Keeping grocery costs down is something that is very important to me, particularly for the lunches I take to work. Sometimes even when a meal has been cheap, I’ve worked on ways to try and make it even cheaper. One of the most successful ways I’ve found of doing this is to swap out the meat component in a recipe for something else.
I’ll be honest I’m no vegetarian and I’m a big fan of meat. However the tasty meals I’ve come up with and the meat I’ve swapped for other alternatives have not only turned out to be extremely tasty but have significantly reduced my overall meal costs.
As I have experimented I have found many great alternatives to meat in recipes where I once thought meat was necessary. One of my favourite cheap alternatives to meat is tinned lentils (yes slightly more expensive than the dried version but for the convenience and saving in meat cost I believe it’s worth it). So, instead of making a pasta sauce with mince I use a tin of lentils. Difference in cost? $3.50. Now this might not seem a lot, but if I save $3.50 a week for every week of the year it amounts to $182 a year. Now I’m not saying I never use meat, but rather now I just use less of it. Another great alternative to chicken in a chicken curry is using potatoes and chick peas. Chick peas are high in protein and cheap to buy at $1 or less a can.
I can honestly say I don’t feel deprived by swapping out meat for other cheaper and often healthier alternatives. Sometimes instead of using meat I make vegetarian stir fries. Supplementing meat with additional vegetables makes meals more nutritious and without the worry of chicken going bad.
Not only do I aim to make cheap meals, but I am to make those cheap meals as healthy as possible. It’s easy to eat cheap (such as instant noodles) but this isn’t the most nutritious daily option. Vegetable soups are another fantastic frugal meal idea that makes large volumes but at a low cost. I’m even one of those people who makes soup in summer. Just because it’s warm out doesn’t mean I enjoy soup any less. Veggie soups area great cheap option, and adding bacon is a great addition to add extra flavour and some low cost meat if you really need it.
How do you keep grocery costs low? What do you ‘swap out’?