View Full Version : Frugal and aware?

Anna Hart
2-9-11, 5:07pm
I love to buy food on sale. I love to have a double digit grocery bill. I also love animals. I am not a vegetarian but I am very very concerned about the treatment of animals before slaughter. I don't want to but factory farmed animals but I also am on a tight budget. So what do I do?

2-9-11, 5:30pm
I also find this hard, Anna. Costco has some organic meats so maybe that is a solution. I think, though, that reducing how much meat you eat is an answer.

I face this dilemma as well and would be interested in knowing if people have other solutions like direct-from-farm buying.

2-9-11, 6:55pm
The more you cook from scratch, the less you spend. We buy humanely-raised animals and many organics but spend less than my brother's family because they buy so many packaged foods.

2-9-11, 9:22pm
My latest experiment: I've budgeted a certain amount of money for ethically produced meat/fish/dairy/eggs. (Eggs! Three eggs = dinner. Even at $.35 per egg, that's probably less than $2.00 for the whole meal.) The rest of the food budget to meet calorie needs will come from veggies and a limited amount of nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains, which I will try to procure as organically and locally as possible within the budget. Processed foods are basically out, and I'm trying to meet my calorie needs but not exceed them. My hope is to feed myself on ethically, locally produced plants and animals, combined into meals by me. This is not the cheapest way to go, but it seems like a way to try to do right but not starve for lack of funds.

2-10-11, 12:37am
Learning to think of meat as a "condiment" as opposed to a hunk of it sitting on the plate will greatly reduce the actual amount of meat you buy, yet be very satisfying. While it might take a large pork chop per person to have meat as a "hunk", literally one pork chop, cut into small strips and stirfried with veggies and served over rice, can feed four people, and allow you to buy much better quality, organically grown, or naturally grass fed meat, yet not spend more than you would have spent on ordinary meat eaten as "hunks", and often even less.

Also, what makes the biggest difference in your grocery bill is elimination of processed foods, and especially processed snack type foods, chips, cookies, etc. Cooking from scratch, making your own snacks and desserts, etc. will keep your grocery bill low enough to splurge on quality dairy, eggs and meat products and still not spend more than many spend just eating factory food.

2-10-11, 7:53am
Jane Brody food writer for the NYT also encourages cooks to stretch meat in their recipes. Lots of ethnic cooking does this. For example kapusta (polish cabbage & sauerkraut soup) is made in our house with 1.5 lbs. of farmer's style pork ribs that are then cut into small pieces. This recipe feeds an army. I too am in this dilemma as the loss leaders at the grocery stores are so inexpensive that I stock up on them & freeze them. This reminds me to call a friend who raises pigs to purchase some of his pork products. We really should be eating less meat and only ethically raised meat at that. We meaning my husband and I.

2-10-11, 8:18am
The meat-as-condiment rule is what we use, too. I was a vegetarian for about 10 years so not only am I used to not eating huge pieces of meat, but I am familiar with lots of ethnic cooking that uses smaller amounts of meat. We probably have meatless meals 2-4 nights/week. The other nights have meat as part of something but not the main event.

Personally, I find that this type of eating has a lot more flavor and is much more visually appealing (think of all those colorful veggies, vs a monochrome plate of meat and potatoes) than the Standard American Diet.

2-10-11, 8:53am
Like many who posted above, we also take the "meat as supplement, not main" approach at most meals, though we do splurge on the occasional steak dinner at home and my kids LOVE baked chicken drummettes and can eat a ton of those at a single sitting (though next time I think I am going to ask them to think about how many chickens it takes to make a single meat-centered meal like that...). Most of our food is Chinese-style stirfries and stews, and we usually only have one or at most two dishes with meat every meal, and those also generally have lots of veggies in them and we usually have a couple of veggie dishes in addition. I have cut back quite a bit on meat purchases over the past two years. We probably use around 3-4 lbs of meat a week for four people. Most dishes have no more than 1/4-1/3 lb of meat that is shared between us (and we often have leftovers). I am working toward switching to more ethical sources for our meat, since I am not willing to give it up. It is a higher cost, but if you reduce the overall amount and are careful about how you use it (e.g. roasting a whole chicken and then using both leftovers and carcass to make other dishes), you can stretch a single meat source an awfully long way. Could do the same with a bone-in ham or beef roast, too.