meat alternatives en-US How to Save Money by Going (Mostly) Meatless <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-save-money-by-going-mostly-meatless" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="vegetables" title="vegetables" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Let me start by saying this &mdash; I like a big, fat steak as much the next omnivore. I like roasted chickens and sausages. And I really like bacon.</p> <p>My wallet doesn&rsquo;t love it quite so much, however.</p> <p>According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, <a target="_blank" href="">meat makes up about 21%</a> of the average American grocery budget, making it the most expensive category after processed foods. That suggests that many of us eat quite a lot of meat, and that it has a pretty significant effect on our bottom line.</p> <p>Of course, most of us also know that adding more plants to our meals is good for our health. A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia in June found that those who followed a vegetarian diet were <a target="_blank" href="">less likely to have heart disease</a>, diabetes, and colorectal cancer. They were also less likely to be obese. In other words, money isn&rsquo;t the only reason to consider cutting a down your meat consumption. (See also: <a href="">25 Tasty Vegetarian Crock Pot Recipes</a>)</p> <h2>Meat and Money</h2> <p>How can adding a few vegetarian staples to your week cut your grocery bill? Let&rsquo;s break it down.</p> <p>According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, common cuts of meat cost between $1.59 per pound (for chicken legs) to $4.90 per pound (for steak). (My old friend, bacon, comes out at $4.53 per pound.) According to the U.S. food pyramid, which calls a serving 2&ndash;3 ounces, that pound of meat should feed between five and eight people.</p> <p>That sounds pretty frugal, but most meat wouldn&rsquo;t stretch that far in my house, especially when you add the weight of the bones and loss of weight in cooking into the equation.</p> <p>The BLS says that <a href="">dried beans</a>, for example, go for about $1.46 per pound. If you consider one cup of cooked beans to be a serving, that means you&rsquo;ll get up to five servings in each pound, bringing each person&rsquo;s serving of protein to about 29 cents. That&rsquo;s the base of a very inexpensive &mdash; and healthy &mdash; meal. So, even when you weigh them against the cheapest meat options, most vegetarian options are a whole lot cheaper.</p> <h2>Ways to Go Meatless</h2> <p>Cutting grocery expenses is just one of the many great reasons to reduce the amount of meat in your diet. But the question for many meat eaters is how to do it without missing, well, the meat. Here are some ideas.</p> <p><strong>1. Look to Culture</strong></p> <p>There are several cultures that are entirely vegetarian, such as some Sikhs and Hindus, Jains, and Seventh Day Adventists. Many others use meat more as a garnish than as a main course. Because these groups have been using vegetarian ingredients for many generations, they&rsquo;ve figured out how to make their signature dishes as comforting, delicious, and filling as any meat-based meal.</p> <ul> <li>For example, <a target="_blank" href="">red bean curry</a> is a popular staple in some parts of India.</li> <li>Or try a <a target="_blank" href="">Pakistani</a> lentil curry.</li> <li>And if you want to try tofu, check out a cookbook from Japan, where tofu has been an important staple for centuries. <a target="_blank" href="">Miso soup</a> anyone?</li> </ul> <p>Note that cooking ethnic recipes does require some investment in terms of spices and other pantry staples. The good news? A little goes a long way with most of these ingredients. Look for them at an ethnic grocery store if you have any near you &mdash; they&rsquo;re likely to be cheaper.</p> <p><strong>2. Spice Things Up</strong></p> <p>Speaking of spices, there&rsquo;s a reason they&rsquo;re so prominent in vegetarian recipes.</p> <p>Unlike a steak, which tastes pretty great seasoned with only a little salt, a kidney bean needs a little more finessing. That isn&rsquo;t to say that vegetarian food is bland, but cooking vegetarian does require a bit of a shift in thinking.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re a meat-and-potatoes kind of person, you probably think of meat as what&rsquo;s for dinner. When you&rsquo;re cooking vegetarian, you need to think of your proteins as just one of many ingredients that go into the pot. Individually, none of them will knock your socks off. Together, they can be magic!</p> <p><strong>3. Ease Into It</strong></p> <p>If you don&rsquo;t eat any vegetarian meals, just reducing the amount of meat in your meals using vegetarian ingredients can be a great start. For example, rather than cutting meat right out of your chilli, why not cut the usual amount of meat you use in half, and <a href="">fill up the rest of the pot</a> with more beans and vegetables?