Meal hacks for busy vegan students

I'm publishing this on Vegan MoFo's 'easy cook meal' day, as this is some scran that I can still manage when I really can't manage too much. I'm also still sticking to my student theme!

When the exams are looming and there's a dissertation due, cooking is pretty much the last thing on a student's mind. If you're an omni student and you don't have the time to spend in the kitchen, you can get your local pizza place to drop off something greasy, or you can just plunder your local supermarket's ready-meal selection. If you're a vegan student though, both of those options aren't likely to be, well, options. 

But, with a bit of creativity, not only can you find decent readymade options, you can also make them tastier, healthier, and cheaper.

Case in point: if you've got a reasonably large supermarket nearby, you might find something like this on the shelves:

Brands like Koh-i-Noor or Ashoka sell cheap and cheerful vegan pouches of food that can just heat and eat. 

Just ripping open the packaging and microwaving the contents is certainly an option, but there are ways to get more out of your ready meal. Those types of meal always have an unnecessary amount of sauce versus vegetables -- which the hungry student can use to their advantage. 

Get out a saucepan, add your saucy vegan meal to it, and then chuck in a couple of handfuls of dry, refridgerated, or frozen soya mince, and some vegetables chopped up small: grated carrots, green beans in 1cm lengths, or frozen peas would all do the trick. 

By the time you've warmed up your curry and made some rice to go with it (make a double portion), you've got a reasonably healthy meal, and you'll have turned your one meal into two. By adding all those extras and making some additional rice, you'll be able to get two dinners out of the one packet, saving you a few quid, and giving you a meal for tomorrow that only requires sticking in the microwave for it to be ready.

You can do a very similar trick with that most student of student foods, packet noodles. You can find vegan packet noodles in most supermarkets - Sainsburys does a couple of kinds for 35p, for example.

If you're lucky enough to be studying at a university in a big city, you'll probably find yourself not too far from a Chinese or other Asian supermarket. They're definitely worth checking out for all the amazing vegan goodies you can find - for example, frozen vegan dumplings. Grab a bag, stick them in the freezer, and the next time you get stuck, you can fish some out and make yourself an effort-free meal.

Case in point: get yourself half a packet of noodles, pour in however much water the packet instructions reckon you need, and then add a some extra veggies - spring onions, greens, carrots, small broccoli florets, whatever - and some of those frozen dumplings. By the time your noodles are cooked through, the dumplings will be warm and tasty, and your veggies are done. You've got a complete meal ahead of you, and you've made both your dumplings and your noodles go further.

If heating something up is a bit much for you, then there is one reliable vegan option for a cold dinner: get yourself down to your nearest Holland and Barrett and check out their own-brand refrigerated stuff.

In their characteristic green and yellow packaging, Holland and Barrett sell loads of pastry based wonders that are suitable for vegans: from porkless pies to meatless Cornish pasties, as well as Jamaican, Italian, Chinese and more inspired delicacies, Holland and Barrett has all sorts of fun stuff.

If you've got a study-heavy period coming up, get a few porkless pies and meat-free sausage rolls, stick them in the freezer, and then when you've not got time to cook, fetch one out and serve it with a salad.

It looks kind of fancy, but this kale, avocado, and fig salad was cheap thanks to my local greengrocer and then porkless pie was bought the last time there was a penny sale at Holland and Barrett for extra cheapness bonus points.


  1. I never thought to look for frozen vegan dumplings in Asian supermarkets - that's a great tip! I'm really jealous that all of your 'thrown-together' meals look so appetising and healthy, unlike mine. And those H&B pasties and pastries are a guilty pleasure of mine, I love trying to grab them when they're discounted and almost at their sell-by date.

  2. sounds like good travel hacks too - this is the sort of way I eat when travelling - but when at home and I don't want to heat up I often just have hummus and what bikkies and vegies I can rustle up - always feels healthy. If I want to heat up, ther is usually a tin of baked beans in the cupboard. But I am quite interested to try the dumpling soup idea! We have a local chinese grocery that has lots of frozen dumplings!

  3. You make easy look gourmet! We don't have these brands in the states, but I'm wishing we did! They look delicious. What is "soya mince"? That sounds quite interesting. I have some imagery in my head of what I think it might be, but chances are that I'm wrong. The above poster used the work "bikkies"....hmmm...that's another item I'm unsure of.

  4. Yes! I remember the pimped up 2 minute noodles from my student days! I still always keep a few quick meals on hand for particularly busy weeks, or nights that I have hockey and my boyfriend has band prac - pretty much always have frozen dumplings, buns and edamames ready to go, or sometimes mock shnitzels or sausages. If I'm really prepared, sometimes I even have some homemade meals frozen and waiting for those nights, though that hasn't been the case lately.

  5. Excellent tips! These hacks are great for any vegan, not just busy students. There's a similar line of vegan Indian food in a pouch over here that would be perfect to hack. :-)


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