Author Topic: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism  (Read 7371 times)

bittheory

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Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« on: August 11, 2015, 10:12:13 AM »
My wife has been a vegetarian (Pescetarian) for over 5 years now, which by default, has sort of made me a vegetarian, though I do occasionally eat meat at restaurants. Anyway, until I started reading MMM, I never realized how much it's saved us annual in grocery bills. A few months ago, it hit me like a bag of frozen beef: we're saving a lot of money not buying meat.

Doing some rough calculations on chicken, pork and beef for a family of three, I'd say we're easily saving $800 a year, or $1100 if you factor in all-organic meat.

Better for your health, better for the environment, better for your savings.

Kitsune

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2015, 10:28:33 AM »
It depends, though.

For our family: we try to eat ethically-raised and -slaughtered meat, which definitely drives up cost (note: we don't always succeed, but we aim for it - and we have just moved to the country and are doing some of our own animal-raising, with that goal in mind). Also, we're in Quebec, so even costs of conventional meat are higher (I've seen US sale flyers on Thanksgiving turkeys at 0.39/lb... our 'sale' is 1.50$/lb. Extrapolate as needed...) That said. If you're eating conventional meat: our local grocery store has pork shoulder on sale this week at 1.59/lb. In comparison, the tofu is priced at 2.50/lb. That grocery store also sells cans of beans at 2$. And this is the ONLY grocery store within a half-hour drive of our house. (Personal solution: when we go into the city, we stop by the restaurant supply store and buy dried beans at 10$/10kg bag. We have a huge pantry, we cook up the beans in bulk, and we freeze them in baggies for convenience. Takes work, though...).

Also, my old neighbors were the type of vegetarian that bought a lot of fake meats - like, fake tofu-based 'ground beef) for tacos, which was twice the cost of crumbling tofu and seasonings, and multiple times the cost of making bean tacos.

Eating vegetarian CAN save you money, but it depends on what you're eating and where you're buying it.

(And I'd estimate that your 1K/year on all-organic local meats is really low, unless you're eating meat once a week. Maybe 1.5K, assuming you're buying a few half-animals directly from the farmer and have a freezer that fits it... By the lb at the market, though? 100$/month gets you meat for MAYBE 2 dinners.)

bittheory

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2015, 11:35:46 AM »
True, it does depend. Those fake meat alternatives can get pricey. We usually don't buy them, sticking mostly to tofu, which is fairly affordable.

One thing I really miss about cooking meat at home is setting a giant slab of pork in the slow cooker overnight and bringing those leftovers to work for the week. Now that was cost effective. I might try that again this winter.

You're right about my estimate on organic meat, I was basing that more on our past routine of buying 1/3 organic meat and 2/3 conventional. Obviously that isn't the case for everyone.

I have nothing against meat, I love meat, it's just the more I dive into the philosophy of MMM, the more embracing vegetarianism may make sense for some families. Mine happens to be one of them.


Kitsune

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 01:53:18 PM »
Oh, no, on average, you're right, vegetarianism is much easier to do cheaply as a default!

I'm just really frustrated that the only local grocery store charges so much for basic vegetarian staples, which means that cooking vegetarian meals for less than a meat-based meal becomes an exercise in planning. It's total BS. (Fortunately, this is the country: grow/produce your own is actually an option.)

jooles

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 01:55:50 PM »
Fake meat alternatives are high in fat and calories as well as high in prices.  If you shoot for vegetarian and no processed foods you'll be golden.

Beans, rice, lentils, legumes, veggies and fruits are very inexpensive compared to meat, eggs, cheese and processed foods. 

jooles

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2015, 02:01:03 PM »
For taco meat we use -

1) rice seasoned with taco seasonings (chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder)

2) lentils and brown rice with sauteed onions with taco seasonings added

3) chopped potato and onion sauteed with taco seasonings

4) potato, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper sauteed with any seasoning we like

Kitsune

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2015, 05:27:31 PM »
(And I'd estimate that your 1K/year on all-organic local meats is really low, unless you're eating meat once a week. Maybe 1.5K, assuming you're buying a few half-animals directly from the farmer and have a freezer that fits it... By the lb at the market, though? 100$/month gets you meat for MAYBE 2 dinners.)

Is organic meat really that expensive up there? Buying organic is not important to me, but I'm shocked it runs $50/lb, assuming a pound per meal? I think the most expensive meat I've seen down here is wild caught salmon at like $30/lb.

At the semi fancy farmer's market (with the inspected and certified ethical and etc butcher shops - and note that the actual fancy pants farmers market is more expensive...), assuming you're getting something not ground meat... 30+$/lb, easy (ground lamb, last I checked, was 18$/lb, to give you an idea). Assuming 2-4 adults and at least 2 kids for dinner (so, my family and one dinner guest, basically), you need a pound and a half of most meats to feed everyone... So that adds up!

