Friday, January 24, 2014

Frugal Friday: 5 Ways to Use Less Meat in Meals

Hi everyone. I'm alive, just still a little busy with our remodel project. But we're making progress. Today for Frugal Friday I'd like to share five ways to use less meat in meals, to help you save money on your food budget. Meat is often one of the biggest food costs in a food budget and eating meatless or less meat in meals is a great way to save money. As part of this post, I'm excited to list some of my favorite recipes that I've posted on this blog that use less or no meat.

5 Ways to Use Less Meat in Meals

1. Use grains as meat substitutes or extenders.
Half the meat in the recipe or cut it out altogether. Some grains that work great as meat extenders are Red Quinoa or White Quinoa. Quinoa is high in protein and blends really well with meat. Sometimes I use it as a meat substitute (like this chili or this spaghetti sauce) or just as a meat extender (like these tacos).

2. Don't make meat the focus of the meal.
Make dishes that use meat as a condiment rather than the main part of a dish. One of my favorites ways to do this is to make soups (like this favorite chicken noodle or this navy bean soup). Another favorite example include this roasted seasonal vegetables with sausage dish. Breakfast for dinner is always a great way to do this too.

3. Eat beans, beans, beans.
Some people (even vegetarians I know) are afraid to eat beans and legumes because of all the negative digestive hype they get. I've found that our bodies get used to eating beans without the negative side effects as we introduce them over time and make them a part of our diet. I have so many favorite bean recipes on this blog that I make. A few top winning meals that I make all the time are this black bean salad, this bean lasagna, and these refried beans  I use beans as meat extenders and as complete meat substitutes with great success, they are wonderful and delicious, but do need to be seasoned correctly to enjoy them.

4. Add a variety of vegetables
I've found that a large variety of colorful vegetables added to a meal will help ensure that your taste palate doesn't miss the meat. Try a salad buffet for dinner, but be sure to include a large variety to choose from. Our kids love this meal because they get to pick what they want to eat (always a hit with them).

5. Add flavor - garlic, roasted nuts, etc.
In many instances, added flavor can compensate for the absence of meat in a recipe. We love to added raw garlic or roasted nuts to a vegetarian pizza, for example, and it's wonderfully delicious. Another example is this Sesame Cashew Vegetable Stir-Fry that uses a variety of vegetables and nuts to add flavor rather than meat.

Now it's your turn. How do you use less meat in meals? I'd love to hear your ideas. Happy Frugal Friday. Hope you have a great weekend!

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