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.
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.
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?
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- French Lentils with Garlic & Thyme
- No tweaks
- Purchased: onion & French lentils
- 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
- Spanish Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- Tweaks: The only toppings I used were cilantro & hot sauce
- Purchased: quinoa, vegetable stock, bell peppers, black beans, corn, & cilantro
Total Price for Dinners & Lunches: $47.70Might 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.