June Food Stamp Challenge — Day 14, Meatless Monday with Angela from “My Year Without Spending”

by Katy on June 14, 2010 · 5 comments

Today is day fourteen of the June Food Stamp Challenge. Today’s post about Meatless Mondays is written by the delightful Angela Barton of My Year Without Spending. Enjoy!

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.

An example of Angela Barton's CSA delivery.

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:

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

My Roman Apartment June 14, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Not that she isn’t always glamour personified, but that is a fantastic picture of Angela.


Molly On Money June 15, 2010 at 5:13 am

This post is important to remind people that there are different ways to save on the grocery budget. Since we’ve cut back on our grocery spending we have focused on eating less processed foods and making more food from scratch. I told my kids that we are avoiding eating from ‘boxes’.
My in-laws came to visit last week and brought several bags of groceries. It wasn’t filled with food that was necessarily ‘bad’ for us but most of it was overly packaged. Up until that moment I hadn’t put together how much we had cut back on the processed foods. Suddenly our refrigerator was filled with bright colors and small quantities of food in all sorts of packages.


Cate June 15, 2010 at 6:24 am

I second the “that is a fantastic picture of Angela” sentiment!

And oh, meatless meals. A topic near and dear to my heart. Aside from planning a menu (and grocery list) and sticking to it, eating less meat has been the number one way we’ve cut our grocery budget. We used to spend upwards of $130-150 a week for two people. We hardly ate any organic food then, bought conventional meat and eggs, and even ate out a couple times a week!! Now we spend about $87 a week for two adults and a still-nursing toddler, and not only do we hardly ever go out to eat, but we buy all of our meat, eggs, and honey from local farmers, and buy as much organic produce and other goods as possible. That’s a huge savings! Of course, there are other factors at work besides eating less meat, but that’s the big one.

If anyone’s interested, I post a meatless meal every week on my blog. You can find them here: http://budgetconfessions.blogspot.com/search/label/Frugal%20Meatless%20Meals


Angela@MyYearWithoutSpending June 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Thanks for the compliments, ladies. And Cate posts some great meatless recipes on her blog.

Molly on Money- This has happened to us over the past few years- little by little when we visit people, their food seems strange because of all the “colors and boxes,” as you put it. I think Michael Pollan’s simple motto of “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” has really sunk in for us. It sounds like it has for you too!


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