• Claire

6 Cheap, Easy & Healthy Vegetarian Backpacker Meals

Updated: Apr 20, 2019

When backpacking, cooking your own meals can save you spending heaps of money on expensive restaurants or take-out. You may also be cooking at hostels or kitchens that have minimal equipment or utensils. I've come up with 6 of my favourite vegetarian meals that are cheap, easy to prepare, nutritious and filling to give you energy for your all your adventures! A cheap meal doesn't have to be as boring as plain pasta or unhealthy as two-minute noodles!

These meal ideas can easily be modified to include meat or be made vegan. They are also super flexible - you can change the recipes up to include seasonal ingredients or ingredients you may already have on hand.

1. Pasta with Lentils

Pasta and sauce is a classic easy dinner but I like to mix it up a little by adding a can of lentils into the pasta sauce as lentils are a great source of protein and fibre.


  • Pasta

  • Pasta sauce

  • Pack of frozen veggies / fresh veggies

  • 1 onion

  • Can of lentils


While cooking the pasta in boiling water according to the packet instructions, saute the onion with some garlic in a separate pan:

To make the pasta/lentil sauce - add the jar of pasta sauce, then add in a can of rinsed lentils and your vegetables and a little bit of water and let simmer/thicken while the pasta is cooking:

Cook the pasta alongside the sauce:

Drain the pasta and add the lentil sauce and you're done!:

2. Quesadillas

Quesadillas are a super easy and versatile meal - you can change up the fillings to whatever you have available to you and they take less than 10 minutes to prepare.


  • Tortillas

  • Cheese

  • Salsa

  • Black beans

  • Avocado

  • Tomato


Gather your ingredients - I chose to use black beans, avocado, tomato, salsa and cheese as my fillings:

Rinse your black beans well, then I like to heat them up in the microwave for about a minute:

Assemble you quesadilla:

Fold in half then pop in a frying pan and heat until both sides are toasted:

Serve with a side of salsa for dipping:

3. Veggie-Packed Risotto

This risotto is packed-full of veggies - it's super healthy and super easy to make!


  • Arborio Rice

  • Stock cubes

  • Veggies - I used mushrooms, spinach, broccoli and zucchini

  • Onion

  • Garlic


Gather your ingredients and chop your vegetables and the onion:

Heat up your stock according to packet directions. You could use stock cubes like these or liquid stock from a bottle:

Saute the onions with the garlic until they are transparent:

Add in the rice and cook for 2 mins - I used 1 cup of rice:

Add in your stock 1 cup at a time, I needed 3 cups of stock to my 1 cup of rice:

Add in the vegetables with the last cup of stock so they can cook through:

Make sure the rice is tender (add more stock or hot water if needed) and stir in some spinach for the last minute of cooking, then serve!:

4. Tofu Stir-Fry

This tofu stir-fry is my go-to option for a delicious and healthy meal. Tofu is an excellent source of protein and you can add in any vegetables you have on hand. I love to add grilled pineapple on top of my stir-fry!


  • Rice noodles

  • Soy Sauce

  • Tofu

  • Vegetables - fresh or frozen vegetables both work great!


Dice and marinate the tofu in soy sauce and black pepper:

Prep your veggies - frozen stir fry mix is good too!

Saute the veggies until cooked and fry the tofu until golden:

Cook the rice noodles by popping them into a bowl of boiling hot water and letting them sit for 5-10mins. Drain when soft:

Mix all together and add soy sauce for flavour!:

Super easy and super yum!

5. Easy Peasy Pitas

These pitas make for a super easy lunch or dinner. I used broccoli bites in mine but you could change it up and use felafel too!


  • Pita bread

  • Filling - I used broccoli bites

  • Hummus

  • Salad - I used spinach and tomato

  • Cheese


Gather all your ingredients:

I used these broccoli bites from the supermarket:

Heat the broccoli bites and pita up in the microwave. Then use a knife to cut open the pita:

Fill up the pita with all your favourite fillings:

Roll up the pita and toast on both sides:

Easy and delish!

6. Mexican Rice

This one-pot Mexican rice recipe is super easy, you pretty much just throw everything into the pot and let it cook! It's also super tasty - the taco seasoning adds heaps of flavour to the meal.


  • Brown rice

  • Black beans

  • Taco seasoning packet

  • 1 onion

  • Can of diced tomatoes

  • Vegetables - I used zucchini, corn and capsicum


Gather all your ingredients and chop the vegetables:

Saute the onions in some olive oil until translucent:

Add everything else into the pot along with enough water to fit the ratio of one part rice, 2 parts water (I added roughly half a cup of rice and one cup of water). Stir, bring to the boil and let simmer:

Cook until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through:


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