Tag Archives: meatless meals

4 Ways to Cut Back on Your Meat Consumption

Most Americans eat too much meat. It’s a big part of the standard American diet, bigger than it needs to be. There are a lot of good reasons to cut back on meat, including consuming less saturated fat, health concerns, decreasing your environmental impact, and cost. The hard part is actually doing so. Today I’d like to share some ways to cut back on your meat consumption.

1. Participate in Meatless Mondays

Just skipping meat one day a week isn’t too big a change. Meatless Mondays have gained some popularity, and there’s even a website with all kinds of ideas to help you do it.

I do know how hard it can be to get some families to accept any vegetarian meals at all. My husband used to comment with every vegetarian meal on which meat he thought would improve it. Then I told him one day how much that pissed me off and pointed out how it really wasn’t so different from our daughter’s habit of announcing that she disliked unfamiliar meals before trying them. That was a habit of hers we’d been trying to break, so pointing out the similarity really made him think.

2. Eat Smaller Portions of Meat

If you have trouble giving up meat completely with your meals, you can always go for smaller portions. The portion size many people eat is too big anyhow when it comes to meat.

You can also think of meat as flavor, rather than a major component of the meal. Use a small amount of ground beef or ground sausage in pasta sauce, for example. If you’re making stir fry, add more vegetables and less meat.

3. Buy Grass Fed Beef

Grass fed beef costs a lot more than other beef, and that will encourage you to eat less of it. Many say it’s healthier for you and of course better for the cattle.

You can do similar things for other types of meat you eat. Pay attention to the conditions in which the animals were raised. You’ll pay more for the meat, but it will probably have done less environmental damage and may be better for you. You can find sources at eatwild.com. I don’t get results very close to me, but you may do better.

4. Eat Meat Only One Meal a Day

You don’t have to have meat at every meal. Pick one meal a day and make it vegetarian. You may have to experiment to figure out the recipes you enjoy most, but that can be the fun part. It’s an excuse to try new food combinations. I have a fondness for black bean and artichoke burritos, for example. I usually keep some beans in the freezer and assemble the rest fresh, although I suspect you could make a bunch and freeze them if you prefer.

Remember that there are many other places to get your protein, and they’re often cheaper than meat. Get used to making meals with other protein sources, and you may find that they can taste great too. Do a lot of experimenting to find recipes that work for you and your family.

Meatless “Shepherd’s” Pie

For our Earth Day dinner last night, I made a recipe called Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. Well, approximately. I didn’t have all the ingredients. No Vegemite or similar, and we were out of carrots. But I came pretty close.

Cooked the lentils and barley in veggie broth for about an hour all together. Threw in some garlic and a variety of spices. Sauteed some chayote squash and asparagus, and added them when the barley was close to done. Added in some frozen green beans. Thickened the remaining liquid with a flour and water mixture.

Topped with mashed potatoes and some mozzarella, then threw the thing in the oven for long enough to melt the cheese.

In other words, I didn’t follow the recipe very precisely. I took the idea and ran with it. That’s pretty much how I cook.

I did most of the cooking in my cast iron skillet. I love that thing. No transferring a hot mess into a casserole dish to cook in the oven, and it really saves on cleanup.

A Hit?

Finally, a new vegetarian recipe that went over well with my family. My oldest daughter in particular loved it. It took my husband nearly two hours before he said “you know, you could just add the lentils to regular shepherd’s pie.”

I was wondering how long it would take him to get to the “just add meat” stage.

That’s longer than usual, though. And he agrees with my point that it is a good meal on its own and really useful for saving money or just not having to worry about whether or not there’s any meat defrosted.

One step at a time. One step at a time. I’m just glad to have a new, highly acceptable vegetarian meal to rotate in.

Quinoa For Dinner

This week’s vegetarian meal was an experiment. Since I don’t have a lot of vegetarian recipes my family likes, I have to experiment.

I made quinoa with vegetables. Really simple, just cook 1 cup of quinoa in two cups of water about 20-25 minutes. Rather like cooking rice, and in fact I used my rice cooker so I didn’t have to pay much attention to the process. It worked.

Cooked up some veggies, put them together with some spices and olive oil, and that was the main dish for dinner tonight.

The baby loved it, but then she loves anything she can fit into her mouth, even dirt.

My son didn’t like it.

My oldest daughter didn’t like it either. I honestly didn’t think she would, as the taste is rather nutty and she loathes all nuts. Except once in a while when she admits to liking cashews or filberts, but in between she loathes all nuts, including those two. But I didn’t warn her about the flavor beforehand.

My husband liked it. He felt the taste was rather like cashews.

But he also made his usual comments in the vein that comes out every time I make a new vegetarian dish. He thinks quinoa could be really interesting in meatloaf. Or perhaps with lamb.

You know. With meat.

He does that every time I make a new vegetarian meal. It’s gotten so that I expect it. But at least he eats them when that’s what I serve for dinner.

I’m determined to keep experimenting with meatless meals once a week for my family, no matter the resistance. There has to be more than one that suits everybody!

Make Your Meals Meatless Once a Week

As I mentioned in my One Small Change Challenge post, I’m trying to go one meal a week meatless for my family. It’s a bit of a push, but I believe that we can do it. This first week was an easy one, just an old family favorite, Sand and Shells. I’ll be trying new recipes out in future weeks.

But why is this a good thing to do?

Meat has a fairly high environmental price. It takes a lot of resources to feed whichever kinds of animals. Huge amounts of water, crops and land go to it, and the animals aren’t even always treated very well.

Add in antibiotics use in animals and the pesticides they consume from their feed, and meat gets less and less appetizing. Now add in the amount of fossil fuels used for producing meat.

You can buy organically produced, free range meat if you like, but there are still problems with that. Free range means they take more land. The meat itself will likely be better for you, but still consumes quite a bit of land.

Even if you aren’t ready to go vegetarian or vegan yet, you can cut down on how much meat your family eats. Simply start going without meat one day a week.

Eating less meat isn’t just eco friendly. Done right, it’s also good for your health and your wallet.

Vegetarian meals cooked with a focus on being healthy help you to lower cholesterol and reduce your chances of a heart attack, strokes, cancer and more. It doesn’t mean these will never happen to you, but lowering your odds is a good thing.

There’s nothing boring about vegetarian fare. People who say that haven’t done much searching for interesting recipes, of which there are plenty online.

In terms of money, meat is far more expensive than many vegetarian ingredients. Cook beans of one sort or another and serve them with your favorite vegetables and grains. You can have a meal that looks and tastes amazing, and have spent less than on a simpler meal that included meat.

Make your meatless days fun. Have chopped fresh vegetables ready for when you want a snack, as well as for a great addition to any meal. Cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, snap peas and others are wonderful, and you may not even need a dip to make them interesting.

It’s also great for parents who want to expose their children to a greater variety of foods. Meatless meals can be challenging with picky eaters, but you can work with them to make it more fun. Have them help you pick the ingredients. Have them help you prepare the foods. Talk about where food comes from, and why you sometimes go meatless.

All this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. You can. It takes some time to adjust, but if that’s a step you’re ready for, go for it. If not, try working up to it!

Another alternative is to simply cut down on how much meat you include in meals when you use it. Don’t have it be the main dish. Have it be a small part of a side dish. You can satisfy that urge to have meat while eating a meal that is overall better for you.

And of course remember to keep your kitchen eco friendly where possible. Try organic produce, eco friendly cookware and so forth for your health and to be kind to the environment.