You’re all for healthy eating.
You have some great recipes in mind.
But your budget isn’t quite as big as your imagination.
Today, we dive into:
- The battle of meat versus plant proteins
- The cost-saving benefit of plant-based meals
- Two surprising impacts of eating plant-based meals
- How to start eating more plant-based meals
And if you’re in need of more recipe ideas, check out The Build a Meal Workbook – a free resource to help you build healthy meals.
THE BATTLE OF MEAT VERSUS PLANT PROTEINS
There’s a battle in the healthy-eating community.
Is plant-based the way to go?
Or should you “go carnivore”?
The truth is, no two bodies are alike.
So the solution that works for one person may not apply to another.
Meaning, some body types benefit from a diet based solely on plant-based proteins and others claim benefits from the carnivore diet.
Even still are body types that benefit from a mixture of plant versus meat proteins (where plant proteins are favored).
This is the category that I fall into.
And if you’re concerned with costs, it’s a category I encourage you to consider.
It is true that not every meal must be accompanied by a slab of meat.
And you can stretch your dollar by:
- Eating plant-based meals a couple of times a week
- And flavoring your meals with small amounts of meat protein (like bacon)
Below you’ll see figures illustrating the amount of protein (in grams) in a serving of meat or plant-based proteins.
Note: The general rule of thumb is that a standard serving is ½ cup for vegetables, 1 cup for leafy greens, and a ½ cup for beans, grains, and legumes.
But these figures include larger servings of some plant-based proteins since, in my own experience, I have noticed that I require more plant-based proteins to feel full.
As you can see, meat provides more protein per serving than plant-based proteins.
But a plant-based meal with a VARIETY of ingredients can provide nearly the same amount of protein.
For instance, let’s say that dinner option #1 is chicken breast with a broccoli and spinach salad topped with almonds.
The amount of protein this meal would provide is about 40.2 grams.
On the other hand, let’s say that dinner option #2 is a black bean bowl, with quinoa, avocado, sauteed kale, and two tablespoons of pepitas (not pictured: but I think they would be delicious in this imaginary meal).
The amount of protein this meal would provide is about 35.5 grams.
Comparatively, the amount of protein in each meal is not drastically different.
And you would still be able to meet your body’s demands with occasional plant-based meals such as this black bean bowl.
But what about the demands of your wallet?
THE COST-SAVING BENEFITS OF PLANT-BASED MEALS
Let’s break down the cost of dinner option 1 versus dinner option 2.
Note: The prices used below are based on the average price (per pound or ounce) found at Aldis (italicized below). I also used this nifty document by DHHS (underlined below).
Dinner Option 1:
- ½ chicken breast = ~$1.48 per serving
- 1 cup broccoli = ~$0.58 per cup
- 1 cup spinach = ~$0.16 per cup
- 1 tablespoon of almonds = ~$0.16 per tablespoon
Total cost per meal = $2.38
Dinner Option 2:
- 1 cup of black beans = ~$0.52 per cup
- ½ cup of quinoa = ~$0.13 per ½ cup
- 1 cup of avocado = ~$0.73 per small avocado
- 1 cup of kale = ~$0.16 per cup
- 2 tablespoons of pepitas = ~$0.37 per 2 tablespoons
Total cost per meal = $1.91
As you can see, the filling plant-based meal costs less than a typical chicken dinner while still providing a comparable amount of protein.
But there are other ways that eating plant-based meals can save you money.
TWO SURPRISING IMPACTS OF EATING MORE PLANT-BASED MEALS
Eating a diet of plant-based meals has been shown to reduce body mass index, blood pressure, and markers of chronic disease (such as cholesterol and Hemoglobin A1C levels).
These health benefits translate to lower health care costs for you.
And the environment can also benefit from more people eating plant-based meals too.
By reducing land-use requirements for livestock and therefore lowering the global carbon footprint.
HOW DO YOU START CREATING PLANT-BASED MEALS
Creating plant-based meals doesn’t have to be complicated.
My general rule of thumb is to start with a base of high protein veggies and add in other veggies and healthy fats.
And if you’re not ready to take the plunge into plant-based eating, just start by adding more vegetables to the meals you already eat.
I simplify all meal planning for you in The Build-A-Meal Workbook, which you can download for free here.