8 ways to eat less meat

by babhoyersh on March 30, 2011

Real Food BasicsMeat is one of the most expensive items in a grocery budget. I’ve been finding that incorporating grassfed and pasture-raised meat into our grocery budget can be even more expensive. Depending on the cut of the meat, the price per pound is often double or triple that of conventional meat. For example, a conventionally-raised whole chicken could be $.99/lb. on sale while a local chicken could be $3/lb. Since the local chicken is better nutritiously, my husband and I are determined to make this part of our grocery budget work as well as we can.

To save money on meat this year, my family is going to try the 8 ways listed below. We haven’t tried incorporating organ meats into ground beef yet, though I have a package of beef livers waiting in the freezer. We’re also not big seafood eaters, though my kids love tuna fish. My goal is to have us eat fish twice a month, maybe starting out with scallops.

  • Use meat as a condiment
When making soups or stews, use less meat, and use meat-base broths to enhance the meat flavor of the meal. Mix a half pound of ground beef into tomato sauce and sprinkle cheese on top for adequate protein content.
  • Use organ meats to stretch more expensive ground beef
  • Use up all of a whole chicken
  • focus on the veggies in the meal first
After roasting a chicken and serving it for dinner, I pick the meat off the carcass, and use the carcass and organs to make a rich broth which serves as base for soups and stews, along with adds nutritional content to brown and white rice and other grains. I often make the cooked chicken into chicken salad which I will serve for dinner from time to time.
For lunch I like to make a heavy salad that is light on the meat, but also includes at least one other protein. I haven’t tried this for dinner yet, but I may try it during the summer with a pasta salad. I’m feeling inspired to experiment with salads after reading Mark’s Daily Apple’s Choose Your Own Salad Adventure.
  • Use the meat flavor of vegetables to enhance dishes
Portello mushrooms can serve as a meat substitute on their own given their meaty flavor. Using a combination of onions, leeks, and shallots as part of vegetable dish deepens the flavor.
  • Try going vegetarian during the day as suggested by Mark Bittman
  • Use nuts and cheeses to add protein and flavor to dishes
  • Come up with variations on a vegetarian theme
Pizza, pasta, and fried rice all can be varied to suit your pantry and mood. is your friend when it comes to exploring new combinations.
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Christy March 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I blend the liver in my blender and then freeze it in icecube trays. Then when I am making spaghetti or chili or other highly seasoned dishes with ground meat I just add a couple cubes.
Thanks for sharing your list with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop!

babhoyersh March 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I love that idea! I’ll do that next time I buy the liver.

Kristy Moon April 1, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Great ideas — I’m doing many of the same things (in addition . Today we had barbecue chicken pizza (trying to copy our favorite frozen pizzas, from California Pizza kitchen. I was surprised to realize that one chicken breast easily covered 3 large pizzas. Score. We are eating mostly vegetarian meals during the week, and saving the meat mostly for weekends.

babhoyersh April 2, 2011 at 4:59 am

That’s a great idea – saving the meat for the weekends. My dh would love that since he’s a great chef and a big meat lover.

Ashley April 6, 2011 at 10:27 am

Thanks for these great ideas. My oldest (shes only 10) has been saying she’s going to become a vegetarian tomorrow…lol, and another daughter always says we eat meat too much. They do love meat but I think more meatless meals would make them happy.

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