Often, on Instagram Stories, I’ll share what we’re having for dinner that night. Occasionally, some of our meals will be meatless (breakfast for dinner, mac & cheese, etc.) When I post these types of meals, I’ll always get questions from people asking, “How do you get your family to eat meatless meals?”
When Jesse and I were first married, we committed to stay out of debt while he went through law school. We knew this was going to require a number of sacrifices on our part and we decided staying out of debt and starting our marriage with a strong financial foundation was worth the sacrifices.
One area I knew we could save a lot of money on was our grocery budget. I started looking for all the creative ways I could come up with to maximize the mileage of our money when it came to buying food.
Not only did I shop the sales, use coupons, and plan a menu, but we also decided to serve meat more a condiment. We had it sprinkled on pizza, sprinkled in casseroles, and sprinkled in soups. We usually only bought one bag of chicken to last two weeks and then we supplemented this with the occasional really good markdown/coupon special on pepperoni or ham. We rarely ever had beef because it just wasn’t in the budget.
In addition to serving meat as a condiment, we often had meatless meals. We made lasagna casserole and I just left out the meat. We had corn chowder without meat. We’d have pancakes and eggs or cheese pizza or bean soup or even rice and beans.
I loved getting creative and using what we had on hand, what was on sale, and what I found marked down to put together filling and yummy meals. Sure, we didn’t eat anything remotely gourmet, but we always had plenty to eat and the sales and markdowns quite a bit of variety.
Plus, being very intentional and strategic in how I shopped and cooked ended up saving us thousands of dollars in our first few years of marriage alone — and was one way we were able to stay out of debt.
Maybe you are wanting to pay down debt, save more money, or get in a better place financially. It’s going to require sacrifices, creativity, and effort. But it can be so worth it!
Here’s my best advice for how to go about getting your family on board with those sacrifices — whether it’s eating meatless meals or other creative ideas for spending less:
1. Don’t Try to Change Your Spouse/Kids
The first step to getting on the same page is letting go of your desire to fix or change your spouse or your kids. Stop placing all of the blame on them or telling yourself that it’s all their fault that things are the way they are. Being a victim of your circumstances or playing the blame-game will never do anything to move the ball forward.
2. Be Willing to Make Your Own Sacrifices
Oftentimes, we want other people to change when we aren’t willing to make changes ourselves. What can you do to make a difference for your family’s finances? What are you willing to change, tweak, or give up?
3. Communicate About Where You Are
You can’t find a solution if you don’t first know where there’s a problem. Call a family meeting or approach your spouse and have a conversation.
Gently and graciously share what you are feeling and ask for their feedback. Talk about the problem without pointing fingers or putting it on anyone’s shoulders. Make sure that you focus on stating the problem, asking questions, and then listening with the intent to understand (instead of listening in order to defend yourself or rebut their statements).
4. Communicate About Where You Want to Go
After agreeing on the problem (spending too much money, not saving enough money, not sticking with the budget, not agreeing on budget categories, etc.), then it’s time to talk about where you’d love to be. Dream together about what it could look like to not have as much financial stress or to not live paycheck to paycheck. Where would you love to be if money weren’t an issue.
5. Come to a Compromise
Go first with what changes you were personally thinking of making to help get where you want to go. Then, propose some other ideas that maybe you could do as a family or a couple. Talk about how these changes might work and open up the floor for people to give their honest thoughts and opinions.
If possible, really do the math on what it might look like to make some of these changes. This can be so motivating — and it can also inspire you to come up with other ideas for ways to change.
Decide specifically what changes you are committing to make and put some accountability in place for these changes.
6. Talk About Your Goals Regularly
Remind each other often of your longterm goals and dreams. Pay attention to the progress you are making and how far you have come. Celebrate your success and check in regularly to see if you need to tweak or change anything.
7. Make it Fun
As much as is possible, think of these creative money-saving practices as a game. For instance, when it comes to groceries, I love to see how well we can eat for how little. It’s fun for me to save money at the store, for me to put together meals based upon what we already have on hand, and for me to creatively re-make leftovers.
When you make things into an exciting challenge, you’ll enjoy the process a lot more — and it might not even feel like you are making sacrifices!
Do you eat meatless meals? If so, what are some of your favorite yummy meatless meal ideas?