I know what you are thinking, “Meat is healthy?” or “Meat is too expensive!”. But I think you should examine those ideas.
Last weekend we went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant, enchilada and taco dinners. It was $50 for three people. Not too bad. Then the next day I went to the store and bought $50 worth of meat, chicken, pork and ground beef. That was enough meat for at least 5 meals for 4 people. That is only $2.50 per serving of meat. I’m going to make burgers, grilled chicken, and pork chops. There will be leftovers. Which was the better deal?
When eating on a budget, you must consider calories and nutrition, not just the price. Meat provides more calories per ounce than vegetables and is a very important protein source. You should eat your cheap veggies, fresh or frozen, but don’t leave out the meat, because ounce for ounce, it is a good deal even at today’s prices. You will feel more satisfied if you eat some good fat and protein and meat will provide that.
I’m not talking about buying Ribeye steaks. Cheaper cuts provide the nutrition you need. Just learn how to cook them because they can be tougher than the pricey cuts. For example, you can put a pork or beef roast in the instapot and have a tender juicy roast in no time. Add some rice or potatoes and a green salad and you are eating healthy. Add a piece of bread if you are into that.
The key to making a roast more affordable is eating a smaller portion per person and eating plenty of vegetables and a starch with it.
Another way to eat your meat without breaking the bank is to cut it up and use it in soups or casseroles.
Ground beef, turkey, chicken, canned meat, or cooked and shredded chicken are all great for adding to soups and casseroles made with rice, pasta, or potatoes. You can make a huge pot of this kind of food for much less than buying pizza or eating fast food or frozen dinners.
A one serving frozen dinner can cost anywhere from $3 to $6! And they usually don’t provide many calories and you end up eating something else with it. You could buy a pound of meat for that or more depending on what kind you choose. Then add cheaper starches and veggies to it and you have enough food for several people or several meals for the same price or less than a frozen dinner.
Here are a few menu suggestions.
- Roast with potatoes, carrots, celery onion, cooked in instapot
- Pasta with chicken, broccoli, alfredo sauce or cheese sauce (homemade is cheaper)
- Fried rice with pork or chicken and frozen peas and carrots, plus onions
- Baked chicken with salad and a potato
- Chicken soup with rice and mixed veggies ( my son’s favorite)
- Roast sliced thin and put on buns
- Grilled burgers with beans and potato salad
- Thin sliced pork chops with mashed potatoes (instant is fine) and green beans
- Grilled chicken sliced or diced and served on a big salad
- Baked potato with chopped meat on top
- Pork carnitas with beans and rice
- Hamburger patties with brown gravy and rice or potatoes and a green veggie
So you see that if you fill out the meal with cheap veggies and starches, you can eat your healthy meat portion and still afford gas.
Don’t skimp on nutrition. Learn how to cook cheaper foods at home and you will save money.