I let the first of the month come and go without talking about my little meat-free challenge from January. We did learn a lot from our challenge, one of those things being we couldn’t give up meat on a permanent basis. While we did enjoy all of the meals I came up with during the month we did miss favourite dishes and were looking forward to February arriving. But it did help re-affirm in my head the financial difference not adding meat to your bill does. We already have our food budget down to a good number but January saw that budget cut down to almost half of that from not having to buy meat. I had a few people tell me that they found they spent more on their food budget when they stuck to a meat-free diet so I thought I would share a few pointers that I stuck to that kept it down.
Eat grains and beans. Things like bulger wheat, barley and quinoa seem to often get forgotten about but they are not only full of nutrition but they are also cheap. If a vegetable isn’t in season not only will you pay more for it at the grocery store but you might find that it has less flavour. Because it isn’t in season the growers have to artificially help the plants ripen that this not only doesn’t produce as flavourful of a product but it reduces the nutritional value. Sticking instead to frozen which is picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen is not only a cheaper option but can often be more nutritious. Also try cooking more for portions rather then cooking large amounts that sometimes can be wasted. If you can guarentee you will use the leftovers and won’t just over eat then it is fine to cook large batches of food. But if you are anything like use we find that we just go for seconds more often then saving the leftovers or we will save the leftovers and then end up never eating them and having to throw the leftovers away. Throwing food away is like throwing away money.
Not including meat in our diet did have us eating a lot healthier meals. So I am wanting to try and keep some of the good, healthy habits we got into while incorperating meat back into our diet. So I wanted to share with you one of the first meals I served for us. It was also my first ever attempt at cooking with fresh artichokes. I won’t lie it does take a lot of effort but fresh is so much nicer tasting them tinned artichoke hearts.
Sausage Parcels with a Artichoke and Bean Hot Salad
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, zest of whole and then squeeze out the juice
4 good quality fresh sausages (make sure these are good quality and full of flavour)
1 red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 pinches of paprika
140g (5oz ) runner beans
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Adapted from BBC Food