BALANCE THE MEAL PLAN TO HELP BALANCE YOUR BUDGET
Meatless meals have become a regular on our menu plan not only for the savings but because we enjoy the simplicity of a veg dish with simple alternate proteins other than meat and fish.
That might sound a bit awkward to someone who doesn’t use a grocery budget but for our family a budget is essential to keeping us accountable for the food that we purchase.
Meatless meal day is any day
If you aren’t already aware there is a day dedicated to meatless meals and that day is Monday. Just because it sounds good though doesn’t mean you are required to forgo meat on a Monday. After a weekend of comfort food with the family a Meatless Monday is a nice way to start the week but it’s also a nice way to end the week or slow it down in the middle.
What I love about ditching the meat once or twice a week is that I can batch cook easy meatless meals and enjoy leftovers the next day. I’m not a huge fan of re-heated meat especially if it is a steak, chicken, roast beef, pork steak or any meat that will dry out once it’s cold. I’ll eat it, but I might not enjoy it like I did when it was freshly cooked.
I find any type of mince meat or sausages bulks my dinner meals for work so I tend to favour those proteins. Both mince and sausage vary in price weekly depending on sales and like everything else we’ve seen an increase in meat prices over the past 2 years.
The wife and I decided a couple of years back to stick to at least one meatless meal a week. We would typically eat meat of some description every day. Once we found out that we could save up to $400 or more each year by going meatless just one day a week we were hooked.
Even though we eat less meat we still needed to replace the protein with nutritious eggs or pulses (Beans). We became hooked on beans so much that we were buying bags of dry chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans and lentils to also help save grocery money. If you’ve never had a vegetarian black bean burger put it on your recipe list. It’s flavourful, filling and you don’t miss the meat.
Buying dry beans and rehydrating them yourself may save money but if you want the convenience factor canned beans are just as delicious. You’ll pay more but you get the instant gratification of beans on demand.
Other ways we save money on meatless meals is to buy in season, shop local markets during the growing season or grow your own vegetables. Take the opportunity to visit at the end of the market day to find reduced produce when farmers want to get rid of their pickings.
Ditch the sugar and go for natural alternatives such as fresh honey from a local market or honey producer. I’m still a sugar guy with my coffee and when I bake but that’s about it these days unless it’s specific for a recipe. You’ll pay a fraction of what you will pay in-store for market honey and you know it will be the good stuff.
Growing herbs is another great way to save money because herbs can be pricey to buy at the grocery store but they add so much flavour to a meal. We’ve made basil pesto just about every year from herbs we’ve grown in the garden. Sometimes herbs grow in such an abundance don’t be shy to mix in different greens when you make a pesto. One of our favourites is chives, spring onion, garlic, parsley, basil and almond, walnuts or pine nuts.
Creating Meatless Meals
Our meatless dinner ideas took some collaboration with the wife which meant that we would experiment to find out what we enjoyed. Over the years we’ve managed to grow our free recipe index on Canadian Budget Binder with some of the best recipes to come out of our kitchen. There have been many lazy kitchen days where we stick to simple salads or even take to Pinterest because there are so many inspirations to get the creative cooking juices flowing.
Today I want to showcase meatless meals from CBB and other amazing Food Bloggers from my Pinterest feed that are affordable and easy meatless meals for just about any income-level. You don’t have to go broke to eat well!!
A few of my awesome fans wanted to share their Meatless Meals with all of you so they wrote in to tell you just how important going meatless is for their grocery budget.
Donna P– Beans & fried potatoes can’t be beat! I also prefer fried okra instead of meat which I dice in coins and roll in seasoned cornmeal. Fry until brown and crispy.Veggie burgers are my favorite.
Christine W– Potato cheese omelette and homemade mac and cheese with peas are the go to here. Cheese is a great thing to add to any meat free meal here or one with meat. My boys love cheese!!
Here is a recent meatless omelette that we made in the CBB house!
