With the alarm bells sounding that meat prices are on the rise, many of us will be looking for even more creative ways to stretch our food dollars.
Here are a few ways our family has learned to enjoy nutritious meals while reducing our consumption of meat.
We currently eat meatless meals at least three or four times per week. That number will probably double with the anticipated rise in the cost of meat. Eggs and beans and rice are the primary substitutes since they still provide us with necessary proteins. Dry beans are the key to keeping the cost as low as possible. For years, I struggled with getting dry beans cooked properly. The tip that changed all that: do not salt the water when soaking or cooking the beans. They will soften much faster if you wait to add salt until after they are sufficiently cooked.
Meat as a Condiment
Instead of featuring meat as the main entrée, I use what meat we do purchase sparingly - like a condiment. I add just enough chicken to my Fettuccini Alfredo to give the flavor of the meat without increasing my costs drastically. Homemade pizza is just as good with more vegetables and less sausage and healthier, too. I find soups and casseroles can be just as satisfying with more veggies and less meat as well.
Less Expensive Cuts
By using marinades and slow cooking in the crockpot, we can use less expensive cuts of meat and still get all the protein and flavor without the cost. An old-fashioned meat-tenderizing mallet like my grandmother used to use is an inexpensive way to prepare cheaper cuts of meat.
Use Every Morsel
In the past, we may have tossed out that ham bone or the remnants from a chicken dinner. No longer. The ham bone gets tossed in the crockpot with navy or Great Northern beans. I boil the last of the chicken to pluck every morsel for a pot of chicken noodle soup.
Create Your Own Co-Op
Many warehouse clubs offer substantial discounts for bulk purchases. We have joined forces with friends and family to purchase hamburger and other meats by the case and then divvy up the savings.
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