Make Way for Meatless Meals

With the focus on high protein meals, many of us are eating more meat as an easy way to add protein to our diet.  Those that shop on a budget know that meat can be the most expensive item in our shopping cart.  Luckily there are many non-meat protein sources that are very affordable and easy to prepare.

A favorite non-meat source of protein is legumes, which includes beans.  Red beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, lima beans..the list goes on and on.  Add peas and lentils and the list grows even longer!  Buying dried beans and peas is usually the lowest in cost if you have time to prepare them.  Canned beans and frozen peas also are lower cost options that cook quickly and can be found in every grocery store.

Some of our favorite dishes that feature beans include 3-Can Chili, Mexican Veggie Bake, and Lentil Stew.  Get the whole family involved in dinner and have everyone make their own Veggie Bean Wrap, featuring beans, avocado, and mango.

Though eggs are an animal product, they are a healthy and cheap alternative to meat as a protein source.  Eggs can be used in many different recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Combine eggs with legumes for a hearty meal that will please everyone in your family!  Try this recipe for Eggs Mexicali for a zesty breakfast or dinner.

Other popular non-meat protein foods include nuts and seeds.  Peanut butter is a favorite among children for sandwiches, and also can be used in sauces and dips.  Note that peanuts are not really nuts -- they are legumes!  Other nut butters to include are almond butter and sunflower seed butter.  Add your favorite nuts and seeds to any salad for extra protein and crunch.  Top your soups and other dishes with nuts and seeds too!

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall