Quick and Easy
      Low-Cost Vegan Menus

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD


Quick Links to article contents:
Low-Cost and Easy-to-Prepare Menus for Men and Women, ages 19-50 (Introduction)
Day 1 Menu
Day 2 Menu
Day 3 Menu
Day 4 Menu
Low-Cost and Easy-to-Prepare Menus for Men and Women Over the Age of 50 (Introduction)
Day 1 Menu
Day 2 Menu
Day 3 Menu
Contact Information for the Companies Listed on these Meal Plans

Many of us would like to spend less time cooking. If you know what to buy and have some quick-to-prepare ideas, you can have "convenience food" on a budget. We've developed menus using a combination of easy-to-fix meals that are quick, inexpensive, and healthful.

The first set of menus was devised to meet the needs of those aged 19-50 years. The menus for women have around 2,200 calories per day, while the men's menus are around 2,500 calories. If you are very active, you will need more calories. You have several choices; you can eat more of the foods already on the menus, or you can add your favorite foods. Conversely, if you are not very active or wish to lose excess weight, you will need fewer calories. In that case, we recommend cutting out some of the "extras," like margarine, chips, desserts, and vegan mayonnaise.

The menus were planned to meet the average person's needs for most nutrients over a week-long period. Although these menus provide generous amounts of iron, women may require additional iron in the form of a supplement.

We used specific brand names of foods but have included information on other foods that can be substituted if you don't care for a particular item.

We were curious about how costly these menus would be. The average cost for one day's food for a man was a bit over $6 using conventional fruits and vegetables and around $8 using all organic products. The average cost for one day's food for a woman was around $5.50 using conventional fruits and vegetables and almost $7.50 using all organic products. Pricing was done in the winter in New England, so costs may vary depending on the season and your location. If you want to reduce food costs even more, you can buy products when they are on sale; see if your supermarket will offer case discounts for items you use often, like soymilk. Also, consider buying store brands instead of name brands, use coupons, and choose fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Note: In all the menus Soy Dream Enriched soymilk can be replaced with Silk soymilk or any other calcium-fortified soymilk that provides at least 25% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin D and 20% of the DV for vitamin B12 in an 8-ounce serving.

Day 1
for men and women, ages 19-50

Breakfast:

  • 1 bagel with 2 teaspoons vegan margarine
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 cup Cheerios cereal
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk

Lunch:

  • Sandwich of hummus made with 3/4 cup chickpeas and 2 teaspoons tahini on 2 slices of whole wheat bread with 3 slices of tomato
    (Men can eat 2 sandwiches using same amount of hummus and tomatoes, along with 4 slices of whole wheat bread.)
  • 1 medium apple

Dinner:

  • 1 cup of cooked pasta with 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup carrot sticks
  • 1 cup cooked broccoli (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 whole wheat roll
    (Men eat 2 rolls with 2 teaspoons vegan margarine.)
  • a juice pop made with 1 cup frozen grape juice

Snack:

  • 1/2 cup trail mix (mix of nuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds)
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk

Day One Menu Alternatives:

Cheerios can be replaced with any vegan fortified cereal; however, women should choose one providing 20% of the DV (Daily Value) for iron or more per cup.


Day 2
for men and women, ages 19-50

Breakfast:

  • 1/2 cup calcium-fortified orange juice
    (Men should consume 1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice.)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 slices whole wheat toast with 1 Tablespoon nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.)
  • 1 cup Wheat Chex cereal
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk

Lunch:

  • 1 bowl of Fantastic Foods Big Bowl of Noodles and Hot and Sour Soup,
  • 10 saltines with 1 Tablespoon nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.)
    (Men should use 2 Tablespoons nut butter.)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1/2 cup carrot sticks

Dinner:

  • 1 Morningstar Farms Harvest Burger on a bun with a large slice of tomato
  • 1 medium baked potato (Men should eat 1 large baked potato.)

Snack:

  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk
  • 1 cup kidney beans mixed with 1 Tablespoon salsa served with 1 ounce lowfat tortilla chips

Day Two Menu Alternatives:

Wheat Chex can be replaced with any vegan fortified cereal; however, women need to choose a cereal providing at least 20% of the DV for iron or more per cup.

Fantastic Foods Big Bowl of Noodles and Hot and Sour Soup can be replaced with any soup/entrée cup providing 250-300 calories/cup; however, women should choose any soup/entrée cup providing at least 8% of the DV for iron per serving, such as Health Valley Pasta Italiano Soup or Health Valley Lentil with Couscous Soup.

Morningstar Farms Harvest Burger can be replaced with any vegan burger; however, women should choose a burger providing at least 15% of the DV for iron, such as 2 Whole Foods Vegan Burgers.


