TVP for the Meat Lover's Soul
Like tofu and powdered milk, texturized vegetable protein can be a tough pitch to make. What I found after doing a little initial exploring however, was that not only are there ways to incorporate it into a menu that even die hard meat lovers can get used to, but I was already eating more of it than I ever realized . . .
For those of you who have never heard of it, TVP is a soy product. It’s usually purchased dry and comes in various shapes and sizes such as chunks, granules or flakes. It can also be purchased plain, or seasoned to match with various meats such as chicken, sausage, taco flavored, beef and bacon. Here are a few ideas, informational points and resources to introduce you to the concept.
- Bacon bits. Who knew? Apparently, the bacon flavored TVP pieces are exactly the same thing that I’ve been paying big bucks for in the salad topping aisle for years . . . the imitation bacon bits in expensive little jars. Purchasing just this kind of TVP in bulk can save you major bucks if you eat these little gems on a regular basis.
- It’s an affordable addition to regular meats to reduce the overall cost. Again, who knew? I was amazed when I started reading the ingredient lists more carefully on things like pre-made meatballs, chicken patties and more. Schools frequently incorporate it into their school lunch programs. It’s my understanding that many fast food restaurants do too, but I don’t have a great deal of hard data on that. (Anyone?) The point is though, that you can do the same thing at home in things like meatballs, biscuits and gravy, etc. Just hydrate the product and mix it in with the meat of your choice before cooking the meal.
- Try it on its own in recipes calling for ground meat or with high flavor content. Two that come to mind are chili and tacos. A couple of others I might be willing to try are chicken pot pie and sausage breakfast burritos.
- It costs way less than what you pay per pound. Here’s an informational link from a site that sells TVP in bulk. Basically, as you’ll see from the breakdown, you pay per pound for the dehydrated product. Once you hydrate it, the weight goes up, making the cost per useable pound of TVP much lower. So for example if you pay a dollar and a half per pound of beef flavored TVP and the hydrated product comes down to less than fifty cents a pound, you are saving a fair percentage of money whether or not you mix it with another ground meat or not.
- Great shelf life. Because it arrives dehydrated, it lasts for quite some time on a shelf in an airtight container. It costs less to transport, and saves you on the runs you need to make to the store for the fresh stuff. It’s also a nutritionally sound protein source if you have a financial crisis.
- Vegetarian menu support. If you are already a vegetarian, this stuff is great to have on hand. If you are not, but occasionally have one for dinner, you’ll be all set with a pantry supply to help out with the menu planning.
Call for ideas: I did find one cool post with pictures of a lunch box idea a mother had done for her child. It involved a build a taco kit the child could assemble on her own at school. It’s courtesy of the Vegan Lunchbox. My own experience with this product, in addition to what I’ve eaten mixed in with other convenience food items over the years, is limited pretty much to TVP tacos and the bacon bit version. I’m sure it’s probably also an ingredient in the veggie patty products I occasionally buy. My point is, I could really use some source suggestions for recipe sites out there that us meat lovers could use and enjoy.
Thanks in advance, and happy cooking!