reduce grocery bill http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12389/all en-US How to Save Money by Going (Mostly) Meatless http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-by-going-mostly-meatless <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-save-money-by-going-mostly-meatless" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5058385985_6b9ae6d8d5_z.jpg" alt="vegetables" title="vegetables" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Let me start by saying this &mdash; I like a big, fat steak as much the next omnivore. I like roasted chickens and sausages. And I really like bacon.</p> <p>My wallet doesn&rsquo;t love it quite so much, however.</p> <p>According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/06/08/154568945/what-america-spends-on-groceries">meat makes up about 21%</a> of the average American grocery budget, making it the most expensive category after processed foods. That suggests that many of us eat quite a lot of meat, and that it has a pretty significant effect on our bottom line.</p> <p>Of course, most of us also know that adding more plants to our meals is good for our health. A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia in June found that those who followed a vegetarian diet were <a target="_blank" href="http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/vegetarian-diet-healthy-medical-study-20120604-1zr6t.html">less likely to have heart disease</a>, diabetes, and colorectal cancer. They were also less likely to be obese. In other words, money isn&rsquo;t the only reason to consider cutting a down your meat consumption. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-vegetarian-crock-pot-recipes">25 Tasty Vegetarian Crock Pot Recipes</a>)</p> <h2>Meat and Money</h2> <p>How can adding a few vegetarian staples to your week cut your grocery bill? Let&rsquo;s break it down.</p> <p>According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, common cuts of meat cost between $1.59 per pound (for chicken legs) to $4.90 per pound (for steak). (My old friend, bacon, comes out at $4.53 per pound.) According to the U.S. food pyramid, which calls a serving 2&ndash;3 ounces, that pound of meat should feed between five and eight people.</p> <p>That sounds pretty frugal, but most meat wouldn&rsquo;t stretch that far in my house, especially when you add the weight of the bones and loss of weight in cooking into the equation.</p> <p>The BLS says that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-ways-to-enjoy-beans-and-rice">dried beans</a>, for example, go for about $1.46 per pound. If you consider one cup of cooked beans to be a serving, that means you&rsquo;ll get up to five servings in each pound, bringing each person&rsquo;s serving of protein to about 29 cents. That&rsquo;s the base of a very inexpensive &mdash; and healthy &mdash; meal. So, even when you weigh them against the cheapest meat options, most vegetarian options are a whole lot cheaper.</p> <h2>Ways to Go Meatless</h2> <p>Cutting grocery expenses is just one of the many great reasons to reduce the amount of meat in your diet. But the question for many meat eaters is how to do it without missing, well, the meat. Here are some ideas.</p> <p><strong>1. Look to Culture</strong></p> <p>There are several cultures that are entirely vegetarian, such as some Sikhs and Hindus, Jains, and Seventh Day Adventists. Many others use meat more as a garnish than as a main course. Because these groups have been using vegetarian ingredients for many generations, they&rsquo;ve figured out how to make their signature dishes as comforting, delicious, and filling as any meat-based meal.</p> <ul> <li>For example, <a target="_blank" href="http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/02/red-kidney-bean-curry/">red bean curry</a> is a popular staple in some parts of India.</li> <li>Or try a <a target="_blank" href="http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pakistani-Lentil-Curry/Detail.aspx?prop24=RD_RelatedRecipes">Pakistani</a> lentil curry.</li> <li>And if you want to try tofu, check out a cookbook from Japan, where tofu has been an important staple for centuries. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/miso-soup-recipe.html">Miso soup</a> anyone?</li> </ul> <p>Note that cooking ethnic recipes does require some investment in terms of spices and other pantry staples. The good news? A little goes a long way with most of these ingredients. Look for them at an ethnic grocery store if you have any near you &mdash; they&rsquo;re likely to be cheaper.