Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Meatless Meals

Saving money on meals is important to most families. Being healthy is important to most families. Balancing these two things is what is hard in most families! I have found one way to save money and still put a nutritious meal on for my family is to serve meatless meals as often as possible.

One of my family's favorite meatless meal is spaghetti with beans. I had it a lot when I was a kid and always liked it. What I didn't know, was it was a way for my mom to stretch the budget by using homegrown pinto beans thus saving money! Now, I don't grow pinto beans in the garden but I can purchase a can or cook a pound pretty cheaply for my own family's budget. I serve spaghetti with red sauce, either store bought or homemade and top it with parmesan cheese and pinto beans. This is my daughter's favorite meals, it's up there with steak and shrimp!

Another favorite is tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches or grilled quesadillos and salads made with beans as ingredients are always enjoyed! I sometimes have a spare grilled chicken breast to throw on top of the salad but it is served at a topping, not as a main dish.

You can also skimp on the meat by serving it as a side dish. Breakfast night is popular at our house. I serve whole wheat pancakes, fruit - which is usually blackberries because they are free at my house, and sausage or ham as a side. I also serve a fritatta on sunday nights to use up the leftovers in the fridge before the new week begins. Eggs are a cheap source of protein that can stand on their own against meat. Breakfast burritos are also something you can whip up using very little or no meat.

Here's my recipe for the frittata, we had it Sunday night and I used a leftover sweet potato from earlier in the week. My daughter loved that I used a carrot in the frittata! I didn't tell her until after she had two servings as she doesn't like sweet potatoes! Oh, one day, I'll be on Oprah explaining why I lied so much to my children! Ha! Ha!

Sunday Night Frittata- this will make a 9X13 pan, it can be cut in half for a small family. We use leftovers as breakfast during the week!

10-12 eggs depending on your family size

Some sort of potato- this can be a baked potato, mashed potatoes, sweet potato, hash browns, cooked potatoes from this mornings roast,etc. You will need at least one. Chop and place on the bottom of a greased 9X13 pan

Here's where it gets interesting: if you want meat, dice and sprinkle cooked meat over the potato. Ham, sausage, hamburger, polish sausage, chicken, pork chops, I've used them all! Use what you have, it doesn't have to be a lot of meat for the family to think they had meat for dinner!

Veggies: these must be cooked before placing in the pan. I change this up everytime I make this because I use what I have. Diced peppers, onions, garlic, tomato(seeded and chopped), frozen spinach(must be squeezed dry), fresh spinach(saute and squeeze dry), corn, carrots from this mornings pot roast, you get the point. I try to go with a theme. I used a sweet potato and a bit of diced red pepper and onion for this last sunday night. I use spinach, tomato and olives for a greek theme.
Place all this over the meat and potato.

Cheese: This doesn't have to be included but I usually do. Cheddar, monterey jack, colby, pepper, feta...theme the cheese with the ingredients. Only 1/4-1/c for the entire 9x13 pan.

In a seperate bowl, beat the eggs, 1/4-1/2 cup milk and a 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard. When this is mixed well, pour slowly over the 9x13 pan. This mixture should mostly cover the stuff in the pan. If you got carried away filling your fritatta, you will have a frittata that has some of it's ingredients not covered with egg. It will be fine, this isn't rocket science!

Cover and bake at 350F for about 20-25 minutes. Uncover and let cook until a knive inserted into the center comes out clean, this will be about 10 minutes more.

Cut, serve with salsa if desired. I usually serve with toast and fruit salad.

Let me know your ideas on this recipe. I'd love to try your variations!

Have a blessed day!

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