Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Food and Grocery: Where's the Beef?

I recently read an article that discussed how you could save roughly $3000 annually on food. They listed six ways to do this and assigned a dollar amount of savings to each action. The six ideas were: Eat Vegetarian a Few Nights a Week, Minimize Waste, Plug in the Slow Cooker, Discover Great Ways to Use Canned Fish, Don’t Order Pizza Make it yourself, and Pack a Lunch. I hope to explore some more of these cost savings ideas in future “Food and Grocery” posts.

When planning a meal my default thinking is always to start with the protein. Meal prep typically starts by going to the freezer to see if we have beef, chicken or pork available. I don’t know how my default thinking got this way. It may simply be my love for meat, the way I was raised, or being a male.

In regards to how I was raised, meals growing up, like in many homes, were based around a protein. The fact that we loved to repeat a popular commercial from the 1980’s Where’s the Beef? should tell you all you need to know about my family! In fairness, there were a couple popular exceptions included Sam’s Club frozen Stir Fry and my mom’s fruit salad.

Regardless of how I got the “meals start with meat mindset” the above mentioned article, as well as Lib recently telling me she would be fine with some meatless meals, got me to thinking. It got me to thinking about going vegetarian with some regularity. Maybe we will start with one dinner a week.

From a cost standpoint, the article says that if you replace 1 pound of sirloin ($5.99) with a 14-ounce block of tofu ($1.96) once a week you could save $210 per year. To put that into perspective, this savings after a whole year of munching on tofu (something I don’t think I have ever eaten) would buy you about a half an iPad. Nonetheless the principle is good, and in additional to cost savings, I know there is multiple health benefits from mixing in more veggies.

I turn to you blog community for assistance and information. Do you eat vegetarian with any frequency? If so, what are some of your favorite non-meat recipes? Thanks A Day In the Life blog for your Potato Soup recipe post during your Menu Monday, I look forward to giving that a try.

Thanks for your help and I look forward to hearing from you and giving your recipes a try.


  1. Thanks for the shout out! ;)
    I aim for at least one meatless meal a week - two if I can swing it which is tough because Mike is like you - meat is the main part of the meal.

  2. I have a growing collection of meatless meals filled with yum (and ease) that even my non-vego friends enjoy. They're all at

    I'm always astonished at the price of meat. We can make an entire vego meal for 2-4 people for the cost of the meat for the same number of mouths. It's definitely much cheaper, especially if you buy seasonally.

  3. often we start (or i should say 'my husband starts') by looking for what we have for meat as well. i know it would be hard to convince my husband to go without having meat as part of the meal, so here's ways we save:

    we buy in bulk. last year, we bought a quarter cow. this year, we're buying a half. we figure we're getting awesome meat (hamburger, roasts, steaks, etc.) packaged for $2.25/pound where in the store you pay nearly twice that for a pound of hamburger. dude. if you have the storage (a nice chest freezer) bulk up!

    hunt! matt got two deer this year. we'll have it made into polish, beef sticks, and my husband will also make some of his own sausage (he also eats the backstraps and makes venison hamburger). last year, the fruits of his hunt lasted us through the year.

    okay, so there are only two big ways that we save on meat. soups/salads/sandwich type meals are one thing - my husband would be open to that. tofu is quite another! the day he eats that would be the day money starts falling from the sky. :)

    good post!

  4. Great blog, Paul! I eat very little meat, so I do have a lot of ideas for vegetarian meals. I don't have specific recipes, I usually just wing it or look up recipes online.

    Among my favorites:
    Veggie stir-fry with peanut sauce
    soups-minestrone, lentil, veggie chili with lots of beans
    veggie sloppy joes with TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein, good, but maybe not for everyone :)

    In general, legumes (beans, lentils,split peas) are great meat substitutes because they are protein-rich and inexpensive. Quinoa is also a protein-rich grain I use a lot.

    You can send me a message on facebook if you need more ideas...