusty bread

If any of these recipes tickle your fancy, give them a go and let us know how you get on Facebook or Twitter – you’ll be thanking us for saving you a few pounds.