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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Budget Reboot Challenge: Eating Meat

Hello Budget Reboot, have you tried turning it off and on again?

Money saving posts are always the same - stop doing this, stop buying that, stop having any fun and live a sad deprived life while watching the numbers in your bank account tick up and up. Of course, they don't frame it that way, but when someone asks you to give up something you love in the name of money, we get pretty defensive.

Instead of 'giving up' let's try something new. Hit the refresh button on your spending habits with this Budget Reboot Challenge.

This month's challenge: Eating Meat.

Let's start with a simple assertion: Steak is delicious. Bacon is delicious. I think people are designed to eat meat and it tastes amazing - this post isn't going to try and convert you to a meat free lifestyle.

But what about a meat free meal. Just a couple of times a week.

Meat versus alternative proteins - in dollars

At my local supermarket I can buy chicken breasts for $9 a kilo. I can buy cheap casserole steak for $12 a kilo, or delicious marinated Kangaroo steak for $32.70 a kilo.

Or I can pick up a tin of mixed beans for $1.88 a kilo. I can buy a dozen eggs for $3, or collect them from my back yard for next to nothing. There are also an amazing variety of cheeses to choose from, as well as tofu, nuts, milk, yoghurt, mushrooms and other protein heavy vegetables. If you plan it well, you can get just as much protein from a meat free meal, for a fraction of the cost.

I'm not eating salad!

Okay, cool, that's fair - salads aren't for everyone, although a Lentil, Roast Carrot and Feta salad is divine. There are plenty of meat free meals you can take out for a spin that aren't salads.


A FIRE household favourite is a simple pumpkin soup. Made with butternut pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, coconut milk and a little Thai curry paste, it's the only vegetarian meal Mr. FIRE actively begs me to make. You need a kilo of pumpkin, a kilo of sweet potato, and 500g of carrots. Peel and cube the whole lot and toss it in a giant soup pot with 2 tablespoons of Thai curry paste and a litre of chicken stock. Simmer for an hour, then blend and add 2 cans of coconut milk. It's one of the easiest vegetarian dishes I know, and costs less than $1 a serve.


Another option is to have breakfast for dinner. Inspired by Adventures With Poopsie I've been having eggs on hash browns for dinner while Mr. FIRE is away for work. You can buy the hash browns frozen, or make your own.

To make your own hash browns you need:
  • Two medium potatoes
  • A small handful of grated cheese
  • A pinch of chives
  • A dash of salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and grate them onto a plate. Zap the grated potato in the microwave for 2 minutes, then dump it into a mixing bowl. Stir in chives, cheese, salt and pepper. Dump the whole lot in a hot frying pan and press flat - the flatter it is, the better it cooks. 

Hash browns take 5-10 minutes to cook through, so keep an eye on them and start cooking the eggs when you think they're done. The extra couple of minutes on the hashbrowns is important to make them extra crispy. Then enjoy delicious, easy dinner for about $1.50.

Beans and rice

Finally, I need to mention the Frugalwoods Rice and Beans recipe. At first I thought this would be sad and dull, but worth it as an occasional ultra frugal meal. I was wrong, this is one of the most delicious meals in my lunch rotation for less than a dollar a serve.

Give it a whirl, you won't regret it!

Cheap, delicious options

There are hundreds of ways to eat a meatless meal. The ones I've listed above are just the super easy options. Each meal listed above costs around $1 a serve. In contrast, a single pork loin chop would cost me $3.50, plus the costs of sides.

A single meatless meal is $4 cheaper than a meat based one. Having a single meatless meal each week will save you $208 a year, invested that $4 is worth $3,000 over ten years. For another way to look at cost, you would need to invest $5,200 to have a passive income of $4 a week to pay for that steak.

Turn it off and on again: Expensive meat based meals

The point of the Budget Reboot Challenge isn't to force you to change your ways, but to commit to something for a set period and see what it's really like. Turn off eating meat for every meal, and at the end of your commitment, ask yourself if you really need to add it back in again?

You can urn off eating meat in a variety of ways: commit to meatless Mondays for a month. or perhaps not eating meat for a full week. Maybe you're only going to commit to learning one meat free recipe. Pick something you can handle and make a commitment to yourself.

I, LadyFIRE, commit to finding a meatless meal that Mr. FIRE will enjoy.

I know that doesn't sound like much, but you haven't met Mr. FIRE. It's going to be a challenge!

At the end of the month, turn it on again: This is the fun part. After the end of your commitment, you're free! You can eat as much meat as you want, but first I need you to do a status check for me.

Did you enjoy your meatless meals? Maybe you could cook them more often?
Did you save money? How much?
Did you really feel like you were missing out? Did those meatless meals leave you hangry or were they actually pretty satisfying. Maybe you could keep going with it?


  1. We actually maintain a 80-90% meatless diet as the husband doesn't like meat. But because we have done that for so long, I feel like our bill isn't actually going anywhere lower fast. I buy my meat in bulk when they are reduced anyways and tend to prefer buying direct from the farms.

    Having said that, meatless meals are fantastic!! We don't really feel the need to eat that much meat ourselves. Vegs in this country are so yummy anyways.

    1. Your hubby doesn't like meat? Wow, I've never met someone who doesn't like meat. Even most of the vegetarians / vegans I know are like "yeah, steak is delicious, but also killing baby animals is a bit shit"

      Vegetables make me happy - especially with so many different sauce and prep options :)

    2. He can't stand the texture of meat, and anything overly meaty in flavour just makes him gag. So he can stomach mince and burgers and the very occasional eye fillet steak but nothing more than that. Won't eat seafood and only very recently started eating a little chicken breast. Oh well. more for me.

  2. We tried this, and are more than happy to continue. Most of the vegetarian meals we try are just as delicious as our meat meals. Mr. ETT doesn't like tofu, but I even found a tofu recipe which he said was absolutely delicious. We don't really do salads, and we aren't into complicated meals. Luckily the internet makes it so easy to find recipes. Now we are eating like this, I'm really sensitive to the price of meat. It almost feels like a waste of money buying it.

    1. Please share! I'm keen to trial some tofu options - starting with Mr. Takos Miso Soup, possibly next week while Mr. FIRE is away

  3. We've recently been trying to eat more meatless meals and I'm loving the creativity with our food :) We were in a "meat, veggie, starch/grain" rut before, so it has been fun to explore new recipes!

    1. We're in a bit of an Italian food rut, so I'm trying out Japanese cuisine to get some variety happening. Miso Soup and Onigiri here I come!


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