Eating Vegan; the Trendy way to Save Money


What Can Students Do?

Arron Riffle, Reporter

Most college students and most adults in general have come the end of the month or even the beginning and realized that their finances are going to be spread paper thin until next payday. In moments like those where saving $20 can either make your month or break it, finding a healthy solution can be a lifesaver. Instead of succumbing to malnutrition from endless packages of roman noodles an easy solution is to eat vegan. Making your own vegan meals can reduce meal costs to less than $2.00 a meal and meet your nutritional needs.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutritionconducted a study on the cost of food and the energy density of different food types. In the study grains, dry beans, legumes, nuts and seeds provided more energy density at an average lower cost than meat, eggs, or milk and milk products. This means that when it comes to getting your daily calories dry beans and grains gives consumers more bang for their buck. Therefore, eating vegan can be cheaper than a non-vegan diet.

To define exactly what eating vegan is I reached out to a vegan and college student Marissa Riffle, freshman and liberal arts major.

“Veganism is not consuming or using any animal by products,” said Riffle, “products like milk, eggs, cheese and definitely not meat.”

There are multiple reasons to become a veganfrom trying to live a healthier lifestyle to ethical issues over the treatment of animals.

“I’m vegan for my health and for the animals,” said Riffle. “The cruelty within the industry is heart breaking and completely unnecessary. I don’t want to play a part in any animals suffering especially when it would only damage my health as well. It just doesn’t make sense to not be vegan. I feel better after I eat, I don’t feel so bogged down and lethargic.”

In addition to feeling better the economic impact of eating vegan is less than a meat-based diet.

“I spend a lot less money than I did before. It’s crazy how expensive cheese and meat can be. I buy lentils, quinoa, and things like that in bulk now so, it definitely saves a lot of money.”

I went shopping with Riffle at a local grocery store, Sprouts, to see just how far a dollar can be stretched. Sprouts is a farmer’s market grocery store that specializes in local and organic foods. Sprouts also has dried food items and spices in bulk so you only need to buy the amount you need, usually at a cheaper unit price than most other grocers. The nearest Sprouts is 3.7 miles from Park University at 6061 NW 64thStreet, Kansas City, Mo.

At Sprouts Riffle collected the ingredients to make three meals; a breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“We are going to meal prep oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, a chickpea noodle soup for lunch and some red lentil street tacos for dinner,” said Riffle.

Off we went to buy the ingredients:

Bulk lentils; 1.14 pounds of red lentils, $2.04

Bulk lentils
Arron Riffle
Bulk lentils; 1.14 pounds of red lentils, $2.04

Organic vegetable broth; $1.99

Organic Vegetable broth
Arron Riffle
Organic vegetable broth; $1.99

After 30 minutes in the store we had all we needed. The total $31.66 plus $3.69 for .74 pounds of pumpkin seeds we had to go back for, the grand total $35.35. $35.35 to make an estimated 21 meals equals $1.68 per meal or $5.04 a day for three meals a day.

Fresh and affordable vegan ingredients
Arron Riffle
Fresh and affordable vegan ingredients



With everything we needed in hand into the kitchen we went.



Shopping receipts
Arron Riffle
With everything we needed in hand into the kitchen we went.

Red Lentil Street Tacos:


1 ½ cups dry red lentils

2 cans black beans

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 onion

2 tomatoes

1 jalapeño

1 fist full of cilantro

1 tablespoon taco seasoning

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ tablespoon garlic power

1 package of street taco tortillas


  • Boil 5 cups of water in a large sauce pan.
  • Rinse 1 ½ cups of lentils and add to boiling water.
  • Cook lentils for about 20 minutes or until lentils are soft.
  • Drain and put in pan mix with 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and ½ tablespoon garlic power.
  • Add 1 cup of water mix and let simmer while prepping vegetables
  • Cut 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, and ½ an onion into strips, lightly fry in pan with a small amount of water.
  • Open 2 cans of black beans rinse in water and heat in a frying pan until warm.
  • Dice 2 tomatoes, 1 jalapeno, ½ onion, and 1 fist full of cilantro and mix together in a bowl to make Pico de gallo.

Serving: take a street taco sized tortilla add lentils, black beans, top with fried vegetables and Pico de gallo.

Fresh and affordable vegan ingredients
Fresh and affordable vegan ingredients

Chickpea Noodle Soup:


2 cans of chickpeas

2 celery stalks

2 large carrots

1 carton of vegetable broth

½ package of wheat spaghetti noodles

½ onion

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper



  • Open 2 cans of chickpeas and rinse in water, season as desired, place evenly on a cooking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Dice ½ onion, 2 large carrots, and 2 celery stalks.
  • Place onions in a large pot and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft. Add carrots and celery and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Add one carton of vegetable broth to pot, four cups of water, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper to pot of simmering vegetables.
  • Cook ½ package of wheat spaghetti noodles per instructions on package.
  • Add cooked noodles and chickpeas to large pot of soup.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

    Chickpea noodle soup
    Arron Riffle
    Chickpea noodle soup

Serving: ladle 2 cups of soup into bowl and enjoy.


Oatmeal with fruit:


½ cup dried quick oats

1 banana

3 strawberries

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds



  • Add ½ cup dried quick oats and 1 cup water to sauce pan. Simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Pour oatmeal into bowl.
  • Cut 1 banana and 3 strawberries into slices, mash ½ of the banana into oatmeal to sweeten. Add remaining slices to top of oatmeal
  • Add 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds on top of sliced fruit.

Serving: ingredients makes one bowl of oatmeal.

Oatmeal with fruit
Arron Riffle
Oatmeal with fruit


Concerned about how these meals would meet the dietary needs of an average person I inputted the meals into a nutrition tracking website Cronometer.  Having all three meals in a day would provide 1,609.6 calories, 277.8 grams of carbohydrates, 62.8 grams of protein and 35.4 grams of fats. Although, these numbers are below the recommended dietary intakes they are more nutritious than roman noodles or fast food options.

Finally, being a hungry college student can be embarrassing, but by choosing to eat vegan not only would you save money, but improve your reputation because veganism is becoming a popular trend among younger audiences.

“I think veganism is definitely gaining popularity,” said Riffle. “I think society as a whole is becoming more aware of the effects we have on the environment.” So, before you go to McDonalds or reach for a cup of roman noodles, try eating vegan because poor college students don’t have to eat poor.