Friday, May 27, 2011

Saving Money On Groceries-Meat as a Side Dish

It's no secret that buying meat often consumes the largest portion of our grocery budget. But, here are a few tips to get the most out of your meat, and give your grocery budget a little more wiggle room.

  • Try Meatless Meals
    • Okay, I can hear it already: "My husband will NEVER go for meatless meals!" But, you might be surprised. I have a carnivorous husband as well, and he's fine if as long as I limit meatless meals to once a week. If you never try it, you might miss out on a new family favorite recipe!
    • Some of our favorite meatless meals include Minestrone Soup, Black Bean Burritos with homemade Guacamole, and Veggie Omelets or Fritattas or any other breakfast for dinner meal.
  • Give Meat a Supporting Role, Not a Starring Role
    • I can easily get 4-6 servings out of one pound of meat. In fact, the recommended serving size for meat is only 3 ounces for adults. Yes, only 3 ounces! The rest of your meal should be comprised of fruits, vegetables, and/or complex carbs. 
    • Some of my favorite ways to use meat in a supporting role are in Stir Fries (load up on the veggies and brown rice,) Tostadas (pile on the beans and a little meat,) Salads (BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad is a favorite around here,) and Pasta dishes. 
  • Explore Other Proteins
    • Beans, nuts, avocados, and eggs are all good protein sources that don't get nearly enough publicity at the dinner table. So, how can you incorporate these other proteins into your diet?
      • Hummus as a dip for veggies. Hummus is made of garbanzo beans, and is a wonderful, healthy alternative to many of the typical veggie dips. Setting out veggies with a side of hummus will fill you up quicker with healthier foods.
      • Homemade guacamole as a side. Avocados get a bad rap with with "Fat Police." However, the fat in avocado is a "good" fat, and making it from scratch (just avocado, lime juice, and salt) removes the preservatives and extra salt content.
      • Here I go with stir fries again. Adding cashews to your stir fry will give you an  extra protein boost so you can use less meat.
      • Omelets and Fritattas make for a wonderful dinner. You'd be amazed how little sausage, ham, or bacon actually goes into an omelet! With eggs being the main protein, you can afford to add that bacon to appease your carnivorous family, while not shelling out 6 pieces of bacon per person. (Which, would happen at my house if I wasn't careful!)
When it comes to food, my philosophy is "everything in moderation." There are times when a big old grilled steak is just what you need. (For my Mother's Day meal this year I requested steak!) But, for the most part, we could cut out a good amount of meat and not even miss it. In fact, if you start swapping in complex carbs and veggies for a little bit of the meat, your overall health may improve as well as your grocery budget.

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