Friday, August 27, 2010

Financial Friday: Skip the Meat

As many of you know, my "other half" is a vegetarian, although I'm an omnivore. Z is a lacto-ovo, meaning he doesn't eat meat or fish, but still consumes dairy products and eggs. I've never been a huge meat eater, so I've allowed Z to introduce me to many tasty, meat-free products over time - and I've saved some money doing it.

Before I dive into this post, however, let's get one thing straight: Not all vegetarian-friendly products are cheaper. Not by a long shot. And not all of us want to cut a lot of meat out of our diets. But by going meatless even a small amount of the time, you can end up with more dough in your pocket. Here's how I've done it.

First off: Tofu is cheap. I bought a package of firm tofu at Trader Joe's last week for $1.79, and I got about 6 servings out of it. Most packages of chicken are $3-4+ for four breasts, and ground turkey can be anywhere from $4-5. Tofu was $1.79. I ended up making tofu and black bean quesadillas with it. I just drained the tofu, cut it into chunks, sauteed it in a pan with some olive oil, and Z seasoned the tofu with salt, black pepper, curry, garlic powder, chili powder, and cilantro. I threw in some canned black beans, gave it a stir, and scooped the tofu and black bean mixture into whole wheat tortillas with melted cheese.

I love how tofu also retains the flavors that you add to it - it's like a flavor sponge

In addition to tofu, vegetarian lunch "meat" is also a few dollars cheaper than regular pre-packaged cold cuts, or even meat from the deli. I usually go for the Tofurky brand since it's available at just about any grocery store, and the flavors normally range from "bologna" to hickory smoked "turkey" to "ham." To be honest, these deli slices aren't incredible by themselves, but I normally add Dijon and avocado to my sandwiches, or hummus and pickles, and the outcome is delicious. I forget I'm not eating meat! And, the best part: The ingredient lists for these deli slices are short and legible. 

There are so many other ways you can save money by not purchasing meat every once and a while, and it's also a lot healthier for you. Many vegetarian-friendly options on restaurant menus end up being cheaper, too - like portobello or veggie burgers, or some meat-free pasta dishes. If the restaurant doesn't have to pay a few extra bucks to put meat in the dish, neither do you.

Are you a vegetarian? If not, would you consider consuming less meat to save money (or for other reasons)?


  1. I'm a vegetarian but don't eat a lot of tofu or soy products! I'm trying to eat more and your quesadillas look great, I will be giving them a try!

  2. I'm not a vegetarian but I definitely like eating lots of non-meat dishes to save money! I think products like quinoa or black beans can go such a long way without spending a lot of money!

  3. Miss Yunks - I highly recommend you try tofu, and even soy milk - full of protein, and usually very tasty!