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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My family has decided that, due to the price of meat being so high, we can only afford to eat meat in our meals 3 or so times a week.

I volunteered to make a few vegetarian dishes...

But I don't want everyone to hate it (they're more "meat addicted" than I am...) and I need it to be quick and easy and CHEAP!

Advice?
 

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You could stretch ground beef by mixing it with TVP... 1/2 and 1/2.. .and they'd never know. Really.

If they like Mexican food, you can go for bean burritos, tacos, tamale pie, chiles rellenos, etc. Can make your own refried beans or buy them in a can and doctor them up.

One popular option is to do breakfast for dinner... so waffles, pancakes, eggs, French toast, etc. My kids are always so psyched when I do this. LOL We also do puffy oven pancakes sometimes which they love.

Spaghetti, gnocchi, ravioli, veggie lasagna (can make it with just cheese, instead of lots of veggies if they're veggie-phobic), and other pasta dishes. Homemade mac-n-cheese. Can do veggie lasagna rolls and flash-freeze them for a really easy dinner.

What sort of foods does your family like?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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Originally Posted by umsami View Post
What sort of foods does your family like?
I can get everyone but my BIL's to try veggie dishes. BIL2 has already pretty much refused to eat anything I cook because my "recipes suck." As it is now he doesn't eat veggies when they're prepared WITH the meat meal...he'll chow down on the meat and potatoes and leave the rest. (And he wonders why he gets sick...he doesn't take vitamins either)

Where do I get TVP? I've never seen it at my grocery store...but, then again, I've never looked.

Honestly, even if I made meatless spaghetti (jar of sauce over noodles) I'd get turned up noses...
 

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Honestly, even if I made meatless spaghetti (jar of sauce over noodles) I'd get turned up noses...
Then it would be their turn to budget, shop, and cook if that happened in my house.

Curious - are living with your BIL, or is your BIL living with you? Cause that makes a huge difference in how I would react.

I made spinach lasagna with alfredo tonight - very yummy and not that much different than traditional. Just mix alfredo sauce with a little bit of milk, put some in the bottom of the pan, then uncooked WW noodles, 1/2 of veggie mixture (spinach, ricotta cheese, one egg, grated carrot, mushrooms, and chopped green peppers if I have them), more noodles, then sauce, veggies, and then cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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Originally Posted by Lisa85 View Post
Then it would be their turn to budget, shop, and cook if that happened in my house.

Curious - are living with your BIL, or is your BIL living with you? Cause that makes a huge difference in how I would react.
We're living with the inlaws. One BIL lives here and the other has a place of his own (but eats dinner here most nights)

I DID tell the BIL2 (lives here) that if he wanted meat THAT badly he could go buy it himself...MIL backed me up
 

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Breakfast for dinner is always a fun idea. We have breakfast tacos for dinner quite a bit, that's a favorite over here- scrambled eggs with peppers, onions, potatoes and black beans. Serve rolled up in a tortilla with sour cream, cheese and/or salsa. Delicious.

I second the lasagna idea. I always make lasagna with Lightlife Gimme Lean ground beef crumbles and cook them with a little crushed red pepper (among other spices) and add a little spinach to the ricotta. You could use TVP in this instead. Is there a health section at your grocery store? That's most likely where you'll find it, if there is.

I also make tofu nuggets (similar to chicken nuggets, only they are square, haha). Sounds scary when you call them *GASP* tofu, lol, but all the meat-lovers who've tried them have loved them. They're my husband's favorite tofu recipe. I serve them with mashed potatoes and gravy and a side vegetable (asparagus usually, but cook whatever your family will like). I can give you the recipe if you're interested.

Oh and there are SO many easy, cheap veggie soups. Veggie chili is a favorite among meat-lovers because if you don't use any meat alternative, it's still good and if you do use one, you can't tell the difference anyway. Also, if I'm feeling lazy I'll cook up a cheesy potato and broccoli soup: potatoes, broccoli, onion, celery, garlic and sometimes I add a little spinach (when you're done, you can neither see nor taste it), whatever spices you want- boil until everything's soft, and then blend half of it with a little milk to make it creamy. My super picky two year old loves this.