</p> <p><strong>2. Spice Things Up</strong></p> <p>Speaking of spices, there&rsquo;s a reason they&rsquo;re so prominent in vegetarian recipes.</p> <p>Unlike a steak, which tastes pretty great seasoned with only a little salt, a kidney bean needs a little more finessing. That isn&rsquo;t to say that vegetarian food is bland, but cooking vegetarian does require a bit of a shift in thinking.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re a meat-and-potatoes kind of person, you probably think of meat as what&rsquo;s for dinner. When you&rsquo;re cooking vegetarian, you need to think of your proteins as just one of many ingredients that go into the pot. Individually, none of them will knock your socks off. Together, they can be magic!</p> <p><strong>3. Ease Into It</strong></p> <p>If you don&rsquo;t eat any vegetarian meals, just reducing the amount of meat in your meals using vegetarian ingredients can be a great start. For example, rather than cutting meat right out of your chilli, why not cut the usual amount of meat you use in half, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dilutions-of-grandeur-stretch-your-food-at-every-meal">fill up the rest of the pot</a> with more beans and vegetables?</p> <p>I also recommend bacon (did I mention that I like bacon?) as a substitute in many dishes. Just a couple of slices can make a big pot of (mostly) vegetarian <a href="http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/10/corn-chowder-with-chilies/">corn chowder</a>, or this healthy version of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/02/baked-potato-soup.html">baked potato soup,</a> taste as rich and delicious as any meat-based meal. Plus, if you can learn to make a little bit of meat go a long way, it&rsquo;ll be good for both your budget and your body.</p> <p><strong>4. Eat Whole Foods</strong></p> <p>If you&rsquo;re going to try eating vegetarian, there&rsquo;s one big trap to avoid in terms of cost &mdash; processed foods.</p> <p>Whole foods are always the way to go in terms of price; eat a lot of beans and rice and you can survive on a few dollars a day. Veggie burgers and tofu dogs? Not so much.</p> <p>In fact, processed vegetarian items are often <a target="_blank" href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2011/07/tofu-or-not-tofu-the-high-cost-of-vegetarianism.html">a lot more expensive than their animal-based buddies</a> in the meat aisle. That price discrepancy isn&rsquo;t discrimination against those who abstain from meat; it&rsquo;s just simple economics. Less demand equals higher prices. If you&rsquo;re eating vegetarian to save money, stick to whole foods and learn to cook them, otherwise you may end up paying more for your veggie burger than you would for the real thing!</p> <p>Eating more vegetarian meals can help you cut down your grocery bill, but it doesn&rsquo;t have to be an exercise in culinary asceticism. With a few <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-organize-your-pantry-and-save-cash">pantry staples</a> and a little practice, you can cook vegetarian meals that&rsquo;ll have you saying &ldquo;hold the meat&rdquo; more often.</p> <p><em>Have any staple vegetarian recipes of your own? Share them in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-by-going-mostly-meatless">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-mouth-watering-lentil-recipes">35 Mouth Watering Lentil Recipes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/waste-not-want-not-stop-throwing-away-your-food">Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/soy-milk-tofu-and-veggie-burgers-for-pennies-anyone">Soy Milk, Tofu, and Veggie Burgers for pennies, anyone?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/perfect-peanut-sauce">Perfect Peanut Sauce</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink meat alternatives reduce grocery bill vegetarian Tue, 29 Jan 2013 11:00:31 +0000 Tara Struyk 967388 at http://www.wisebread.com Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food! http://www.wisebread.com/waste-not-want-not-stop-throwing-away-your-food <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/waste-not-want-not-stop-throwing-away-your-food" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2712005646_fcfcef5b8e_z.jpg" alt="watermelon rinds" title="watermelon rinds" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Americans waste a lot of food. Every year, we throw away approximately <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/weekinreview/18martin.html">30 