Currently, I do my best to feed 4 hungry adults on about $100 per week. This mostly goes towards dinners, but also covers most breakfasts and lunches, too. We have some flexibility in that budget, but it still has to go pretty darn far.
You can catch me any Sunday afternoon with page after page of meal planning ideas, grocery lists, and budget sheets. I work really hard to make sure we can fit all of the planned dinners into the budget while still having enough. It’s definitely tough, but one trick has helped me tremendously.
You see, we’re not just hungry, but we’re also very carnivorous. These are steak appetites on a “yes, we ARE having chicken thighs again” prices.
How do I make it work while still cooking healthy recipes?
By preparing less meat.
In fact, we have slowly started incorporating one meatless meal a week …without anyone actually catching on. Seriously! They keep eating, and don’t even realize I didn’t add in any ground beef or shredded chicken.
Start Crunching Numbers and Carrots
One great way to way to see the usefulness of this little experiment is to get out your calculators.
Quick math moment:
Let’s say you spend ~$6 for meat per dinner. That’s a little less than a pound of grass-fed beef around here, and is a pretty average serving for my household of 4 adults.
In one month, you save $24.
In one year, you save $312.
Can you think of anywhere else you’d like that $300 to go? Like…to paying down debt or towards a vacation? What about saving for the holidays or retirement?
Make it Your Own!
This doesn’t have to be a hard and fast rule.
No one is going to come police your kitchen. If you want to use bone broths or animal stocks in your dishes, I say go for it! Those are often made very inexpensively and in large quantities.
Also, remember this is a “meatless” dish and not necessarily a vegan one. You can round out with cream cheese, eggs, or butter.
That packet of cream cheese if far less expensive than a pound of ground beef. Add a dollop!
Save to Splurge Later
Whether you see that extra $300 per year or crave a more choice cut of meat for the next night, going meatless one night a week really helps flesh out a fledgling real food pantry.
Instead of $6 of meat per dinner, you can now afford one night with $12 worth of meat.
- Or you can buy that extra bag of coconut flour.
- Or that extra 10 pound bag of carrots.
- Maybe even another pack of Mason jars if you save for 2 weeks.
- Heck, save for 2 months and you can really cram your pantry full with a Vitacost order!
I know that $6 seems pretty insignificant, but you can really create some major changes in your kitchen with a little more budget flexibility.
The One Trick You’ve Gotta Master…
No matter how much you love the idea of regular meatless dinners, they’ve got to be good. Better than good, they need to be filling, yummy, and family-pleasing.
This requires a great, solid resource of vegetarian recipes you know will do the trick, like Gluten-Free Vegetarian.
With over 80 recipes, all grain-free and vegetarian, you can enjoy dishes like…
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Quinoa Arugula Salad
Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Within just a few weeks worth of meatless dinners, this book will pay for itself! You’ll have 80 new recipes to choose from, and you can stick to any Paleo or grain-free diets you might be following.
Once you get going with meatless meals, it’s hard to stop! It feels great to be nourished by such hearty meatless dinners while also getting the benefit of pinching a few pennies.