Weekday Vegetarianism | Mo Money, No Meat

I think even calling myself a vegetarian is a bold claim, because I’m not trying to make a health or animal rights statement. I’m simply trying to save money before I travel, and nixing the meat from my grocery list was an easy way to do it.

I make weekly dinner menus, so I have Monday through Friday planned. Well, I have ingredients for five meals that I’ll get around to making during the week. Before weekday vegetarianism, I’d feel like a goddamn hero if I left the grocery store with breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks under $100. If that seems high, I usually have leftovers and could easily scrimp together ingredients for meals through the weekend. Also, I come quite a few numbers down from my starting price tag.

CARNIVORE

In October my weekly bill was closer to $150 a week. Yet my work schedule started to get crazier, and I couldn’t justify making extravagant dinners and desserts anymore. It launched me to review my receipts line by line in order to find the expensive culprits. 

I started to cut out some of the obvious buys, such as sweets and random junk food. But I really didn’t eat much of that anyway, so it only knocked $10 or so off my total. I also noticed that in season fruit was much cheaper than out of season fruit. 

 
 Does this bandana make me cool?

Does this bandana make me cool?

So, again, it’s not like I’m pushing the, eat local and only organic agenda, but I couldn't ignore the savings. I'm talking the difference between $7 grapes to $0.98 oranges. Makes sense, right?

Pescatarian

But I wasn’t quite a hero to myself yet. Without the junk food and high maintenance fruit, my weekly trips were still hovering around $105, and I was obsessed with hitting under $100 consistently. So I started nixing what I think of as expensive meat: beef, pork, and chicken. And I had a breakthrough. Without those, my bill was a little less than $100 per week.

At that point, my diet consisted of vegetables, fruits, grains, an ungodly amount of Greek yogurt, eggs, and fish two to three times a week. But with a little over 5 months left before Departure Day, I felt like I could make one final push to save money. I cut out meat entirely. Much to my dismay, fish was the final piece to go. And you know what? My weekly grocery bill has been about $85 since. I went from $150 in October to $85 by the end of December, which is huge. 

I'll just put that into traveling terms for you, folks.

I’ll start with my $150 price tag from my pre-budgeting days, or $153.95 to exemplify my vice of food. Without all the cold-blooded meat or scaly fish in my cart I walked away paying only $84.59. That’s a total saving of $69.36. I’ll round down to be conservative, but that's $65 per week or a 45% decrease on grocery spending.

In other words, I have about 17 weeks left of buying groceries. If I were to keep my carnivorous ways, I’d spend roughly $2,550. However, by resorting to weekday vegetarianism, I’ll spend closer to $1,445 on food between now and the time I leave. That’s about $1,105 more in my pocket. With a $30 per day budget, that's an additional five weeks of traveling. If I ever said that I couldn’t be bought, it was a bold faced lie, because I can be, clearly. 

recap

Previous Food Expense: $150 per week
Previous Total Price for 17 Weeks: $2,550
Current Food Expense: $85 per week
Current Total Price for 17 Weeks: $1,445
Decrease & Savings: 45% or $1,105 in 4 1/4 months

A Year of Savings: A little more than $3,300

If You’re Curious

To give you an idea of what that money will buy you, here's the menu that began my weekday vegetarianism, which only cost $84.59. And for the record, I’m still eating three meals and two snacks a day.


Menu for the Week

Monday

Vegan Goulash with Smoked Tofu & Potatoes
Tweak: I used sweet potatoes instead of russet potatoes
Purchased: 6 sweet potatoes, head of garlic, & smoked tofu
Bonus: I had 2 sweet potatoes leftover

Price: $6.99

Tuesday

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatballs
Tweak: I used rolled oats instead of quick cook oats & I made my own marinara with canned whole tomatoes, onion, garlic, & red pepper flakes
Purchased: onion, mushrooms, rolled oats, parsley, eggs, & a 28 oz. can whole tomatoes

Price: $10.71

Wednesday

French Lentils with Garlic & Thyme
No tweaks
Purchased: onion & French lentils

Price: $4.53

Thursday

Falafel & Authentic Greek Tzatziki
Tweaks: I used canned chickpeas (I really don't recommend cutting that corner), & non-fat Greek yogurt
Purchased: large can of chickpeas, onion, lemons, cucumber, non-fat Greek yogurt, & dill

Price: $11.70

Friday

Spanish Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Tweaks: The only toppings I used were cilantro & hot sauce
Purchased: quinoa, vegetable stock, bell peppers, black beans, corn, & cilantro

Price: $13.77


Total Price for Dinners & Lunches: $47.70

Might I add this doesn't even include snacks and breakfasts?

Vegetarian by Week | Carnivore by Weekend

I’m not sticking to this once I begin traveling, or even past weekdays. I mean, I really like beef, pork, chicken, and especially fish. Not to mention, lamb is hands down my favorite meat. Basically where food is involved, I'll only concede so far. Anything that I cook is going to be vegetarian. It’s cheaper and makes sense. However, when I go out on the weekends or perhaps an occasional weekday dinner, I’m absolutely ordering something worthy of Fred Flintstone. Instead of a staple it’s become a luxury, and I’m perfectly fine with that for now.