Colleen K. – Chickenless Chicken Mushroom Fettuccine is a favorite here. Dice a small onion and saute in olive oil, add 3 heaping tablespoons of chicken soup base, 1 can of mushrooms in juice, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1/2 soup can of milk, heat thoroughly, add a couple good dollops of sour cream and stir in. Serve over cooked Fettuccine noodles. We make this to help save on the meat bill….a tasty dish that is cheap to make.
Beth Anne – I go meatless at least 3 days each week, usually more, because it’s the only way I can stay within my food budget. Roasted Asparagus is one of many meatless meals on my blog.
10 Easy meatless meals
Challenge yourself in the kitchen and try something new because sticking with the same recipes week after week gets boring. Awaken your taste-buds and bring lots of new flavours to your plate.
Meatless Lentil Sloppy Joes are a wonderful alternative to the original beef Sloppy Joe. I used green lentils which are heartier and stand up to the mush test. If you love to bake make your own baps and fill them with your lentils topped with whatever you fancy. Even our son loves this recipe.
Related: Scottish Baps
Honey Garlic Baked Cauliflower is to die for. If you haven’t tried this yet it’s a must to add to your meatless meals recipe box. The sweetness from the honey paired with the smokey baked taste of the cauliflower make this the perfect pair.
These Vegetarian Zucchini Meatballs spell comfort food that you must try. We make a similar recipe at home but with eggplant and beef to help cut the amount of beef we use. Making meatballs is a labour of love but when you take that first bite you’ll be happy you did it.
I’ve never tried this recipe but the minute I saw it I knew it was something we would try in our house since we love black beans. They are so versatile that you can squish them to create patties or stuff them into just about anything.
I’ll be trying a variation of this recipe for the wife and I’ll let you know what they turned out like. This photo is drool-worthy for any foodie.
This is a popular recipe on our blog and one that took me ages to perfect as it’s not easy to crisp up sweet potatoes in the oven without burning them to death. We don’t eat these often enough since they take some time to bake however when we do it’s a real treat. I’m almost certain our son will love them.
This is a simple fish cake that can be made when you are in a pinch for time. You can buy a bottle of pre-made sweet Thai dipping sauce in the International aisle at your grocer.
I love my rice and broccoli is one of my favourite vegetables so this recipe was a must for me to share with you today. It would be perfect as a main meal or as a side-dish for dinner and takes hardly any time at all to make. If you don’t fancy white rice you could substitute wild rice or brown rice instead.
I’ve made homemade gnocchi in the past and they are delicious, inexpensive and easy to make. Once they are in a pot of hot boiling water they take minutes to float to the top. The sauce is what will make or break your gnocchi as they are little potato dumplings without much flavour at all. Mushroom Marsala…that says it all. Can’t wait to try this recipe!
The fans of the What’s For Dinner thread on Facebook were just chatting about tortellini the other day. Many people enjoy tortellini as a pasta dish however you can add it to your favourite broth to create a lovely soup. I’ve never made a creamy tomato based soup for tortellini but I have incorporated them into many other soups. You can buy tortellini in 1lb bags for roughly $1.99 in the freezer section at your grocer.
Overall, eating vegetarian or meatless meals has worked for our budget in the past and we hope to carry the Meatless Meal once a week, every week. (Or at least I will)
These days the wife is enjoying opposite of the vegetarian menu since she has been on a low-carb high fat diet also known as the Atkins Diet since November 2015. This means she consumes more meat and small portions of mostly green vegetables which has made it a bit more challenging to stick to our grocery budget. It’s possible but takes work which we have been committed to doing. .
If you want to be a Deal Sniffer the best way to start your journey is to create your budget, meal plan and start deal hunting.
What are some of your favourite meatless meals?
May Grocery Game Challenge posts 2016
Join in the 2016 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are the rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the updated 2016 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule so it’s handy.
New monthly prize: $10 President’s Choice Gift Card for Canadian residents only BUT If you want to play from outside of Canada and have PayPal and you win I will pay you $10 Canadian. I use a random online generator to pick the winning ballot every month.
April GGC Winner! Congratulations to Ballot #28 Christine W. Please email me your address.
If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up each week below for you so you don’t have to go looking for past GGC posts for the month. Alternatively, just click on the “Grocery Game Challenge” tab on the blog side-bar to see past posts.
