Lisa Washburn

Going Meatless One Day Each Week Benefits Budget, Health

In Food & Cooking, Health, Mealtime, Money on September 19, 2011 at 4:00 AM

If your grocery bill seems to increase with every shopping trip, it’s not your imagination.  A trip to the supermarket costs about 4% more than it has in the past.  This has many looking for ways to save on food costs. A simple way to save 5%—no coupon clipping required—is to go meatless one night a week.

The most recent estimates from the USDA put food costs at nearly $1,000 a month for a family of four. However, going meatless one night a week can save a bundle—$50 a month.  Before deciding that your family will never go for even one meatless meal, consider the benefits for your budget and your health.

Going meatless does not mean sacrificing protein. Protein, essential to a healthy diet, comes from both animal and plant sources. In fact, some nonmeat protein sources included in MyPlate, the government’s newest effort to encourage a healthy diet, are beans and peas, soy products, nuts and  seeds.  These foods supply many nutrients, including protein, B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6), vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium.

Among the many options for a meatless meal are beans and peas.  Choose from black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, and navy or pinto beans.  You might choose processed soy products such as tofu, or nuts such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts.  Peanut butter is also a protein source, as are seeds like pumpkin, sesame and sunflower.

Replace meat one day each week with plant-based protein sources and your family could reap the health benefits of reduced intake of saturated fat, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This easy change will also increase the amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber consumed.

One meatless evening meal each week will make your wallet healthier as well.  Meat products are the most costly items in the grocery store. Going meatless just one day per week reduces meat consumption about 15% and grocery bills about 5% per week.  The most recent monthly food cost estimates from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion put a family of four spending up to $998 per month on a “moderate” cost plan. Going meatless only one night each week can save nearly $600 per year.

Here are some meatless main dish ideas:

Slow Cooker New Orleans Red Beans
Super Stir Fry
Winter Black Bean Soup
Cheesy Pasta with Summer Veggies
Tortellini Tuscan Stew
Strawberry Spinach Salad

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