Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Packing the Protein


Despite my daughter's claim that there is no food in the house, we actually still have an ample store of food-real food that needs to be prepped, then cooked, before noshing. Where my impromptu meals, drinks, and happy hour appetizers budget for April was blown, I am doing really well in the grocery department. I had wanted to stay under $550 for groceries and household, I believe I am commendably under, with room to do better. I did not do well keeping receipts and tallying exactly, partially because DH is notorious for shopping "deals" without a concept of a budget, or a concept of meals needing to be prepared from said grocery items, and food just sort of shows up. In spite of that, I did a quick scout of where purchases were made, and think I might be sitting between $450-$500 with just four more days in the month.  This includes an expensive purchase of a new SD card and jump stick for DD#2 for school. The jump sticks had two, so that will save another purchase later-if I remember where I put it when the time comes.

I did an inventory and am trying to build meals around what we have. I've also been trying to research and extend my repertoire of meals with plant based proteins. My sister drew DD#2's name for Christmas. Helping to support her vegetarian diet on a budget, she gave my daughter a crock pot and a recipe for international crock pot vegetarian recipes. Most are bean based of some sort and those that are not bean based are lentil based. There is a healthy dose of root vegetables in the recipes as well, helping to add a heartiness to the dishes. I've read her cookbook before she moved and have been scouting online sites. In my early stages of research, I've determined I'll follow recipes loosely-more use them as guides than disciplined amounts and methods. I've generalized a few comparison that I think will help me continue to expand using plant based proteins in place of meat. 

Chickpeas/garbanzo beans-use in place of chicken or turkey
Red or black beans-use in place of beef or pork
Navy or white beans-use in place of pork
Spices-use generously!

I've never cooked with lentils, so will need to do more research on preparing. I've heavily relied on canned versions, but want to use more raw dry beans to both boost the overall grocery savings and reduce the additives. As we are slowly but surely heading into warm weather which means cook outs and salads and food that is easy to pack up in coolers and either cook or reheat in a crock pot, I need to think about dishes that can be made ahead. I also have a family of meat hungry men, steeped in midwestern scandinavian (bland or barbecue sauce laden) pallets. Critics to be won over! Ideas are welcome. 

I'm not attempting to go vegan or even vegetarian, so for now, there will still be plenty of eggs and dairy in my cooking, and meat, but more sparingly. Watch my progress in future posts and I'll archive those that are a success in the Sam in the Kitchen tab. 




6 comments:

  1. Sounds like my youngest son who still lives with us "mum there's no food in this house" he says "yes there is just cook some" honestly. We eat a fair amount of veggie meals as we try to keep meat to max twice a week despite my love of cooking. We eat veggie curry's and casseroles with lentils and beans and lots of simple risottos with courgettes and spring onions and peas etc really nice with lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon. Good fun looking up recipes enjoy

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    1. I love cooking as well and have had some delicious meatless meals, so am trying to expand. I love curry and casseroles or hotdish as we say, and the more vegetables the better. I like the idea of lemon and cinnamon-never would have thought of either. Thaks!

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  2. Weighing in on lentils here! You can't beat them for ease of preparation and quick cooking. They are much better highly flavored with spices, onion and garlic. I find Middle Eastern flavors work really well with them. Red, green and brown lentils taste pretty much the same, but most of the time I use the red ones. They become light orange/butter colored as they cook and are a little more appealing visually.

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    1. I just put an APB out for lentil recipes on Facebook. I am not sure if I would even know what they look like in the store, but am eager to give them a try. I think if I could make a burger out of them, DH would like as he did like my spicy chili bean burgers. I thought about Sluggy's sloppy joe mix with them-wonder if tht would be good?

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  3. I get that all the time from my daughter too - "there's nothing to eatttttt!" Well there's LOTS to eat you just have to make it. I love lentils just make sure how long to cook them as some cook quickly and others don't. Lots of colourful choices!

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    1. I've heard they are delicious and versatile, but can be difficult to get to the right texture-not still hard but not mush. Funny, the older kids now see my pantry as always well stocked but used to complain the same way. Perspective.

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