Recipes: budget dinners and lunches | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

Recipes: budget dinners and lunches

Classic Chilli

Serves 4-6 | 30-40 minutes




This chilli recipe from actor Martin Shaw is the business – fed to tens of thousands of meat-eaters and veggies across the UK at Viva!’s Vegan Festivals and given the big thumbs-up by everyone! Do include the peanut butter if possible – it is a lovely way to thicken the chilli and gives it a slightly creamy taste. However, other nut or seed butters, eg tahini, would also work.


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • Half a red pepper, chopped

  • 1 medium courgette, chopped in half lengthways then sliced into semicircles

  • 100/3½ oz mushrooms, chopped

  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed

  • 1 tbsp peanut or other seed/nut butter, smooth or crunchy

  • 225g/8oz frozen veggie mince (half a pack) -see below for stockists and alternative proteins*

  • ½-1 tsp mild chilli powder - or 1 red chilli, chopped fine and seeds removed

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1 tsp cumin,

  • 1 tbsp tomato purée

  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

  • 1 vegan stock cube or 1½ tsp vegan bouillon powder

  • 100g/3½ oz kidney beans, cooked, rinsed and drained

  • 100g/3½ oz sweetcorn

  • Salt and pepper

  1. Fry the onion and red pepper in the oil until soft.

  2. Add the garlic, courgette and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown.

  3. Add the peanut butter and stir in until it melts.

  4. Add the mince and spices and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. (If the mixture sticks and needs a bit of moisture use some of the juice from the tinned tomatoes.)

  5. Add the tomato purée, tinned tomatoes and stock cube/bouillon, then the kidney beans and sweetcorn.

  6. Bring to the boil, stir well and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Taste and season if necessary. Serve with cooked boiled rice.

*Linda McCartney, Fry’s, Asda, Morrison, Sainsbury and Tesco own brands of frozen veggie mince are vegan.

  • Extra budget option? Use savoury TVP mince (brown in colour, not beige), hydrated in a little hot stock before cooking.

  • Wholefood option? Use 200-240g (1 drained tin) of cooked whole green or brown lentils. Add at stage 6, not 4.


Classic Veggie Bolognese

Exactly the same as the Chilli recipe above, except

  • Omit the spices, kidney beans and sweetcorn

  • Replace the plain oil with olive oil

  • Replace the spices with 1-2 tsp dried mixed herbs (or Italian herbs such as oregano and basil)

  • Serve with spaghetti or other pasta and lots of black pepper

  • Replace parmesan with grated vegan cheese, eg VBites Cheezly Hard Italian Style or Bellissimo in a tub or Engevita nutritional yeast flakes (see Stockists)

  • The lentil option works for this version too



Lentil & Potato Curry
Serves 4-6 | 30 minutes

A simple, classic dish that warms the cockles of the heart - and goes well with just about any vegetable curry, or in a pancake/wrap, as pictured

  • 1 tbsp plain oil

  • 200g/7oz red lentils

  • 2cm/1 inch cinnamon stick

  • 800ml/28fl oz water

  • 2 medium potatoes, raw or cooked

  • 2 tbsp plain oil

  • 1 onion, chopped fine

  • 2-3 tbsp curry paste (eg Patak’s) – just ensure it doesn’t contain milk, cream or yoghurt

OR replace paste with this

  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds

  • 1½ tsp ground coriander

  • ¼ tsp asafoetida powder OR fenugreek powder

  • ¼ tsp mild chilli powder

  • 1 tsp salt

Optional: 3 lumps of frozen spinach




  1. Wash and drain the lentils and place in a pan with the water, oil and cinnamon stick.

  2. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

  3. While the lentils are cooking, peel and chop the potatoes into 1.25cm/½ inch cubes.

  4. Add uncooked potatoes to lentil mixture about 10 minutes into its cooking time and simmer until the potatoes are soft and tender. If using cooked potatoes, add nearer the end. Add the frozen spinach now, if using.

  5. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small frying pan or wok and sauté the onion on a medium heat until softened.

  6. Add the cumin seeds and fry until they turn brown. Keep stirring so they don’t catch and burn.

  7. Add the rest of the spices, stirring in so everything is well incorporated.

  8. Add this mixture to the curry, stirring carefully so the potatoes keep their shape.

  9. If the curry is too thick, add a little hot water before serving. Taste and season before serving.


Mushroom Pasties
Makes 2 large or 3 medium pasties | 30 minutes

Simple and surprisingly good. Tarragon is particularly nice with mushrooms - fresh or dried. Vegan pastry is a useful standby for all sorts of dishes!


  • 2 tbsp oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • Half a red, orange or yellow pepper, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 200g/7oz mushrooms, chopped

  • 1 tsp dried tarragon or mixed herbs

  • 1-2 tbsp soya sauce

  • Black pepper

  • Optional: dairy-free cream, eg Alpro, Provamel, Oatly


  • 1 sheet of puff pastry – green packet, eg JusRol, Sainsbury's, Tesco etc (see Products for details)

  • Plant milk, eg soya or almond, for glazing



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. 

  2. Heat the oil and fry the onion until soft. Add the chopped red pepper and cook for another few minutes.

  3. Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry until the mushrooms are cooked.

  4. Add the soya sauce and pepper - and a drizzle of dairy-free cream if using.

  5. Roll out the puff pastry and cut into two 17cm/7 inch squares. Place half the mushroom filling in the middle of each square and fold into a parcel.

  6. Seal the edges with a little plant milk, eg soya or almond, and brush the top of the pastry with a little of the same.

  7. Place on an oiled tray with the fold facing down and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.