I had this idea in my head for a while and a week or so ago, I found the perfect opportunity… I invited some friends over for dinner and I thought I would challenge myself to cook a three-course meal for four people for only $20 US. At the time the equivalent in Canadian dollars was around $25 CAD so I thought I would use that number to purchase my groceries.
I love doing these challenges where I save money and show you guys more ways to live the cheap lazy vegan life! This wasn’t particularly easy though, because I had to shop at Safeway, which is definitely not the most affordable. I also wanted to make really good, fancy looking food… since well, it wasn’t just for me to eat!! It was for my friends!
It took me some time in the grocery store and a lot of umm-ing and ahhh-ing, but eventually, I made it happen!
Here were my rules that I set for myself:
- Spend only the equivalent of $20 USD (around $24 CAD) on groceries to make dinner for four people.
- Must be three courses – a starter, main and dessert.
- Can use spices and condiments from home (so basically, spices and condiments don’t count… because otherwise, that would be super difficult!)
I think I came up with a pretty good menu and everyone ended up enjoying themselves. I hope this is especially helpful for anyone that wants to host their own fancy dinner party and not spend much money. I bet your friends won’t be able to tell you only spent $20!
The list of everything I bought and what I spent is below at the bottom of this post 🙂
Vegan Dinner Party for Four People (3 Courses for $20)
First Course – Vegan Caesar Salad with Crispy Chickpeas
Second Course (Main) – Vegan Lasagne with Eggplant and Tofu Ricotta
Third Course (Dessert) – Coconut Mug Cake
Optional Course (Starter) – Bruschetta with Vegan Creamy Pesto Spread
Course 1 – Starter
Vegan Caesar Salad with Crispy Chickpeas
Ingredients (for 4-5 servings):
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- Caesar Salad Dressing:
- 1 package soft tofu (300g)
- Juice of one lemon
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
- 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos or tamari
- more salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Drain and rinse can of chickpeas. Dry them out with some paper towels.
- Lay out parchment paper on a baking sheet and lay the chickpeas out. Sprinkle garlic powder and salt over them evenly. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until chickpeas become crispy and no longer soft.
- In a blender or food processor, add all salad dressing ingredients and blend until smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, add chopped lettuce and tomato along with the finished chickpeas and salad dressing and mix well. Add more salt & black pepper if necessary.
Course 2 – Main
Vegan Lasagne with Eggplant and Tofu Ricotta
Inspired by Minimalist Baker’s Lentil & Eggplant Lasagna
- 1 box oven ready lasagne
- 1 Eggplant, sliced lengthwise into flat pieces
- 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tomato, sliced into flat pieces
- 1-2 handfuls of spinach (optional)
- 1 large jar of marinara sauce
- 1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast for topping (optional)
- Tofu Ricotta
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 block firm tofu
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp basil
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Spread a thin layer of olive oil on a baking sheet and lay out eggplant slices. Add a little more olive oil on top if desired and spread minced garlic on top of the eggplant pieces (optional).
- Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 15-20 minutes.
- While that’s baking, add all the ingredients for the tofu ricotta into a food processor or a blender and blend until well-combined. It’s going to be a little chunky, but that’s what we want!
- Once eggplant and tofu ricotta are done, turn the oven to 375 degrees F and we can start putting together the lasagne.
- Add a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Then add a layer of the lasagne noodles and then a layer of spinach and a little more sauce on top. Then lay out the eggplant pieces and add half of the tofu ricotta mixture on top of the eggplant. Then another layer of sauce, another layer of lasagne and then the rest of the tofu ricotta mixture. Then lay out the slices of tomato, add a little more sauce and one last layer of the lasagne. Pour another layer of the marinara sauce on top to make sure the noodles are well covered and sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top (optional). Phew, let me just summarize that for ya:
- SUMMARY OF LAYERS FROM THE BOTTOM: marinara sauce –> lasagne –> spinach –> sauce –> eggplant –> tofu ricotta (1/2) –> sauce –> lasagne –> tofu ricotta (1/2) –> tomato –> sauce –> lasagne –> sauce –> nutritional yeast.
- NOTE: this is just how I “randomly” made these layers…. I am NOT a lasagne expert, if you couldn’t tell already. So do what works for you!
- Cover the lasagne dish with aluminium foil and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
Course 3 – Dessert
Coconut Mug Cake
Original Recipe Video by Brothers Green Eats
Ingredients (for one mug cake)
- 1/2 tsp coconut oil
- 4 tbsp white cake mix (make sure you check the ingredients to see if it is vegan)
- 3 tbsp coconut milk
- 1/2 – 1 tbsp water
- Glaze ingredients:
- 1/2 tbsp coconut milk
- 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp shredded coconut flakes
- Grease the inside of the mug with coconut oil.
- Add the cake mix, coconut milk and water. Mix until well combined.
- Microwave for 2 minutes on high.
- In another cup, mix the glaze ingredients together until well combined.
- When the microwave is done, take the cake out of the mug and plate it upside down. It should come out easily as we greased the mug.
- Drizzle the glaze on top of the cake until nicely coated. Then sprinkle the coconut flakes on top and around.
Course 4 (optional)
Bruschetta with Vegan Creamy Pesto Spread
- 1 baguette, sliced into 1 – 1.5 inch pieces
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 tbsp dry basil or handful of fresh basil, chopped
- Sprinkle of sea salt
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- About 1/2 cup of my Creamy Vegan Pesto (this part is optional but delicious!)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place sliced baguette pieces onto a baking sheet and bake for about 3-4 minutes until lightly toasted.
- In a small bowl, add diced tomatoes, minced garlic, basil, sea salt and olive oil and mix well.
- Once baguette pieces are toasted, take it out of the oven. Spread a thin layer of Creamy Vegan Pesto then add a large spoonful of the tomato mixture on top.
- Repeat with every piece of baguette and enjoy.
What I bought with the $20 USD (approx. $24 Canadian Dollars – all prices in CAD)
- Can of chickpeas – $1.19
- Head of romaine lettuce – $1.86
- 2 tomatoes – $1.64
- 2 lemons – $1.98
- Garlic – $0.41
- 1 package firm tofu – $2.24
- 1 package soft tofu – $1.16
- Lasagne Noodles – $2.59
- Eggplant – $2.20
- Marinara sauce – $2.99
- Box of cake mix – $1.99
- Can of coconut milk – $1.69
- Shredded coconut – $1.29
Total Spent (CAD) – $23.23