Meat is starting to become one of my favorite parts of a meal. It’s a wonderful source of protein, which I’m eating a lot more of now. As you’ve probably noticed, though, meat is getting expensive; and it’s just not feasible to add copious amounts of chicken, ground beef, etc., to each dinner, especially if you have a larger family. Instead of giving in to those high prices, try these 4 ways to stretch your meat; your family may not even notice!
I’ve been able to add different things to my meat to make the meal bigger- vegetables, for one! I’ve added shredded carrots and chopped bell peppers to my ground beef/turkey, and it bulks up the meat really nicely. Shredded zucchini would work well, too, and I’m now a big fan of adding a whole bag of coleslaw mix- cabbage and carrots- to my Asian-styled dishes to really make that meal stretch.
Other good ideas are:
- Beans- like this Beantastic Taco Meat!
Use less/half of what the recipe calls for
If you do it right, you won’t even notice the missing meat. And if you use any of the fillers above, it’ll work even better! This works really well in soups and casseroles because there’s so much going on along with the meat. I like this Slow Cooker Italian Chicken recipe, and I’ll sometimes use just one chicken breast and use a whole bag of egg noodles. It fills up my bowl and it’s still delicious!
Make meat part of the meal, not the star
Meat doesn’t have to be the main course, especially since it’s so easy to fill up on just that. You can add just half a pound of ground beef to spaghetti sauce and still make it serve a large family. Pizza’s another good example; you can use a small amount of pepperoni and sausage, and top the rest of the pizza with vegetables.
Like I said above, soups and casseroles are a good way to make the meat just part of the meal itself.
Go meatless once a week
You can also just skip the meat completely at times, but that doesn’t mean dinner has to be boring or un-filling! Beans and lentils are so cheap and are full of protein, and very versatile. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
- Lentil Sloppy Joes
- Mexican Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole
- American Red Beans and Rice
- Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole
What are your favorite ways to save money and stretch meat? Let us know in the comments below!