Last week I made tacos. My family’s was ecstatic – as if I’d presented my family with a dinner of prime rib.
Why are tacos so exciting around here? They are a rarity. Easy as they are to make, and tasty as they are to eat – tacos are one of the more expensive meals I serve to my family of 5 men. It’s the meat. The delicious, juicy, perfect-for-tacos meat.
I remember the days I could only use a 1/2 pound of hamburger meat to feed my family a meal. Now it takes 2-3 pounds of hamburger if we’re having a meal of something in which meat is the main component – like tacos. That’s over $15 for meat alone. Then add lettuce, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, cheese, guac, salsa, tortillas – all in large quantities.
Thus, meals like tacos are rare, and meals where we can stretch our meat a bit further show up on our table more frequently.
I never advocate for skimping on good food just for the sake of saving a buck. Nourishment it worth the cost – so don’t short yourself or your family on nutrients in an effort to cut food costs. But there are ways to stretch the meat you’re serving your family. You probably have some good ideas for ways to do this, so be sure and leave a comment sharing your tips. Here are the ideas I thought of to make your meat stretch:
Stir lentils, red beans, black beans, pinto beans – any of your favorite beans – into the ground meat you’re planning to serve. Note to self: If I did this more often, we could probably have tacos more often. How ’bout that?
Cut the Meat in Half
If you’re adding meat to a casserole, consider if cutting the amount in half will still fill and nourish your family. I find this easy to do in recipes which include chicken, which leads me to…
Let Meat Broth Pack a Punch
When I make chicken, turkey, or beef stock – it becomes a very healthy meat-product. (That sounds so fake, like “cheese product.” Homemade broth is sooooo not fake, it’s just something you make with meat. Thus, meat-product, right?) Broth made with wholesome meats and lots of vegetables is so very flavorful! Therefore, I find that I can cut way down on the meat in recipes that use broth. Here’s a good example:
This weekend I made this easy Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole. I cooked the rice directly in my nutrient-packed chicken broth. There were so many veggies blended into my broth that it turned my rice orange. Plus, I knew that the chicken bones filled my broth with nourishment. Therefore, I only added about two cups of cooked chicken to two 9×13 inch casseroles. With such flavorful broth, no one even noticed the small amount of chicken in the casserole.
I love how colorful this plate is with all the great veggies!
You all know I’m a meat lover. But even I have learned that I don’t have to eat meat all three meals every day. Two of our favorite meatless lunches are: Easy Cheesy Bean Dip and Easy Noodle Stir Fry. We don’t even miss the meat when we’re eating meals like these.
Have Eggs Instead
Eggs aren’t just a great breakfast food. Scramble or fry some up to compliment your lunch or dinner. It doesn’t get any easier, and eggs are still an inexpensive protein to take the place of meat.