Meatless Monday Can Help You Balance Budget with Health

January 14th, 2013

Looking for creative ways to stretch your food budget? Start saving with this week’s Meatless Monday meal. Skipping meat once a week is an easy way to cut your grocery or restaurant bill while adding a boost of nutrients and delicious flavors to your routine.

There is a pervading belief that healthy, plant-based meals are more expensive than junk food, but this doesn’t have to be the case! In their Good Food on a Tight Budget guide, the Environmental Working Group lays out some simple tips and affordable ingredients to help you stay on track. Their recommendations include ideas that easily fit into your Meatless Monday routine like making a meal plan, adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, and swapping meat for beans or lentils on a weekly basis.

Wellness coach, author and Meatless Monday advocate Kathy Freston agrees that swapping meat for more beans, grains and produce can save you money while keeping you satisfied:

“Whole grains like quinoa or barley or brown rice, legumes like chickpeas or soybeans, and other beans like black-eyed peas and black beans are very inexpensive — certainly cheaper than processed and packaged foods. Bought in bulk, whole grains and beans can cost just pennies per meal. And because they are full of fiber they make you feel full and satisfied (put them into soups, stews, salads, burritos, etc.), without the dangerous saturated fat of animal protein. Fresh vegetables and fruits can be found at supermarkets and farmers’ markets for very reasonable prices. Organic and specialty stores are great, but it’s certainly not necessary to empty your wallet in order to eat healthfully.”

Even organics and meat alternatives can offer substantial savings: tofu is typically cheaper per pound than meat products and consumers can save on organic produce by shopping in season, buying frozen, or growing at home.

Going out to eat? Many restaurants now offer weekly Meatless Monday discounts! The Whole Enchilada Fresh Mexican Grill in Oakland Park, FL offers 20% off any meatless dish on Monday, whilePhileas Foggs Bar & Restaurant in San Diego, CA has a special price of $5.95 for their Meatless Monday Chili. Maoz Vegetarian also provides a special Meatless Monday discount to their patrons across the country.

Some restaurants have even used their promotions to spread the movement: China King’s Restaurant in the Meatless Monday community of Leesburg, VA, highlights the health benefits of cutting saturated fat with a 15% off discount on their vegetable menu. Marquis Pizza in Denver, CO has turned Meatless Monday into a party, complete with musicians and a $10 buffet!

Whether eating out or enjoying a home-cooked meal, it’s easy to start the week with delicious, healthy and affordable options. Start out this Monday with our featured recipe for Bloody Mary Chili. Then, add some dirt-cheap dishes to your repertoire with these meatless recipe collections from All YouMother Nature Network and Buzzfeed.