</p> <p>I also recommend bacon (did I mention that I like bacon?) as a substitute in many dishes. Just a couple of slices can make a big pot of (mostly) vegetarian <a href="">corn chowder</a>, or this healthy version of <a target="_blank" href="">baked potato soup,</a> taste as rich and delicious as any meat-based meal. Plus, if you can learn to make a little bit of meat go a long way, it&rsquo;ll be good for both your budget and your body.</p> <p><strong>4. Eat Whole Foods</strong></p> <p>If you&rsquo;re going to try eating vegetarian, there&rsquo;s one big trap to avoid in terms of cost &mdash; processed foods.</p> <p>Whole foods are always the way to go in terms of price; eat a lot of beans and rice and you can survive on a few dollars a day. Veggie burgers and tofu dogs? Not so much.</p> <p>In fact, processed vegetarian items are often <a target="_blank" href="">a lot more expensive than their animal-based buddies</a> in the meat aisle. That price discrepancy isn&rsquo;t discrimination against those who abstain from meat; it&rsquo;s just simple economics. Less demand equals higher prices. If you&rsquo;re eating vegetarian to save money, stick to whole foods and learn to cook them, otherwise you may end up paying more for your veggie burger than you would for the real thing!</p> <p>Eating more vegetarian meals can help you cut down your grocery bill, but it doesn&rsquo;t have to be an exercise in culinary asceticism. With a few <a href="">pantry staples</a> and a little practice, you can cook vegetarian meals that&rsquo;ll have you saying &ldquo;hold the meat&rdquo; more often.</p> <p><em>Have any staple vegetarian recipes of your own? Share them in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">35 Mouth Watering Lentil Recipes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Perfect Peanut Sauce</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">9 Satisfying Stir-Fries in 20 Minutes or Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink meat alternatives reduce grocery bill vegetarian Tue, 29 Jan 2013 11:00:31 +0000 Tara Struyk 967388 at Lentil Love: How to Sex Up a Simple Staple and Save <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/lentil-love-how-to-sex-up-a-simple-staple-and-save" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="195" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Let's face it. Lentils aren't usually a food that folks write love songs about, at least in this country. But for price and nutrition, they're pretty tough to beat. Bonus? They don't need a lengthy pre-soak and slow roast like some of their larger bean counterparts. Also, in many parts of the world they are <a href="" target="_blank">prepared in ways</a> that are so flavorful, we as Americans might not even recognize them. After test driving the Indian lentil soup (yum) from the nearest Sweet Tomatoes restaurant here in the St. Petersburg area, my interest in exploring these little nuggets of nutritional thrift was renewed.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">What's to <a href=";dbid=52" target="_blank">love about lentils</a>? Well, they're dirt cheap, pack a powerful nutritional punch, and are incredibly versatile. Worried about only having access to brown ones? They come in a variety of colors, making them suitable for customizing a meal for visual presentation. And as I mentioned above, they cook up much more quickly than their larger bean relatives, making them ideal for those nights when you are <a href="/ten-simple-meals-in-ten-minutes-or-less" target="_blank">short on time</a> to prepare dinner.&nbsp;So, how do you make them sexy? Here's a break down.</p> <h2 style="margin-bottom: 0in">DIPS AND SPREADS.</h2> <p>Looking for an <a href="" target="_blank">alternative to hummus</a> with your next batch of pita crisps? This <a href="" target="_blank">affordable recipe</a> mixes pureed lentils with split peas and ethnic seasonings, resulting in an unexpected alternative to onion dip. With split peas being right up there with lentils on my list of rock bottom cheapies I'd like to do more with, I was happy to see them used for something besides my stand by <a href="/whats-cooking-sunday-dinner-at-mi-casa" target="_blank">pea soup</a>.&nbsp;Bonus? If you're into vegan, this fits the bill. Here's another link to a <a href="" target="_blank">spicy lentil pate</a> using coconut and cayenne. A couple of other interesting finds were <a href="" target="_blank">lentil butter</a> (a great <a href="">sandwich&nbsp;idea</a> or hummus substitute) and this recipe for <a href="" target="_blank">lentil tepenade</a>. Here's another link for reasonably interesting&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">lentil spread</a>.</p> <h2 style="margin-bottom: 0in">SOUPS AND STEWS</h2> <p>My previous experiments with <a href="" target="_blank">lentil soups</a> were hum drum at best. The recent taste test of the <a href="" target="_blank">Indian lentil soup</a> at the nearest Sweet Tomatoes restaurant renewed my enthusiasm. While I'm still in the process of tracking down a copy of that particular recipe, here's a great <a href="" target="_blank">Moroccan</a> one from a fun little blog that <a href="/linsey-knerl" target="_blank">Linsey</a> turned me on to, and an interesting sounding French version from <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.