Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: Thinking about Nearly Meatless Meals

I have put a lot of thought into making meals that have a low cost so that I can stick to the budget and not eat the same thing every night.  Most people tell you to be more cost effective, you should go with at least one meatless meal a week.  I am proposing the nearly meatless meal which means that don't make the meat the main dish for dinner but rather a side dish or a compliment.  I find that having one dish at least a week helps to use up the leftovers and go nearly meatless is much more cost effective and able to be done easily.

Pasta- Olive Oil Pasta or Parmesan Spaghetti is often served by itself of with veggies that I have in the fridge like oven fried zucchini or baked asparagus.  If you want to go nearly meatless, you can throw in a little leftover chicken into the pan to use it up.  We also make Sausage Penne Pasta which is whole wheat penne pasta tossed with Bertolli sausage sauce that I add a little more sausage too and simmer so that it is super flavorful.  In my opinion, as long as I have garlic bread with my pasta, I am a happy camper!

Panini or Grilled Cheese- Great with just cheese but my husband likes to add a little ham lunch meat to his grilled cheese, while I like to add a little leftover bacon.  The paninis are my go to way to use up a little leftover chicken in the fridge.

Homemade Pizza, Pizza Roll or Calzone- We often have cheese pizza with my yummy homemade pizza crust.  But sometimes I serve with a little bit of sausage, pepperoni or leftover chicken.  I chop up my sausage very fine and cut my pepperoni in fours.  A little bit of meat goes a long way on a big pizza.  It is a great way to use up leftovers as well!!

Fried Rice- I have two Fried Rice recipes that I use to make meals.  I have a simplified fried rice which is usually a yummy lunch dish even without any meat but can easily be bumped up to a healthy dinner with a little veggies or leftover chicken thrown in.  I make another one that is normally made entirely from leftovers in the fridge with already cooked rice and chicken where I brown the rice in the pan before adding seasoning and soy sauce with a little scrambled egg cooked right in the pan.  Often celery or other veggies are added to this dish as well to make it a meal.

Quesadillas, Taquitos, Empanadas and Enchiladas- These are super yummy with cheese or add a little bit of rice and leftovers (ground beef tacos or seasoned chicken) to make it a great treat.  And beans for those who like them but we aren't a bean family :)

Salad-  This is something that I don't think of a lot but they are super good and can also use leftovers to make it a meal, whether it is tossing it with leftover meat or adding a side of leftover pasta or some yummy homemade cornbread.  Don't forgot they yummiest of dishes which is also healthy for us, the salad!

Other options-

Not ready for the above choices, the start small.  I made a steak for dinner one night with salt potatoes and then later in the week, we had steak sandwiches with pan fried potatoes.  Using what you make and not letting it go to waste is a huge step in saving money through meal planning.  Of course, as my husband tells me that not everyone is a planner (and my sister in law swears to it) but I just don't believe that there are people out there that aren't planners :)  Of course, I think that you can throw this together regardless of planning.

Don't think that you can be a planner?  Add rice to a meal that you already make to add volume without adding more meat.  I make a skillet rice dish that calls for one pound of meat and I put in a very small amount of ground beef and double the rice in order to make the same meal with the same flavor.  We can't tell the difference and it makes for a much more frugal meal.  Add a little rice to the enchiladas or enchilada casserole to make it more full to serve more people without using more meat.

There are tons of ways that you can save money by changing your family favorites a little or adding a little bit of something else!!  I hope that this has helped you think of one way to change a meal to make it stretch a little farther.  Do you have any way that you make nearly meatless meals??  I look forward to new ideas on how to make frugal nearly meatless meals.

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  1. I love these ideas. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Always great to take a minute to think about what we are eating and see how it works out health wise and frugally :) I hope that you try some ideas that you might not have tried in awhile.


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