I wish more people would do veggie days- it's good for the environment, animals and your wallet. It's a win-win-win.
 

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You should be able to get tvp at a bulk store(bulk barn here) and you just throw whatever seasoning you would use in pasta stired in,rehydrate it and away you go... super easy

If your fam will do ehnic,indian currys super simple and cheap, chickpeas, onions,potatoes, jarred curry sauce mixed w canned tomatoes, served over rice

I find mexican nights are easiest when im having meat eaters over,we do taco salads, with refried beans(homemade is WAY cheaper then store bought), lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, sour cream, avacado ect in a wrap that you mold into a bowl shape using an oven proof bowl, you can basically put whatever you want inside(always a hit with guests),
we also do burritoes with refried beans,mashed sweet potatoes, onions garlic ect.

You can do finger food nights-this is super easy and lil ones seem to dig it, we set out, homemade hummus(again homemade cheaper then store bought), pitas cut into triangles, carrot sticks,celery sticks, peppers, cucs, whatever veg, whatever dips you want...we also do this with things like dumplings which are super cheap at an asian grocery store

a pp mentioned fried rice, my meat eating fam LOVES this, when I visit w my grandma my aunt, uncle and cousin are usually there for dinner and they love when i make fried rice, its a great way to use up any going rotten veg. Its especially good I find if you make a double batch of rice earlier in the week. I find the rice is better if its a day old.

On the leftover thing,save all your veg scraps and make homemade broth, even the simplest meals taste so much better w broth over water and its insane how much store bought broth is. Soups like minestrone are a great way to use up veg, left over pasta noodles, and leftover beans and since the majority of times minestrone is a veg soup anyways, people wouldnt really miss the meat.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Lisa85 View Post
I made spinach lasagna with alfredo tonight - very yummy and not that much different than traditional. Just mix alfredo sauce with a little bit of milk, put some in the bottom of the pan, then uncooked WW noodles, 1/2 of veggie mixture (spinach, ricotta cheese, one egg, grated carrot, mushrooms, and chopped green peppers if I have them), more noodles, then sauce, veggies, and then cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350.
Sorry don't want to hijak this thread, but I'd love your alfreado recipe
I usually buy the Stoffers frozen veggie lasagna to take to family xmas eve, but this year I just can't spent the moeny & I wonder if this would be cheaper.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by maciascl View Post
Sorry don't want to hijak this thread, but I'd love your alfreado recipe
I usually buy the Stoffers frozen veggie lasagna to take to family xmas eve, but this year I just can't spent the moeny & I wonder if this would be cheaper.
I have no idea how much the frozen stuff costs, but mine wasn't terribly costly.

10 lasagna noodles (1/2 the box), white store brand would obviously be cheaper than WW name brand (no generic brands here have ww lasagna noodles)
3 carrots
2 4oz cans of mushrooms (could probably get away with just one)
2 jars of Alfredo sauce - this was the most expensive but would probably be tons cheaper if you could make your own
3/4C or so of milk
1 thing of ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/3 bag or so of frozen spinach
Lots of cheese on top, but you could use much less

All in all, maybe 8-$9 or so and it makes a ton. You could probably even split it into two pans and keep one for yourself and take the other one.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Lisa85 View Post
I have no idea how much the frozen stuff costs, but mine wasn't terribly costly.

10 lasagna noodles (1/2 the box), white store brand would obviously be cheaper than WW name brand (no generic brands here have ww lasagna noodles)
3 carrots
2 4oz cans of mushrooms (could probably get away with just one)
2 jars of Alfredo sauce - this was the most expensive but would probably be tons cheaper if you could make your own
3/4C or so of milk
1 thing of ricotta cheese
Lots of cheese on top, but you could use much less

All in all, maybe 8-$9 or so and it makes a ton. You could probably even split it into two pans and keep one for yourself and take the other one.
Thanks!
 

