Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent. Our Church has a custom of having meatless meals on Fridays. Aside from the faithful reasons for doing this, we are encouraged to take the money we would have spent on meat for these meals and give it to the poor and hungry.
That’s why I try to spend my Lent finding meatless meals to use on Fridays rather than replacing one pricey meat with a pricey seafood meal.
Even if you don’t observe Lent, collecting meatless meal ideas is a great way to save money. And you know we are always looking for ways to do that at Medium Sized Family!
Why Use Meatless Meals?
I’ll admit that it took some serious work for me to start serving more meatless meals in our home. I wasn’t excited about trying it until I realized how much money we could save from our grocery budget by trying it.
Depending on your family size and the price of meat in your area, you can save some significant money by going meatless just one night per week. Multiply those savings by 52 and you’ll find that you’ve saved some real cash over the course of a year.
How to Convince the Family
Once I was ready to give it a try, there was another hurdle…the other half! I’ve heard many women say that they couldn’t go meatless in their home, because their husband would not be on board. It was no different in our own home. The hubby is a meat eater for sure, and it took some convincing to make him interested in trying meatless meals once per week.
Once I decided that we would try to go meatless once per week, I decided to ease the family in to the idea. Even if you never go totally meatless, there are a variety of ways to cut down on the amount of meat you use. Some ways to do that include:
- making a gravy to top a bigger portion of noodles, potatoes, or breads
- use it as a topping over a hearty salad
Expand your concept of “meatless”
If visions of endless vegetables is all that comes to mind when you think of having a meatless meal, it’s time to learn more about this concept! Meatless meals doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy hearty, filling foods. Rice and beans can be delicious if you learn to cook them properly. Eggs, potatoes, pastas and so many more options await you.
When you are ready to take the plunge, be sure that your first meatless meals are winners! What foods does your family enjoy?
- Pancakes are nearly always a hit with kids. Top them with whatever fruit is in season and on sale.
- Breakfast. If you are offering eggs (depending on prices in your area these days!), hash browns, muffins or biscuits, toast, milk, produce, or whatever you enjoy at a breakfast bar, everyone will have full plates.
- Mexican. Our family loves tacos, and with a variety of toppings available, they don’t mind using beans rather than meat at the bottom. Plus it’s very easy to use your typical spices and seasonings right in the beans to make it taste more like your usual meat.
- Soups. A hearty potato soup is great comfort food! Or use a 3 bean chili rather than your regular meaty chili.
Show him the evidence
Your hubby is no dummy. He might love a hearty meat and potatoes meal, but if you show him how much savings you’ll reap by going meatless just one night per week, you might be surprised to find that he’s on board with the idea. Especially if you outline what you can do with that savings! Do you dream of taking a family vacation or owning some new splurge? Perhaps this savings could help you budget for it.
Meatless Meal Ideas
Over time, we have tried a variety of meatless meal ideas, and here I’ve listed some of our favorites (and a couple that we are definitely going to try very soon!).
If you want to try using dried beans for some extra savings, it’s actually not as tough as it seems! I described my method in my Ham & Beans post. And while those ham & beans aren’t exactly meatless, many times you can just use a ham bone that would otherwise have gone to waste for another super frugal meal!
Some recipes to try:
- Garlic Butter Pasta (Sooo good!)
- Loaded Potato Soup
- Healthy Black Bean Casserole
- One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta
- Here’s an idea for doing a baked potato bar (Fun way to use up leftovers!)
- Make a pizza using my delicious recipe for the crust. Top it with whatever you have handy!
- Three Bean Chili Chowder (We omit the chicken to make it meatless, but still yummy!)
- Bean Burrito Casserole (We really love this one!)
Plus, I’m always pinning great recipes! So if you follow my Meatless Meals Pinterest board, you’ll be sure to find plenty of delicious, frugal recipes to keep the family interested.
These tips will help you with your meal planning so you can save money for the things you want the most.
Do you already have meatless nights in your home? What are your favorite recipes?