Going meatless more often this year, or meatless already? Great! Whether you’re new to this idea and on a low budget or you just want to save some money on your grocery bill, you’ll be glad to know that meatless is already an easy way to reduce your food costs. Per serving, meat is much higher in costs than vegetables or plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, some seeds, and grains. Meat is also inflammatory to the body, and has too many health risks associated with eating it to be putting on your plate so often. So to save your budget and your heart, we thought we’d show you some simple ways going meatless can be done on a budget.
Here’s proof that eating more fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be costly and that’s it’s easy enough for anyone to do, no matter what the wallet size.
Top 3 Meatless Monday Budget Tips to Keep in Mind
1. Emphasize True Whole Foods
First, be sure you’re eating simple, whole foods. Packaged foods are often much more pricey per serving than fresh and are also not as filling. Think greens, beans, legumes, fruits, whole grains, veggies, and some nut and seed based products if you enjoy them and can afford them. Think oats and rice over bread, frozen and fresh fruit over canned (which usually has sugar added), and fresh veggies and beans versus processed options mixed with excess salt and sauces. They’re all naturally cheaper per serving in whole food form and are also healthier too.
2. Buy Organic on Sale
Organic produce truly is much better for you than non-organic produce, but if you can’t buy it all the time, just buy what’s on sale or the cheaper version out of each section. Most stores now have an organic generic brand of everything, so take advantage of this when you can. Also, rotate what you buy organic, which is a great way to get a variety of nutrients and try new things.
3. Always Shop Bulk
Bulk allows you to one, save money per serving, and two, don’t buy more than you need at one time. The best items to buy in bulk include servings of grains, raw nuts and seeds, along with items that might be higher priced on the shelves such as trail mix, beans and legumes. Measure out how much you need and simply only buy what you know you’ll eat. This also ensures you’re using what you have and not buying more food when you have plenty at home. Keep these items in the fridge since most of them go rancid the longer they sit out.
These three tips can be used by anyone, meatless or not, so let’s put them into practice with some recipe and meal suggestions. Though not your only options, here are two highly nutritious examples per meal to choose from:
Chia Pudding With Blueberries
Per serving all the ingredients are low-cost, and can be used in many other recipes so they’re also versatile. Chia seeds from the bulk section and frozen berries are the cheaper way to go here, but still incredibly nutrient-dense.
Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats
Oats and pumpkin are both two foods that are inexpensive per serving and will last awhile in your pantry. Canned pumpkin (choose BPA-free) is one of the only canned foods that is actually beneficial though tetra-packs are available if you’re against the canned. Pumpkin is cheap, filling, full of antioxidants, and soaked oats are extremely nutritious and naturally low in cost. Make this overnight and you’ve got a budget-friendly breakfast in no time!
Mexican Black Bean Soup
Soup is an easy meal to eat on a budget, especially when it contains beans and legumes. These ingredients are low-cost and very filling so you’re not hungry an hour or two later. Always add some inexpensive veggies, such as root vegetables for extra nutrition and flavor. Mexican Black Bean Soup is perfect proof that neither soup or beans have to be boring!
The World’s Healthiest Veggie Burger (Gluten-Free, Soy-Free)
This is one of the cheapest, healthiest, and tastiest veggie burgers you’ll ever eat. It’s made from whole foods and utilizes inexpensive ingredients. Go with chia or flax as your egg replacer in the recipe and keep some very inexpensive chickpea flour or chickpeas on hand at all times. Chickpeas are a great source of protein and have an incredible flavor. Try more ways to use chickpea flour for other ideas.
Not into soups or burgers? See our other lunch recipes that are also available.
Eggplant Garbanzo Stew With Polenta
This delicious stew is so filling and so dense in nutrition! It’s also made from affordable foods that should be staples in any meatless kitchen, but especially those on a budget. Best of all, you can keep this for a few days so it will serve as easy leftovers for lunch or dinner the next night. We have other stew recipes you might enjoy for other cozy ideas.
Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
Full of fiber and protein, these bell peppers make a unique, budget-friendly meal no one might expect costs so little. Quinoa might be pricey in package form but in the bulk section it’s quite affordable. You only need 1/4 cup per serving since once cooked, this amount provides plenty of protein, fiber, and other nutrients to keep you satiated and nourished. Stuffing bell peppers with quinoa only adds to the nutrition of this dish and peppers can be easily afforded on any budget. Don’t like quinoa? (Because hey, some of us don’t.) You can easily use oats or rice, no worries!
For other dinner ideas, see our selection and remember to choose ones that are simple and whole food based if you’re watching the dollars extra close.
Need more Meatless Monday help and inspiration? See all of our Meatless Monday posts for other ideas, tips and tricks.
Lead Image Source: Gluten-Free Lasagna