When it comes to saving money, one of the easiest and most obvious ways is to modify what you eat. You may not have control over the cost of health care or how much your rent increases each year, but adjusting what you eat, and how much money you spend on groceries is something well within your control. Since quality meat is generally expensive, more people are becoming vegetarian to save some cash. While simply eliminating meat from your grocery basket, and continuing to buy the same other products will technically result in savings, many new vegetarians fall into money-guzzling traps that undermine their saving efforts. Just because you are not buying meat anymore does not mean that you can go on a free for all at the grocery store! Don't make these three mistakes:
1. Buying out of season produce
One of the biggest mistakes new vegetarians make is buying produce indiscriminately and not checking the price tag. Produce that is out of season can be exponentially more expensive. Frankly, it doesn't taste that great, either. Out of season, the cost of blueberries is exorbitant -- sometimes over $5 for a small package. Take advantage of the low prices of in season fruit; buy in bulk and freeze for smoothies or baking. This is a case where spending more money upfront can save you a lot more in the following months. Have a look at this list to see what produce is seasonal now.
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2. Buying trendy and expensive super foods
Another way to undercut your potential savings is by falling prey to the trendy super foods. We're not disputing the health benefits of these foods – but if you want to be fruitful in your frugality, you need to be discerning when it comes to what you put in your cart. Acai berries are full of antioxidants and great at promoting digestion, but importing from Central and South America means these beautiful berries are quite pricey! The same can be said for super trendy Spirulina and Goji berries. However, some super foods are quite inexpensive; oatmeal, eggs, and broccoli are all good examples of nutrient rich, vegetarian super foods that won't break your budget.
3. Buying prepared meals
Adjusting to cooking without meat can be a big deal. When we have been taught that a nutritious meal looks like meat, a starch and two veg, it can be difficult to know how to feed yourself in a way that is both delicious and varied. This, combined with a busy lifestyle, often leads to people relying on prepared meals, either fresh or frozen. While this is undoubtedly an easy fix for dinners, the cost of all these prepared meals adds up significantly. If you're feeling uninspired and strapped for time, utilizing your slow cooker is a good idea. Here are some easy, vegetarian slow cooker recipes that call for inexpensive ingredients like potatoes and lentils.