“It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.”

Albert Einstein

I’m on a healthy living on a budget kick lately, so my next installment is meatless meals.  Meat is expensive.  Why not have a Meatless Monday or meatless week here and there?  Your body and bank account will thank you. 

Meat is often the most expensive item on the grocery shopping list, and the price of meat continues to rise. To keep within a budget, consider serving meatless meals a couple of times a week, in order to achieve variety in taste and cut costs on groceries.

There is a misguided notion that in order to provide a well-balanced diet, meals must be planned around a main course of meat, to ensure adequate protein. This is a myth, for there are other sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables.

It is not only cost-effective to serve meatless meals on frequent occasions, but there is a built-in health benefit. Consuming large quantities of red meat can potentially result in high cholesterol, a precursor to heart disease, and other health issues.

Cutting down on meat will also result in consuming fewer calories per meal, a positive benefit for the weight-conscious.

Some money-saving ingredients to incorporate into meatless meals are cheese, eggs, canned tuna, fresh fruit and vegetables, all varieties of beans, pasta, gravies, sauces, spices, and condiments.

Here are some popular and quick, meatless main dishes:

 – Spinach lasagna

 – Macaroni and cheese

 – Vegetable stew

– Bean tacos

 – Broccoli Alfredo

 – Black Eyed Peas

 – Veggie Burgers

  – Three bean chili

Add a tossed salad, beverage and dessert, and you have a meal that will be satisfying to the taste buds, and save you time and money.

Here are other creative meatless recipes:

Fried Zucchini

Sliced zucchini, coated with seasoned bread crumbs, fried in olive oil and topped with spaghetti sauce and melted mozzarella cheese, accompanied by a side dish of pasta.  Baked or air fried would be a lighter option.

Guacamole tacos

Refried beans, guacamole, and homemade salsa in a taco shell topped with shredded lettuce, fresh tomato chunks, and sour cream.

Or opt for a Mexican wrap of refried beans, rice, finely chopped onions, and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla.

Tossed salad

Use nuts, shredded cheese, sliced hard boiled eggs, cold sliced beets, and beans to beef up your tossed salad and turn it into a culinary delight for a light supper.

Chickpea Sloppy Joes

Instead of browning ground beef for your classic sloppy joe mix, use sauteed garbanzo beans.

Get input from the members of your family regarding their favorite vegetables, and go ethnic with Italian, Mexican, or Oriental recipes for different presentations and taste.

Think outside the box and consider having breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs with waffles, French toast, or pancakes with a side of hash brown potatoes will satisfy the biggest appetites.

Make your meatless dinner fun by serving it buffet style, with a do-it-yourself theme. Offer a baked potato bar, salad bar, or taco bar. Lay out all the ingredients and let each family member build their own culinary masterpiece.

By incorporating meatless meals into your weekly menu-planning, you could potentially slash your grocery bill by one-third of the previous total, and enhance your family’s health in the process.