Here’s How You Can Save Money by Going Meatless on Monday
There’s the common misconception that vegetarian and vegan foods are expensive…
Incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet can actually save you money.
Many of the foundational ingredients of a plant-based diet are shelf-stable, cost-effective, and purchasable in bulk. Foods like beans and peas (canned or dried), tofu, frozen vegetables, grains like brown rice or quinoa, dried pastas, fresh fruits and vegetables, and even some frozen veggie burgers and nuggets can feed a family (or yourself) for a fraction of the cost of a fast-food meal.
A day of Meatless Monday meals brought to you by Budget Bytes
Breakfast: Golden Milk Overnight Oats ($0.40 per serving)
Lunch: African Peanut Stew ($1.06 per serving)
Dinner: Lentils with Creamy Mushroom Gravy ($1.27 per serving)
And if you’re worried about not getting the proper amount of protein from your plant-based foods—don’t be! Chickpeas, black beans, peas, quinoa, tofu, and dozens of other beans, whole grains, and vegetables are all excellent (and inexpensive) sources of protein without the added cholesterol and saturated fat that comes with animal products.
So, start saving money this Monday with 10 plant-based foods that are both inexpensive and easy-to-use. To inspire your culinary imagination, we’ve included meatless Monday recipes to go along with each ingredient.
Often sold for less than a dollar a can, beans are the ultimate plant-based protein. With so many different types to choose from — kidney, black, pinto, cannellini, pigeon peas, butter beans — the recipe possibilities are endless. Make a stew, vegetable chili, bean salad, hummus or these black bean meatless balls with zucchini noodles.
Cost-saving Recipe: Smoky Black Bean Soup ($1.06 per serving)
Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables around. A head of cauliflower usually costs between $2.00 – $3.00, but it goes a long way. The florets can be roasted, sauteed, mashed, or turned into rice—you can’t really go wrong with cauliflower. Try making cauliflower Buffalo wings, pizza crust, or Alfredo sauce for a fun/interesting twist on classic comfort foods.
Cost-saving Recipe: Easy Cauliflower Chickpea Masala ($1.03 per serving)
At $1.50 per pound, a bag of dried lentils is one of the best bargains in the grocery store. Besides an almost indefinite shelf life, the lentil contains a laundry-list of essential minerals like iron, folate, and manganese, is packed with protein, and is a great source of fiber. If you’ve never before cooked with dried lentils, start with a simple stew or these crunchy lentil tacos.
Cost-saving Recipe: Lentils with Creamy Mushroom Gravy ($1.27 per serving)
Think of oatmeal as a blank canvas. Costing less than a quarter per serving, let your imagination run wild when it comes to cooking breakfast. Mix in everything from peanut butter, jam, nuts, seeds, or even savory spices. Dried oatmeal can last longer than a year when properly stored. Start your day with banana maple oatmeal or make them for dinner as a savory oatmeal with spinach and yogurt.
Cost-saving Recipe: Golden Milk Overnight Oats ($0.40 per serving)
Whether you like it creamy or crunchy, peanut is the ideal pantry staple. A serving of peanut butter is packed with protein and healthy fats, both of which will keep you feeling nice and satiated. Peanut butter has a shelf life of more than a year (unopened), and many brands of sell for less than $2.00 a jar. Peanut butter can be used in savory dishes like this peanut butter and pinto bean chili or in sweet treats like these chocolate peanut butter protein snacks.
Cost-saving Recipe: African Peanut Stew ($1.06 per serving)
Polenta (corn meal)
Polenta is made by mixing cornmeal (dried, ground corn) with either water or milk. Inexpensive and versatile, polenta can serve as the foundation of any number of meals, pairing especially well with tomato sauce, like in this recipe for Italian white beans with kale and polenta or these baked polenta fries.
Cost-saving Recipe: Garlic Parmesan Polenta ($0.16 per serving)
These starchy staples don’t last forever, but when stored in a cool dark space they can last for between 2 – 3 months. At around .50 cents per pound, the potato is an excellent source of fiber, nutrients, and calories; they can add creaminess to soups or serve as a vessel for delicious stuffed potatoes primavera.
Cost-saving Recipe: Oven-baked Steak Fries ($0.47 per serving)
Whether it’s white, brown, or wild, rice costs less than a quarter per serving. Rice can serve as an accompanying carbohydrate or act as the main meal. For a new take on everyone’s favorite grain, try this vegetarian biryani or meatless brown rice jambalaya. You can also stick with the classics: red beans and rice, hoppin’ John, or fried brown rice.
Cost-saving Recipe: Easy Taco Rice ($.38 per serving)
Spinach (fresh or frozen)
Spinach is one of the healthiest foods around, loaded with nutrients like iron, calcium, and vitamins A, and C. But spinach is also inexpensive, with a bag of fresh or frozen spinach typically costing between $2.00 – $3.00. This versatile ingredient can be used in a number of ways, ranging from soups and salads to pastas and dips, but we recommend adding spinach to this spinach shepherd’s pie or these spinach potato tacos.
Cost-saving Recipe: Indian-style Creamed Spinach ($1.34 per serving)
The sweet potato is nature’s candy; slice it down the middle and heat in the microwave for five minutes and out comes tasting reminiscent of a sugary soufflé. If you want to try making a dish that requires a little more technique, cook up this spicy and aromatic sweet potato chana or a coconut milk sweet potato white bean soup.
Cost-saving Recipe: Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans ($1.13 per serving)