Part 2: How I Cut My Food Budget by 40%, Meat Consumption by 50%, and Food Waste by 99%, Without Giving Up A Thing

Chris Newman
6 min readJan 12, 2023

I wrote this guide to NoAusterity meal planning a few months ago to illustrate how I was using weekly meal planning to lower my food costs, reduce waste, and eat less meat without feeling like I was eating less meat.

After those few months implementing this plan with my family of four, two roadblocks came up. So I want to share with you what those roadblocks were and what we did to get around them.

Problem #1: Differing Tastes and Tolerances

My wife and I have very different tastes. Annie’s big into heavy comfort foods: shepherds pie, beef stews, chilis, casseroles of all kinds, that sorta thing. With the exception of my love for handmade pasta, I’m much more into non-European cooking, especially Vietnamese and Szechuan.

I’m also a lot happier than Annie is eating the same thing over and over again. I can eat pho for dinner pretty much indefinitely; after the third or fourth pho dinner, Annie’s ready for something else.

As a result, Annie and I are basically running two kitchens in the same house. We’re still bulk cooking and planning meals and doing our grocery shopping based exclusively on those meals, and still sharing meals from time to time, but we were both too committed to our own tastes to have a constantly-uniform meal plan.

Problem #2: Thinking/Looking Up New Recipes Every Week is Annoying

When we started the program, we would make our meal plans on Tuesday for the following week, grocery shop for the plan on Saturday, and then cook on Sunday (sometimes extending into Monday).

Coming up with a new meal plan every week got old, fast.

Every week, and almost compulsively, we’d try to think of new dishes to cook. This would involve a brand new grocery list, and result in certain staples languishing in the fridge from the prior week. For example, if you have a meal plan that calls for a total of 1 cup of heavy cream, the balance of the 1 quart cartons they sell in our local Food Lion winds up sitting around and going bad unless you plan another week’s…

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Chris Newman

Building a new, accessible, open, and democratic food economy in the Chesapeake Bay region @ Sylvanaqua Farms