Day 3
for men and women, ages 19-50

Breakfast:

  • 1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Scrambled tofu: 1/2 cup tofu
  • 1/4 cup onions, and 1 teaspoon oil
    (Men should use 2 teaspoons oil.)
  • 2 slices whole wheat toast with 2 teaspoons vegan margarine

Lunch:

  • Sandwich made with 1 large pita bread
  • 1/4 cup shredded lettuce, 1/4 cup chopped tomato,
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot, 1 Tablespoon Naysoya Nayonaise
    (Men should have 1-1/2 large whole wheat pitas along with the other ingredients.)
  • Fantastic Foods Country Lentil Soup cup
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk

Dinner:

  • 1/2 cup kidney beans with 1 cup cooked quick brown rice and 2 Tablespoons salsa
    (Men should use 3/4 cup kidney beans and add 1 Garden of Eatin' whole wheat tortilla.)
  • 1 cup frozen mashed squash
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce

Snack:

  • 1/2 cup trail mix (mix of nuts, raisins and sunflower seeds)
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk

Day Three Menu Alternatives:

Naysoya Nayonaise can be replaced with any vegan spread providing 25-50 calories, or it can be omitted. Fantastic Foods Country Lentil Soup can be replaced with any soup cup providing 200-300 calories, such as Fantastic Foods Cha-Cha Chili, Black Bean Soup, Split Pea Soup, Couscous with Lentils Soup, or Five Beans Soup; or Health Valley Black Beans Soup or Chili; however, women should choose a soup with at least 30% of the DV for iron.

Garden of Eatin' whole wheat tortilla can be replaced with any tortilla providing 125-150 calories; however, women should choose a brand providing 6% of the DV for iron.


Day 4
for men and women, ages 19-50

Breakfast:

  • 1-1/2 cups cooked quick oats with 3 Tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dates
  • 1 ounce chopped walnuts
    (Men should use 2 instead of 3 Tablespoons wheat germ.)
  • 1 cup diced cantaloupe
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk
    (Men should add 2 slices whole wheat toast with 1 Tablespoon nut butter.)

Lunch:

  • Burrito with 1 Garden of Eatin' whole wheat tortilla
  • 1/2 cup black beans, and 1 Tablespoon salsa
  • 1 ounce lowfat tortilla chips with 1/4 cup salsa
    (Men should add 1 medium apple.)

Dinner:

  • 6 ounces calcium-fortified V-8 juice
  • Stir-fry with 1/2 cup diced tofu
  • 1 cup frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked quick brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 3 graham crackers

Snack:

  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk
  • 3 cups popped popcorn with 1 Tablespoon Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast

Day Four Menu Alternatives:

Garden of Eatin' whole wheat tortilla can be replaced with any tortilla providing 125-150 calories; however, women should choose a brand providing at least 6% of the DV for iron.


Low-Cost and Easy-to-Prepare Menus
for Men and Women Over the Age of 50

The following menus were devised to meet the needs of men and women aged 51 years and older. The menus for women have around 1,900 calories per day, while the men's menus are around 2,300 calories. If you are very active, you will need more calories. You have several choices; you can eat more of the foods already on the menus, or you can add your favorite foods. Conversely, if you are not very active, you will need fewer calories. In that case, we recommend cutting out some of the "extras," like margarine, chips, desserts, and vegan mayonnaise.

The menus were planned to meet the average person's needs for most nutrients over a week-long period. We recommend a vitamin D supplement (5 micrograms for people aged 51-70 years, 10 micrograms for those over age 70) if your sunlight exposure is limited.

We used specific brand names of foods but have included information on other foods that can be substituted if you don't care for a particular item.

We were curious about how costly these menus would be. The average cost for one day's food for a man was a bit over $5.50 using conventional fruits and vegetables and around $7.70 using all organic products. The average cost for one day's food for a woman was around $5.00 using conventional fruits and vegetables and almost $6.40 using all organic products. Pricing was done in the winter in New England, so costs may vary depending on the season and your location. If you want to reduce food costs even more, you can buy products when they are on sale; see if your supermarket will offer case discounts for items you use often, like soymilk. Also, consider buying store brands instead of name brands, use coupons, and choose fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Note: Not all products will be available in all areas. Possible alternatives for some products are listed. In all the menus, Soy Dream Enriched soymilk can be replaced with Silk soymilk or any other calcium-fortified soymilk that provides at least 25% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin D and 20% of the DV for vitamin B12 in an 8-ounce serving.

Day 1
for men and women, ages 51+

Breakfast:

  • 1 English muffin with 1 Tablespoon jelly
    (Men should use 1/2 Tablespoon jelly.)
  • 1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice
    (Men can substitute 1 cup grape juice.)

Lunch:

  • Baked tofu made with 4 ounces tofu with 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 large sweet potato
    (Men should also add 1 ounce walnuts and 1/4 cup raisins.)