There are ways around it. Right now, we buy lamb directly from a local farmer (not certified organic, but organic practices and we know him personally) for 9$/lb (so around 350$ for the whole lamb), we just moved to the country and are starting to keep our own animals and whatnot... But yeah. Organic and ethically raised is expensive if you're not in the country and don't personally know farmers.

Also keeping in mind: I'm using Canadian dollars, and the exchange rate sucks right now.

Gerard

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2015, 08:18:18 AM »
I think the point upthread about *how* you do vegetarian is important (disclosure: I'm lessmeatarian at best). I never understood the fake-meat approach. There are cultures out there who have spent literally centuries figuring out how to get awesome flavour and nutrition out of things that aren't meat, and people are still buying tofu wieners? Get an Indian cookbook! And 10 kg of chick peas!

purplepear

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2015, 08:47:36 AM »
Way to go! I've been vegetarian for about 4 years, and I definitely noticed the difference in my grocery bill. And if I do choose to eat out at a restaurant, the vegetarian dishes are usually much cheaper too.

As far as fake/processed meats go, I probably only eat them once per week, if that. Emergency veggie burgers can be a life-saver when you don't have time/energy to cook.

I recently checked out a Vegan Slow Cooker recipe book from the library, and I was really disappointed that most of the recipes involved seitan, tempeh, or some other type of "fake meat". Vegetarian cuisine is delicious in its own way, and doesn't need to imitate meat-y dishes all the time.  I ended up just substituting different types of beans instead.

justajane

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2015, 08:52:22 AM »
I want to do this in the future. The problem is my kids eat protein, but I'm hoping when they are older that I can begin to introduce more meat-free meals. I don't think I'll ever be entirely a vegetarian, but I would prefer to eat meat just once or twice a week rather than once or twice a day.

menesmercer

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2015, 09:16:07 AM »
I recently checked out a Vegan Slow Cooker recipe book from the library, and I was really disappointed that most of the recipes involved seitan, tempeh, or some other type of "fake meat". Vegetarian cuisine is delicious in its own way, and doesn't need to imitate meat-y dishes all the time.  I ended up just substituting different types of beans instead.

I don't normally post, but I am a vegan and have been for about 9 years. Seitan and tempeh are not really "fake meat"--they are alternative protein sources that have been used by some Asian cultures in some form for several centuries. Some Americans consider them "fake meat" because we have used them that way but there is nothing "fake" about them.

Occasionally, I eat seitan and tempeh and I have been known to marinate tempeh to make "bacon" (I like the smokey, salty flavor and I can get that without consuming an animal). But there is nothing "fake" about the tempeh itself.

purplepear

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2015, 12:31:17 PM »
I recently checked out a Vegan Slow Cooker recipe book from the library, and I was really disappointed that most of the recipes involved seitan, tempeh, or some other type of "fake meat". Vegetarian cuisine is delicious in its own way, and doesn't need to imitate meat-y dishes all the time.  I ended up just substituting different types of beans instead.

I don't normally post, but I am a vegan and have been for about 9 years. Seitan and tempeh are not really "fake meat"--they are alternative protein sources that have been used by some Asian cultures in some form for several centuries. Some Americans consider them "fake meat" because we have used them that way but there is nothing "fake" about them.

Occasionally, I eat seitan and tempeh and I have been known to marinate tempeh to make "bacon" (I like the smokey, salty flavor and I can get that without consuming an animal). But there is nothing "fake" about the tempeh itself.

Sorry, I didn't mean "fake". I guess I meant "imitation meat". Like some recipe books feel that there has to be some substitute for meat (be it more natural sources like seitan or tempeh or processed fake meats) in every meal. It's the vegetarian equivalent of "it's not a meal if it doesn't have meat in it". I have nothing against seitan, tempeh, or tofu, other than that they're much more expensive than beans or lentils for protein sources.

That being said, tempeh "bacon" is delicious. Tempeh BLTs especially.

crazycatlady

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2015, 08:41:25 PM »
I recently checked out a Vegan Slow Cooker recipe book from the library, and I was really disappointed that most of the recipes involved seitan, tempeh, or some other type of "fake meat". Vegetarian cuisine is delicious in its own way, and doesn't need to imitate meat-y dishes all the time.  I ended up just substituting different types of beans instead.

I don't normally post, but I am a vegan and have been for about 9 years. Seitan and tempeh are not really "fake meat"--they are alternative protein sources that have been used by some Asian cultures in some form for several centuries. Some Americans consider them "fake meat" because we have used them that way but there is nothing "fake" about them.

