My husband and I are documentary film nerds. We have more on our Netflix queue than new releases. We have watched documentaries on everything from hay bale houses to high wire walkers to quadriplegic rugby teams. There is some strange and fascinating stuff going on in the world. The topics that impact our daily life the most, however, revolve around food.
Watching these documentaries, along with other sources, has changed the way we view and buy and eat our food. One of the biggest changes we have made over the last two years is to significantly cut back on the amount of meat we are eating. It started out as one of our monthly resolutions: Can we go a whole month without eating meat? We did it for a personal challenge and out of curiousity to see if it cut our monthly food bill.
For someone who planned every dinner menu starting with the meat, I knew this was going to be a challenge for me, the cook of the family. For someone who loves eating meat, I knew this was going to be a challenge for my husband. We both worried about feeling full and satisfied without our lifelong companions, Chicken and Beef.
However, once the month wrapped up, we were both hooked. I loved crossing meat off my grocery list entirely and not dealing with it as a part of meal prep. I was buying more from the produce department and nothing from the meat department, which resulted in a definite savings in our grocery budget. I also discovered all kinds of tasty, filling grains, legumes, and vegetables that we rarely, if ever, ate before.
My husband loved the variety and new flavors coming across his plate. For a meat-and-potatoes guy, he didn’t miss the meat part nearly as much as he expected, which surprised both of us. To quote the man himself, “I crave quinoa patties now more than I have ever craved steak in the past.” My husband said that. My husband!
Anyway, I continued the trend by making 1-3 meatless meals each week, and we repeated our meatless month again last year. With more practice and new recipes, it was easier and better. We both felt good eating this way.
Over the next few months, we are planning to move to a vegetable-based diet, eliminating meat as much as possible. If we are both craving hamburgers, no problem. We’ll grill burgers. I just won’t menu plan around meat anymore. We are both looking forward to the change.
I am not trying to convert you to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. I am obviously not a certified dietician or doctor, and this post is not intended to start a food fight. I am just speaking from personal experience and preference, encouraging you to think outside the box, both in your meal planning and grocery shopping.
I am trying to convince you of the merits of meatless meals. For some of you, one time a week might be stretching it. That’s ok; ease yourself into it! For others, you might be ready to bump up the challenge to 2-4 dinners a week. If you stick with it, I am certain you will notice a difference in your grocery budget, if not the variety of foods you are eating.
Here are some documentaries that have challenged us on this topic:
- Food, Inc. (and anything by Michael Pollan)
- Food Matters
- Forks Over Knives
- King Corn
- Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead
- The Future of Food
- The Gerson Miracle
What do you think? Leave a comment!
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