Save money on food bills with these 5 vegetarian tips

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A vegetarian diet is not a new phenomenon, but the celebration of the cuisine has seen an increase in popularity in recent years. In 2019, 85% of those surveyed considered themselves carnivores. Just two years later, that figure was down to 71%.

There are a number of reasons why more people are choosing more vegetarian meals, from health benefits to personal diets and moral choices. A big factor is the cost of meat, which causes people to leave it out of the occasional meal, which can result in huge savings on your food bill.

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Although successfully incorporating vegetarianism into your meal planning, and enjoying the resulting savings, it’s not as simple as swapping meat for a vegetable or two. Here’s a look at some tips on how to effectively save money while eating vegetarian.

Choose an affordable base

For anyone who wants to take a break from eating meat from time to time, make sure you replace it with an affordable alternative. Although there are more fake meat products out there than ever before, some of the lab-grown meat and other pre-produced substitutes can be just as expensive as the real thing. In some cases, it may even cost a little more.

Although it can certainly change in the coming years if you really want to make sure you save, know what to focus on. Foods such as lentils, legumes, mushrooms, products such as tofu and, of course, vegetables themselves can be exchanged for pennies on the dollar compared to meat.

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Buy what is in season

In general, vegetables cost less than meat, often quite a lot. But if you want to make a commitment to eat vegetarian more often, it is important to know what is and what is not in season, otherwise these savings can get a big hit.

Spring is a good time for avocados, asparagus, broccoli and collard greens. Summer yields celery, carrots, lima beans and summer squash. In autumn, cabbage, kale, green beans and winter squash begin to come in, while winter is known for potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets. With that in mind, you can make a more economical decision before lighting your stove.

Change recipes you know

Another way to ensure that you actually save money by refraining from meat is to stick to what you knew – at least for a start. Say you are thinking of cooking a vegetarian Thai meal (of which there are countless options), but that you have not cooked much Thai food before. Before you dive in, make a brief inventory to make sure you have some of the ingredients at home. Otherwise, when you pick up all the necessary spices, oils and all the other special ingredients that it requires, you will see that your food bill starts to rise again.

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Instead, try using a recipe that you already know and that probably has all (or at least most) of the necessary ingredients at home. As you cook more vegetarian food, you can slowly add your spices and seasonings and deal with more complex dishes along the way.

Know how to replace meat

Different recipes usually require different types of meat substitutes. Lentils can be a good substitute for ground beef in recipes like sloppy joes and minced meat loaf. Pasta dishes can benefit from the addition of different types of squash and mushrooms. In many cases, tofu has gained its reputation as the best meat substitute due to its versatility. But if you are planning to go that route, read up on how to prepare it, as doing it properly may require a significant amount of time.

Meat is also denser with calories and high in fat than most vegetables, so it takes less to fill you up. This is why it is common for some people not to feel full after eating a vegetarian meal. The solution is simple, you just increase your portion size to make sure your body gets all the calories and nutrients you need. Making sure you eat enough can also help those late cravings to visit the drive-thru or pizza place later in the evening.

Do not center the meat substitute

This is more of a general cooking tip, but replacing meat in a recipe is not exactly a one-on-one transaction. To make a meal that is both delicious and filling, it is important to know exactly how to replace meat as it normally requires. Foods like beans or quinoa will not have the same type of flavor profile, so they can not rely on carrying a dish in the same way.

For example, if you make sloppy joes, you can replace the lenses with the ground beef. But if that’s all you do, you may not be happy with the end result. You will want to rely on adding extra vegetables, spices and sauces to make a filling, tasty dish. Keep in mind that the taste and texture of your vegetable substitute will taste different than the same recipe made with meat.

Obviously, there is no magic formula here, so customize the recipes to your personal taste. Remember, do not be afraid to experiment. Read different recipes to get different ideas, know what is in season and like all cooking, do not hesitate to make each dish your own.

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