million tons of food</a>. Don't worry (or do!), we're not alone; apparently those goody-goody Swedes throw away roughly a quarter of the food that they buy. Sure, we might be composting like crazy these days, but still, when you think about it, throwing away that much food is still a waste of money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-cut-waste-when-feeding-kids">10 Ways to Cut Waste When Feeding Kids</a>)</p> <p>My grandmother, who spent a better part of her childhood in Nazi prison camps, instilled in her children a strong conviction that wasting food was downright sinful. I've never gotten over that lesson, so I live in a rather paranoid world where refusing to take home your leftovers from a night of Chinese food is almost on par with punching a kitten: It's just not done. I have become rather adept at using up leftovers. The food that I find myself wasting these days turns out to be stuff that I never previously thought of as <i>food</i>, per se.</p> <p>This past summer, I was meandering through a local farmers market when I came across a stall manned by a Hmong farmer and his wife. On display he had dozens of different vegetables that I had never seen before. Something I was rather surprised to see included was the leftover greenery from the harvest of summer squash. I asked the gentleman who was bagging up my purchase about the squash stems and leaves. Having recently had a terrible experience with undercooked taro leaves, I was leery of anything new and exciting, and the greenery of most gourds is covered in tiny thorns that scratch the skin &mdash; not exactly something that I was eager to ingest.</p> <p>Seeing my apprehension, the farmer laughed and said, &quot;These are scratchy, but not if you cook them for loooong time, like we do.&quot; Intrigued, I looked up <a href="http://www.ifood.tv/network/squash_leaves/recipes">recipes for squash leaves</a> online later that day, and found that squash greens are used in <a href="http://philippinesfoodrecipes.blogspot.com/2010/06/laksa-laksa-bean-noodles-with.html">laksa</a>, a noodle soup common in Southeast Asia. I had happily eaten squash blossoms before, but never the greens.</p> <p>Intrigued, I started thinking about other greens from our gardens and refrigerators that we throw away once the harvest is over.</p> <h3>Carrot Greens</h3> <p>Carrot tops can be boiled for soup stock, along with things like celery and fennel bottoms, fennel fronds, woody herb<strong> </strong>stems, and the rinds of hard cheese, bones, and<strong> </strong>apple cores. You still end up throwing away the leftover bits, but at least you're getting all the flavor out first. If you're feeling more adventurous, you can <a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/food/2009/11/03/eat-your-carrot-greens/">use carrot greens</a> in a way akin to parsley.</p> <h3>Cauliflower Leaves</h3> <p>These are often removed from a head of cauliflower before you buy, but if they are still attached, you can cook them with the cauliflower. They're just like cabbage.</p> <h3>Broccoli and Cauliflower Stems</h3> <p>This might seem like a no-brainer, but lots of people discard the stems from broccoli and cauliflower. Just thinly slice the stems and cook with the rest of your veggies. Stems contain fiber and nutrients, too.</p> <h3>Radish Greens</h3> <p>The tops of a bunch of red radishes or daikon are a spicy treat. Because they are often sandy, I triple wash mine before cooking.</p> <h3>Pea Greens</h3> <p>Anyone from China can tell you that <em>dou miao</em> are a delicacy. Sauteed with garlic and sesame oil, <a href="http://localfoods.about.com/od/sidedishes/qt/sauteepeagreens.htm">pea greens</a> are healthy and delicious.</p> <h3>Watermelon Rinds</h3> <p>You probably already know that you can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-guaranteed-easiest-way-to-make-your-own-pickles">pickle</a> watermelon rind, but you can also simply cook with it &mdash; it acts very much like the Chinese winter melon that is so popular in soups. Watermelonrind.com has a <a href="http://watermelonrind.com/">big list of rind recipes</a> that you can print out (staring at that web site might cause severe eye strain). Try to ignore all of the brand name recommendations; you can use any brand of cumin that you want when making <a href="http://watermelonrind.com/watermelon-rind-curry-recipe.html">watermelon rind curry</a>.