May Grocery Game Posts
This is a new month which means this is the first post for May.
Free Money Saving Tools 2016
I know I blast you every which way I can on this blog about my free money saving tools and that’s because I want you to take advantage of them being FREE. So many people pay for budgets and tools on the internet to help them save money and honestly you don’t need to. Even a paper and pen will do the trick.
Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!
This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.
You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel…Grab it while you can… It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!
Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.
CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2016
The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.
Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.
Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.
The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
2016 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2016: $2820
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month:$235.00-$8.50=$226.50
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $226.50
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $50
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 149,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)to date $0
- Shoppers Optimum: Over 700,000 points (I will update this twice a year)
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Zweet to cash out : $18.25
- Checkout51 to cash out : $8.00
Grocery Shop This Week
- 3 x Schneider’s Red Hots $1.79
- 2 x Schneider’s Oktoberfest Sausages $1.79 each
- 4 x dozen eggs $1.99
- 2x Beatrice Homo Milk $5.27
- Cauliflower $1.77
- Bananas $1.57
- Romaine Lettuce $1.99
- Spinach Bucket $4.99
- Mushrooms 1lb $0.99
- Zucchini $2.00
- 5pk Avocado $2.99
- Apple Juice low sodium $0.99
Total Out-of-pocket $44.75
- 6 x Clover Leaf tuna Sale $0.99 each
- 8 x Natrel 1L Lactose Free Cream Reduced $1.00-50% off 🙂
- 2 x Smithfield Bacon $3.99 each
- 2lbs minced beef $8.05
Total Out-of-pocket $25.97
- Total to spend this month : $226.50
- Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
- Stockpile budget used this month: $21.60 $0.75 left
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $5.60
- Total in-store discounts this week:$0
- Total in-store discounts to date: $226.93
- Total spent this week: $70.72
- Total spent so far this month: $70.72
- Total over/Under spend this shop: over
- Total over/Under spend for the month:under
- Total left to spend for the month: $155.78
- Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95+ Feb $249.46+March $211.11+April $248.11+May $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
It was a small grocery shop to start the month but we have enough food around the house that we need to get through. Our son has been hardly eating anything so we’ve struggled to find foods he will eat. Most days he wants to drink his milk and have a few bites of something here and there.
He’s the type of kid who only eats when he’s hungry. He doesn’t want to be put in front of a meal and be told to eat. He won’t eat it. He once loved cheese and grapes and now he won’t eat it. He used to eat cereal and oatmeal but wants nothing to do with it now. We’ll keep trying.
A couple of you pointed out that prices were on the way down for some grocery store items such as bananas and other produce. The time of year is coming where should expect to see a fall in prices given the vast amount of produce rolling through the stores and markets.
That’s all for this week…
Coupons and Coupon Apps 2016
Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money. We’re finding less and less coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts? Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?
Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!
Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!
- Healthy Essentials Printable Coupons (Johnson and Johnson)
- Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family which include Greenworks, Glad etc.
- Kraft Canada Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
- MySavings.com Printable Smart Source Coupons
- Walmart Canada Printable Coupons
- Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coupons
- Hidden Coupon Portals You Should know about – I found this over at Save a Loonie and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from Save.ca, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.
Grocery Game Challenge 2016 FAQ’s
- Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible. The rules have been updated for the 2016 challenge year.
- Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
- What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $10 CDN via Paypal if they win. As more people join I will add more money to the gift card or I will split it up and offer 2 prizes every month.
- When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. If you choose to post monthly or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it altogether. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
- Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly our budget.
- Do you stockpile food? We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
- Canadian Coupons:Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
- Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site Save.ca that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
- What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our Iphone so if you wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
- What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
- What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
- How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
- How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.
Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do. This is why the grocery game challenge was created back in 2012 and is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries in Canada.
If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning…
- Where you are spending money
- How much money you are spending
- How much money you are saving every month
If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email. If I use your topic I will put your name in a draw for a prize at the end of the year.
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2016!
Please Note: Some of the links in the body of the blog post are affiliate links which means I may get paid if you buy something from Amazon. The items I’ve chosen are products we use at home or similar to.
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