Occasionally, I eat seitan and tempeh and I have been known to marinate tempeh to make "bacon" (I like the smokey, salty flavor and I can get that without consuming an animal). But there is nothing "fake" about the tempeh itself.

Another long term vegetarian here.  We vegetarians don't live on veggie burgers, although there is nothing wrong with them in a pinch.  Seitan is not "fake meat", but is actually very tasty.  I make my own seitan and vegan sausages using recipes from the post punk kitchen website.  The author, Isa Chandra Moskowitz has written several excellent cookbooks.  They are easy, very affordable, and you can season them how you like.  That said, my meals are usually based on fruits, vegetables, lentils and grains. 

Being vegetarian may not be less expensive than being a meat eater.  But, I would wager that for most of us the motivation is not our personal finances but a concern for the well being of animals, and preserving the planet.

menesmercer

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2015, 06:57:22 AM »

[/quote]

Sorry, I didn't mean "fake". I guess I meant "imitation meat". Like some recipe books feel that there has to be some substitute for meat (be it more natural sources like seitan or tempeh or processed fake meats) in every meal. It's the vegetarian equivalent of "it's not a meal if it doesn't have meat in it". I have nothing against seitan, tempeh, or tofu, other than that they're much more expensive than beans or lentils for protein sources.

That being said, tempeh "bacon" is delicious. Tempeh BLTs especially.
[/quote]

I do agree with you about the concept for some that every meal has to have a meat (whether real or fake) and some vegetarian and vegan cookbooks fall into the trap too. Some of my meat eating friends are mystified when my meal consists of lots of veggies, some rice and beans. And beans are much cheaper so we tend to eat them much more than seitan and tempeh, though we have tofu 2-3 times per week. 

Tempeh BLTs--now you have made me hungry for one and I will have to have one this weekend!

ozzage

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2015, 03:26:33 PM »
As the husband of a vegetarian I'd like to comment on the "fake meat" thing.

While we eat a LOT of meals that have no type of "fake meat" involved, we also eat quite a few that do. That's because we like to eat from a variety of cuisines and many recipes are originally made with meat. So for example we use Quorn mince (is that available in the US?) in a dish like cottage pie because, well, we want to eat cottage pie! We also love making a particularly delicious Malaysian chicken curry dish, so we use "fake" chicken (which is actually REALLY good) to make the dish as authentic as possible without actually killing a chicken :)

If we didn't use meat substitutes we would have a lot less recipe options. We would survive (we could happily live off Indian food anyway!) but why limit ourselves?

gaja

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2015, 03:48:36 PM »
I know it is weird, not common at all, and probably caused by severe inbreeding and strange evolutionary selection, but sometimes when I read pro-vegetarian articles I feel the want (not a need) to point out that some people might die if they cut animal proteins from their diet.

We have a lot of interesting genetic issues in the family, most of which are kept in check by eating animal proteins (Carnitine Transporter Deficiency, Holocarboxylase Synthetase Deficiency, etc). My oldest and myself are not too bothered, but the youngest has been suffering from lack of energy and other symptomes. Several distant relatives died young before these issues were discovered (causes heart failure and seizures if severe and untreated). Doctors strongly advice against vegetarianism if you have these genes, also if you are only a carrier (as I suspect we are).

Gerard

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2015, 05:48:35 PM »
If we didn't use meat substitutes we would have a lot less recipe options. We would survive (we could happily live off Indian food anyway!) but why limit ourselves?

I get that. I think the people I don't understand are the ones who limit themselves in the other direction, feeling that there's a "hole on the plate" if there's nothing pretending to be meat. And of course there's an industry willing to cater to and reinforce that. You can sell a "veggie burger" for more than a big flat felafel.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2015, 06:31:55 PM »
We are happy Pescatarians in my house. We are primarily vegetarian at home, but eat fish about once a week.

I think always trying to have a meat replacement will drive up the price. But the more experienced of a vegetarian that you get, the less that's a problem. But I often pay about $2 for a pack of veggie burgers on sale, and there's 4 to a pack. A veggie burger and a side  of veggies is a nice meal, and pretty darn cheap.

That said, the only meat I miss is andouille sausage in my red beans and rice. I like my vegetarian red beans and rice, but man... it's not the same without andouille.

I think one of the biggest wallet traps for vegetarians is not eating in season. There are some expensive vegetables and fruits in the grocery store. You have to be careful.