&nbsp;The most interesting sounding Indian one I've found so far <a href="" target="_blank">is this</a> one using lamb and served with zatar-seasoned dinner rolls.&nbsp;A few others I found&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">of note</a>?</p> <ul> <li> <div style="margin-bottom: 0in">For pure intrigue and &ldquo;I've got to know what that tastes like&rdquo; factor, This <a href="" target="_blank">Jamaican</a> lentil and coconut soup fits the bill.&nbsp;So does <a href="" target="_blank">this one</a> for eggplant lentil stew with pomegranate molasses.</div> </li> <li>Here are <a href="" target="_blank">one</a> or <a href="" target="_blank">two</a>&nbsp;directly comparable recipes to a pureed yellow lentil soup that was always one of my favorites to order in Kuwait. Great with lemon wedges and some DIY <a href="" target="_blank">sumac and pita pocket croutons</a>. Feeling like something slightly more Syrian? Here's <a href="" target="_blank">a link</a> to a red lentil version as well.</li> </ul> <h2 style="margin-bottom: 0in">SIDES AND SALADS</h2> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">How do you turn a pile of dried legumes into a side dish you can serve with confidence? For starters, making a pilaf is really a super simple way to add a little protein and pizazz to a very basic side dish. A few brown lentils and grated carrot with some basmati, parsley and chicken stock in the rice cooker and you've got a scoop-able one dish dinner side you don't have to tend to. But really, that's just the beginning. There are many other options out there, both for hot sides and chilled salads.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><strong>Some ideas for sides?</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">How about this unusual idea for <a href="" target="_blank">lentil&nbsp;bread</a>, or <a href="" target="_blank">curried lentils with sweet potatoes</a>? A few others that made my list are <a href="" target="_blank">herbed lentils&nbsp;with bacon</a>, cauliflower-lentil&nbsp; <a href="" target="_blank">curry</a>, Ecuadorian&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">sauced lentils</a>, and this recipe&nbsp;for spicy red lentils courtesy of the <a href="" target="_blank">Mayo Clinic</a>.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><strong>Are salads more your speed?</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">I had quite a bit of luck researching these, finding <a href="" target="_blank">Mediterranean</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Southwestern</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">German</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">quinoa-lentil</a>&nbsp;combo salads. I also found a couple of <a href="" target="_blank">meal-worthy</a> lentil based salads, including <a href="" target="_blank">this one</a> for warm lentil potato salad with roasted garlic vinaigrette.</p> <h2 style="margin-bottom: 0in">THE MAIN EVENT</h2> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><img width="500" height="375" src="" alt="lentil patties" title="lentil patties" />&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Believe me, nobody was more shocked than I to find so many ways to take these things <a href=";zoneid=4" target="_blank">center stage</a> at meal time. Seriously, who knew? In fact, with all the options available, I started to notice some category patterns in the way you could serve them.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><strong>As an entrée stuffing.</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Personally, I think this is one of the sexier ways I saw them used. Some specific examples? Bulgur and lentil <a href="" target="_blank">stuffed tomatoes</a> with a yogurt garlic sauce, as an alternative to rice in <a href="" target="_blank">stuffed peppers</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">here</a> in a recipe for baked sweet potato and lentil stuffing.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><strong>As a burger or salmon patty alternative.</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Again, I have to come clean here. I went into this thinking I'd be lucky to find one or two recipes that weren't tasteless, not to mention visually frightening. I'm happy to report, I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not saying it was an easy search, mind you. There were some seriously terrible ideas out there in internet land. That being said, a few ideas for lentil based patties managed to <a href="" target="_blank">make their way</a> to the top of my list.