Dinner:

  • 2 Yves the Good Dogs
    (Men add 2 vegan buns.)
  • 1 cup vegetarian baked beans
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked fresh or frozen kale
  • 2 tomato slices
  • 1 baked apple (medium apple
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan granulated sweetener)
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk

Snack:

  • 1 ounce walnuts and 1/4 cup raisins
    (Men substitute 1 bagel for the walnuts and raisins.)
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk

Day One Menu Alternatives:

Yves the Good Dogs can be replaced with any veggie dogs providing 150-175 calories and 26 or more grams of protein, such as 3 Yves Veggie Dogs or 2 Lightlife Jumbos.


Day 2
for men and women, ages 51+

Breakfast:

  • 1 cup Wheat Chex cereal with 1 medium peach, sliced
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast
    (Men eat 2 slices.)

Lunch:

  • 1 sandwich made with 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 Tablespoons nut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon jelly
    (Men should make 1-1/2 sandwiches using 3 slices of whole wheat bread, 3 Tablespoons nut butter, and 1 Tablespoon jelly.)
  • 1/3 cup carrot sticks
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk

Dinner:

  • 1/2 cup kidney beans with 1 cup cooked pasta and 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 Garden of Eatin' whole wheat tortilla
  • 1 medium orange, and 1 cup cooked fresh or frozen collard greens
    (Men substitute 6 ounces Whole Soy fruited yogurt for the greens.)

Snack:

  • 1/4 cup roasted, unsalted soynuts
    (Men add 1/2 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk.)

Day Two Menu Alternatives:

Wheat Chex can be replaced with any vegan fortified cereal. Garden of Eatin' whole wheat tortilla can be replaced with any tortilla providing 125-150 calories. Men, Whole Soy fruited yogurt can be replaced with any vegan yogurt providing 120-170 calories and 4 or more grams of protein per serving, such as White Wave Silk Cultured Soy.


Day 3
for men and women, ages 51+

Breakfast:

  • 1-1/2 cups cooked quick oats with 2 Tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1 English muffin
    (Men eat 2 muffins.)
  • 1/2 cup calcium-fortified apple juice

Lunch:

  • Sandwich made with 2 slices whole wheat bread, 2 ounces Yves Veggie Bologna Slices
  • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce, and 2 slices tomato
    (Men add 1 Tablespoon Naysoya Nayonaise.)
  • 1 wedge watermelon
  • 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk

Dinner:

  • 1/2 cup chickpeas with 1 Tablespoon tahini on 1-1/2 cups cooked couscous
    (Men add 3/4 cup cooked green peas.)
  • Smoothie made with 1 cup Soy Dream Enriched soymilk, 3 ounces soft tofu, 1 medium frozen banana, 1/2 cup strawberries, and 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
    (Men add 1 whole wheat roll.)

Snack:

  • Hummus made with 1/4 cup chickpeas and 1 teaspoon tahini
    (Men use 1/3 cup chickpeas plus 1 teaspoon tahini.)
  • 1/3 cup carrot sticks
  • 1/2 cup celery sticks
    (Men eat 1 cup celery.)

Day Three Menu Alternatives:

Yves Veggie Bologna Slices can be replaced with any deli slice providing 50-100 calories and 12 or more grams of protein per serving, such as as Lightlife's Smart Deli Bologna Style (4 slices), Yves Veggie Salami Slices (4 slices), or Vegi-Deli Chicken Style slices (1 ounce). Men, Naysoya Nayonaise can be replaced with any vegan spread providing 25-50 calories, or it can be omitted.


Contact Information for the Companies Listed on these Meal Plans

You can get more information about the products in the menus by contacting the companies below.

Boca (veggie burgers); www.bocaburger.com

Fantastic Foods (soup cups, cereal cups); www.fantasticfoods.com

Garden of Eatin' (tortillas); (800) 333-5244; www.gardenofeatin.com

Gardenburger (veggie burger); www.gardenburger.com

General Mills (Cheerios, Wheat Chex); www.generalmills.com

Health Valley (soup cups); (800) 334-3204; www.healthvalley.com

Imagine Foods (Soy Dream, pudding cups, pocket sandwiches, frozen dessert); (800) 333-6339; www.imaginefoods.com

Lightlife (veggie burger, veggie deli slices); (800) 274-6001; (Tofurky deli slices); www.lightlife.com

Morningstar Farms (Harvest Burger); www.morningstarfarms.com

Nasoya (baked tofu, Nayonaise); (800) 229-8638; www.nasoya.com

Red Star (Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast); (800) 558-7279; www.redstaryeast.com

Turtle Island Foods (800) 508-8100; www.tofurky.com Vegi-Deli, (deli slices); (888) 473-3667; www.vegideli.com

White Wave (baked tofu, Silk soymilk and yogurt); (800) 488-9283; www.whitewave.com

Whole Foods (veggie burgers, frozen desserts); www.wholefoodsmarket.com

Whole Soy (yogurt); www.wholesoycom.com

Yves (breakfast "meats," veggie dogs, veggie deli slices); (800) 667-9837; www.yvesveggie.com