There are any number of reasons why you might consider giving up meat. You may decide to go meatless just one day of the week, be a “semi vegetarian,” (going meatless most of the time, but giving in every once in a while), or swear off meat forever. You might decide to go veggie because you love animals or because you want to get healthy. And while those are both wonderful reasons to say, “Bye Felicia” to meat, another excellent motivator can be the massive financial benefits. Granted, this isn’t the most popular reason to go green. But it’s still a significant benefit for those who choose to ignore the meat aisle.
Simply put, meat is expensive! And if you choose to buy “humanely” sourced or organic meats, you can be facing premium prices that can hit your budget hard. A lot of people think that eating healthy is too expensive. But if you remove meat from the equation, eating healthy foods can actually be cheaper than eating junk food. That’s right. Eliminating meat can save you money.
The bottom line is that by replacing the biggest portion of your meals with plant foods, you can not only improve your overall health, but you can cut back on your grocery bill in the process.By replacing the biggest portion of your meals with plant foods, you can not only improve your overall health, but you can cut back on your grocery bill in the process. Click To Tweet
Before I get into the cost savings of going meatless, I’d like to address the elephants in the room: their names are Protein and Iron. Many people worry that vegetarians can’t possibly be getting enough protein or iron without meat; this is simply not true. The problem arises when people give up the protein in meat without replacing it with the protein found in numerous plant-based foods. Replacing one of the most expensive items from your grocery budget with some of these low cost options may be the best decision you can make for your health and your wallet!
You can even add eggs or milk, depending on your personal dietary preferences and tolerances. Going meatless really doesn’t have to be difficult or restrictive.
If protein is a point of anxiety for you or your loved ones, you can rest assured that there are many non-animal based foods that can provide you with the essential protein your body needs. Some of these actually contain more protein than beef or chicken! Here are some of the most notable:
- Nuts, notably almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts and pistachios
- Seeds, especially pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds
- Legumes, with the various types (white beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils and many others) having roughly equal amounts of protein
- Soy – as in edamame, tempeh, and tofu as well as soy dairy alternatives
- Whole Grains like quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice
- Dairy products, such as cheese, milk and yogurt (for lacto-vegetarians)
- Eggs (for ovo-vegetarians)
Small Substitutions Add Up to Big Savings
While I encourage Vegetarianism as a healthy lifestyle choice, it is quite alright to acclimatize yourself slowly, sampling a vegetarian or vegan routine with a meal here and a day there. You don’t necessarily have to overhaul your family’s entire menu right this second! You can start slow to avoid overwhelming yourself with a few substitutions at a time, all which will still inevitably make a big difference in your weekly grocery bill.
Instead of a chicken stir-fry, try making one with GMO-free tofu – which you can get at a much lower price that high-quality, organic, free-range chicken breasts! Or throw a few veggie burgers on the grill over the weekend and see if your family even notices the difference! Fill up your enchiladas with black beans and quinoa instead of meat and enjoy a wholesome meal without the angry, over-fed stomach syndrome that usually follows! Most pastas can be made without meat without even being noticed, just add a few more meaty or hearty vegetables to the mix for a lower priced, just as enjoyable alternative. Mushrooms and eggplant come to mind as some simple swaps and they are pennies on the meat-laden dollar.
Meat Textured Substitutions
It’s almost too easy to swap meat for a meat-like alternative these days. I don’t recommend relying heavily on any processed foods, but there are a lot of fantastic meat alternatives that work really well for transitional eaters, and tend to still be much lower cost. If you are creative in the kitchen, making your own using bulk supplies will be even more fiscally responsible! Veggie burgers, Veggie Dogs, Chick’n Tenders, Tofu-based sausages, and so much more will come to your rescue whenever you have a craving for meat – which, believe it or not, is usually a texture craving, over a nutritionally based one!Try a meat alternative to enjoy a wholesome meal without the angry, over-fed stomach syndrome! Click To Tweet
A lot of people, women in particular, use their family as an excuse for not making choices they believe to be healthy because they don’t think their kids or other family members will eat anything but Chicken Fingers. That is not even an excuse anymore, because going meatless can still include a breaded cutlet or two!
Try New Things, Experiment and Learn
Adding vegetarian options to your meal planning isn’t always super intuitive, so one of the best things you can do for yourself is to invest in a good vegetarian cookbook, or subscribe to a plant-based website like this one! Keep track of what you’ve tried, what you’ve loved and what you didn’t care for, and make note so that when you go shopping you don’t end up wasting your money on things you already know didn’t work out. And if you ever have questions or need more inspiration, you can always reach out for help in the comments section below! Happy shopping and bon appetit!