</p> <h3>Potato Skins</h3> <p>I'm honestly baffled by anyone who would peel a potato and not eat the skin; the flavor and texture of potato skins is my favorite part of a French fry. But if you're a mashed potato purist, keep the clean potato skins to the side and fry them up as a crunchy topping for meats or salads.</p> <h3>Squash Seeds</h3> <p>Also big in China, salted watermelon and pumpkin seeds are a delicious snack. Although many <a href="http://allrecipes.com//HowTo/roasting-pumpkin-seeds/Detail.aspx">roasted pumpkin seed recipes</a> call for an oven temp of 325&deg;F, you can also cook the seeds at 250&deg;F over a longer period. Try seasoning with kosher salt and spicy Indian masalas, like <a href="http://www.ishopindian.com/mdh-kitchen-king-masala-pr-21923.html">Kitchen King</a>, before roasting.</p> <h3>Garlic and Onion Tops and Flowers</h3> <p>You'd have to be living under a rock not to know how useful garlic scapes are in cooking. While it's true that most grocery stores carry only the bulbs, if you grow your own garlic and onions or buy yours from a local farmer's market, you can take advantage of the whole plant.</p> <h3>Banana Peels</h3> <p>Yes, you can eat banana peels. If chopped finely, they add a distinct (if unfamiliar) flavor to savory dishes, including this <a href="http://www.vahrehvah.com/Banana+Skin+Sabji:6703">Indian curry dish</a>, and this recipe, which <a href="http://www.indianrelish.com/main/recipe/banana-skin-and-cow-pea/">combines banana peels with black eyed peas</a>. One enterprising chef and writer even made <a href="http://www.notquitenigella.com/2010/10/05/banana-skin-cake/">banana peel cakes</a>. Banana peels can also be used, like many fruit peels, to create <a href="http://www.thefilipinoentrepreneur.com/2008/04/06/how-to-make-banana-peel-vinegar.htm">homemade vinegar</a>.</p> <h3>Coffee and Coffee Grounds</h3> <p>Used coffee grounds are great in the garden as slug deterrent, but <a href="http://www.ehow.com/how_5226430_tenderize-meatbeef-naturally-coffee.html">leftover coffee is also a meat tenderizer</a>. Leftover coffee grounds can also be used in recipes that call for a lot of chocolate, like cake or homemade truffles.</p> <h3>Tomato Greens</h3> <p>Gardeners are often loath to part with the fragrant tomato greens. I've always been told to avoid tomato greens due to toxic chemicals contained therein. Well, it turns out that their toxic reputation* may not be so deserved, because<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/29/dining/29curi.html?pagewanted=2&amp;_r=1&amp;ref=dining"> tomato greens are in use at Chez Panisse</a> and other establishments, and have been since 1987 (see page 2 for citation).</p> <p><em>* While no conclusive data has shown tomato greens to be particularly toxic, you should exercise restraint when eating any plant that you haven't previously consumed. Tomatine, the toxin that exists in tomato vines and green tomatoes, both of which are technically edible, is dangerous in large doses. So don't go eating a pound of tomato vines.</em></p> <h3>Animal Parts</h3> <p>Most of us don't deal in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-you-think-youre-a-carnivore">whole hunks of animals</a>, but who hasn't stared down a sack of giblets at Thanksgiving and wondered why turkey hearts were so unappetizing? I'm not fond of kidneys, myself, but I have a newfound appreciation for deep-fried gizzards. Liver and marrow make meat and tomato sauces more rich, thick, and satisfying.</p> <p><em>Are there fruit and vegetable parts that you have found a use for? How about unusual cuts of meat?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/waste-not-want-not-stop-throwing-away-your-food">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cooking-oils-for-your-heart-and-wallet">The Best Cooking Oils: For Your Heart and Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-not-to-buy-at-a-farmers-market">What NOT to Buy at a Farmers Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-produce-workers-guide-to-choosing-fruits-and-vegetables">The Produce Worker&#039;s Guide to Choosing Fruits and Vegetables</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-finding-food">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Finding Food</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-fruits-and-veggies-worth-growing-yourself">The Only Fruits and Veggies Worth Growing Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Green Living Cooking eat more for less food waste grocery shopping reduce grocery bill using up food vegetables waste less Fri, 29 Oct 2010 13:00:12 +0000 Andrea Karim 211349 at http://www.wisebread.com