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You Can Save Big Money on Groceries Just by Going Meatless Once a Week

Groceries are still expensive, but one good way to save on bills is to consume less meat.

Macy Meyer Editor I
Macy Meyer is a N.C. native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in English and Journalism. She currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., where she has been working as an Editor I, covering a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, fitness and nutrition, smart home tech and more. Prior to her time at CNET, Macy was featured in The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, INDY Week, and other state and national publications. In each article, Macy helps readers get the most out of their home and wellness. When Macy isn't writing, she's volunteering, exploring the town or watching sports.
Expertise Macy covers a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, smart home tech, fitness, nutrition, travel, lifestyle and more. Credentials
  • Macy has been working for CNET for coming on 2 years. Prior to CNET, Macy received a North Carolina College Media Association award in sports writing.
Macy Meyer
4 min read
Above the shoulder view of woman holding a pack of ground beef in a supermarket.

One of the simplest ways to save some cash and stretch your food budget is to go meatless at least once a week. 

Oscar Wong/Getty Images

You've likely heard someone say they are participating in "Meatless Monday" before. It's a simple enough statement to understand: You skip eating meat one day a week to improve your nutrition. But going meatless once a week has many benefits besides lowering your risk of cancer, heart disease and obesity -- it can also benefit your wallet. 

I went vegetarian in college for the environmental benefits of reducing meat demand, but now as a graduate with a full-time job, going meatless has helped me save a ton of money on groceries too. With high gas prices, inflation and rising utility bills, it's important to find ways to save money where you can. Here's how much you can expect to save annually just by going meatless at least one day a week. For more money-saving tips, you can explore this simple appliance that can save you hundreds of dollars and check out how to properly store your groceries and leftover food so they last longer

What is Meatless Monday?

Meatless Monday isn't just a fad or a snappy phrase created by vegans or vegetarians to get you to stop eating your favorite meals. Meatless Monday is actually an initiative created by the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2003 to address public health, ecological and global food security concerns. CLF deduced that reducing your intake of meat or animal products, even one day a week, can protect your personal health and nutrition, global health and the environment.

CLF defines going "meatless" as cutting out all red meat, poultry or seafood for one day a week, every week. These meat-centered meals can be swapped for meals built around beans, lentils, vegetables, whole grains and other plant-based proteins. 

While not necessary to make an impact, millions of people globally have opted for diets that cut out meat permanently, either identifying as vegetarian (someone who does not eat meat) or vegan, someone who does not eat any meat, animal products or animal byproducts (meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy and eggs). 

Herd of cattle grazing in a fenced in field at sunset

Nearly 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are due to meat and dairy production.

Heather Paul/Getty Images

Why go meatless?

According to CLF, the rationale is that "meat consumption in the US and globally must be significantly reduced to mitigate the public health and environmental effects of climate change, particularly in high-income countries." Nearly 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are due to meat and dairy production, according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization

Switching to a vegetarian, vegan or largely plant-based diet can greatly reduce emissions considering the climate impact of plant-based foods is typically 10 to 50 times smaller than that of animal products. 

Meat is also typically high in saturated fat and cholesterol, and many chronic health conditions are linked to higher intakes of animal products, especially red meat. This isn't to say everyone needs to cut out meat to have a healthier diet, but on average, Americans eat more meat than is recommended by health experts. In fact, Americans eat more than 1.5 times the average daily protein requirement and more than three times the global average of meat consumption, according to CLF

Want to try going meatless but scared of missing the taste and flavor of your favorite poultry dishes? Try these Impossible Chicken Nuggets, the best vegan nugget on the market. 

If you're a meat-eater looking for an occasional plant-based alternative or looking to try Meatless Mondays, you can't go wrong here. 


Simply replacing meats with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and plant-based proteins, such as nuts and legumes, will ease dietary concerns. For tips on how to grocery shop, these are the cheapest fruits and veggies you can buy right now. Plus, here are tips on how to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer.

fruits and vegetables in supermarket shelf

People on meatless diets spend an average of $23 less on food every week.

summerphotos/Getty Images

How much can you actually save by going meatless?

Though many people may believe buying fresh produce will break the bank, plant-based proteins and meatless diets tend to be less expensive and offer more health benefits than meat. Think about it, rather than buying $18 New York Strip steaks for dinner you could spend $1.48 on a head of lettuce with cucumbers and grape tomatoes to make a salad for significantly less. 

Meat per pound is significantly more expensive than fruits and vegetables per-pound. Based on current food prices in the US, 1 pound of beef costs $6.19 and 1 pound of chicken costs $5.25, while fruits and vegetables average around $1 to $2 per pound.

Average retail food price (per lb.)

Item Price (as of Oct. 2022)
White Rice 0.963
Spaghetti and macaroni 1.349
Bananas 0.634
Navel oranges 1.73
Romaine lettuce 3.138
Tomatoes 1.974
Strawberries 3.108
Lemons 2.09
Potatoes 0.991
A dozen eggs 3.419
Lean ground beef 6.68
Sirloin steak 10.496
Chuck roast 6.73
Sliced bacon 7.608
Pork chops 4.492
Boneless ham 5.65
Chicken breast 4.67
Chicken legs 2.013

As you can see from the information in the chart above, -- pulled from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics -- meats, poultry, fish and eggs are more expensive than fresh produce items. 

A survey of over 1,000 Americans conducted by Sous Vide Guy found that roughly one in four people who consume meat didn't believe a plant-based diet was a cheaper alternative. However, people on meatless diets spent an average of $23 less on food every week. Plus, that number can rise dramatically for those purchasing nitrate-free, non-GMO or organic meats. 

Using this figure, if you cut out meat, you could save $1,196 over the course of a year. 

While you won't save as much by only cutting out meat once a week, every bit helps. To learn more about plant-based diets, read our guide on the pros and cons of a plant-based lifestyle, and how to safely remove meat from your diet. You can also check out the best vegetarian and vegan meal delivery services

More money-saving kitchen tips and tricks