Fifteen years ago my husband made a career change. When negotiating his salary he did not take into consideration the increase in living expenses of the new location. And while on paper it looked like he got a raise, in actuality he barely made enough for us to scrape by. Now I am not going to tell you how rough it was, because it really wasn’t that bad. His new job involved doing classified work in a vault, so he couldn’t bring his work home, which means when he was home he was fully present (you can’t put a price on that!). He loved what he was doing, rarely traveled and was home every night for dinner. In many ways it was the best job he ever had. There was just that one tiny problem of trying to stretch his paycheck to cover our expenses.
We saved money by discontinuing unnecessary expenditures like cable (that in itself greatly increased the quality of our life!), shopping at consignment stores, and slashing the grocery bill. One of the first items to be cut from the grocery list was meat which is usually more expensive per pound than other protein sources. Often when we were standing in the check out line, one of the other customers would look in our grocery cart and ask if we were vegetarians and my husband would always say, “We are economic vegetarians”.
Even though my husband’s salary has increased over the years, we usually eat meatless meals two nights a week. We eat meat as a main dish two times a week and the other nights I roll the leftover meat into a new dish and use it more as a condiment to add flavor to the meal.
Many people worry about obtaining enough protein from meatless meals. If you share that concern, You will want to read this article which tackles the protein myths.
In the summer, gardening provides me with a steady supply of organic vegetables which further reduces the cost of our meatless meals. You can reduce the cost of vegetarian meals even more by making your own vegetable broth.
Another way to reduce the cost of vegetarian meals is to buy dried beans and a bulk bag of brown rice and cook them from scratch. Are you new to cooking dried beans, here are multiple methods for cooking dried beans, so you can find a method that matches your cooking style.
I have to admit that I am content eating a bowl of Rice and Beans for dinner, but my family likes a little more variety. Below are some of our favorite frugal, meatless meals.
Frugal Meatless Meals
I am not the only one who has saved money with meatless meals, you can read Angela’s experience on The Non-Consumer Advocate and then check out her Meatless Monday posts for even more economic vegetarian dishes.
What items do you cut back on when money is tight? What are your favorite frugal meals?