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">For starters, <a href="" target="_blank">this resource</a> for a <a href="/twenty-five-ways-to-use-frozen-spinach" target="_blank">spinach</a> and&nbsp;bean combo patty caught my eye. So did <a href="" target="_blank">this one</a> for spicy black bean and lentil burgers. Overall though, I think the award for the most colorful, can't wait to try it recipe goes to <a href=";zoneid=4" target="_blank">this&nbsp;recipe</a>&nbsp;featuring yellow lentils, Thai chili peppers and ginger root. Here's an <a href="" target="_blank">extra one</a>&nbsp;for those on a low glycemic index diet.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><strong>Lentil loaf.</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Boy, do I know what you're thinking. Lentil loaf. It's hard to even say the words without sounding like you have a ten ton weight on your shoulders. I think one of the things that helped me embrace <a href="" target="_blank">this idea</a> a little more was knowing from personal experience with other legumes just how effective the right sauce and seasonings can be. The list of<a href="" target="_blank"> links</a> to recipes I felt showed any promise turned out to be quite sparse. Here's a link from <a href="" target="_blank">Taste of Home</a>, a source I trust for down home flavor. On the upside, the other categories have some yummy sounding options I did not expect, and as a result I have some modification ideas lined up to try. I'll keep you posted.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><strong>As a direct bean equivalent.</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">What I'm talking about here is the use of lentils in ways that you would also use any type of larger bean. <a href="" target="_blank">Baked</a> in a crock&nbsp; and served with biscuits, as a main <a href="" target="_blank">chili </a>ingredient, in a<a href="" target="_blank"> burrito</a>,&nbsp;served over rice, <a href="" target="_blank">whatever</a>.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><strong>Make it a co-star.</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Lentils make an excellent filler and <a href="" target="_blank">pair well</a>&nbsp;with other main ingredients to take <a href="" target="_blank">center stage</a> on the dinner plate. For example, how about this <a href="" target="_blank">Moroccan</a> meatball and lentil bake, or this spicy <a href="" target="_blank">South African</a>&nbsp;recipe? I was also excited to find this recipe for traditional <a href="" target="_blank">Egyptian kosherie</a>,&nbsp;a dish I fondly remember enjoying with a fellow international teacher after a night of bargain shopping in the old souk in Kuwait City. Don't forget the hot sauce though, if you want it to be truly authentic.</p> <h2 style="margin-bottom: 0in">A FEW OTHER TREASURE TROVES FROM AROUND THE WEB</h2> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">While much of my research resulted in large data bases comprised of every tasteless soup recipe featuring brown lentils, water and salt known to man, there were a few little golden nuggets of hope. My top three picks? A collection of <a href="" target="_blank">slow cooker recipes</a>&nbsp;for lentils, a great break down of one couple's favorite <a href="" target="_blank">lentil recipes</a> (including great pictures), and <a href="" target="_blank">this resource</a>&nbsp;from VegWeb.Com.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">And, if meatless in general floats your boat, we have a number of resources right here on Wise Bread, featuring <a href="/tackling-tofu-survival-tips-from-a-meat-lover" target="_blank">tofu</a>, <a href="/tvp-for-the-meat-lovers-soul" target="_blank">TVP</a>, general <a href="/8-meatless-dishes-for-meat-n-taters-lovers" target="_blank">meatless dishes</a> and making your own soy products <a href="/soy-milk-tofu-and-veggie-burgers-for-pennies-anyone" target="_blank">from the raw bean</a>.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><em>Hope this was helpful, folks. As inexpensive as lentils are, it would be a shame not to at least try to incorporate them into your family meal plan a few times a month (or week, if you're feeling adventurous). Now that I know how many appealing options are available, I'll be using these little budget beauties way more often. Got some suggestions or tips? You KNOW how I love to hear from you. Share the love, as usual, in the comment section below. </em></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"><em>This post was included in the <a href="">August 12, 2009 edition</a> of Wanderfood Wednesday. </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Staff</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">70 Scrumptious Shrimp Recipes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Cheap Ways to Add Big Flavor to Your Food</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Tasty and Frugal Chickpea Recipes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">20 Delicious, Healthier Appetizers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Easy 5-Ingredient Recipes That Save Time and Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink cheap recipes frugal food lentil recipes meat alternatives Wed, 08 Oct 2008 18:35:13 +0000 Staff 2504 at