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TVP is a great suggestion, but though it can taste spectacular and much like meat, it took me years to realize how it needed to be cooked.

Does your family like any beans/peas? They're great sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and even have a decent amount of calories. We like red, white, and lima beans, and black eye peas and lentils. If you cook them in water only, covered, and on the lowest setting (which is 'warm' on our stove), they take about an hour, but since you don't have to stand there and watch them, I hardly notice the time. On top of being healthy, they're cheap too. Red and black beans have a meatiness to them I find. Lentils too. Something about their flavor.
 

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you can make wild rice and melty in some real or vegan cheese, that's awesome, or make a wild rice and pine nuts combo with sun dried tomatoes and, if you are inclined, feta, or if not, some vegan mozarella chunked up. Both can be served with red or black beans cooked into it.
 

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Because I've never been anything but vegetarian as an adult, I don't know if this would be cheaper than meat (in other words, I've never bought meat!), but what about making chili with veggie crumbles? I am trying to think of things that wouldn't feel like "side dishes" to your meat-n-potatoes guys. How about a meal like this:

bean & veggie crumbles or TVP chili
baked potatoes with cheese/sour cream
garlic bread
steamed veggies (for those who'd eat them)
 

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There are also many ways to stretch meat to more meals (I know this is the vegetarian forum, but I just thought I'd throw it out there). Since it sounds like you're cooking for a lot of adults, anything that uses cut up meat instead of a chicken cutlet for each person, for example, stretches farther. So if you do a roast chicken and vegetable -- I did it last night and used 2 chicken breasts for 5 people, and then put in brussel sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, and onions, and roasted it all together (though things like that might not go over with your BIL). Or a roast chicken (which is relatively cheap as meat goes) and then make broth out of it the next day for some chicken soup (with whatever chicken is left over). But macaroni and cheese is a great alternative. As is a veggie lasagna (we just put lots of veggies in the sauce instead of meat sometimes -- onions, peppers, mushrooms). We do bean and vegetable enchiladas. Some places, tofu is just as expensive as meat, so I don't know if that cuts your bill that much. Eggs are a great protein. We do poached eggs and sliced deli ham (only need about one slice per person) with tomatoes over linguini. Who doesn't like alfredo sauce? That's a very rich meatless meal. We use the Tyler Florence recipe (we did before I had to go dairy free, that is) off Food Network. Stir fry vegetables with a thickened sauce over rice. Also if you serve 2 vegetables with every meal, sometimes it stretches the "main course" farther. Pizza or calzones are another thing you can easily do meatless. We make our own crust, our own sauce, and then various veggies. You can even sprinkle some pepperoni on there to satisfy the meat people and that doesn't cost that much. We usually do onions, peppers, black olives, canned pineapple, and sliced tomatoes. I have tomato plants growing in my kitchen window (they're still young but I'm hoping). The seed packet only cost 99 cents, and tomatoes are expensive in the winter! What about tuna noodle casserole (that's a cheap meat, and some vegetarians do fish...)? We just make our meat stretch farther these days. And do more soups and lots or rice and potatoes and dried beans and carrots, which are pretty cheap as groceries go.
 

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to add more nutrition to things, get out your hand blender. You can make blended soups, spaghetti sauce and things like that and add lots of veggies. They will never know. Things like a blended broccoli soup is generally a hit, and it doesn't contain meat.

If you are taking the meat out of your meals, you should make sure that there is balance still by adding back some protein. I like to put sunflower seeds in my spaghetti sauce instead of meat (after blending in lots of nutritious veggies) for example. Another idea is to leave some nuts in a bowl on the counter for everyone to nibble when they need some protein.

good luck!
 

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Three words: Honey Baked Lentils.
: This recipe has changed my life!

I have a lot of other vegetarian recipes on my site, too, but that one is a big winner for low cost and satisfying main-dishiness. Easy to make, too!
 
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