Making Vegan Fast Food at Home

Learn how to make vegan fast food at home as a healthier, tastier, economical alternative to vegan fast food with this ultimate guide. 

It’s tempting to order vegan fast food options in your local drive-thru or takeout for the sake of pure convenience, especially now that vegan fast food options are readily available at chain and quick service restaurants. But there’s a better alternative to paying the high cost for service fees every time you’re craving take-out. Did you know that you can save money, maximize value, increase nutrition, and have lots of fun making homemade versions of your favorite vegan take-out orders? It’s true! From veggie pizza to avocado sushi, this list has you covered. These homemade versions of your take-out favorites are nutrient-dense, healthier, and lower in calories, so you can enjoy them any day of the week and still meet your health goals. In this guide, we did all the work for you; we crunched the numbers to compare home-made versus take-out versions of your favorite takeaway items. Check out these home-made versions of pizza, orange tofu, veggie sushi, veggie burgers, and Indian food to take control of your eating style.

This Arugula Salad Pizza is a great option for home-made fun, compared to vegan pizza takeout. 

Vegan Pizza

Pizza is a classic take-out dish. Who doesn’t love a bread crust, tomato sauce, veggies, and vegan cheese? In this home-made version, a healthy, plant-based pizza is made with vegan cheese and store-bought pre-made pizza dough to make it a little bit easier to pop it out on the quick and easy. Though you can make your own home-made yeast crust to take this Arugula Salad Pizza to the next level. It’s topped with crisp, fresh veggies like bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and avocado, just what you need to satisfy the family without sacrificing nutrition. 

Total Time: 45 minutes 

Homemade Cost vs. Take-out Cost

  • Homemade Cost: $13.55 for 8 Slices (Medium Size Pizza)
  • Take-out Cost: $14.07-$21.37 for 8 Slices (Medium 2-Topping Pizza, which doesn’t compare to how many veggies are on the Arugula Pizza)

Nutritional Benefits of Homemade: 

  • Packed with more vegetables
  • Lower in calories and saturated fat
  • Source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Source of healthy fats

Hungry for Sides to Go with the Pizza?

Try these classic side salads to round out your pizza meal.  

This Fresh Orange Tofu with Brown Rice is based on whole ingredients, like fresh orange. 

Orange Tofu Bowl

This Fresh Orange Tofu is the perfect way to satisfy your craving for vegan take-out without consuming excess sugar and calories. It’s made with fresh oranges, protein-packed tofu, and whole grain brown rice. And it’s far lighter in added sugars and fats than standard, sugary, deep-fried fare. Did we mention it’s gluten-free? Next time you’re in the mood for take-out try this umami-filled dish and, if you can, save the leftovers to enjoy throughout the week. 

Total Time: 40 minutes 

Homemade Cost vs. Take-out Cost

  • Homemade Cost: $8.32 for 4 servings, $2.08 per serving
  • Take-out Cost: $7.50-$15.50 for 1 serving

Nutritional Benefits of Homemade: 

  • Low in calories and added sugar
  • Good source of protein and fiber

Hungry for More Options? 

Here are a few other options that are far healthier than standard take-out. 

This Farmers Market Vegetable Sushi is jam-packed with crisp veggies. 

Vegan Sushi

Known for being filled with wonderful textures and flavors, sushi is a meal that will take your tastebuds on a journey. And more sushi restaurants are offering vegan sushi these days. This vegan, veggie-packed Farmers Market Vegetable Sushi is a delicious homemade alternative to take-out, without the hefty price tag. Prepare your rice, chop your veggies, and get ready to roll—tonight you’re the sushi chef! 

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes 

Homemade Cost vs. Take-out Cost

  • Homemade Cost: $9.84 for 8 servings of ½ sushi roll (4 sushi rolls), $2.46 per roll
  • Take-out Cost: $6.49-$10.99 for 1 vegetable roll 

Note: calculations were made using cucumber, carrot, and avocado as sushi fillings 

Nutritional Benefits of Homemade: 

  • Lower in fat and calories
  • No artificial preservatives or ingredients 
  • Filled with nutrients from more vegetables and brown rice instead of white rice

Hungry for More Options?

Try these recipes to complement your veggie sushi rolls to round out your meal. 

This Chipotle Black Bean Veggie Burger is a healthier option than many fast food veggie burgers. 

Homemade Burger Recipe 

Plant-based burgers are readily available at most fast-food chains these days, but what if you don’t want to pay for the mark-up? Or simply want something that’s less greasy, and more earthy and healthy? Look no further than this Chipotle Black Bean Veggie Burger. It’s made with quinoa, black beans, and veggies, no drive-thru needed! 

Total Time: 1 hour 

Homemade Cost vs. Take-out Cost

  • Homemade Cost: $5.33 for 9 burgers, $0.59 for 1 burger
  • Take-out Cost: $1.37 – $10.19 for 1 burger

Nutritional Benefits from Homemade: 

  • Lower in calories and fat
  • Higher in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals
  • Based on whole foods
  • Top it the way you like it

Hungry for More Sides to Go with Your Veggie Burger?

Try these sides to balance out your veggie-burger meal. 

This Chickpea Masala is simple and health—whip it up in 45 minutes! 

Vegan Indian Food

Your first attempt at making your favorite take-out meals at home can be daunting, but this Indian-inspired Chickpea Masala couldn’t be any simpler. It’s all the flavors you pay for with none of the fees, excess sodium, or fat. The cumin, coriander, garam masala, and turmeric in this dish will transport you to your favorite Indian restaurant from the comfort of your kitchen.

Total Time: 45 minutes

Homemade Cost vs. Take-out Cost:

  • Homemade Cost: $8.92 for 8 servings, $1.11 for 1 serving (1/2 cup rice with ¾ cup masala)
  • Take-out Cost: $9.00 – $11.99 for 1 serving

Nutritional Benefits from Homemade:

  • Lower in sodium and fat; no added sugars
  • Higher in veggies and nutrients
  • Serve it with brown rice instead of white rice

Hungry for More?

Try these other dishes to round out your culinary experience:

Note: Homemade costs were calculated with ingredients from store brands then compared to menu items from nationwide restaurant chains. 

Written by Cara Joseph, dietetic intern, with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

Photos by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

For more ways to cook home-made and spend less, check out these blogs:

30 Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Meals
Top 5 Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Dinners
5 Simple Plant-Based Cooking Strategies

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