Student Savers: Using Meat-Free Substitutes

Hi Lovelies,

I know its been ages since my last ‘Student Savers’ post, but as I’ve had a change of heart about the kind of content I want to publish on my blog (more about that in a future post), I’ve decided to give this little series the long-awaited boost it deserves.

If you’ve followed my blog in the past year or so, you’ll know EXACTLY why I started this whole series in the first place, but just in case you don’t, here’s a quick re-cap.

So I started out with this series when my younger brother first went to University, as a way of helping him (and other students) make quick, cheap, easy meals from scratch, keeping him away from the Pot Noodles he dearly loves and building his confidence in the kitchen.

Today I’m going to talk about the perks of using meat-free substitutes giving you a simple recipe to try out for yourselves using cupboard ingredients you’re bound to have stocked up on for the start of the new semester.

To my family, eating meat-free substitutes is very much second nature. My mother only eats chicken, turkey, tuna, and cod, so if ever we had bangers and mash, or shepherds pie, it always included Linda McCartney sausages or a bag of Quorn mince. For some people the notion of living without pork sausages and beef mince is horrific, but when you look at the cost difference and the convenience of these products, it’s very hard to disregard them completely.

It has even got to the point now that I simply don’t cook with beef mince, I will always use quorn, and if my dinner guests don’t like it, they know where the takeaways are on the way home!

So, why should you give it a try? (If you haven’t already.)

As a student, you’re generally pretty strapped for cash, and although it sounds stupid, buying meat can actually be pretty expensive. Sure, you could pick up a pack of 4/5 chicken breasts in Tesco (I use free-range normally, but lets imagine I’ve only got say a tenner a week food budget) for 4.00, but when you realise you can go to Aldi and pick up 3 bags of a meat-free substitute, be it mince or chicken-style pieces and STILL GET CHANGE BACK from them, it really is worth looking at.

‘But meat-free substitutes don’t have any flavour!’

While I tend to agree that meat-free mince and chicken-style pieces lack any strong flavour, realistically, how many times do you cook chicken or beef mince and eat it completely on its own, without any seasoning or sauce?

You don’t, so why would you do the same with meat-free substitutes?

Anyway, recipe time!

Ashleigh’s Mum’s Meat-Free Chilli

I’ve been eating this chilli since I could eat solid food as a baby, I absolutely LOVE my mum’s chilli. Not only is it delicious and versatile (in terms of having leftovers), it’s also very cheap to make.

You Will Need;

1 Regular Onion, chopped (19p)

3 Garlic Cloves, crushed & chopped (23p for whole bulb)

250g meat-free mince (£1.50)

2 tins Red Kidney Beans (60p)

2 tins Chopped Tomatoes (58p)

2 tbs Dark Soy Sauce (3p – 10ml)

3 tsp Smokey Paprika (17p – 10g)

2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (or more, depending on your spice tolerance) (17p – 10g)

Salt (to taste, don’t forget, you have the soy sauce!)


1 – Dice onion and garlic, place in a large pan with a drop of cooking oil (olive, sunflower, peanut, whatever you prefer) and allow the onions to go translucent.


2 – Empty the bag of meat-free mince into the pan. Open your tins of chopped tomatoes and kidney beans. Make sure you rinse the kidney beans in a colander before you add them (and the chopped tomatoes) to the pan. Rinse out the tins of chopped tomatoes and add the remaining tomato-water to the mixture. Season with plenty of salt (make sure you taste it each time), tomatoes love it!


3 – Mix the ingredients well, add the soy sauce and paprika, and allow the chilli to simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes. Make sure the mixture doesn’t dry out at any point.


4 – Add the chilli powder (to taste) and cayenne pepper (again, to taste) to the mixture and allow to simmer for a further 5 minutes.


5 – Serve with rice, a jacket potato or as part of chilli cheese nachos!


Total Cost: £3.48

Price per portion (4 portions): £0.87

Of course, you’re not limited to just this recipe, you can use it in loads of different things. If you do give this recipe a try, make sure you comment below and let me know how you get on!

Till next time,

love, Leigh


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