Meatless Mondays Can Save You Money
When I pledged to go Meatless on Mondays a year ago, I wasn’t thinking about frugality. I did it because I knew it would be good for the environment, and good for our health as well. The truth was, my husband and I already ate several meatless meals per week anyway, so it was sort of a no-brainer. I figured I’d share the experience on my blog, plus get some good recipes.
A year later, the biggest unexpected benefit has been how much we’ve cut our grocery bill. Meat simply costs more than beans, grains, eggs, and fruits and vegetables, even when you buy local and organic produce like we do. There’s a big myth out there that eating that kind of diet will break your budget and that it’s only for the elite, but I think that’s only true if you eat out of season and do all of your shopping at Whole Foods (we all know their nickname is “Whole Paycheck”)
I am aware that the issue is complicated. If you’re really broke you might be able to get more for your money by eating packaged foods like Kraft macaroni and cheese. But I lived in Manhattan for two years with an almost nonexistent food budget (seriously, I used to spend about $20 every two weeks) and the cheapest meals I found were a baked potato, lentils and rice, or a big pot of soup. My point is that I don’t want to generalize, and I am aware that in some cases the packaged option is the cheapest, but I contend that the issue has a lot to do with time, energy, and education. Those packaged foods are pushed on us and they’re the easiest option and many people don’t have the time or energy to think about the alternatives. But with a little effort and planning, there are plenty of meals that are almost as cheap as a Top Ramen diet, and a whole lot healthier.
At any rate, our experience has been quite the opposite of the conventional wisdom – far from breaking the bank, our new healthier diet is saving us money. We were never big meat eaters anyway, but now I only cook meat once or twice a week. During that same period, our grocery bill has decreased by about 25%, and that’s including our biweekly CSA delivery of local, organic produce.
I think the key to eating less meat is having delicious options that don’t make you feel like you’re giving something up. Every other week I solicit suggestions from my readers for their favorite meatless meals and post it as part of a Meatless Monday recipes post. These are go-to recipes you can make at the last minute, delicious options that are quick and easy and use few ingredients. Some of the new standbys in our house come from these reader suggestions.
When a recipe becomes a favorite, who cares if it includes meat or not? Bon appetit!
Click HERE to read Angela’s Meatless Mondays columns.
Other resources for delicious meatless recipes: