Friday, April 1, 2011

Ways to Save: Going Meatless (Sort Of)

with Liz Sacks
One way to dramatically reduce your grocery budget is to trim the fat… so to speak. I’m talking about reducing your meat intake as a family. There are many alternatives to meat, besides tofu. Here are some of the ways we spend less on meat in our tofu free home:

1. Use less meat in a combination dish. Up the other main ingredients to compensate I will use 1 chicken breast for a whole pot of soup. Or less than one pound of beef for meat sauce and spaghetti. ½ lb of any meat makes a gravy that is great with biscuits or mashed potatoes.

2. Beans as a substitute! We do almost meatless chili, (½ pound ground beef for a whole pot). I can’t give it up entirely! Rather than doing chicken and rice, try black beans and rice with vegetables. For tacos, trim it to a ½ lb. of beef by mixing it with rice and using beans as a side.

3. Give up expensive meats. You don’t need shrimp, crab, lobster, deli meats, etc. If you must, wait for a sale, then stock up your freezer.

4. Turkey is your friend. Every thanksgiving, when prices are low and promotions abound, my husband and I get our hands on as many turkeys as we can fit into our freezer. We cook them, debone them, and make a simple turkey barbecue. Then we bag it into 1 and ½ lb bags, and in a pinch, I make anything from a pot of soup/chowder, to casseroles and gravy.

5. Make as many combination dishes as possible. Casseroles, spaghetti, soups, chowders-- these all lend themselves to substitute ingredients that have protein, but aren’t meat. My children also respond well to the hidden vegetables. They are easy to stretch into many meals, and work well for packed lunches.

6. Peanut butter = protein. Having a meatless dinner is not nutritionally deficient. If you're concerned, consider having apples with peanut butter for dessert to up the protein and iron.

7. Tuna is underrated! It is a nutritious protein, and when used sparingly (1x a week) it provides variety.

Going meatless (sort of) doesn't have to be a painful process, it can be little steps, designed to stretch the budget. It is important to remember that even cutting back on meat does not have to mean cutting back on protein. As you commit to stretching those dollars, find cheaper ways to get the protein in there, and you are good to go!


  1. Good ideas! Another good way to save on meat is buying in bulk (a half or whole beef, pig, etc.) from a farmer and then having it custom butchered...the cost is a lot less, and you can have all the cuts done exactly as you like! Of course this means you need a nice size freezer as well!

  2. Wonder where you experienced that before!?