Give up eating meat.
Obviously meat has been a big topic of discussion recently, even before all the hoss stuff there was lots of talk about meat being an expensive treat and not a staple like before. I think I mentioned earlier that we'd walked down the meat aisle at the supermarket a while ago and I was amazed at how expensive things were these days *yikes*.
I think one of the first frugal tips I read in 2003 was to use meat as a condiment, not a main part of the meal, so it's probably always been a thing. I know a lot of people say "we weren't big meat eaters anyway..." but I was, I'd try anything new or exotic - zebra, camel, any game, all that stuff (how very 90's of me) so it wasn't a small leap to go from blood thirsty savage to meat avoider. We bought organic, free range stuff at first, we didn't live in a particularly affluent area so there was always a ton of yellow stickered Duchy Organic sausages and organic chicken bits when we went shopping. We bought what we could and made it last, which was fine until we took the car off the road to save money, then we relied on internet shopping - no more yellow stickers for us. We bought what we could afford with our pretty small budget (£90 a month) and with each week there was less and less meat on the plate.
So we had a conversation, I think it was Dan who started it. Why are we stressing out trying to afford meat when we're eating such small amounts, it was really just for the sake of it. So we decided to stop. It was a huge learning curve for me, I was always a fussy creature when it came to food and I wasn't that great at cooking. So making bread, getting sauces to the right consistency and timing things so a meal came together at the same time were tough enough let alone getting over fear of beans and all that other stuff. I think at the time we maybe thought it would be temporary, when debt free day arrived we'd go out for a big steak and ale pie at the pub or something. Obviously it didn't happen. After 4 years some things I really wanted to do again and the rest I left, meat was one of them.
We both eat a wider variety of foods than we did before and of course that's nothing to do with meat eating or not, it was to do with how lazy I was before and just didn't think about it. So even if I went back to eating meat today then the past few years would have been worth it because I'd still know that I love quinoa, chestnuts, deep fried tofu, cashews, funny looking mushrooms and celeriac, because they weren't on my radar before and may never have been. I take my hat off to the people who stretch their rubber chicken and can make a ton of dishes from a piece of gammon, I love to hear about it, it makes me reflect on how far I've come as the main cook in the house and how easy it is for me to eat these days which is something that hadn't happened before.