Zikoris

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2015, 10:50:45 PM »
I've been vegan since long before I had a grocery bill, and it definitely cuts the cost of food. One thing I don't thing a lot of non-vegetarians realize is that we don't use the meat substitutes in the same way that you guys use meat - giant slabs of fake meat with a little bit of veggies and rice is just not something we eat. When I make chili, for example, I do use some veggie ground round, but the bulk of it is vegetables and rice. If I chop up veggie burgers for a stir fry, two veggie burgers would go into at least four portions, or about half a burger per serving. So yes, meat substitutes are expensive if you use, say, a whole package of something for one dinner, but if that package makes six servings... not so expensive anymore.

I don't think seitan or tempeh are fake meats. Seitan, at least, has been around so long, it's a major part of Chinese vegetarian cuisine. I'm rapidly getting addicted to the curry seitan from the Asian supermarket that I discovered last week.

MgoSam

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2015, 02:12:09 PM »
I am trying to eat more vegetarian based meals, largely to cut down on costs. Any advice on what all I should be making? I currently live alone and prefer not to make a giant dish that necessitates eating the same thing for lunch and dinner for a week.

purplish

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2015, 02:29:00 PM »
I've been vegetarian for about 12 years now, I've never understood when people say being veg. is more expensive, it's way cheaper!  Look at the cost of beans vs meat. Also it's not like vegetarians eat fake meat at every meal... maybe some but I think most eat a variety of proteins.

bittheory

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2015, 03:46:16 PM »
I've been vegetarian for about 12 years now, I've never understood when people say being veg. is more expensive, it's way cheaper!  Look at the cost of beans vs meat. Also it's not like vegetarians eat fake meat at every meal... maybe some but I think most eat a variety of proteins.

I agree. This thread has gotten a little out of control. From my experience, not buying meat has lowered our grocery bill considerably. I don't know how you can argue that being a vegetarian is more expensive any way you slice it, comparable in cases maybe, but probably not more expensive.

FIRE me

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2015, 10:04:40 PM »
Better for your health, better for the environment, better for your savings.

In years past, I had too much meat go bad in my refrigerator, waiting to be cooked. So I mostly stopped buying it. I now consider myself to be a part time, accidental vegetarian. Lately I've been eating meat one day per week.

menesmercer

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2015, 12:39:59 PM »
Concerning what to eat as a vegetarian or vegan, a lot of meals in our house involve beans and veggies with a grain and perhaps a fruit. For example, tonight we will be having chickpea marinara with brown rice, roasted vegetables and cantaloupe. Chickpea marinara makes a lot and there is only two of us so we freeze individual portions for lunch later in the week or month.

Drakmon

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #24 on: August 18, 2015, 01:03:57 PM »
Although we love eating meat, my wife has made a charge forward to eat less meat, since meat is expensive. We've made it work pretty darn well, especially in making things like Cauliflower Cheese Soup, which lasts an entire week, and then some, for two people.

So we're about 30/70 in terms of meat/veggie dishes. It has saved us a ton of money on groceries. We could probably save a lot more if we went to rice and beans, but we like to cook with fun ingredients too much.

My favorite vegetarian recipe so far: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/jeweled-rice-with-dried-fruit-230991

jooles

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #25 on: August 31, 2015, 12:59:07 PM »
Last night's killer carrot soup.  Use it as a side dish or main dish, your choice

1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 yellow, red or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups veg stock (or meat stock, your choice)
2 cups water
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes, or sambal olek (more if you like lots of heat)
2-4 Tbsp peanut butter
parsley or cilantro

Sautee carrots, onion, garlic, bell pepper, and celery in a few Tbsp water 5 mins.  Add veg stock, pepper flakes and water (sub water = bouillon and water if you like, 2 cubes to 4 c water).  Heat, 5 to 10 min.  Puree hot soup with peanut butter.  I use a Vita mix, but any blender or immersion blender would work.

Serve hot with a touch of chopped parsley or cilantro.

Sub cashew butter, almond butter or full fat coconut milk for peanut butter if you like.  Add a touch of ginger for a different flavor profile.

Even my omnivore friends like this :)


Ready2Go

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #26 on: September 01, 2015, 08:14:48 PM »

Last night's killer carrot soup.  Use it as a side dish or main dish, ...

Made your soup for tonight's dinner. Yum!   DS had 3 bowls. Have always been curious about how carrot soup would taste, so interesting that the peanut flavor comes through much more strongly than carrots. (At least in my version)


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Kimchi Bleu

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Re: Cutting grocery bill by embracing vegetarianism
« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2015, 05:59:33 AM »
DD decided she was going to be a vegetarian.  To support her I went vegan for a month.  It has horrible.  I felt terrible without the protein.  We do try to eat several meat free meals but for DH and the kids they always are hungry after those meals so that kind of cancels out any savings since they have another meal/snack an hour or two later.