budget talk

Save Money and Save your Health

One way to save money on food and boost your health at the same time is to cut out down on the amount of meat and animal products you eat.

Just Another Meatless Monday
There’s a site called Meatless Monday and while its goal is to help prevent Americans from getting heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, it’s a great resource for anyone who wants to cut down on meat to save money. Check it out at www.meatlessmonday.com. If you’ve never tried vegetarian recipes before, this site has a bunch of good ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It’s Not Just About Veggies
I know lots of people think that the word vegetarian comes from the word vegetable and that’s all you eat on this type of diet. While vegetables do play a big part of the vegetarian way of eating, they’re only part of the picture. There are beans and nuts, things like barley, lentils. All low cost foods that add protein, fiber and essential vitamins without breaking the bank.

Okay, I know tofu isn’t everyone’s favorite thing, but it has lots of pluses when it comes to eating well while you’re watching the pennies. It’s a good and cheap source of protein and yes, it’s tasteless, but that’s a good thing too. Being bland means that tofu will absorb just about any flavoring that you add to it. I always keep a couple of packages of tofu in the pantry and often end up marinating it in soy sauce, a little sesame oil, honey and then stir frying it with carrots, broccoli, onions, peppers and serving it over brown rice for a quick and healthy dinner. A box of tofu costs around $2.89, so it can be turned into a bargain meal.

Veggie Burgers and Sausages
These days just about every supermarket sells some type of veggie burger. Some are made from soy, some from wheat gluten and some from a combination of vegetables and beans. Some taste better than others, and by that I mean some have an unpleasant aftertaste. Test tasting is essential until you find one that the whole family likes. Some of my favorites are the Morningstar Farms products. Grillers and their new Asian burgers are top picks of mine and be sure to check out the Morningstar Web site and sign up for the newsletter at www.seeveggiesdifferently.com . Boca is another brand you can find at the supermarket and I especially like the Bratwurst ‘sausages’. I often serve them ‘as is’ or chop them up and use them in recipes that call for regular sausages and no one ever knows the difference. And another brand that’s a particular favorite of mine is Quorn www.quorn.us. They do a range of products from crumbles to roast. They have no aftertaste, but they’re usually higher in price.

Make Your Own
Over the years, many of these veggie burgers and products have gone up in price, so I’ve been experimenting with some of my own recipes. I haven’t found one I really like yet, but I’m close. And I’ll share it with you once I get all the measurements worked out. One thing I have found is that roasting the vegetables adds a lot of flavor to a veggie burger and that black beans give the best consistency.

Here are some of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks. Look for them at your local library or even at the bargain book sections at stores like Barnes and Noble and Borders.

Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin

Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson, a must if you like using a slow cooker.

The 15 Minute Vegetarian Gourmet by Paulette Mitchell, one of my favorites and the meals are really quick and easy to put together when time’s a factor.

And be sure to check out any of the Moosewood cookbooks, they’re classics and full of good ideas about using things like beans, lentils and vegetables.

Sites to Check Out
Here are a couple of sites I regularly check for new ideas for meatless meals
www.vegkitchen.com and www.veganyumyum.com

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